This week's blog features an interview of illustrator Ellen Cranch, written by Carl Sandeen of Kristi Usher Fine Art.
Ellen Cranch will say that working with artists older than her and that have spent many years perfecting their craft inspire her. But as Artistic Portland's youngest artist, Co-op members will say they are the ones inspired by Ellen's obvious talent and the desire to spend her life creating art.
Ellen travelled back to Oregon from Calgary with a BFA focused on Character Design and Illustration from the Alberta College of Art and Design. She carried with her a wonderful body of work which includes Bear & Bunny, a children's book she wrote, illustrated and published.
Along with that, she brought to her display area at the store delightful illustrations, prints and framed pieces that customers love to linger over.
Ellen started making art at a very young age and was encouraged by her family to draw and create. She says, "I was the pre-pre-schooler who would answer questions like, ‘What color is this?' with ‘Green, you make it by mixing yellow and blue.’ "
She grew up regularly taking various art classes and was able to explore all sorts of media, though most of her work these days is either in ink or is digitally produced. The watercolor shown here was her first attempt at a children's fairytale that she wrote and illustrated many years ago.
Ellen, a Canadian, chose Alberta College of Art and Design for its excellent reputation and for its affordability to Canadian citizens. It also offered a Character Design major which was exactly what she wished to study. Ellen will comment, "It has a studio class focus and a drilling of the basics that most art schools let slide. And it's small, easily navigable and invested in incredible teachers rather than dorms or sports facilities or after school activities."
Good Grief was created early in her schooling. Ellen notes that "ACAD was fantastic at making sure we understood art and design in order to create the best and most professional work possible. The first year was 100% traditional art and drawing skill including perspective, shading, and shape design. Second year added new mediums and color focusing on graphic design, illustration, and so on. Third and fourth year was when the streams branched off. Illustration and Character Design broke away from Advertising and Graphic Design. Our projects focused on our majors and brought us to where we are today."
Currently, Ellen is finishing a coloring/doodle book which is a collaboration with her youngest sister, and has started a comic project with a friend. On top of other smaller art projects and drawings, she has worked on two larger commissions that she says, "Were really fun and turned out really well." One was a series of Selkie illustrations for a return customer and the other was illustrating a book The Discovery of Mi-A-Kon-Da for an all-girl’s camp.'"
About the future, Ellen says, "My skillset is at once narrow and impossibly wide. My drawing skill buys me more leeway than most graphic designers, but what I truly look forward to are illustration and character design projects. If I was able to join a studio to create stories and characters for any media, I would be ecstatic!"