Art in the SPNFamily: Part Two: Focus on Artists

This is the second in a series of articles in which I am shining the spotlight on some of the talented artists within the SPNFamily. Friendly reminder that, for the purpose of these articles, I am spotlighting some of my favs. And you might agree, my favs might be your favs. But it’s also very possible that your fav might not be spotlighted in this series… and that’s ok. I mean no disrespect to your fav, I mean no disrespect to you, the Artist. Shine a spotlight on your favs by letting them know how much you appreciate what they do!

As I explained in the first article in this series, “art” has a multitude of definitions. If you asked 100 people to give a definition of art, you would probably get 100 different answers. In this article, I am spotlighting artists who use a variety of mediums and materials, each creating their own unique style.

This article was truly a learning experience for me. I don’t know anything about drawing. Trust me, fam, you do not want me to do artwork for you. You’ll get a stick figure sketch worse than anything Sam Winchester could ever draw. Seriously. But the artists featured here, well, how do I even begin to talk about their talent? Are there even words to describe their works? I am so glad I had enough sense to ask the right questions, because they told me about materials and mediums and styles and used words and terminology that I did not know even existed in language. To be honest, I’m a bit scared to write this article, fearing I won’t do justice to these amazing artists.

So without further ado, gather around and join with me in drooling over their work and celebrating the talents of S. Dahl, Christine Griffin, Kaiya Plagenhoef, Angie Siketa, and Scout Villegas!

Art by S. Dahl
Art by Christine Griffin
Art by Kaiya Plagenhoef
Art by Angie Siketa
Art by Scout Villegas

The first featured artist is S. Dahl. Formerly an elementary school teacher, she is now teaching art to middle school students – I hope these students and their parents appreciate the gift of having Mrs. Dahl as their teacher! She is primarily self taught. She uses oil, acrylic and watercolor paints, and has recently begun experimenting with colored pencils. However, she works primarily with graphite pencils, which is perhaps her signature look.

Mrs. Dahl explained her process of creating art. She typically starts by studying a photo, studying the details of the subject. She went on to explain, “When I draw a picture, I always start drawing the right eye, for some reason, then the left. If I can tell who the person is from just the eyes I have drawn, then I proceed. The eyes are the most important part of the picture, they are the focal point. So, if I can’t see the person in just the eyes, I keep tweaking until I can. I easily spend 10 hours drawing a picture.”

I asked each artist who or what inspires them, and to offer a piece of advice for aspiring artists. I thought Mrs. Dahl’s answers were interesting in terms of perspective; how we see things with our own eyes versus how others see us. Her advice to aspiring artists: “You have to be strong, learn to take criticism, learn to change when it is needed, see your mistakes for what they are, and be your own cheering section. Push yourself to step outside your comfort zone and try new techniques and materials; I am constantly experimenting with other mediums. I experiment with other mediums for not only a break, but also to see if I can find something that will finally help me feel a sense of personal success in art. I get frustrated with being mediocre and want to create something that I can feel really proud of.”

She said that she is inspired by Michaelango, Rapheal, and John Singer Sergeant because of “their ability to take a paint brush and create art of subjects that look as if they could walk right off the canvas.”

I asked her if there was a specific piece that she would love to create. First she said that she would like, for once, for her parents to look at her art and say, wow, that is really good. Then she said she would love for TPTB behind Supernatural to see her art and say “hey, we want to use your drawings of the cast for our show”.

Seriously, Mrs. Dahl, nothing mediocre here! Every time you post a new piece on Twitter, I am just awed! I really think your subjects could just walk off the page! #AmIRight

Christine Griffin is the next featured artist. Cris is a lifelong artist. She has a bachelor’s degree in art and a master’s degree in painting. Her primary job is as a Domestic Engineer (A+ terminology!) however she does take commission work and she also designs book covers, such as the cover of Family Don’t End With Blood. She uses a variety of materials, including graphite, oils, acrylics, watercolors, carbon and conte pencils, and Photoshop. She prefers the genres of urban fantasy, horror, traditional fantasy and scifi.

She went on to explain a bit about her process, which typically starts with a tiny doodle to hash out what goes where. Then she looks for photoreferences and takes this new information to create a more detailed drawing, working out anatomy issues and whatever additional bits need further exploring. Then she begins painting. When she paints in Photoshop, she paints the same way she would traditionally, with the added bonus that she can play with the colors ad nauseum. As anyone who paints digitally knows, you can have a nearly infinite amount of layers in your file. Cris explained that she used to paint this way, with a ton of layers, but the past few years she’s been trying to limit the number of layers as much as possible because it just feels more comfortable and traditional to her. She said it’s not unusual for her to take 30-40 hours to finish one of her more detailed pieces.

Cris said she experiments constantly, in part because she gets dissatisfied easily. She would like to focus on one ‘look’ more consistently, because consistency is what gets you jobs. It’s what gets you arting better. She also said which technique she uses for a given piece depends entirely upon what she wants for the MOOD of the piece. She said, “If you can get your viewer to feel, then you have truly rocked it. They will forgive you many sins if you hit them in their heartplace.”

Cris is inspired by Petite_Madame (http://petite-madame.tumblr.com/), saying “Her generosity and prolificness astounds me time and again. She tackles long-term projects with awe-inspiring tenacity.” Cris is also inspired by artists who are creating their own universes, both in art and word, such as Brom (http://www.bromart.com/) and Sam Hogg (http://www.artofsamhogg.com/).

Cris had a fabulous piece of advice for aspiring artists. She said, “Beginning is always the toughest part. I’m worried I won’t be able to get the image in my head out onto the ‘page’ (or screen). I’m worried I’ve forgotten how to hold a damned pen or use words. But listen, you will ABSOLUTELY fail if you never try. So at least TRY.” Good advice, indeed. Her other tips included:

• Don’t take short-cuts. Learn your basics, like anatomy and light and perspective.
• Photo reference is not a SIN, but do use it prudently. Don’t let it become a substitute for knowledge.
• If the photo isn’t yours or stock, you’d better get permission to use it.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for concrit. Get used to people having opinions about your work.
• Don’t be so hard on yourself. There is a spot for us all, for all of our gifts and skills.
• Let people help you. F*ck the doubting voice in the back of your head and embrace the one that brings you the joy.

Cris would love to be able to celebrate the completion of something big, such as her own book, a gallery show, or something she can share with her friends and mentors and idols. Um, yeah, I am 100% there for this! She would also like to create original canon about Supernatural. She has a small handful of characters creeping to life. Interestingly, her favorite piece that she has created thus far is called The Flock, an image that had festered in her mind for ages. She said it’s not often that a piece surfaces exactly the way you wanted it to, but this one did. And let me just say, to anyone and everyone reading this article, can this become canon? Please?

Kaiya Plagenhoef is my next featured artist. She is currently in high school, and no, that is not a typo. Suffice it to say that, yes, she is taking art classes in school, but hello – she is very much self taught at this point in her young life! She does want to make art her primary source of income one day. Currently she does commissions for people based upon photos, typically of children. She said that she enjoys creating pieces for people that they would love, that would make them smile. I think she’s definitely well on her way to that goal.

Kaiya’s preferred genre is portrait realism, and she uses graphite and charcoal pencils. While she typically sticks to black and white portraiture, her classes allow her to experiment with different styles, techniques and mediums. Oftentimes, what starts as a requirement, turns into something she thoroughly enjoys as it allows her to expand and fine-tune her abilities.

I asked her if she has developed a signature look. She explained what her art teacher told her, “In art there are light people and black people. Those who stay on the lighter end of their pencil, not shading too heavily, are light people. Those who love the darkness, who reach for charcoal and strive to create heavy shadows in pieces are black people. You, you’re both. You’re a paradox.” What a beautiful thing, to be so gifted, so talented… and to have that both recognized and acknowledged by your mentors. #Paradox

Kaiya’s process also starts with a photo. When she comes across a photo that she loves, her immediate thought is “how do I draw this”? In doing portraits, she focuses hard on the little details in the subject’s face: the way their eyebrows curl, a hidden scar, the freckles around their nose. Because of her attention to these details, her pieces can take anywhere from 6 hours to 70 hours to finish. “It’s a grueling process, usually accompanied by me doubting how well I’m actually doing, resulting in many do-overs or re-sketching certain physical traits”, she said. Ultimately, her goal with every piece is to create something that evokes an emotional response with the viewer.

Kaiya is inspired by many artists, but there’s one who always, unknowingly, pushed her to do better. Fellow fandom artist Angie Siketa is a huge inspiration to Kaiya because she has a unique look to her pieces, with incredible detail and a beautiful balance to her shading. Through studying Angie’s works, Kaiya found ways to improve her own pieces.

So many fellow artists experience feelings of self doubt and anxiety, and Kaiya often feels it too. She said that she can see “every flaw, every mistake… it jumps out at me like a giant, flashing red sign, which just adds to my anxiety with my art.” She pushes through these feelings by turning that negative energy around and using it to fuel her desire to become better. Her tips for aspiring artists:

• Do not compare yourself to other artists.
• Art is a learning and growing process that can be slow at times, but the more you work at it, the better you get.
• Keep working, to keep creating art whether you hate what you’re doing or not.
• Allow yourself to feel, really feel, that sense of reward and accomplishment when you make something you truly love.

Kaiya’s favorite piece is a portrait based on a photo by Kelsi Sickmann of Rob Benedict, titled Fare Thee Well. She completed the piece in three days during her after school hours, finishing at “4:30am covered in charcoal and utterly exhausted.” Kaiya went on to say that if there is one piece that she would love to do, it would be to paint a mural on the side of a building one day. I know I’d love to photograph it – the whole process of her creating this mural, and of course, the finished project.

Angie Siketa is the next featured artist. She has been drawing since she was two years old and is mostly self taught; art was one of her least favorite subjects in school because the class was heavily theory based, with an emphasis on writing and research rather than actual drawing. She also tried a Digital Media course, but it was ultimately cancelled due to lack of interest, teaching staff, and funding. At that point, Angie decided to just move forward on her own.

She uses Palomino Blackwing pencils most of the time, however, she has experimented a bit with color using Faber Castell Polychromes. For her digital art, she sketches the piece in pencil first, then scans it and finishes it in Photoshop. She enjoys drawing portraits and chibis of actors/characters from TV shows (Supernatural was a big foundation), movies (Tim Burton!) and bands (My Chemical Romance, The Used, Green Day) as well as anime/cartoons (Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon). She also draws family members, people, and pets on commission. Although she does have a ‘day job,’ she has been freelancing and doing commission pieces since 2013, and she hopes to grow her art base into her primary source of income someday.

Angie has developed a signature look in her portraits, something she describes as “very high contrast with a unique blending/texturing of the skin.” With her chibi work, she says it took a few years to develop a style that was hers, but now she feels it is recognizable.

Angie’s process also begins with a reference picture. Next, she grids her paper and then she starts with the eyes. Depending on the size of the project, it can take anywhere from three hours to a few days. When drawing her chibis, she searches for photos to use for referencing details and outfit ideas. She sketches them in pencil, starting with the head and then determining their pose. Next, she adds all the features. Then she takes a photo of her piece, imports it to her laptop/Photoshop where she then traces over her pencil work and adds color. One chibi can take 1-2 hours or so to finish, from sketch to the final product.

Angie also had some advice for aspiring artists – lots of practice. She said she draws almost every day, and encourages artists to draw no matter what. She also echoed the advice of others, saying not to compare yourself to others, but instead compare your current work to your past work and keep goin’. She said looking through her past work also helps her combat the feelings of self doubt because she is able to see how far she’s come and how much she has improved. One of the things she said really struck a chord with me. She said “art is a never-ending lesson, and with every piece, you are learning and improving.” That’s definitely something I need to remember as I continue to work on my photography.

Angie is inspired by many artists, praising and applauding artists such as Mel (@melissanti), Adele (@uhdele), Katie (@artbyktgamboa) and Euclase (@eliciadonze). On Euclase, Angie said, “her digital portrait work is both soft and vibrant, and so very stunning – always has me in awe. One time she (Euclase) messaged me on tumblr and told me my work was amazing and I was giddy about it for days.” It is a beautiful thing when Artists Support Artists.

Angie doesn’t have a favorite piece, but she does enjoy scrolling through art on blogs/instagrams/whathaveyou for hours. She said it becomes something she “can really feel in her heart, and it’s such a feel-good ache and I just want to ooze my love all over the art.” She doesn’t really have a piece that she would love to create. Instead, her dream piece is a bit more extensive than just one piece: she would love to see her name in the credits of an animated movie.

The final artist featured in this article is Scout Villegas. She has been interested in art for most of her life and is mostly self-taught, with some minor education throughout high school. She considers herself a cartoonist and digital artist, but she also loves working in fantasy and portrait work. She started working in the digital medium about ten years ago, now using primarily Photoshop CS5 with her own custom brushes. She does occasionally do more traditional art, using Pigma Micron pens in a Moleskine sketchbook. Recently Scout has been experimenting with other mediums, in part to give her eyes a break from the digital work. She does have a signature look, something that she continues to work with and build upon to strengthen that signature style.

Although art started as a hobby for her, now it is her primary job. She does everything by herself (management), and she would like to work in close collaboration with others in the future. She also mentioned an interest in getting into an art department. She hopes to go further in the industry, possibly within animation or comics. Traveling and doing cons have been super beneficial to helping these things come closer to tangibility.

Scout’s process begins with a very, very vague blob of an idea. She said it’s like seeing a vaguely-shaped chunk of marble, something that can be carved into a bust. A piece can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 12 hours. She has learned that the implication of detail often creates a visual illusion to the viewer, allowing them to see more than is actually depicted. She said, “The emotional impact of those works can be heavier, so I’ve been teaching myself to take less time on painting and more time composing.”

Scout said that she is honestly so inspired by everyone that just puts their best foot forth in the arts now. “No one has to necessarily wear the professional title of “artist” for me to admire them. Anyone that creates inspires me to do more, especially when the general mood of the world is “tense” and “chaotic.”

Perhaps it is that tense, chaotic mood that leads so many artists down the path of self doubt and anxiety, including Scout. She said that she always experiences self doubt and anxiety when working on a new piece. Although she has moved past the feelings of completely giving up on her art, she did explain how she works through the anxiety. She said, “It’s become a natural habit to continue creating for me. It’s strange, but I’ve trained myself to make drawing a very strong muscle memory. Even if I’m overwhelmed with a project that’s over my head, the way I calm myself down is by focusing on one that I’m more confident in. Which, in turn, helps me improve so I can go back to what I was originally scared to work on and eventually finish it.”

Scout shared her tips and advice for aspiring artists. I really appreciated her frankness as she explained why we, as artists, should stop comparing ourselves to other artists. She said, “To get good at anything, you almost always have to completely suck at it first. This is a huge barricade to get over, but once you start looking at artists as mentors and friends rather than Untouchable Art Gods, things get a bit easier.” Amen.

She had other tips too, such as try not to take too big of leaps. If you don’t think you’re ready for something new, work up to it. She said, “It’s like drawing a face. Sometimes you have to work on it in sections. Draw a thousand noses first. Then a thousand eyes. Then lips. Eyebrows, etc. Afterwords, you’ll be able to put together what you couldn’t before.” She also advised that persistence and experimentation are powerful tools every artist needs to use.

Scout does not necessarily have a favorite piece, but she does have a favorite project. The God’n’Gabe books that she has done have been huge feats for her, so each one she finishes in the series is something she considers a huge accomplishment. She recently finished The Swaingels, which is her favorite series of works as of right now. Her dream project is to animate a music video for Louden Swain. Um, yes please, can this be a Thing?

Lastly, we all discussed posting art on social media. They all agreed on several key points:

To Post, or Not to Post, That is the Question:
I think Scout summed it up best when she said “There’s a time and place for everything, and art is art.” She explained that there is likely a platform out there for literally anything and everything, so find the platform that is best suited for your work. They all agreed they would be hesitant to share art that is perhaps unflattering or embarrassing to any given celebrity, and they would not tag said celebrity in the posted material.

Some Do’s and Don’ts:

• Don’t try to claim or distribute or sell an artist’s work as your own. Not Cool.
• Don’t show the celebrities an artist’s work without the express permission of the Artist. As Cris said, not all art is suitable for widespread display.
• Do consider carefully tags. Perhaps avoid using anything rude or crude, or offensive/profane language. Obviously, these kinds of things are subjective and vary from person to person.
• Do credit your inspiration, such as “inspired by (photographer’s name)” or by a song (title and singer/song writer). Angie oftentimes includes a link to the music video that inspired her work. As Kaiya said, “I think by crediting what inspired you as the Artist, it could open up a better understanding of your work to those who view it.” On the other hand, sometimes the line blurs a bit when it comes to the finished piece; it may have been inspired by something, but the final product may have ended down a different path.

ONE MORE TIME, FOR ALL Y’ALL IN THE BACK:
For the love of all that is Holy, Don’t crop out or remove watermarks. And tag the artist when reposting. I think Cris said it best as she explained: “If someone wants to hire me, then that client needs to be able to find me; that’s partly why watermarks are so important as it helps potential clients identify my work.” So on that note, why not help spread these names out there for potential clients? #SpreadLove

Art by S. Dahl
Art by Christine Griffin
Art by Kaiya Plagenhoef
Art by Angie Siketa
Art by Scout Villegas

To learn more about these fantastic artists, or to buy their works, please visit the following links:

S. Dahl:
On Twitter
S. Dahl’s Art Gallery

Christine Griffin:
On Twitter
Cris’ Website
On Society6
On LiveJournal
On tumblr

Kaiya Plagenhoef:
On Twitter

Angie Siketa:
On Twitter
On Red Bubble
On Instagram
On Facebook
On tumblr
On YouTube

Scout Villegas:
On Twitter
On Red Bubble
On Society6
On tumblr

I hope you enjoyed this article as much I enjoyed writing it! Part Three in this series coming soon!
-Kim Prior.
@MamaPrior

Supernatural Meme Star Michael Adamthwaite Talks War for the Planet of the Apes

20th Century Fox

I’m rather fond of saying that everything leads back to Supernatural, but honestly, it’s just true! I had the pleasure of chatting with Michael Adamthwaite, who is currently playing Caesar’s lieutenant Luca in the new film War For the Planet of the Apes. The film had a presence at Comic Con with a panel showing off the artistic and visual effects of the film. As a long time fan of the entire Planet of the Apes series of films (I even read the book by Pierre Boule and loved it), I was excited about the last in the sequel trilogy. The film focuses on Caesar and the war between his quest for revenge and his innate empathy, as well as on the actual fight between humans and apes. It also introduces the de-evolved young human girl Nova, a familiar name from the original series of films and first group of sequels. The movie tackles deeper themes than might be expected, which makes it even more intriguing to me. So having an opportunity to chat with Michael Adamthwaite, who played Caesar’s lieutenant, Luca, was a real treat.

As soon as I did a little IMDb research on the film, I realized its Supernatural connection – Michael, as well as Ty Olsson and Aleks Paunovic, had all been on SPN too! Here’s my chat with Michael, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Read more

Art in the SPNFamily: Part One: Focus on Photographers

If you asked 100 people to give a definition of art, you would probably get 100 different answers. There are so many kinds and types and genres and styles of art. For each one, there are a multitude of different mediums and materials used in creating art. And there are literally hundreds of thousands of people making this thing we call art… and no one way is right and none of them are wrong. Some types or mediums or artists speak to me, something about their art resonates within me. Everyday my twitter feed is full of art. And artists. And ideas and talent and hours of hard work. And it is beautiful and uplifting and inspiring. Truth be told, I don’t love it all… in fact, some of it I don’t even like… but even for the individual pieces that I don’t like, I can appreciate the time and the effort and the talent behind it, and I am still in awe of their talent.

This is the first in a series of articles in which I will shine the spotlight on some of the talented artists within the SPNFamily. But before I get to that, let me be very, Very Clear… it is not humanly possible for me to know every single artist out there, not possible to know every single piece of work. So for the purpose of these articles, I will shine the spotlight on some of my favs. And you might agree, my favs might be your favs. But it’s also very possible that your fav might not be spotlighted in this series… and that’s ok. I mean no disrespect to your fav, I mean no disrespect to you, the Artist. Shine a spotlight on your favs by letting them know how much you appreciate what they do!

A long time ago, a teacher told me, “start with what you know and build up from there.” I’m a photographer, so I will start by shining the spotlight on a few of my favorite photographers, listed here in alphabetical order because there is just no way I could ever “rank” these amazing ladies: Amy (@amyshaped), Amy (sweetondean), Kelly (@nothing_magical), Krista (@kreespa), Megan (Stardust and Melancholy), and Stefania (@s_verasani). The following photos will show you why they are some of my fav photographers!

Photo by Amy M.
Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Krista
Photo by Megan
Photo by Stefania

Whew. Is it hot in here or is it just me? Why did I think writing these articles would be easy? Perhaps we should take a brief moment to get some water (or something stronger!) because there will be more photos in this article.

I asked the ladies about their background (experience and education) in photography. I was very surprised to learn that they are all essentially self-taught. In their efforts at self-teaching, they have taken some sort of seminar, webinar, or course to learn more about photography. Amy (sweetondean), Megan, and Kelly had some photography classes in high school; I wish photography classes had been offered at my high school! Kelly and Stefania have even learned how to develop film. Stefania said she used to spend countless hours in the basement developing her photos, a process she said was “smelly and messy, but fun.”

Their advice for aspiring photographers therefore rings true to the fact they are all self-taught. Essentially, they all said the same thing, to just get out there and take pictures. And keep taking pictures. And you will learn new things about your camera, and ways to shoot, and you might even learn new ways to see things:

Amy (sweetondean): “The more you do it, the better your eye becomes, and the more familiar you become with your camera. You do need to work your eye and you need to get used to your camera’s abilities.”

Kelly:Try out-of-the box things that might seem strange i.e. asymmetrical framing, cropping parts out of your photos, no negative space, lots of negative space, etc. There is never any harm in trying something different than your preconceived notions of what makes a good photograph; you may surprise yourself.”

Krista: “Do not compare yourself to others. We each have our own point of view.”

Megan:No one else sees the world the same way you do and that’s your greatest weapon.”

Stefania: “Do it for yourself and find your own motivation. Don’t look for perfect, look for something that speaks to you.”

Interesting side note here: we also talked about self-doubt. They all experience these feelings to some degree. And they all said the same thing – they just push through it. Whether they are feeling overwhelmed before a convention starts, or during panels, or afterwards when they sit down to edit their photos, those feelings of doubt and failure and “why am I even doing this” creep in… and they just push through it. They keep shooting. They keep editing. They just keep doing this thing they love, and they just push that doubt down. They were all quick to offer support to aspiring photographers, and I think deep down, those same bits of advice help them help themselves.

Of course, I also asked them about their equipment. Some use Canon, others use Nikon (and the battle rages on!). While they use a more powerful lens at conventions, such as a Canon 70-300mm lens or a Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, several of them said they use their cell phones on a more casual, everyday basis.

Photo by Amy M. Nikon camera
Photo by Amy (sweetondean) Canon camera

They are self-taught. They take lots of photos. They have great equipment. So what do they think is their “signature look”? Initially, their responses were that they don’t think they have a signature look. But as they thought about it, each one of them came to the conclusion that, yeah, they do have a signature look, in the way they see things. And I think that’s so important. I mean, think about that. Take any two of these photographers and ask them to take the same shot – and you’ll get two different images, because each one sees the shot from a different perspective. Amy’s image might have rich colors while Megan’s might be a starkly contrast black and white with varying shades of gray. Krista and Stefania might have a final image where one focused on the twinkle in the eye, and the other focused on the full out laughter of the moment. Any one of these photographers might choose to edit a photo with an emphasis on the negative space, and each photo will be framed differently to highlight the negative space as they see it through their eyes. Kelly called it instinct, relying on this as she tries to “bring my subject to life in a way that showcases the subject, but also stays true to the atmosphere and mood of that moment when the shot is taken.” The bottom line here is that each of these ladies sees it from their own unique perspectives, and, in my very humble opinion, that is what defines a Signature Look.

Photo by Amy M.
Compilation edit using her own photos, Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Krista
Photo by Megan
Photo by Stefania

We also discussed posting pictures on social media, wording these posts, watermarking, crediting and fanart based upon our photos. Although each person responded with her own words, they were all on the proverbial same page.

We talked about sharing photos that are derpy faces, or extremely emotional, or ones with children. They all agreed they don’t like to share derpy photos, if for no other reason than they wouldn’t want people to post derpy photos of them, so why do it to others? That being said, sometimes a photo really shows a great facial expression, which in turns captures a great/funny/emotional moment, and they oftentimes share those photos. They felt that if a celebrity brings their child on stage, then said celebrity knows people will take pictures of that moment, but each of the ladies in this article still felt it best to ask for permission to post photos of children. Ultimately, each photographer said that this really is a matter of personal preference. I think Megan summed it up best when she said, “You can catch some really genuinely vulnerable moments and it’s hard to know where to draw the line with them. I am usually too careful, and err on the side of caution.”

We talked about what wording to use when posting photos, pondering the use of hashtags like #TonguePorn, discussing what is and is not appropriate. They all agreed that it is frequently just too hard to come up with interesting or funny comments, so they often just post with the name of the person, date, and location/convention. As for the hashtags and what is and isn’t appropriate, that brought all sorts of different responses! Some thought these types of photos usually aren’t flattering, leading them to refrain from posting these types of photos. Others commented that sometimes the photos tagged in this manner are obviously just for fun, something to make us laugh, and not intended as an objectification of the person in the photo. I also found it very interesting to learn the point of view as it relates to different cultures. What one country or culture views as objectification… is definitely not the same as what another area of the world may think. In American culture, we tend to immediately jump to the conclusion that a photo is intended to objectify a person, and then people get all riled up and angry about it, and well, welcome to fandom wank. But in other cultures, beauty is, in fact, admired and appreciated and celebrated. In other cultures, a person can actually take a photo a of person fully engaged in a hearty laugh, a laugh that reveals dimples and eye crinkles and even a tongue – and in those other cultures, the photo is seen as something beautiful instead of a photo that is specifically intended to objectify the person. I guess this discussion opened my eyes to the whole theory of intent – and none of these photographers post any photo, with or without hashtags, pretty smiling faces or derpy faces, with the intent of objectifying the person in the photo. Yes, obviously a person could post a photo and then offer up some lame apology “I’m sorry, that was not my intent”; but I can assure you these ladies just want to take beautiful, emotional, a-moment-captured photos. And if those photos include on a flexed muscle, or a hand, or a tongue, well, it was not taken with the intent of objectifying anything.

All that said, enjoy these next photos for the beauty therein.

Photo by Amy M.
Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Krista
Photo by Megan
Photo by Stefania

We also discussed watermarks, credit, and tagging. Again, all of the ladies were in agreement. Any given person is welcome to repost one of their photos as long as the watermark is intact. Let me say that another way… Don’t Crop Off Watermarks. Hey yo, people in the back, did you hear me? Let me say it again, a little louder this time… DON’T REMOVE WATERMARKS. I think that’s a fairly easy thing to understand, right? Ok, moving on. The ladies did have different opinions about tagging. Some would like to be tagged in social media posts using their photos, others are okay with not being tagged. Either way, they do appreciate that other people enjoy their photos enough to repost them, perhaps in things like #MotivationMonday or #WinchesterWednesday and so on. And listen, there is even a camera emoji, so it really isn’t hard to add that emoji and the photographer’s name. If reposting a photo makes you happy, makes your friends happy, then why not give a bit of credit to the photographer and make them happy too? #AmIRight #SpreadLove

The subject of fanart had similar responses. They all agreed that a simple “original photo by” with credit to the photographer is a nice touch (see paragraph above!); they all like to know when one of their photos has inspired an artist. And they definitely want to see the artist’s final piece. Some said they prefer to be asked if one of their photos can be used for a piece of art, in part because some of them do not want their photos to become nsfw; all of these ladies take great pride in their photography and they are uncomfortable with their work being portrayed in that light. They also agreed that they are not at all comfortable with an artist wanting to sell-for-profit a piece of fanart that is based upon their photos. I think Amy (sweetondean) summed it up best when she said, “I had to really think about how I perceive my photography and what it expresses to me personally. In the end… it made me personally assess how important my images are to me and what they mean to me.” Don’t misunderstand this… by all means, go forth and make art… but first, perhaps contact the photographer and find out how she (or he) feels about having her work used as fanart.

Who are your favorite photographers, who inspires you? To be fair, I only expected a name or two as an answer, but I love they took the time to explain why that person inspires them!

Amy: “Megan… you can almost hear her photos.”

Kelly: “Chris Schmelke… his photos are full of movement and always seem to convey an experience.”

Krista: “Chris Schmelke, Amy, Megan.” (she also listed me, but I’m no role model so whatever)

Megan: “Annie Leibovitz, Martin De Boer, Miller Mobley, Nino Munoz, Sarah Dunn, Brian Bowen Smith, Chris Schmelke. They all have very sophisticated, clean work that I aspire to so much.”

Stefania: “Anton Corbijin. His photos of U2 convey what their music stands for and fill me with so many emotions.”

Me: alllll of the ladies in this article, just sayin

Of course I asked them if they had a dream photo shoot. Amy, Krista, and Stefania want to shoot one of their favorite bands at a concert. Kelly wants to travel the world and capture its beauty. Stefania admits to wanting to spend a day on the set of Supernatural, although she admits she wouldn’t take many pictures because she would be too busy watching the camera operators at work. However, I found it very interesting that several of them said the same thing – to be free to roam at a convention, especially during the Saturday Night Special. The seats at conventions are so tightly packed together, and it would be nice to not elbow the people sitting next to them, to not have to bend and lean and twist as to avoid taking pictures of a fan’s head. It would be nice to be able to move freely in order to get shots from all points of the stage, whether it is a great shot of Billy Moran jamming on guitar, or catching a great shot of Jared and Jensen’s epic jump at the beginning of their panel, or oh dear lord finally finding the right angle to get that elusive shot of Mark Sheppard or Stephen Norton on drums. But alas, this is why this is why its called a dream shoot. And while we’re on the subject, yes, Megan’s dream shoot features a certain Chris Pine.

I also asked a question, which to be honest, I asked this to check myself. How many photos do you take during a convention? The answers ranged from 2,000 pics to 5,000 pics. How many photos do you delete? The general answer was about half, sometimes more than half. Whew. At least I’m on par with that.

To be clear, these ladies are more than just convention photographers. Although Amy (sweetondean) said she usually only shoots at conventions, she also said she loves to photograph her dog. Megan also enjoys wildlife photography, shooting at her local zoo; she said it is often the break she needs from portrait work. Krista enjoys taking pictures of her family and while she’s traveling. Amy also enjoys photographing her family, and she loves concert photography. Stefania enjoys landscape photography. And then there’s Kelly… yes, she enjoys landscape photography, and cityscapes, but she also loves astrophotography. I guess I know what I’ll be trying next, so thanks for that, Kelly.

Photo by Amy M.
Photo by Amy M.
“Buffy” Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Krista
Photo by Krista
“Werribee” Photo by Megan
Photo by Stefania
Photo by Stefania

One final note: Amy (amyshaped) was not available for comment for this article because she has been in the hospital, engaged in an epic battle with an infection that has taken her through six surgeries, pneumonia, and more-than-one’s-fair-share of anxiety. All comments and references to Amy in this article are my own. There was no way I was going to write this article without including her. Yes, she’s one of my dear friends, and yes, she’s one of my favs, but she’s also one of the best photographers out there. Get well, Amy, get well soon. #AKF #YANA #FAHYB

How could I write an article without asking if they have a favorite photo? Well, lemme tell ya, they all expressed great difficulty in choosing the handful I requested for this article, forget trying to choose a single favorite photo. Alas, in the end, they did choose a few favorites, and then I chose my favs from their favs, and well, I’ll just drop those here.

Photo by Amy M. (one of my fav shots)
Photo by Amy M. (one of my fav shots)
Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Amy (sweetondean)
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Kelly
Photo by Krista
Photo by Krista
Photo by Megan
Photo by Megan
Photo by Stefania
Photo by Stefania

Want to learn more about these fabulous ladies? Want to see more of their fandamntastic photography? Check out the links below!

Amy M.

Twitter @amyshaped

Amy’s Albums on Flickr

Amy: (sweetondean)

Twitter @AmyinSydney

Amy’s Blog

Amy’s Tumblr

Amy on Redbubble

Kelly:

Twitter @nothing_magical

Krista:

Twitter @kreespa

Krista’s Albums on Flickr

Megan:

Twitter @MelancholyPhoto

Megan’s Website

Megan on Instagram

Stefania:

Twitter @s_verasani

Alas, this ends my presentation of my fav photographers. I hope you have enjoyed learning about them as much as I have. I know I loved looking at their glorious photos! Many thanks to Lynn for allowing me to write this series and to shine the spotlight on some of the talented people in our fandom. Part Two of this series will be posted in July and will feature some of my favorite artists!

-Kim Prior.

@MamaPrior

 

 

 

Celebrate Fandom with OTP The Show!

The cast of OTP the Show
The cast of OTP the Show

The Supernatural fandom has been enduring Hellatus for a while now, so we thought we’d post some feel-good things to keep us all going until Show returns in two weeks.

We’ve written four books on why people become fans and why that’s a good and healthy thing. When we started out in fandom more than a decade ago, there was still a great deal of shame around being a fan – especially being a fangirl. When we fell head over heels for Supernatural, most of the people in our lives shook their heads in confusion (and perhaps a little dismay). What had happened to us? Our parents, our children, our partners, our colleagues – everybody seemed to be judging us for engaging in something so frivolous. Why write fanfiction when we could be publishing textbooks or novels? Why spend good money to fly across the country to go to a fan convention? What was this Supernatural show anyway??

Things have changed a little – it’s cooler now to be a geek. Everyone is allowed to like Star Wars (even if most of the merchandise is still missing the main character…). It’s probably even okay to spend money you don’t really have going to the Big Apple to see Hamilton the Musical. But going to a Supernatural convention? Hyperventilating a little over Jensen in single layer or Jared’s gorgeous hair or Misha still looking like an adorable teenager? And reading (or god forbid, writing) fanfiction about the Show? Still as likely to garner “grow up, young lady!” as it is to garner either an understanding nod or maybe even a positive comment on your writing.

That’s what makes this show so important. OTP The Show is about many things, not just fandom – but it’s written by a fangirl, from a fangirl point of view. It doesn’t shy away from portraying fans as passionate or talking about fanfic or shipping or Tumblr. It’s witty and funny and sometimes poignant. And it’s different. I mean, it’s called OTP – something most fans recognize from the fannish lexicon.

Graphic @sweetyhigh
Graphic @sweetyhigh

I had the pleasure of chatting with creator and star Laura Jordan – who also happens to be best friends with Supernatural’s own Kim Rhodes. So, by proxy, SPN Family. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon – chatting with a fellow fangirl!

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How The Hillywood Show Got It Right: the Supernatural Parody!

hillywood dean

Like everyone else in the Supernatural fandom (and cast), I loved The Hillywood Show’s brilliant parody of our beloved Show – mostly because they got it so very right. It’s not that easy to create a parody of a show with a passionate fandom; as fans, we notice everything. Get it wrong, and we’ll call you out on it in a microsecond. But get it right, and we’ll shower you with gratitude. I couldn’t wait to talk to the Hillywood girls, Hannah and Hilly Hindi, to find out how they managed to do just that.

Lynn: I’m so excited to talk to you, I absolutely loved the Supernatural parody! I’ve been a fan of this Show for nine years and this is one of the best things EVER. Congrats!

Hilly: Ohmygod, thank you, that’s a lot coming from you!

Lynn: Pretty sure I’ve watched it about a million times. I notice that many of your parodies are of shows or films that are fan favorites, like Lord of the Rings or The Walking Dead or Doctor Who – or of course Supernatural. Do you pick things that you know have passionate fan bases, or do you pick things that you are fans of yourself?

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