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Meet April Borchelt

Today we’d like to introduce you to April Borchelt.

April, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I received my BFA in Drawing and Painting at the School of Art and Design at Kennesaw State University. I always knew I wanted to do art as a career, but the question was, “what kind.” I had grown up with the stigma that you had to have a “niche” or a specific style to be a successful artist. So I started pursuing different career paths to find what suits me best. In that journey, I completely changed my portfolio, honed my skills through online classes, and made lots of new art connections. In about two years after college, I ended up getting into both the animation industry through doing background paintings on Nickelodeon for SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as the gaming industry working in house at Hi-Rez Studios as a gaming illustrator for Paladins and a UI artist on SMITE. After pursuing animation and games to find that “niche” I soon realized my art style wasn’t tied to one thing. I loved the entertainment side of art but also the self expression of fine art. I was an in-house artist for about two years when I finally decided to leave the studio life to pursue freelancing. Since becoming a freelance artist, I’ve been able to go after many different facets of entertainment as well as pursue my personal voice as an artist all at once! During this time, I’ve done work for children’s books, cover illustrations, Trading Card Games, Dnd illustrations, Board games, as well as sell my personal work at conventions and gallery events. I still do random art gigs like painted Pet Portraits, Magic Card Alters, and personal commissions as well. At first I felt like I had to find that one “niche” that would become my identity forever, but the longer I’ve been a professional artist the more I’ve realized it’s OK for me to be a chameleon and be an artist of many things! It’s also proven to be fun learning new styles and techniques along the way. My faith has also been a HUGE part of my journey. My relationship with Jesus has always been a part of me, but I’ve leaned on Him even more in these recent years, and that’s given me great peace about who I am as an artist. I know that my talent has come from the Lord, and it’s a gift. I know that whatever I do, I’ll do it for Him.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every journey has its ups and downs. Mine has been a series of challenges but it leads to me becoming stronger in the end. One challenge I had to face near the beginning was starting from what felt like “zero” in the animation/ gaming side of art. I had a fine art degree and had to relearn a lot of things to make my work suitable for those types of careers. I made my own graduate program with all the extra online courses, trips, networking events, and projects I had myself do.

Another part of my career that’s always been challenging has been the social media world. When I was in college, social media had just started becoming important as far as utilizing them for your career. I’ve always felt like I’m two steps behind on technological advances and what that means for my art. It’s a big world and ironically, the internet has made it a little smaller, but it’s still been an uphill battle to reach the masses.

With every challenge, though I’ve had to trust God and remember that He’s got a plan for me no matter what. It’s helped me strive forward, knowing He’s walking alongside me even if it gets tough. I always strive to do my best and working on overcoming those obstacles has helped me become stronger and learn more than I could imagine.

Please tell us about your work.
I’m primarily an illustrator who’s personal work is very nature based and whimsical, but my art has been used for many different outlets. I’ve found that illustration has been the best marriage between my fine art roots and the entertainment industry. I started off with Pet portraits which has evolved into Background Painting for Animation, then fantasy illustration work for video games including promotional images showing off new content or characters, then UI (User Interface) design for a bit. Another place my work has been used in children’s books and trading card games. I’ve currently been doing illustrations for board games and that’s been very fulfilling. I love how my images can have a multi function on top of being a visual bonus with board games.

I think what sets me apart as an artist individually, is my ability to mold my art style into anything that is needed. My style can range from flat line art to high rendered detail both digitally and with traditional medium. You’ll find my art in an art gallery or in a video game. Because I’m able to take on many different styles, I’m able to take on all kinds of projects from different types of clients.

If I’m not doing client work that’s under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), I sell my work at conventions and gallery showings around the Atlanta area. When I’m attending conventions, I’m normally on a panel or two to share my story and insight alongside other professional artists in the industry. I love being able to put a smile on people’s faces when they’re able to see my art—definitely one of my favorite things when exhibiting my work in public.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I’m a very passionate person and become very focused on the goals that I want to achieve. I’ve always had the mantra, “Dream it, then Do it!” I remember finding a newspaper comic when I was in middle school that spoke about how if you have a dream but do nothing, nothing will happen, so get off your “rump” and get to it! It ended up being a quote Disney uses as well and it always made me want to reach for my dreams and never stop. When I did fall into despair, I had to lean into prayer. If I didn’t have God in my life, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today. I can push myself as hard as I can, but I know I can’t do it alone.

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