I loved to read, and it made me want to be a writer, so I began drawing so I could get the stories and characters out of my head visually. Really, storytelling was always at the base of my desire to draw. But my actual artistic influences were varied.
The pictures in the books I read were, of course, a huge inspiration, and I wish I could remember the illustrator's names now. They were often more realistic, colored with paints, and fill of detail that I poured into. You know those books with intricate scenes where you have to find like 5 dolphins and 3 sea urchins and 5 turtles... I adored those.
The Great Search books by Usborne were some of them. Usborne Books, man.
I loved Degas for his ballerinas; I adored Impressionists in general for the colors and beauty of their work. I obsessed a lot over anime for a while but still realized I needed to expand past that style so I picked up a few tricks and then moved on. Later I rediscovered older cartoons from Disney and Loony Tunes, etc. and became interested in animation design and how that worked, even though I didn't want to be in animation myself. There were quite a few artists on DeviantArt that I admired, like Natalia Pierandrei and Julie Dillon.
I feel like my personal style is ultimately a mix of Disney, Japanese anime, and the realism that I learned in my fine arts classes in college. I grab new influences all the time and mix them in as I see fit. My current heroes are Fran Meneses (frannerd), Jake Parker, and Jason Brubaker, all who have a looser style than I used to and who are great at telling stories in their art. And I can't forget Loish! Her art is beautiful!
The list of inspiring artists that keep me wanting to draw keeps getting bigger all the time :)
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"You'll never stumble on the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar." -Ed Catmull