I’ve been coming across so many fun artists lately that this month I’m featuring two in the Artist Spotlight! So without further ado, here’s introducing artist #2, Cindy Dauer of The Slumbering Herd. What first drew me to Cindy’s artwork, aside from the delightfully whimsical beasts, was the very rich detail and texture she creates with her Copic markers as she layers pattern on pattern. For a real treat, make sure to take a look at her blog to see the progress pics for her illustrations. Enjoy her interview!
BT: Please introduce yourself and your medium.
Cindy: Hello! My name is Cindy Dauer and I am a 40+ yr old office manager in Illinois. I was going to go to college for art but ended up in English/liberal arts, and abandoned art for many years. I thought of taking it back up now and again, but convinced myself it was too late. (Note to all: It is never too late!) Finally one day in early 2011 I decided I would really work on my art, and I haven’t looked back. I opened up a new Etsy shop and started my blog, The Slumbering Herd, in May of 2011.
Pen and ink has always been a favorite medium, and is what I have been working in for the past 18 months. I started with Copic markers just a bit later and rather than jump around to different mediums, I have stayed with pen and ink, and Copics, in order to continually improve my skill.
BT: When did you first discover your creative talents?
Cindy: I suppose like many artists I always had a pen or pencil or crayon in my hand. I drew lots and lots of dogs and horses as a kid, and in high school had a short-lived cartoon strip called “The Horse and His Dog”. I actually got a couple art scholarships out of high school but, as mentioned above, ended up not studying art.
BT: What themes do you pursue in your work?
Cindy: I like to make people smile! I am increasingly frustrated by, excuse the phrase, the evil men do to each other in this world. I decided my little part of the world would be geared toward making people happier if I can, even if it’s only for a moment – so, happy and whimsical things mostly, including a large helping of strange and goofy animals, real or imagined. I am also drawn to themes like saving the environment and mother earth and that sort of thing, but I’m not sure that shows up in my work as much.
BT: What “fills your well” and inspires you to create?
Cindy: Inspiration comes from other artists, and sometimes the natural world. I have found a succession of online art blog communities filled with all kinds of fantastic people. My longest running membership is probably with the Illustration Friday community, the weekly topic and the hundreds of other artist who participate. More recently I have joined atcsforall.com and illustratedatcs.com and have been inspired even more. I definitely recommend online art communities. There seems to be something for everyone!
BT: How do you handle creative block?
Cindy: Creative block is rough! I really draw most every day, and if a couple days go by I start to worry. If you think about it, it’s very silly to worry because of course your ability doesn’t dry up overnight. Sometimes I have to put aside a project that is causing trouble, or look through my favorite art blogs. Sometimes I just have to put down the pencil and let it go, and trust it will come back the next day or two. It does!
BT: If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
Cindy: Oh my gosh, I get to pick a superpower! My first thought was super strength because you could do a lot of good! And a lot of cool stuff! But I think I’d have to pick the power to heal (people AND animals). Perhaps it would include the ability to show angry people that kindness is so much more pleasant.
BT: What artists do you admire?
Cindy: Artists I admire. Oh geez! I love line art & children’s art like Edward Gorey, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg. Fantasy artists like Michael Whelan and Roger Dean. The amazing folks at Imaginism Studios. And I have dozens of favorite art blogs (way, way too many to list), but a couple examples are Jim Madsen and Shirley Ng-Benitez. To a thrown in a couple historical folk, the animals of Albrecht Dürer and the strange landscapes of Max Ernst.
BT: What is your dream project?
Cindy: My dream project would probably be for someone to pay me to create a world of goofy and colorful pen and ink beasts. I suppose in some ways I’m doing that! I hope to put together a book but it’s a long process and I’m still working to improve my skills.
BT: What’s the best advice you’ve been given as an artist?
Cindy: The best advice: Just keep at it. It took me a long time to realize that practice is all it takes. I always disagree with people who say they can’t draw. Sure, talent is a thing. But anyone can learn to draw if they are willing to put in the time, just like any other skill. Ira Glass, the host of the This American Life radio show, has a great quote which addresses this (and which I’ve included on a quotes page at my blog):
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It ‘s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
– Ira Glass