Sunday, July 17, 2011

Artist Kristin Allen

At this point, I don't recall how I came across the work of Kristin Allen, but as you will see, I'm very glad I did. Kristin calls the Chicago area home and has done lots and lots of sketch card work for companies like 5finity and Rittenhouse. But some of her best work can be seen in her larger pieces, which can be viewed on her website - It will become obvious very quickly upon visiting her site that Kristin likes to draw pinups of all varieties of women - from sci-fi characters to comic book characters to women in general.

As with most of the artists I've commissioned, I've been able to interact with Kristin on Twitter at @FoxyArt. And like most, she is amazingly open to fans of her work. I've learned a lot about Kristin through her Twitter postings including her love of horror, and I was kind of amazed that she, too, likes Rob Zombie's rendition of Halloween. I thought I was the only one in the world who liked that. So glad I'm not alone on that note.

If you like the artwork you see here, definitely be sure to visit Kristin's Facebook page to take advantage of a commission special she is running to raise funds to show at New York Comic Con and Chicago Comic Con.

Early on in my art collecting, I was trying to get some of the Batman characters I liked most so the first piece I commissioned from Kristin was a Harley Quinn. One thing I love about her work is the addition of borders and other small touches that, while they don't take up a lot of space on the overall work, add a significant touch to the overall work. The best part of the HQ she did for me was the addition of the black and red playing cards.

Harley Quinn by Kristin Allen

As I mentioned before, Kristin has done a lot of work in sketch cards. When 5finity produced a sketch card series based on the comic book The Pro, I was able to snag a few unopened packs. While I liked the cards I received, I was missing a nice sketch of the main character, The Pro. I went to eBay then and found a great sketch by Kristin and was able to snag this beauty (though I no longer purchase sketches from eBay):

The Pro by Kristin Allen

Not long after this series, 5finity released a set of sketch cards called P'Ups (Pinups and Pups) which had sketches of pinup girls and puppies. I bought one unopened pack, which did not include a Kristin Allen sketch but it was a nice one. One day while browsing Kristin's website she had a few AE's (artist exclusives) available for sale including one of a Christmas scene with a blonde hugging a beagle pup that is wearing reindeer antlers (kind of like the dog in How the Grinch Stole Christmas). I really love Christmas time so I bought the card.

Christmas P'Ups with beagle by Kristin Allen

Then last December, Kristin ran a special on her commissions to raise some funds, so I took the opportunity to get a new piece of art, and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. This time I decided to go a different route with the subject and move away from Batman characters. But it was tough coming up with a subject. It occurred to me, since the next to last Harry Potter film had been released recently, that world could provide a great subject for the commission. While you might be thinking Hermione or even Ginny, I went a completely different route. My favorite character from Harry Potter is Bellatrix Lestrange. Of course, that could be that she is played in the films by Helena Bonham Carter, one of my all-time favorite actresses. So, that is who I requested. And Kristin knocked it out of the park.

Bellatrix Lestrange by Kristin Allen

What I really love the most about Kristin's work is the detail. It just amazes me the amount of work she puts into these pieces of art - from her ink work to the detail in her markers to the intricate detail in the hair of her subjects. To me, Kristin is simply amazing, and there is no doubt that I will add more of her work to my collection in the future.

Most recently, Kristin has done some comic work as well. Just the other day, Image released their October 2011 solicitations which include the following alternate cover for Hack/Slash #9:

Alternate cover for Hack/Slash #9 by Kristin Allen
(copyright Image Comics)
And this is a perfect example of the quality work Kristin does.

To learn a little more about Kristin, I asked her a number of questions and she was sweet enough to answer.

1.) When did you get started with drawing? Was it something you did as a kid or did you move into it later in life?
I have always drawn. I can't remember a time when I wasn't.

2.) What training have you gone through, if any? Or are you just a natural talent?
I took the required art classes throughout school, and my senior year of high school was pretty much all art classes - which was fantastic - but I never sought out any 'how-to' classes or books. I studied traditional art, design and illustration, and computer art in college.

3.) Who or what do you look to for inspiration - in art? in life?
It's no secret I'm a fan of pretty girls. I love the pictorials from vintage Playboys, 30s/40s/50s pin-up art from artists like Elvgren and Petty, modern pin-up art from the queen Olivia De Berardinis. I'm a huge fan of Dita Von Teese and the Burlesque and fetish scenes. Eighteenth century fashion is a never-ending source of inspiration. Disney and fairytales, Mucha.. there's just so much. And that's not even going into all the comic artists that have inspired me.

4.) What was the first piece you were paid for?
I really don't remember.. how lame!  My first professional job was on the Aliens vs Predator: Requiem set from Inkworks. Tone Rodriguez was kind enough to invite me onboard and I am so grateful he did.

I actually just completed my first paid comic job. I can't talk about it yet but it's very exciting! Depending when this goes up I may be able to spill the beans.

5.) For anyone who follows you on Facebook or Twitter, it is more than evident that you love you some Disney. Where does this come from? Did you visit Disney World a lot when you were a kid?
HA! Yeah, I can't hide that at all. I watched those movies religiously as a child. The first movie my parents took me to was Oliver & Company, it probably started with that. There is just something about Disney animation that really captured my imagination as a child. It still manages to.

I went to Disney World twice as a kid, and for one of those trips I was too little to remember anything. I finally went back in 2009 and decided to make it a yearly trip for my birthday. There is nothing better than celebrating your birthday and Halloween with your friends at the most magical place on earth!

6.) Besides art, what are your interests? What do you like to do for fun? Favorite movie? Favorite TV show? Favorite musician/music? Favorite book? Favorite comic book? Favorite food?
Honestly right now I work most every day so there's little time for leisure.
Favorite movies: Halloween (Zombie's version), Enchanted, Labyrinth, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Masters of the Universe, Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Favorite TV shows: Archer, Futurama, Modern Family, True Blood, seasons 3-7 of the Simpsons, Venture Bros., Peep Show, Bob's Burgers
Favorite musicians: Tori Amos, Kylie Minogue, Meat Loaf
Favorite books: Anything from Anne Rice
Favorite comics: Fathom, Tomb Raider, Batman: The Long Halloween, 90s Catwoman
Ask me again once September's new DC #1s hit shelves.
Favorite foods: Chicken fried rice from my favorite chinese restaurant. Nothing tops it.

7.) Is art now your livelihood? If so, at what point in your life were you able to say, "This is what I do and this is how I will make a living"? And how did it feel to be able to do that?
It is what I am doing full time right now, yes. I started in 06 I think, maybe 07. It is really, really hard and very stressful. Fun, but it takes a lot of dedication.

8.) From looking at your portfolio on your website (and obviously from seeing the pieces I've commissioned) you do a lot of pinups. Is this your favorite thing to draw? Are there other subjects you don't draw as much but would like to if you had the time or opportunity?
Yes. I love the ladies. I really enjoy drawing monsters but that doesn't come up too often. One of these days I'd love to do a sketchbook filled with creatures and babes.

9.) This may seem weird, but one thing I've noticed is the detail in which you draw the hair on your subjects. It is amazingly detailed. Why do you seemingly put so much work into that area of a sketch? (Note, I was blown away by the Bellatrix you did for me. I mean, damn.)
A lot of people comment on hair in pin-ups. And really, it's the part that takes the least amount of effort for me. I have no idea why or how. I really enjoy detail and it just comes very easy for me.

10.) You've done work on sketch cards for Rittenhouse and 5finity. How did you get started with those companies? You've also been working on Versicolor's Bettie Page set... what has that been like?
I was referred to Rittenhouse by Tone Rodriguez. I sent a few samples off for Women of Marvel and they hired me on. I've been on (I believe) all their Marvel comic sets since.

I believe I was contacted by 5finity about doing the Mandy set for them. It's been so long and so many sets have passed it's hard to keep track. I really love both companies, it's been a blast.

The Bettie set.. I remember getting the invite email and freaking out. An official Bettie Page set was not something I thought would ever happen so I am over the moon about it. Bettie is an icon and I just adore her. It's an honor to be a part of this set.

11.) Are there any properties you'd love the opportunity to work on?
DC! YES. DC DC DC! Of the big two I am a DC girl. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I get to work with Marvel characters but boy-howdy would I love to draw Catwoman and Wonder Woman. 
Aside from DC, I would L O V E to be able to work on Tomb Raider. Lara is so near and dear to my heart. Something with He-Man/She-Ra would make my life complete.

12.) What advice would you give a person who aspires to be an artist?
Be ready to work A LOT. Constantly. Draw from life, draw everything you possibly can. Go to cons, exhibit in Artist Alley. And if you want it to be your full time gig, learn to live on next to nothing.

13.) What is your favorite thing in the whole world?
It's a tie between my dog and being at the Magic Kingdom with my favorite people.

14.) What is the best job you ever had? the worst?
Wow, that's tough. Designing the mascot Paige O. Pannell for the Fangirl of the Month feature and calendar for was pretty great. She's become the site mascot and at C2E2 2010 Miss Kristin Moutrey cosplayed as Paige. Seeing a creation of mine come to life was pretty incredible. Her ACP costume page:

The worst.. I don't think I can say without getting in trouble. :) 
Kristin Allen (right) poses at C2E2 with Kristin Moutrey who cosplayed as Allen's original
character Paige O'Pannell that Allen created for the website

15.) What was it like being chosen the Panels on Pages Fangirl of the Month in 2009?
So much fun. It was an honor to be Miss August 2009.

16.) You live in the Chicago area. Have you always lived there? If not, where are you originally from?
Yep, I've always been in the Chicago-land area. The winters and summers are terrible, but it's home. :)
So, if you like Kristin's work, be sure to drop her a line and request a commission. I know she would appreciate it and you will be more than satisfied with the result.