interview by Cyrus Nuval
art by Eleanor Doughty
What happens to art students when they graduate? The art major, something that many people forget can be broken up into many categories, is often seen as a very expensive dead end. It seems as though only those with business and scientific degrees hold the path to life success, and those that graduate from art school are doomed to work in fast food restaurants. Poictesme reached out to one of our favorite artists, Eleanor Doughty, to catch up with her life as an illustrator.
She graduated in the spring of 2013, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in communication arts and is the cover artist for our current chapbook. She left VCU as a magna cum laude student with honors. Since graduating, Doughty has been just as busy as her student years, and creating just as much art. She ran a Kickstarter campaign by selling her observational drawings and prints of various buildings she discovered through Google Maps. The funds were used to travel to countries in Europe and document her travels through sketches and prints of various buildings and famous landmarks. A lot of her work can be seen on her tumblr accounts here and here and many of her prints can be bought on her Etsy shop.
What got you started in art? What made you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
In elementary school, when I was ten or so, I started drawing Pokemon with my friends after school. In general, people kept telling me I was good at drawing. When people keep telling you that you’re good at things as a kid, you want to keep doing it because you seek out praise, and it was fun for me to create. I like making up my own stories and characters through art.
They come from all across the board. My influences are usually from art history, comics, current comics and some of my peers. I don’t really like many mainstream American comics or art styles. I’m usually more influenced by European cartoons. I really admire a lot of French comic artists because the way they draw looks so effortless and imaginative. I mean, it’s good to have a lot of influences but you don’t want to just be copying the people you look up to. Eventually, you have to develop your own style. I try to nurture my own style. I do a lot of drawing from life. I try to capture through drawing the interesting things I see or that go on around me.
What is the difference between European comic art styles and American ones?
I noticed that a lot of young people try to emulate the old style of Marvel and DC comics, which I think is kind of tired. There’s not a lot of room for interpretation or exaggeration. When you think of superhero comics, you think of a superhuman walking around in a normal city. But French comics, especially now, they seem to be gravitating more towards fantasy. Now, I don’t want to generalize all American comic styles, there are some great people working with new inspired styles. It’s just the more mainstream style of American comics that I’m not so in to.
What usually inspires you to draw or make art?
Well, the big project I did after graduating was a Kickstarter that helped me raise enough money to go to Europe for two months and draw all over the place. It was based on the drawings I did by looking at images through Google Street View. I think that’s what inspires me the most, is looking at or going into big cities. I like drawing from life more than drawing from imagination. I studied abroad in Vienna, Austria during my sophomore and junior year and I went to Germany for three weeks. Those trips really changed my life. Because of them, I caught the traveling bug significantly. Another thing that inspires me is that I want to keep a record of what I am seeing and what I’m experiencing, which is why I work a lot in sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are my preferred medium. I also do prints of my experiences when I remember them, but it is my goal to sell them.
What are your plans now that you’ve completed a major project?
I’m in a really unsure part of my life right now. I have some idea of where I want to go but I still need to think a lot of things through before I make another large project. Aside from drawing and making prints, my other practice is making fixtures, sculptures and decorations, preferably for retail environments or events and displays. I worked as a display designer for Stony Point in the summer after my junior year, which was very cool and is probably my dream job. I’d really like to do something like that again because drawing for people really stresses me out. It’s kind of a problem when I have commissions and I start getting really anxious about what I put out. I start thinking “No! It looks so bad! I can’t draw! I can’t do this anymore! I quit forever!” I know it happens to a lot of artists, they get anxiety when they have to draw for people. So that’s one reason why I’m doing something that’s not drawing. Lately, I’ve been looking at moving up to Philadelphia and just going for it. ♦