Issue One Feature: Sherlann Lewandowski | Illustrator

Issue One - October 17, 2012

Sherlann Lewdandowski

About Sherlann:
     "I'm from Buffalo, NY, land of  snow and the chicken wing. As a kid my grandmother got me involved in all sorts of crafts and eventually it led to drawing my favorite cartoons. At some point in my senior year of high school I realized I had abandoned art somewhere along the way and wanted to get back into it. What better way to get back into it than getting myself enrolled at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio? I recently finished my sophomore year and will be starting my junior semester this coming August."

What type of artist are you?
     I'm an illustrator who is very graphic based. I would like to be more of a commercial retail illustrator that mingles with advertising. One of my teachers said this market is called 'desillustration' where design meets illustration. So…I guess that's what I am, a desillustrator.

What/Who inspires you?
     I love design and pattern, which is something I'm always trying to learn because I like the way things fit together. I like structure. I'm incredibly inspired by color. It sounds cheesy, but even the way the sun hits a window can make some really interesting colors that I want to remember. Sometimes colors instantly form an image in my head that may have nothing to do with what the color is representing. I'm also very nostalgic for things in the past that didn't even happen in my life. I'm inspired by a lot of old things that make me wonder a lot. The people that inspire me are various artists, writers, and musicians. Some are: Mary Blair, Nicolas Marlet, Jamie Hewlett, Kirsten Ulve, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Picasso, Tove Jansson, Kate Beaton, Daniel Krall, Van Gogh, Noel Fielding, and James Gurney.

What was the Elvis cd cover for and what were you trying to convey with the colors and the imagery you created? 
     I was trying to convey a bright 1950s vibe. When I was researching I found all these really cool diners that had the neon pink signs and it just really hooked me. Usually when you look at old 1950s musical posters they're only a few select colors because of what they had to print with. A lot of these colors were dull yellows, oranges, red, and browns. Even when you look at adaptations of musical performances in movies everything is just dull, which is fine cause the music is lively enough, but why not have the whole place Rockin' and Rollin', so I really wanted to portray the feel of Rock N Roll in a simple setting through color and abstract shape for movement.

What about the movie/and or soundtrack for Drive inspired you to create this piece?  Did you sketch the idea out before you started the poster? Or, did you just create it in Photoshop/Illustrator?
     I really wanted to watch the movie for about a week and never got the chance to, so I settled on the soundtrack. I started to visualize things and started making some quick doodles in my sketchbook. Usually, I start with basic shapes and try to piece them together. Then at some point for some pieces, like this one, I see the piece very clearly in my head. There are many adjustments made from the original vision, though. Then I get too antsy to work on paper, so I jump right to the computer and tinker about with that. I work in illustrator and then add textures in photoshop, usually. The soundtrack I basically found myself listening to on repeat from 10AM-11PM, the entire time spent on the poster. It was the first time I worked on something that long of a period and actually finish it. For some reason, that soundtrack really makes me visualize the movie without having to watch it and I can see color in my head while I listen to it! It really motivated me to work hard.

What made you choose the color scheme?
     The color scheme was inspired by the colors in the movie. It's a very simple pallet of cream, blue, and pink. One reason I'm drawn to the movie so much is because of the color scheme. Every time I watched it I just really wanted to attempt using those colors.

Tell me about the pieces you are most proud of. What made you proud of them?
     Some of the pieces I'm proud of is this headdress I made. It was based a lot on decoration and pattern. I experimented with burnt sienna watercolor and scanned it. From there I then digitally colored over it. It was a huge experiment, but I wanted to test my value and form. It was a challenge, but I'm proud of it because it opened a door that I'm going to keep open so I can continue experimenting with this method.
     I'm also happy with an Avengers-inspired piece (it is the biggest spoiler for the end of the movie). I really like it because I've been trying to adapt a simplicity in my work. I think this is the best piece I've done that has very limited elements that hold a composition strongly. I'm thinking about making an Avengers series in this style.
     I'm proud of a contest entry for a lovely site called They Draw and Cook. It's a website for people to illustrate recipes, anyone can do it. Salli Swindell, one of the founders, went to CCAD, so she came to us illustration students with a challenge. We all created a recipe to be judged by a company and there were three winners. I got runner up, but I am so proud of that recipe because of this. I'm proud of it also because of the thought I put into it. I really wanted to use decoration that was inspired by Polish pottery because my recipe is a Polish pastry called a kolacky. It was a great way to apply decoration and type together for a fun purpose.
     Basically, most things I'm proud of are pieces that have had a breaking through point for me. Of course, finished, resolved pieces are always welcomed and I'm always proud of them, but the pieces that lead me to those ones are quite important and memorable for me.

You seem to have your own style of drawing that stands out from other illustrators I have seen. Is that something you try to create when you draw or is it something that comes naturally to you?
     Oh, I do? Well then, that's quite awesome because I'm always worried about if people will look at something I made and can say, 'Yeah, that is most definitely a Sherlann piece' Thanks. Some of it comes naturally the more I work. It becomes second nature. However, I'm not one of those artists that constantly has something bubbling in their head. I really have to work to get something out. I do create a bit of it just by finding things I like in various other artists work that really looks cool. I want to figure out a way to interoperate what they do in my own way. As I said before, I'm trying to gain a simplicity in my work because that is one thing that doesn't come naturally to me, but it naturally eases me when I look at others' simple works. I would like to create that simple aspect in my own work. So bits and pieces of it are natural and some I think about to try to challenge myself to adapt something into my natural style.

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