Off the Page: Emma Steinmetz

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Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with fanartists who bring your favorite young adult books to life.

Currently a student at community college, artist Emma Steinmetz doesn’t just create fanart – she studies art, hoping to eventually transfer and major in comic art. But she loves media in all forms and it inspires her to create.

“I spend almost all of my free time consuming media of some sort, be it reading, watching tv, or playing video games. Those are the things I’m passionate about, besides art of course, and they inspire me like nothing else. My favorite YA books are Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor, Michelle Hodkin’s Mara Dyer trilogy, and the Diviners series by Libba Bray. Clearly I have a weakness for fantasy.”
  • Evie O'Neill from Libba Bray's THE DIVINERS.
What is it about the authors’ writing that inspired your art?
What inspires me more than anything else are characters. Characters for me are what make everything come together; They get you interested, they make you fall in love, they break your heart. They’re what drive me as an artist and a reader. My favorite books tend to be the ones with the most unique, human characters I can find, and my favorite characters tend to be the ones that die tragic deaths. It’s a problem. The authors are the ones that make them come alive, and that’s incredible to me, as well as being really inspiring!
Are there any other influences you included in your art?
I’m very much still learning how to be an artist, and I’m influenced all the time. I’m in love with fanart, creating it and seeing it, and I follow dozens of fanartists on social media. I almost always listen to music when I draw, and it certainly influences me- certain albums or bands evoke certain feelings, which are then present in my art.
What was the best reactions you’ve received?
My friends are always very supportive of my art, and always react positively when I have some new idea or show them something, and I’m very appreciative of that. Once, though, one of my favorite artists (lucky-ziri on tumblr) reblogged a piece of Daughter of Smoke and Bone fanart that I’d done. It was so incredible to have my art recognized by someone that I was so inspired by!
What’s your process?
I’m fairly new to digital art (I’ve gone through many paper sketchbooks over the years), but I have a pretty solid process down. I primarily use Manga Studio. First I sketch in red, and then I’ll sketch over it on another layer in black. If I like the way it looks I’ll leave it, otherwise I do lineart on top. I’ll color underneath that top layer, and cell shade on clipped layers if I’m feeling ambitious. Sometimes I’ll sit on it a while if I’m not sure if I’m happy with it, otherwise it’s out into the world. I have folders full of unfinished sketches.
Do you have any tools you like to work with?
I use a Wacom Cintiq with Manga Studio mostly, but I still love my old-fashioned pencil and sketchbook. I’m also fond of oil pastels and watercolor pencils, though I rarely post any traditional stuff online.
What encouraged you to share your fanart?
I’ve been active on Tumblr for years, so when I first got my first tablet  several years ago, I sort of just had at it. I made fanart for everything, and I posted an awful lot of it. Now when I look back at most of my old work I cringe, but it’s also inspiring, in its way – I love seeing how my style changes, and how much I’ve improved as an artist over time. I may hate everything I’ve ever posted in a year, but that means that I’ve improved, and I look forward to it.
What piece are you most proud of?
It’s not posted anywhere, but about a year ago for a creative writing class I had to create a minimum 50-panel comic. It ended up being twenty pages long, fully colored, and I was so proud. Of course, when I looked back at it six months later, I was really embarrassed- these proportions were off, and those lines looked weird, etc, so I did the rational thing and did the entire thing over. It was ridiculous and self-indulgent, and I loved it. It was such a good feeling to say, “okay, you messed that up the first time, now let’s make it better.” Maybe I’ll do it again sometime!
Do you have anything fun that you’re working on or would like to do someday?
My favorite that I’ve posted for all the world to see is my most recent piece, which is my favorite character from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She died long before the book even starts, and you only get to know her through flashbacks. She remains to be one of my favorite characters of all time, and I always have a blast drawing her, but this piece is very special to me (even if it is a bit, um, dark).
I’m always working on little side projects that will likely never see the light of day (most recently a little comic of a favorite scene from Lair of Dreams, the second Diviners book), but someday I’d love to be a comic artist. I read webcomics constantly, and I’d love to create one of my own someday.
What kind of advice or insight would you give to other artists?
Practice as much as you can. I carry my sketchbook everywhere with me, so I can draw all the time. I notice myself improving certain aspects of my art drastically over just days sometimes- I’ll flip back a few pages and realize that I’ve suddenly got the hang of drawing a certain character’s face, or my anatomy is proportioned better. You won’t go anywhere if you don’t practice. Also, draw what you like. Practice what you’re not confident with, but don’t force yourself into an art style that makes you miserable. Draw the characters from your favorite comic book if it’s what you’re passionate about, and someday you might be making those comic books yourself.
For more on Emma Steinmetz, follow her on Tumblr or deviantArt.
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About Author

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.

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