Vibrant Realism // Morgan Davidson


Issue Five

Morgan Davidson

Who are you and what type of creative are you?
I’m a 21-year-old Illustration major in my final year at Ringling College of Art and Design. If I was to label what kind of creative I am, I’d have to say I’m a traditional Illustrator who’s passion lies in saturated fantasy/ concept portraiture. As a person, I’d consider myself kind of goofy and laid back, I like cooking and spending time with my pet chinchillas when I’m not drawing and I’m completely addicted to Netflix. In general though, I like to spend a lot of my time around people, which is probably why my art primarily focuses on people. 

How did you get interested in illustration? 
In high school I was pretty shy and disconnected from the other students, primarily because I was from a private school and didn’t really know anyone. Drawing kind of evolved as my comfort, when I was drawing everything made sense and nothing else mattered. At that time however, I never considered it as a career let alone showed anyone my drawings. Later on in high school we were required to take an art class and when people saw my drawings they always got excited and encouraged me to consider it as a career. I think seeing the positive effect my art had on people showed me that I could make a living out of something I loved. 

What is your favorite and least favorite medium? Why?  
My absolute favorite medium of all time is colored pencil, I use it in nearly every piece I’ve done. I just connect with how the medium is handled, it’s easy to control, generally cheap, not messy and it makes for some very vibrant detailed pieces. The only down side is it’s a very permanent medium like ink or marker with minimal bending capabilities compared to mediums like graphite or paint. I’ve never had a problem with it though; I just get colored pencil more than any other medium for some reason. 

I would have to say, on the other hand, my least favorite medium at the moment, is digital/photoshop painting. I’m very new to digital and something in my brain just misses the physical act of putting pencil to paper in the process. I know digital art is something very important for modern illustrators to know how to do, and I’m learning, but I’ll always be a traditional artist at heart.

Some say using reference photos is cheating, what do you say?
I actually spend a painstaking amount of time on my reference; it’s probably one of the most important foundations to my art. I start off with an idea, which turns into sketches, that I then compile of usually 50 or so separate images in Photoshop to make an accurate reference. Most of the time I even use several different facial features to make one face that I like, so as far as reference, I’m OCD about it I’m afraid.  I consider it like a blueprint, when illustrating detailed colored pencil portraits there’s no room for mistake. Since it’s a medium that can’t be erased or covered up easily it’s pretty important that you have good reference. I also use this process to avoid copyright infringements and to insure that my reference and ultimately my art are completely original. 

What is your favorite creative process?
After I get my inspiration, draw up the sketches and compile my reference, I get out a sheet of Bristol paper, sharpen my Prismacolor pencils, put on a hot pot of coffee, blast some Pandora and draw until the sun burns out. I don’t know if that sounds like much fun, but it’s literally my favorite part about my career, more so than any recognition or income that may come from my art is just the physical act of drawing. 

Where do you get your inspiration?  
I’m really inspired by fashion, nature and color. I also, (trying not to sound creepy) love faces, the expressions we make are so fascinating and the power behind a smile or looking directly into someone’s eyes, things like that just captivate me. I also think I often involve elements of nature in my work because of my childhood. I basically grew up in the woods, my brothers and I would run around building tree forts, making mud pies on the banks of our pond and collecting our chickens’ eggs. I think that’s why although most of the girls I draw are pretty and mostly put together, there’s always something a little wild about them that usually involves nature.

What is the best advice you have received and do you have any advice for people wanting to study illustration? 
One of my teachers told me that no matter how good you are there is always going to be someone out there that can do exactly what you can do but better, so more important than even skill is your ambition. You can have two people in an interview; one of them the most amazingly skilled artist but often slacks on deadlines and is a little bit of a hot head, while the other is an adequate artist who’s ambitious, prompt and easy to work with. He always asked, who do you think that company will pick? He just brought to my attention that being able to create beautiful art is only fifty percent of the game.

"Being able to create beautiful art is only fifty percent of the game."  Tweet This!

My personal advice would be; try to inspire yourself with the people around you and places you go to come up with fun new ideas. No matter how impressive your technical skills are or how “trendy” your work may be people will always appreciate new ideas. I struggle with that the most and I think most artists do as well, but if you individualize your art to who you are as a person and what you like as an artist you’ll evolve a style that is just as unique as you are. 

Who are some of your favorite artists/creatives? 
Most people would probably start listing off some names of famous artists but I’d have to honestly say my favorite artists are my peers and teachers at Ringling College of Art. They motivate and inspire me more than anyone else. 

Self-Portrait by Morgan Davidson

What pieces from your portfolio of work are you most proud of and why?
That’s a tough question, I’m always torn between what pieces I personally like the most and the pieces people most positively respond to. I hate using the word proud when discussing my art, but I’d have to say I am somewhat proud of my self portrait, not because it’s of me, but because that was the first piece I made where I came up with an original idea that really had a lot of me as an artist in it. It also was the piece that directly resulted in the idea of drawing the seasons of the year represented through quirky fashion inspired illustrations of girls. So that collection is also something I’m pretty happy with (even though it’s missing winter girl, who’s coming soon!) I also have a collection of expressions that I like because it focuses in on faces and their ability to convey emotions. I also got to really focus on details and have fun with color on those drawings so I had a lot of fun making them. 

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