Living in Chicago, Carissa is a self-taught artist who specialises in portraiture. Carissa’s art is inspired and influenced by tattoo designs and people around her. Her portraits use vibrant colours and dark outlines.
How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I have been drawing and painting ever since I can remember, I used to watch 'how to draw' shows on PBS as a kid at my grandmas farm, and would always be sketching things that I see there, including barns and miniature horses. I really got motivated to pursue art as a career throughout middle school because I loved anime and thought I would grow up to draw comics. I still love anime, but not nearly as much as I did in middle school. In 8th grade I started focusing on realism and I would enter my artwork to compete in county fairs and local contests. When I graduated high school I felt very lost and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, after debating cosmetology school, I ended up starting a tattoo apprenticeship. I tattooed professionally for a couple of years, but traditional illustration was always my favourite, so I took a hiatus from tattooing to focus on my paintings and have been doing that for seven years now, I do hope to tattoo again in the future, but my true love is with a pencil and and a paint brush!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I find inspiration in so many places. Sometimes a beautiful model can be a muse, or just seeing the right set of colours together. My artwork is kind of all over the place, and I have a hard time sticking to just one style. Sometimes I will be grocery shopping and an idea will come to me and I will have to stop where I am to write it down or sketch a little thumbnail, I always try to keep a small sketchbook in my purse at all times.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
Probably at my art table. I used to love curling up in my circle cushion chair and drawing for hours, but lately I've been filming my work with a web cam so I have to be set up with my computer and quality lighting.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
I use a ton of Sharpie markers and Sharpie pens for outlines, sometimes I will use Micron pens when I need variations in pen thickness, but I truly love the Sharpie fine tipped pens. As for colours, I typically go with watercolours, Prang or Dr. Ph. Martin's, however I have been known to mix media and use coloured pencils over my watercolours, and well as markers and white gel rollers for highlights. My favourite paper to use is the Strathemore Bristol board Paper or the Arteza watercolour paper. I also do the occasional acrylic painting on canvas, and I love my pencils and Prismacolor Ebony pencils for graphite drawings. Lately I've been having some fun with gouache paints because they are similar to watercolours but are much more opaque which can result in some nice colours that you cannot achieve with watercolours alone.
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
For my black and white pencil work, my personal favourite is "Duality", and for coloured artwork my personal favourite would be "Flora". Both of these pieces took over 34 hours to complete, so by the time I was finished I felt somewhat accomplished.
If you are struggling to decide on what colours you are going to use, try using a limited colour palette, my favourite limited colour palette is yellow, magenta, and turquoise. It's interesting to me that by limiting which colours you use it brings the piece together nicely because you end up doing it a different way than you would if you were using unlimited colour options.