by Julya Buhain . February 17th, 2014
Sarah Webb, who’s known as Reluin on DeviantArt and Erysium on Tumblr, is a 19 year old artist from Alaska. As an Illustration Major at Maryland Institute College of Art, Sarah has owned the craft of digital painting. She uses it to create dream-like environments for her works. You can check out her portfolio here on Carbonmade.
YTD: So, Sarah. Thanks for taking the time out to let us interview you. How are you doing today?
Sarah: Hi! Thanks for the opportunity. I’m doing good – super busy with schoolwork, but I’ve been able to get a little personal art done too this week!
YTD: Your work is amazing and you’re incredibly talented. What are you working on now?
Sarah: Thank you! Well, I just started my second semester of college at MICA which has been taking up most of my time. But I’ve been trying to reserve weekends to work on new pieces for a visual development portfolio.. I can’t take any classes in that at MICA yet, but I think it’s a field I’d really like to try working in!
YTD: Who are your inspirations and influences?
Sarah: My early work was very influenced by manga -Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea series is still one of my favourite stories- and popular anime-style artists on sites like deviantart. I think that’s still a pretty visible influence in my work, although I’ve become more interested in other types of art in the last few years. Visual development artists and illustrators such as Nico Marlet or Claire Wendling, concept artists like Feng Zhu, and writers like Catherynne M. Valente are inspiring me the most right now.
Whenever I need some quick inspiration tumblr is my go to; pixelatedcrownlikesthis, opaaaa, amberblade, elioli-twinspiration, and rokashii are my favourites at the moment.
YTD: One thing, I honestly adore about your works is your choices of colors. Do you decide on the mood or the palette of the piece beforehand?
Sarah: Oh thank you! Actually, when I first started painting color was always my biggest struggle. But I put a lot of effort into improving there, and I feel very comfortable with it now. So I usually have a vague idea of the lighting by the time I start thumbnailing, but I do a lot of exploring to find the perfect color scheme. That’s something I really love about making art, it feels like I’m moving through a fog around the first basic idea for the picture to find something that I couldn’t even imagine so clearly.
YTD: What are your favourite things to paint?
Sarah: I think it’s obvious when you look at my recent work, but I really adore painting environments! Travel is one of my biggest interests, so the subject and research is fun for me, and I feel like there’s endless possibilities imaginable. I’m trying to branch out now a little into character design too, which is something I’ve always loved but haven’t been doing for a few years.
YTD: How did you get started in art? Did you start with digital or traditional?
Sarah: I’ve been drawing and painting forever, but I was also introduced to digital art when I was still pretty young. My parents were wonderful enough to buy me a tablet when I was 14, and I taught myself to paint digitally from tutorials online.
YTD: What tools do you use and what does your workspace look like?
Sarah: I work with Photoshop CS5 pretty exclusively for my digital paintings. I’m also still using my first Wacom Graphire tablet, although sadly it’s been acting up the last few months so I’ll probably need to replace it soon..
YTD: Among which of your works do you consider your favorite?
Sarah: I don’t mean this to be negative, but I’m never too happy with my work. I spend too many hours staring at every piece to ever enjoy it again, for one thing. And, in speed or skill, my work is never at the level I’m reaching for, the level I know I’ll reach someday. So, every finished piece is just motivation for me to hurry up and improve! That said, I do have a huge watercolor painting that I made when I was 5 that I really like.
YTD: Do you work with music? What’s in your playlist?
Sarah: I love having music playing while I brainstorm, it really helps get into the right mood. What I listen to totally depends on what I’m working on – bollywood soundtracks for south asian inspired environments, Hans Zimmer or Joe Hisaishi for dramatic scenes, for example. I’ve been listening to the Shanghai Restoration Project a lot recently while working on a few east asian inspired paintings, they’ve got some really great atmospheric music.
YTD: 19 is pretty young, you’ve got a lot to look forward too! What sort of projects do you want to take in the future?
Sarah: I’m not too set on any career goals right now – but I’d really love to do some freelance work in visual development or concept art this summer, do a few internships before I graduate to figure out where I’d be happiest, and make a webcomic or graphic novel someday.
YTD: Do you have any tips or tricks you love?
Sarah: Ooh, my favourite perspective trick – make a file with a really giant radial, then whenever you need to make a perspective grid just paste 3 of them over your painting and move them around, as much inside or outside the painting as they need to be, until you’ve got a perfect quick grid.
A link to a tutorial can be found here.
YTD: If you weren’t into art, what would you be?
Sarah: I can’t imagine loving any career like I love art, but I do really have an interest in botany and in learning languages! Not too sure what I’d be doing with that combination though, so I’ll stick with art.
Want more inspiration? Check out our last interview with Eric Proctor. Share us your thoughts through the comments below and might as well suggest some artist(s) you want us to feature next!
Julya leads the double life of being a graphic designer and a writer. Some of her favourite things in the world are nicely kerned typefaces, bubble tea and nerd humor. She holds the world record for watching the film Inception more times than necessary.