Thursday, June 17, 2010

Featured Artist Series: Nikki Burnette

There are so many fantastic and talented artists doing Halloween themed art. I decided to start a Featured Artist Series to share my favorites with you. Every so often I will do an interview  with an artist to share their work and a little background information. The first one is Nikki Burnette.

I fell in love with Nikki's paintings the first time I saw her work. She creates the most beautiful fantasy art and has lots of witches. I have a definite soft spot for witches!  It was almost impossible for me to pick one favorite item from her Zazzle Store but here it is:

Here is where you can find Nikki on line:
The Fantasy Art of Nikki Burnette on Zazzle
Nikki's Website
Nikki's Facebook

The Interview
What made you become an artist?
I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been interested in the creative world and anything handmade. I remember watching crafting and painting shows like Bob Ross when I was as young as 5 or 6. My family is very artistic, so that probably helped me to get started. My grandmother was an artist and my mother is a very talented seamstress and loves to crochet and knit.
So I think I started out doing things with them. I used to draw the covers of my Disney storybooks with my grandmother and then my mother taught me how to needlepoint and knit at a very young age. Then I slowly moved into drawing my own things in grade school and continued signing up for every art class possible after that. But I don’t think I really took myself seriously until I decided to go into art school. I actually went to the Art Institute and studied Game Art and Design. I’ve also always loved video games, so I was excited about being able to combine my two passions: art and video games. But upon graduation, I realized that my biggest dream was to be able to create the art that I wanted and not the art that someone else wanted me to which is how I ended up where I am today! I’m thrilled that I’m able to work as an artist creating the art that I love.
How did you get started?
I don’t think I ever “started” being an artist. It’s always just been part of me from as far as I can remember.  But the way I got started doing what I’m doing today is selling ACEOs on eBay. ACEOs stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals. They measure 2.5x3.5” and they can be of any media and subject matter. When I was in college, I needed a way to make a little extra money, so I did some searching online. I found that ACEOs were extremely popular and sold very well on eBay, so I decided to paint some. I sold my first ACEO and I was hooked! I couldn’t believe I could make money at something I enjoyed doing so much! As I sold more and more ACEOs, I decided to create larger, complex paintings to capture more detail. I eventually grew a larger fan base so I started selling prints of my work and expanded my product line into stickers, magnets, bookmarks, etc…all featuring my artwork. And then it eventually turned into what it is today…my art business! Today my art is collected worldwide, I’ve been featured in various publications and it is licensed by many different companies. I feel so lucky!

How did you learn your craft?    
I have been taking every art class I have been able to ever since I was young! If art was an option for curriculum in school, you’d better believe I would sign up for it! I had formal training when I went to the Art Institute. Many of my classes were about computer programs. I learned how to do 3D animation and graphics, but we all had basic training in drawing and painting. I have to admit those were my favorite classes. I took an anatomy class where, over a six week period, we had to draw every skeletal and muscular system in the body, plus flesh versions as well. Needless to say my hand was one big cramp, but I learned so much about anatomy. I think that class is what took me to the next level as far as my drawing skills go.

What methods/mediums do you use to create your art?
All of my paintings are done with watercolor and inks. I start my paintings by creating a very clean inking using a dip pen with a very fine nib and brown ink which creates a softer look than black ink. All of my pieces are done on Arches Hot Press 140 lb. watercolor paper. This paper has a very smooth finish which is perfect for the ink/watercolor combination. I use Winsor and Newton pan watercolor paints.

What motivates you to create Halloween/Spooky art?
Even though I paint mermaids and fairies, I think I am most known for my witches and I think they are my favorites to paint as well! I’m mainly inspired by J.K. Rowling’s portrayal of the witch/wizard world in her Harry Potter books. Before her books, when someone said witch, I think most people thought of the typical portrayal of a witch…green face, hooked nose, warts, black hat, pointy teeth…and this was the way they were often painted as well. But after her books, I think people realized that there can be a range of different types of witches from good to bad. So I really try to portray a unique take on witch art by drawing joyful, attractive, sexy, sassy, playful and sometimes even a little mischievous witches with detailed outfits and fun companions with just a touch of the dark side.

Tell us 3 things people would be surprised to know about you.
Ooh tough one! One thing people might be surprised about is that I’m a huge online gamer. That’s what me and my husband enjoy doing most during our very little freetime. We play mostly MMORPGs and our current favorite is World of Warcraft. Another thing I don’t think many people know is that I met my husband online. We were playing a game called Everquest at the time, met each other in game, he came to visit me and then the rest is history! And lastly…hmm… one funny thing is that I’ve spent the first three years of my professional art career painting and drawing on my lap! We used to have a very small apartment and I had no room for an art table, so I would take my paintings and drawings, sit on the bed, watch tv and paint! It was not big enough for a couch, so the bed was the only option! We’ve since gotten a bigger place and I now have a whole room! It’s so exciting.

Show us three of your favorite Zazzle creations.
I am so proud of my 2010 calendar! This was the first calendar I ever made and I just love the way it turned out. I plan on creating a new one for 2011.

Another product I love are these Arden Keds Shoes! Arden is a favorite fairy of mine that I created.

This mousepad I’m particularly fond of. It has an image of my witch Cassia. And was my first ever Today’s Best Award!

Thank you so much Nikki for the wonderful interview!  I urge everyone to check out her websites to view more of her wonderful artwork.  Her Zazzle Shop is also listed on my Cool Places to Shop page.

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