Q and A with Illustrator Karen Swartz

Previously, on Self-Writeousness…
Last week, I wrote a blog post in which I fan-girled a wee bit over a splendid illustrator from Saint Louis named Karen Swartz.
(The pictures above are both her handy work, and I love them beyond reason)
Now, I’m kind of an illustrator, but if I had to categorize my illustration style, I’d have to say, “Inexpensive.”
And sometimes, you get what you pay for, y’all.
Karen, on the other hand, is the reason bedtime reads are still the makin’s of magical childhood memories.
Anyway, in striking up a casual conversation and asking permission to use some of her pictures for this blog, I also summoned my courage and asked if she could answer some questions from her perspective as an illustrator for whom art is not a hobby but a thriving, honest-to-goodness business.
The details of this impromptu interview are as follows:
   Q: Who (in the art world) inspires you?
Illustrate don't tell.png
   Q: On projects like picture books or covers, do you prefer it when customers know what they want or when they give you maximum creative leeway?
   A: I always want my customers to be forthcoming if they have expectations, but I love when I have artistic freedom. Even if I’m given a very clear description for an assignment, I try to “read between the lines” as much as possible and clear important things (like character design) with my client while I’m brainstorming.
   Q: How have most of your clients found you (website, word-of-mouth, ect.)?
   A: I meet most of my clients in person, since I vend at numerous events around the country every year.
   Q: Does art still bring you joy, now that it’s your job, or does it make you look forward to retirement?
   A: It still brings me joy, and always will! There is nothing I would rather do for work!
        In any self-employment situation it’s really important to rely on habit over emotional motivation. If I’m not feeling a particular piece of work, I make myself sit down and work on it anyway, and it always becomes enjoyable.
        I’ll enjoy art even more when I can hire a secretary and an accountant one day!
   Q: Is there any subject matter you could not bring yourself to paint or draw (based either on you artistic limits or personal convictions)?
   A: I steer clear of graphic imagery as I just don’t enjoy it and I like to keep my work pretty family friendly.
   Q: As someone who is self-employed, how do you set boundaries between work and free time?
   A: If I were single I would be much worse at this (I used to work as long as I was awake), but since my significant other works more normal hours, I call it a day when he comes home.
       Sometimes preparing for an event means I work in the evenings, but most days I just try to get up extra early so I can feel like I got enough done when 5-6pm comes around.  My schedule has become so much healthier in recent years.
   Q: As you change styles and perfect your craft through the years, can you look back at your old work with satisfaction, or is the feeling akin to that of the actors who cringe when they view scenes from their older movies?
   A: I always try to do my best work and approach mistakes with the mindset that no image I make will be perfect, but it will certainly be better than the last piece I made.
      Mistakes are important, and allow improvement, so while I would not show old work in a portfolio, looking back makes me proud of my progress. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I look at old artwork, but it’s usually because of the subject matter. I was a weird kid.
So that’s all I got for you this week.
Many thanks to Miss Karen for humoring some nosiness on my part.
If you saw something you like and want to peruse her other works, check out her website at https://www.keaswartz.com

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