Off the Page: Sarah Congdon

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Ever wondered about the artist drawing those fantastic pieces of fanart you reblog on Tumblr or favorite on deviantArt? Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with artists who bring the characters from your favorite young adult books to life.

Sarah Congdon’s parents both majored in biomedical engineering and claimed that the “art gene” skipped a generation. Sarah begs to differ as her mother has top-notch coloring skills. During Congdon’s sophomore year of high school, she took a graphic design class where she developed a love for digital painting. Since then, Congdon discovered a love for all things design-related. She is now following her brother’s footsteps and has declared Communication Design as her major at the University of North Texas. Her art features the work of several different authors, including Susan Ee’s Penryn & the End of Days, Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red trilogy, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy.

  • Tessa Gray from Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices

What about the authors’ writing inspired your fan art?
Rainbow Rowell, Susan Ee, and Cassandra Clare are the three authors who I have created the most work for in recent years. I’m most inspired by the characters they create. The authors so expertly flesh out their personalities and I love being able to do the same but onto the canvas.

Are there any other influences you used that you included in your art?​
Absolutely! I look for inspiration everywhere. Especially in other artists’ work. I’m an avid Pinterest, deviantArt, and tumblr user. I’m constantly looking at other people’s artwork and trying to learn what I can from their techniques.

Tell us about your process. What type of medium/art programs do you use or prefer?​
My favorite medium is Photoshop. I enjoy digital painting. My processes vary a lot. For more professional pieces I do a lot of pre-planning, including thumbnails and sketches. I then scan my sketch onto the computer and use it as a base. For a lot of my fanart, I just start directly on a Photoshop canvas. I slap on some colors and figure out a light source and just sort of go from there. I don’t think a whole lot about what I’m doing for these sorts of drawings. I just sort of go with it. However, I do always have some sort of idea for what I want the piece to be about.

Do you have any tools you like prefer to work with?​
Yes. I’m a firm believer that the brushes you use when digital painting can really transform your piece-especially if you have a pen tablet. Charlie Bowater has a few brushes to download that I think are brilliant. My advice for finding great Photoshop brushes is to find great digital artists and then find the brushes they are working with.​

What is your proudest piece of work?​
Looking back I was really proud of my Tessa Gray piece because it was a remake of a piece I had done a year earlier, and there was definitely a visible improvement.

Are there any themes or surprises you have noticed in your art?​
The colors! I’ve noticed I gravitate to vibrant color schemes.

What encouraged you to share your fanart?​
I initially created my tumblr/deviantArt as places to store all of my pieces so I could easily access them. I didn’t think anybody else would look at my stuff. I showed a couple of my friends who also read ya books and they were encouraging and followed me. Next thing I knew I had an author reblogging fanart I had created for one of her books. It’s so great to see other peoples’ reactions to my pieces.

Do you have anything fun that you’re working on or would like to do someday?​
I just finished Attachments ​by Rainbow Rowell and have a piece in the works for the book right now. I’m very excited about it!

What kind of advice or insight would you give to other artists?​
Observe other artist’s pieces and imitate their styles and techniques! As long as you give credit where credit is due and don’t post it claiming that the piece was all yours, they won’t mind! One of the best parts of having such a vast community of artists on the Internet is being able to learn from each other.

Visit Sarah’s Tumblr and deviantArt to view more of her artwork.

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About Author

Natasha M. Heck

Natasha believes cats and words are the shiniest things in the 'verse. She has touched Stonehenge, climbed the Glastonbury Tor, walked the Philosopher's Path, and kissed her true love on the Eiffel Tower. She's a fangirl, Jedi Knight, and Gryffindor whose love of unicorns led her to live in the land of geekdom and sunshine. She has an English degree emphasis in Creative Writing, and is using it to follow her dreams.

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