Today we’d like to introduce you to Charla Pettingill.
Charla, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil! I vividly remember making little illustrated picture books made from stapled sheets of manila paper before I knew how to read or write, and drawing on the back of my dad’s paperwork on occasion. I constantly drew as a young child, and all through elementary school, middle school, and high school. I was typically known as the kid who drew and would often do little commissions for my classmates. I won a few art contests at my elementary school and was recognized as “Most Talented” in fifth grade. When I was a sophomore or junior in high school, I began to realize that I could pursue art as a career and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I had some encouraging art teachers in high school and started creating art more seriously as I put together a portfolio to apply for college. I was named “Most Talented” again my senior year of high school. After graduating, I left my hometown of Morristown, TN, and went off to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA for my undergraduate degree.
In college, I knew from day one that I wanted to major in Illustration. I dabbled in a lot of different types of media in undergrad, with a preference for watercolor. I excelled in life drawing, but thoroughly enjoyed all the classes in the curriculum. I waited tables and then worked as a salon receptionist while I was in school, and did a little bit of freelance work here and there. One interesting freelance job I did was creating book illustrations for The Last Voyage of the Cosmic Muffin by Valerie Perez when I was a sophomore. I got into a couple of gallery shows during my time at SCAD. I graduated magna cum laude into the great recession in 2008 and decided to continue into the graduate illustration program at SCAD, where I started embracing digital media more; I did freelance work for a few magazines such as Highlights for Children, as well as commissions for co-workers and other acquaintances. I had a gallery show at a local cafe and sold prints at a local artists’ market.
After graduating with my M.A. in Illustration, I moved to the Atlanta area where I got a job as an in-house illustrator and graphic designer at a small marketing agency, creating art for kids’ products (for clients primarily in the foodservice industry). I spent nearly four years there, learning a good deal about print production and becoming more proficient at Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop during that time.
I then moved on to another local company where I designed paper goods such as gift wrap, greeting cards, gift bags, and stationery. I loved the work and learned a tremendous amount about the manufacturing processes for these products, as well as trends in the paper goods industry. Much of my focus was on gift wrap, and I fell in love with repeat patterns. I was self-taught with creating repeat patterns digitally, but at this job, I really learned how to make a repeat pattern successful. After three and a half years at that job, I moved on to a different company in the flooring industry, where I now work. I’m able to utilize my love of repeat patterns on a large scale, creating hard surface flooring. It’s exhilarating to create art for products that have such an impact on people’s lives, and I love exploring ideas and visuals that are unique to the industry.
When I’m not at my day job, I create personal work for fun (often drawing in Procreate) and I also design patterns that I sell on Spoonflower. I also attend life drawing sessions in the area whenever possible. When I’m not creating art, I enjoy making jewelry, traveling, playing with my two cats, and relaxing with a cup of coffee.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I love color and pattern! My subject matter tends to lean toward animals, food, florals, and nature. While I create a lot of repeat patterns, I also like creating vignette or spot illustrations (some of which I sell as prints) or just doodling in my sketchbook (I’m a huge fan of Tombow fudenosuke pens when I’m doing linework). I work digitally more than I ever have in the past, but I still love getting out my traditional art supplies and working in pen, gouache, marker, or watercolor and sometimes create patterns from my paintings and drawings. In general, While a significant amount of my work is geared toward kids’ products (such as apparel), I also like creating more elegant work intended for home decor, paper goods, and women’s apparel. I enjoy making imagery that makes people happy…it’s as simple as that.
The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
I think it’s important to realize that you can start small. Selling a few prints at a local artists’ market or on Etsy is a great way to start out! And there’s no need to invest a lot of money in self-promotion right out of the gate with things like postcard mailers, ads, or by paying hefty fees to have your work displayed on a website or in a publication. Word of mouth is a pretty powerful thing, and social media is a useful tool that we have now. Start small and local.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My portfolio website is www.charladraws.com. I showcase mostly personal work on this site and update it frequently.
To support my work, check out my Spoonflower shop at https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/charladraws
If interested in prints, freelance work, or commissions, please reach out to me through my website. I’m considering additional online outlets for selling my work. Stay tuned via my website!
- Website: www.charladraws.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/charladraws/
- Other: https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/charladraws
Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.