Q: Denise, you've got so many artistic talents! When did you decide to take illustration seriously as a career?
Being an artist is all I’ve ever known. I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. My mother always made sure that dance, music, art & the theater were in our lives. Being raised by a strong, independent, woman who happened to be an artist, had a big influence on me from a very early age. I began singing as soon as I could talk, dancing as soon as I could walk, drawing from the time I could hold a pencil, and writing songs and poetry as soon as I could form a sentence. All I’ve ever wanted to do is create, and all I’ve ever wanted to be is who I am, an artist. I’ve always taken my art seriously as a career, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do! It doesn’t matter which medium I use, whether it be dancing, singing, writing, drawing, painting, playing the violin or guitar. Having a number of mediums on my palette means more opportunities for me as an artist to do what I love the most, create!
I lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands on a beautiful Island called St. John for many years. The first week I moved there, I was walking down the street with my guitar on my back, wearing this rocking hand-painted t-shirt I made. This lovely couple stopped me on the street & we had the best conversation! One of those kismet moments in life where you’re at the right place at the right time! The woman asked me where I got my t-shirt & when I told her I painted it by hand she got so excited! Turns out she was the manager for a store called “World View Graphics” and was looking for an artist to hand paint on clothing! (*0*) Also turned out the gentleman with her was a music producer & musician (I ended up working with him over the years & recording music with him!) I applied & got the job at “World View Graphics” and the cool thing was people could come in and actually watch me paint on the clothing! This was the beginning of me getting paid to draw, paint, build a fan following. Working here opened my mind, and many doors, which led to many private commissions, as well as from local businesses!
Q: What was your first "official" Star Wars gig and how did you get involved with it?
I met this amazing artist, Randy Martinez while I was working at “Blick Art Materials”. Working at Blick was great! I met a LOT of people in the industry, some of my favorite artists, actors and musicians who inspire me BEYOND, would come in on a daily basis! I learned so much about the about the artists, products, events, the industry, about projects, about websites & I got discounts on my favorite products! Randy would come in & ask for my help quite often. We always had great conversations about art & music! We were actually friends for a couple of years before we got together. Randy has helped a LOT of artists break into the art scene! I always give props where props are due & I am truly grateful to Randy for bringing the Star Wars Art scene into my life! Randy invited me to work with him on some projects. I felt like he had me work with him to see what I was capable of (^.^). Topps was looking for artists for their “Indiana Jones Masterpieces” set & Randy recommended a number of artists including me. I submitted samples of my work & that was my first gig working on sketch cards. Working on this set was a great lesson in focus, determination, deadlines…I had a week to do 116 sketch cards & I did it! When I finished that set, I was invited to work with Topps Trading Cards on Star Wars Galaxy 4 where I did exclusive sketch cards for “Target”. That was my first Official gig as a Star Wars artist!
Q: So far, what's been your favorite Star Wars-themed project?
My favorite Star Wars themed project is a gallery show I was a part of with Randy Martinez called “ART FROM A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY”! The way everything happened from start to finish was pretty spectacular! Hold Up Art Gallery was interested in having Randy do a show featuring original Star Wars Art he’s created over the years. The owner came over to our place to select the pieces he wanted for the show. Randy expressed his vision for doing a show with 3D art and talked about how he wanted to do a show showcasing my 3D art along with his art. When the owner of the gallery saw the art I’ve created in my studio he was blown away! He was sold on the idea of Randy & I doing the show together. Once the date was set, I made some time to go to DKE Toys to find some DIY vinyl’s to work with. Dov asked what I was going to create & I told him my idea “Star Wars meets Dia De Los Muertos”. He loved my concept, and thanks to Dov , I walked out of DKE Toys with some cool vinyl toys & two Vader Helmets left over from the Vader Project! I LOVED having the opportunity to come up with my own concept for the show! It was really freeing! I decided to do every piece I created for the show in the theme of “Star Wars Dia De Los Muertos”. I’m obsessed with glow in the dark paint, so everything I created for the show glows in the dark. This show was really a challenge for me, but a GREAT challenge! I love seeing what I’m capable of when put to the test, and it really showed me what I was capable of! I had a short amount of time to create all the 3D mixed media pieces I made for the show. I improvised on every piece. I trusted myself, my ideas, my skills, my love, my inspiration & just went for it. The response from the media was beyond incredible! My art went viral worldwide! I received messages from fans in Taiwan, Australia, Africa, Mexico, Germany… telling me they saw me & my art on the news! It was truly exciting and humbling at the same time!
Photo by Sheldon Norton
I am truly honored to have my art featured all over the world by: Reuters, Wired, Huffington Post, Slashfilm, Forbes, Patron Of The Arts, Warholian, Daily Trojan, Geek Chic LA, Girl Gamer, The Edge On The Net, Comic Attack, Forcecast, Force.net, Galacticbinder, LAist, Nerdeux, Frequency, Eye Spy LA, networked blogs, Plastic And Plush, RamaScreen, Comic Book Resources, Buzz Box, Daily Motion, Action Figure Insider, Jedi Insider, Sir Steve’s Guide, Geek-Cartel, Geek With Curves, When Nerds Attack, Daily News 24, West Side Today, Omega-Level.net, and many more! Over 1,000 family, friends, fans, celebs, fellow artists came out & showed a LOT of love and support at the opening! Quite an experience! It is truly a blessing to be able to share my art, love & light!