Interview: Ana Benaroya

Name: Ana Benaroya
Age: 26
Location: Jersey City, NJ

Q: How and when did you first become interested in illustration?

I first became interested in illustration through cartoons and comics. I was always obsessed with superheroes and action figures as a little girl…and that eventually translated into liking illustration.

Q: Do you have a strategy for starting a project? Any warm-up rituals?

I don’t really warm up or have a strategy haha…though I’ve seen lots of other artists posting their warm up drawings and have considered trying that! Seems like a good idea…but I haven’t yet implemented it. Generally I’ll just start drawing the first idea that pops into my head. I tend not to agonize over things…I’d rather just make something and then move on.

Q: Can you briefly explain your illustration process?

Well, first I will read the brief or the article (if it’s editorial) – then usually, one idea will stand out in my head as far as a good visual. I will draw that out…and then coming up with second or third ideas usually takes me a longer time. Then once I get something approved, I will ink right over my pencil sketch, scan that in, and color on the computer. I like inking right over my sketch because I think skeches have this vitality that can easily get lost when finishing a piece. By using the initial drawing, I hope to maintain some of that life and energy. I also work almost exclusively in my sketchbook because I believe that promotes a more casual and personal feeling in my work (and in my head, haha).

Q: Would you say that your illustration jobs come more from promoting yourself or from knowing people and having connections? Any marketing tips for illustrators still struggling to be seen?

Almost all from self-promotion. Only recently have more and more clients been reaching out to me first…but really, I believe in self promotion. I don’t have any connections – any connections I now have are from my own self promotion and from keeping in touch with people. I try to reach out to art directors every 3-6 months with a quick short update. Most of the time I never hear back…but then sometimes I’ll hear from someone who I assumed was just ignoring my emails! Most of my jobs have come from email promotions – almost none from postcards. Though I have heard from other illustrators that postcards work better for them…so who knows! My only tip is make a website that is easy to look through – and keep your emails short and sweet. That is what has seemed to work best for me.

Q: What has been your most successful type of promotion? Mail, Social Media, Direct Contact, etc. What do you think makes a promo successful?

Whoops, guess I just answered this question in the previous question! :)

Q: If you had to pick a dream theme for a Ten Paces swap what would it be? What artists would you invite?

My dream theme would be BODYBUILDERS!!!! Big surprise, I know, haha. I would invite (including the dead): Ray Fenwick, Seripop, Jillian Tamaki, Niv Bavarksy, Tom of Finland, Basquiat, Michelangelo, Zeloot, Gustavo Eandi, and Josephin Ritschel.

Q: What are a few favorite pastimes aside from making awesome illustrations?

I like running and lifting weights. Also, I really enjoy eating. And drinking coffee. But really, when I’m not making art or thinking about art, I try and be social and get out of the house.

Q: Do you have any advice for art students interested in illustration? What has been the biggest challenge up to this point in your career? What has been most rewarding?

I would say believe in yourself and want to succeed really badly. If you don’t really want something, it probably won’t happen. The biggest challenge has been getting my work out there – and the most rewarding is getting to work with clients I only dreamed about while in school. It still doesn’t seem real sometimes.

Q: What are you currently working on – a job, a personal piece? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

A few editorial projects! And I’m working on making a new group of paintings for a show I have in San Francisco in the upcoming year. I also am working on finishing up a book project I’ve been working on for over a year now – a book on illustration!

Q: Is there anything we should know about you or your illustration work?

Just that I see little divide between me and my artwork.

Check out more of Ana’s work on her website, shop, and Twitter.

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