How did you become an artist?
I always sketched and doodled on the sides of my papers in elementary school, and I suppose throughout all of my years in school, I always gravitated towards art and lettering..(sketching letters and making them 3-dimensional). I was supposed to be an engineer, but made my way to pursuing art and design during junior college when I visited a friend at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. We walked by a huge department called “Graphic Communications” and I inquired about it…as studying art in college definitely intrigued me.
Did you go to art school?
I went to San Jose State University and received my B.S. in Graphic Design with a concentration in Illustration. I had a wonderful experience in college – a lot of my coursework was fine art, drawing, and painting, as there were no computers yet in the Graphic Design department.
Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
There are family, professional, and artists past and present, who have influenced me and continue to influence me. As a child, I wrote to Charles Schulz, who replied to my letter..that meant a lot to me! As an adult setting out on a freelance career, I wrote to Georgia Deaver, who also replied and gave me words of advice..I treasure these letters.
What inspires you?
Nature, my children, animals, children’s books, art, lettering, design, cartoons, books..so many things!
Would you like to share your work process?
If painting a final watercolor, I start by sketching the composition in pencil on regular copy paper until it “feels right.” I then take the sheet, turn it over and graphite the backside of the sketch which I then use to trace over onto Arches Hot press watercolor paper. I then refine the lightly drawn pencil sketch and then start painting, and painting. It’s quite fun!
Are there links where more of your art can be seen?
www.shirleyngbenitez.com - my website
http://shirleysillustrations.blogspot.com - my blog – currently posting a sketch-a-day
http://www.etsy.com/shop/smileshop - my shop
www.welovetoillustrate.com - my group blog
http://monsieurolivet.blogspot.com - my other blog
http://portfoliosolutionsllc.com/index.php?mact=CGBlog,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=8&cntnt01detailtemplate=color&cntnt01returnid=25 - my agent
What types of markets do you create art for?
Most of my work is for the children’s market, with a few jobs in technology (spot art for books, graphics for apps), and wine label art.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching?
I contribute to my group blog each month; attend regional SCBWI events; and belong to two calligraphy groups as well as SCBWI.
Do you pursue other creative interests like writing or music?
I love to hand-sew creatures and animals, and am trying my hand at writing children’s books. My children hear me sing in the car…but beyond that, I thoroughly enjoy music of all genres, especially my daughter’s violin and my youngest’s piano playing.
Where can your art be seen? Is it on products, books etc…?
Books, online books, board games, craft books (Klutz).
What do you love best about what you do?
I love that I can sketch anywhere and anytime I feel compelled and that sketch could become a new painting or spark for an idea for a children’s book. I love that this profession (Graphic Design, primarily) has allowed our family my ability to stay home and raise our daughters throughout their early school years.