Q & A with Our Illustrator

In our last post, you heard about our process of stumbling upon a fantastic illustrator – Alyssa Torres – for our venture.   We did a short Q&A with Alyssa so you can learn more about her and how awesome she is. 🙂  
1. Tell us a little about your artistic background.  
 
I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. Although I had several family members who loved to draw and paint themselves, I was never allowed to entertain the idea of becoming a professional artist so I became a full-blown academic with the ability to draw. Once I got to Wellesley, I had planned on continuing my academic career through the Math Department but there was a nagging feeling that I’d walk out with a degree in Art. My major changed from Math, to Media Arts and Science to Studio Art in my Junior year and I haven’t looked back since. Now I have an MFA in Computer Art and am constantly moving between digital and traditional media to find the best ways to tell stories.
 
2.  What attracted you to this project? What excites you about it?
 
What initially attracted me to the project was seeing two Wellesley Women wanting to create a children’s book together. What excites me is being a part of this project to help improve cultural diversity in children’s books where diversity is often not considered as an issue. With the freedom to experiment with the visuals, I know that this book will be some of my best work.
 
3.  What is your preferred medium for illustrations?
 
I really love Gouache. It has the sensibility and softness of watercolors but a vibrance and solidity that watercolor can’t manage. It’s fascinating to me how the mixture of gouache can behave so much like other paint types and yet completely stand on its own. It’s truly versatile and for that, I appreciate every minute I have painting in it.
 
4. What and/or who inspires you?
 
Everything and everyone. Literally. It’s the only way to function, to me. If I feel something from it, it’s inspirational. But for a few specifics, Disney and Pixar artists like Ricky Nierva, Eric Goldberg, T Hee, Ward Kimball. Great cartoonists like Lauren Faust, Rebecca Sugar, Craig Bartlett, Genndy Tartakovsky, Bruce Timm. Great artists like Mary Blair, Stan Winston, Klimt, DaVinci, Degas.
 
5.  If you could visit any country/city in the world, where would it be?
 
Right now, I would love to visit Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. I have been working on a story using the Mayan and Aztecs for inspiration and Mayan influence and culture is still very rich in Guatemala. I had the pleasure of working with and learning a folkloric dance from an indigenous woman from Guatemala and the entire experience was so inspiring, I want a chance to go right to the source.
 
6.   What do you like to do when you are NOT being a super-cool illustrator?
 
I watch a lot of movies and tv shows, as well as play a few video games. Humans used to tell stories around fires but now our fires are TV screens and so many stories are told in so many ways. I just want to experience all of them.
 
7.   Since we know you love cartoons and animated films :), which is your all-time favorite and why?
 
My all-time favorite cartoon? That’s so difficult for me because I love everything in its own way. Today, my favorite cartoon of all-time would have to be “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. It was created and developed by a woman with several women artists and writers, the cast is mostly female although the fanbase is perceived to be mostly male, and every episode is packed with heartfelt storytelling and occasional extreme action. It’s one of those few shows that doesn’t talk down to children and manages to mix classic cartoon storytelling and animation with more contemporary sentiments and techniques.
We are grateful to have Alyssa with us on this journey, and we look forward to working together with her to make this vision a reality!

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