The Artist Spotlight is a series in which I interview artists, designers, and makers that have contributed to and collaborated with Unicorn Crate. I hope these interviews will serve as an inspiring look behind the scenes!
Hello Unicorns! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, and I’m back today with a look into the world of art by Thimsy Whimsy! The artist that created the Zelie and Nailah art print (inspired by Children of Blood and Bone) for the April ‘Animal Companions’ box. Not only is she very talented, but she is such a kind and lovely person who is absolutely amazing to collaborate with! I’ll let her introduce herself . . .
My name is Katherine Perry, known out and around as Thimsy or Thimsy Whimsy. I’m an illustrator and a recovering art hermit with a focus on drawing people from all walks of life. I attempt to be as inclusive as I can in my artwork so that people can see themselves in my artwork somewhere. I use creating my artwork as not only a way to survive, but also to help me cope with my chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia. It took until I was diagnosed with fibro and unable to work for me to take a chance on myself and my artwork as I had nothing left to lose. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I’ve gotten to create such awesome artwork and work on amazing projects. I really enjoy connecting with people over my art! The last year and a half has been such an energizing and rewarding ride, I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
Zelie and her lionare Nailah
April ‘Animal Companions’ box photos by @theanimagusblack
Q & A
Thank you so much for answering a few questions! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist? What is your background and how did you get into the type of illustration that you do?
No problem! I’m an illustrator and I have a focus on drawing people because I find them so interesting. I’ve been drawing since 2000 when I entered high school. I got my AA in Art, my BA in Art History and a certificate in Digital Art & Design. I originally got into drawing because I watched a lot of anime, read a lot of comics and loved video game art and wanted to try it out myself. It soon became a personal outlet for me to manage my stress, anxiety and depression. It was one of the few escapes I had that was positive and constructive. I also liked creating stories with my best friend and creating character sheets was fun. We tried creating comics a few times, but it wasn’t very successful because we weren’t at a level writing and art-wise to make anything substantial. Creating the style that I have now has been a great process and it has gotten me to the point where I feel ready to actually attempt creating comics with my bestie again!
What is your favorite medium to work in? Any favorite colors to work with?
I usually work digitally, but my all time favorite medium is ink! I love working with blues because they remind me of the ocean and blacks because of the depth you can achieve with them.
Much of your art is inspired by books. Any favorite fandoms?
Uh, let me tell you a thing… I actually swore off creating fan art years ago. It wasn’t until I read A Court of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas that I decided I was going to pick up fan art work again. ACOTAR is the only series I’ll read multiple times a year. I’m also a huge fan of the Pellinor series by Alison Croggon, Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, Sea Witch by Sarah Henning, the Iskari series by Kristen Ciccarelli, and An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. I’ve found that I’m totally okay with creating fan art from books because I’m not restricted by someone else’s art style or design. I essentially get to run amok with what the author described. There are so many good YA books and series out right now and I feel like I’m playing catch up with creating fan art!
How would you say your art has evolved since you started?
Well, I’ve got almost 20 years of arting under my belt… so I’d say it’s changed significantly. I’ve developed my current style after a lot of trial and error. It’s sort of a cross between tattoo art, American comic style and it’s heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau era. I know a lot of the really successful fan art illustrators have more of a painterly style and I hope to one day be able to achieve that next level of illustrating. But for now, I’m happy keeping my lines as they bring order to my chaos!
What is your process like when you work on a drawing or painting? Do you see the whole image in your mind first, or does it evolve as you work?
It normally starts with an idea or image in my head. It’s normally just a flash and then I start by finding my reference materials. Then I lay out the frame, if there is one, and get that lined. From there it just takes on a life of its own with new ideas altering what I have in front of me. I always start with completing the lines, then I create the skin colors followed by the hair, clothes, and any other elements like flowers. Effects and textures are normally the last thing I’ll add and it normally takes me the longest to get right.
Where did the name for your business come from?
That is a little bit of a funny. So trying to find a handle online that hasn’t been taken and is memorable is difficult. I’d let the issue percolate in the back of my mind for a while until, one night just before passing out, it hit me. My maiden name is Smith, why not scramble it? So I did and then added a “y” because why not? *badum-tss!* I added “Whimsy” as “Thimsy” was actually taken on a few social platforms and I wanted my art handle to be the same across the board. Also, it rhymed and fit the artistic aesthetic I was going for. Thus Thimsy and the longer Thimsy Whimsy was anti-climatically born! Muahahahaha!
Do you listen to music while you work?
Just about all the time. I have a small number of playlists on Pandora that I’ll play while working. I’ve noticed that I concentrate better and get into the “Art Zone” easier when I’m listening to Rock/Industrial or BPM/Dubstep. Sometimes, when I’ve got sensory overload, I’ll just listen to rain/thunder sounds and that helps me to re-center.
What artists would you say have inspired your own work?
Ooof… that would be a very long list! Briana Mora, Brianna Reagan, Elisa Sanchez, Rhunevild, David Paul Seymour, RunningQuill-Art, Ernesto Nave, Erica Williams, Miranda Zimmerman, David Mack, Medusa Dollmaker, Jonna Hyttinen, Jo Painter, William Volz, Diana Dworak, Timothy Von Rueden, Maria Dimova, Tran Nguyen, Qing Han, Jacquelin de Leon, Kegan Hawkins, Kelsey Beckett, Kelogsloops, and of course – Salome Totladze, Gabriella Bujdoso, and the almighty Charlie Bowater! There are dozens of other artists I follow on Instagram, but these are the ones that I stalk the most.
What else inspires you / how do you stay inspired?
Staying inspired can be difficult. Mostly, it’s by having larger, more amorphous project ideas that keeps me moving. Like doing all of the lineart for the coloring books or doing all of the character illustrations for ACOTAR! This allows me a lot of lateral freedom that helps keep me from feeling stagnant or overwhelmed. If I get stuck, then I rotate to coloring something or, barring that, I’ll pick three elements and toss a person in there and just run with it. I take a lot of inspiration from nature, though. Also, my clients who commission pieces tend to inspire some great ideas!
What has been your favorite piece of art to create so far?
So far, my favorite piece to create has been Weightless. The one with the girl floating underwater with the jellyfish. The lineart for this was the last illustration I did for my UNFATHOMABLE coloring book. I wanted it to embody that weightless feeling you get after completing something encompassing. Coloring it was fun, mostly because I got to get my husband’s input. He’s a civil engineer and does inspections on bridges to make sure they’re not going to fall down. He does diving inspections too and, as the most I’ve ever done underwater is snorkeling, he guided me through painting the light penetrating the water and the light refractions. I got his thumbs up on the final version!
What has been the most challenging piece of art to create so far?
Most definitely Nesta from ACOTAR. I actually had to set her down for 6 months because I knew I couldn’t get the lighting effects right that I wanted. So I waited, and looked at a bazillion photos and illustrations on Pinterest trying to figure out how to do it. When I went to pick it up, everything just clicked. But those 6 months or so just gnawed at the back of my mind.
What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer or fall?
HAH! Well… I definitely have a pre-order wish list on my Amazon Prime account dedicated to upcoming books I want to read. Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning, Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young, A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff, The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier, and The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson. I’ve got more in my wish list but these are the ones I’m the most excited about.
When you aren’t creating art or writing, what do you like to do?
Well, I definitely spend my off-drawing time writing, knitting or reading. I do enjoy gardening a lot but we don’t have much space currently for the garden of my dreams. I also like to hit up the plethora of breweries with my Mythical Man Beast (aka Husband) and play disc golf.
Any fun projects in the pipeline / what are you excited to create next?
Dude, so many projects!! I’m partnering with Lolita designer Le Petit Miaou, creating the artwork for the fabric she’s using to make dresses. She just got in the first fabric design and is currently making the first dress! I’m also working with Finfolk Productions, creating artwork for them. In terms of personal projects, I’m working on my second coloring book that I’ll be self-publishing in a few months. I’ve got a plethora of book fanart pieces I want to do as well. I’m also planning a coloring book focused on pitbulls that will be available to rescues and shelters at cost so they can resell them and earn money to rescue more pitbulls and find them their forever homes. I figured I have a skill, might as well try to do some good with it, you know? At the end of the year I’ll be putting together my first art book, so that will be really exciting! I would like to find a brewery to partner with to create their beer labels, that would be so fun!
What advice would you give artists and writers who are starting out on their creative journeys?
Believe in yourself. Take a chance on yourself and what you do. Don’t ever stop creating or learning! The writing and art lives are so intensive and difficult. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees as we get so overwhelmed by what we do and how far we feel we need to go. Whatever your creative outlet, immerse yourself in it. If you write: read and read and read! If you are an artist: stare at photos and paintings and textures. Go out into the world and touch tree bark and watch light play on water. We don’t get better by staying stagnant, we don’t grow as people or in our craft if we don’t experience what life has to offer us. But in the end, whatever you create, create it for yourself. Create what you want to see in the world and ignore what other people tell you you should be making. It’s your journey and your way of looking at the world, no one else’s. Live and breathe your craft.
Where can people find your work?
You can basically find me everywhere as @thimsywhimsy and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My LinkTree is https://linktr.ee/thimsywhimsy which is acting as my website while I work on building an actual one. There can find links to all of my social media, shop fronts like Etsy and Redbubble, and more! Feel free to message me!
Thank you so much for spending time with us today! Be sure to go check out more of Kat’s amazing work 🙂 – Naomi