Shelyse Richard is an artist and graphic designer taking the freelance world by storm. She also just so happens to be my best friend. Based out of Charlottetown, PEI, Shelyse graduated from Holland College in 2013 after attending the two year Video Game Art and Animation course. She went on to intern for two companies (Holland College & the IT Garage). From there, Shelyse worked at Telos Entertainment for over a year as a digital artist, working on concepts, modelling, rendering, and much more. She is now working for herself at StoryBrush Studios, taking on freelance jobs around the web and working on her portfolio pieces. You can often find Shelyse in local coffee shops working away on her laptop and sipping on coffee.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Shelyse and people often spell or pronounce my name wrong (laughs). I’m from Quispamsis, NB, but am currently living in Charlottetown, PEI. I originally moved here in 2011 to take the two year Video Game Art & Animation program at Holland College. Just after graduation I was recruited for work at a small studio called Telos Entertainment; which was why I moved here more permanently. Since then I have fallen in love with this beautiful little Island in the Maritimes and really settled in here, meeting tons of incredible people I’m happy to call friends. Some things I like or enjoy besides art include: cats, reading, drinking coffee, playing video games, going on adventures, practicing and learning about my Catholic faith, Netflix, and spending time with friends.
2. How did you get started as a self-employed artist? Tell us about your experience.
My time at Telos was only a year and then after that I had to decide if I wanted to work at another studio or try freelancing. I got to meet some really cool people that have small businesses, including other creative types that really inspired me. Talking about it with others who understood my struggles and desires really helped a lot. Opportunities kept coming up for me to learn about entrepreneurship and these really helped me make a decision and gave me a starting point. Before that I knew literally nothing about business, so the idea of it was overwhelming. I spent a lot of time thinking and researching, then realized that at some point I had to decide to take the leap or not. So, I chose to give it my best shot! (Kat: You go girl!)
3. How do you come up with your ideas? What inspires you?
Most of the time, looking at the work of other artists really inspires me. I see their individual styles and quality of work and think to myself, “I want to be that good someday!” This really motivates me to challenge myself and try new things with my art to develop my own unique style. Other creative sources such as music, fashion, photography and literature also contribute to ideas.
4. What are you currently working on?
Right now I am doing some art stuff for Halloween and the fall season, while trying to get work from clients on the side by self-promoting. I’m also trying to come up with some illustration ideas for my RedBubble store.
5. What is your favorite medium to work with?
I love doing work digitally. I’ve been using Photoshop for years and love to create digital paintings and vector illustrations with it.
6. Do you set deadlines for yourself? Do you think deadlines are important?
Generally, yes. I think deadlines are super important, and are definitely necessary for professional work since most clients will need your work done by a certain point. Setting little milestones within a project helps to keep organized and productive. When doing more personal work, deadlines don’t matter quite as much to me but I still like to get things done by a certain time in order to move on to the next thing and actually finish it.
7. What artists inspire you?
There are just way too many to name, and I discover new ones all of the time. A couple I would definitely put on my list though, would be Ross Tran, Loish, Sakimichan, and Marta Nael. (Kat: Google them. You won’t be disappointed.)
8. When did you start drawing/painting? How have you progressed over the years?
I can’t really remember exactly when I started, but according to my parents I’ve been drawing at least since Kindergarten, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I suppose I just always enjoyed it and wanted to get better, so I kept practicing and taught myself a lot. I took art classes throughout high school, then got to experience being in a class full of artists with similar goals when I went to college. Being around other artists full time contributed a lot to my progress, both in school and working professionally.
9. Why do you draw? What does art mean to you?
Like I said, I’ve always been doing it. I think that is because I recognized that I have a gift and that I should be using that gift in whatever way I can. It has always brought me joy, and I find it can be very meditative to do artwork. I also love the joy and appreciation it gives to others when doing work for them.
To me, art is one of the ways that you can bring more beauty into the world and also share yourself with others. Art is used everywhere and for many purposes, so it is a very important part of our culture.
10. What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Hmm… I suppose I would just tell them to keep at it. Keep producing work, even if you don’t feel like it or you don’t think you’re getting anywhere. Do it anyway and get it out there. Check out what other artists are doing and get involved in local or online communities to network and get feedback. Keep on learning and trying new things. Discover what you are best at, how you can use that gift, and just do it!
11. Anything else you’d like to add?
Being self-employed certainly is challenging, but it is also a very exciting adventure. Many people think that having a career as an artist is not a realistic option in life but I don’t think that is true. I have seen talent go to waste that way. Artists: prove to others that you can do it and work hard. Non-artists: please encourage your friends and family who may be artists of any kind. It can make all the difference!