Looking at any one of Isabella's paintings, one would be forgiven for mistaking it as oil on canvas. Using a combination of gritty texture overlays and custom brushes (which she also sells), Isabella has perfected a style that fuses traditional with digital art.
Perhaps best known for her fan art (especially her Breaking Bad series), she is an incredibly talented portrait and landscape painter. We talked to her to find out more..
Hi Isabella, thanks for the interview! For those that don’t know you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get started with digital painting?
I'm a 24 year old freelance artist from Australia, I specialize in digital portraits but also do more traditional graphic design work.
My mother worked as a graphic designer so from a very young age art was a part of my life. As I approached adolescence computers were really becoming household staples and naturally I began to seek means of artistic expression through this medium. Having a completely new way to create as well as the ability to easily access information and inspiration via the internet really motivated me to stick with digital.
A year ago you said that you couldn’t see yourself doing digital painting for a living. Has that changed? Or is it still mainly a hobby?
As time goes on it becomes more and more viable, but at this stage I'm not able to paint full time.
What does a typical painting process look like for you?
I don't really plot it out on paper first or worry too much about planning. I do however start all my work in monochrome so I can focus on getting values right and then once I'm pleased go on to colour the piece. As for research, the amount of time looking at reference images really depends on how comfortable I am with the subject. I try not to procrastinate too much though and prefer to explore on the canvas.
I see your work featured a lot across social media. Do you have any tips for aspiring artists struggling with promoting their work?
Honestly I don't spend a great deal of time actively trying to drum up exposure. It is certainly one aspect of being an artist I'm not too comfortable with and need to work on...so to any aspiring artists I would say don't be like me.
Your work has a beautiful tactile feel to it. Many of your paintings could pass as oil paintings. Why do you think you’re drawn to this more traditional look?
I think the main reason is that it's just so much fun and feels a lot more like traditional painting. I did a few master studies of oil paintings and having enjoyed it so much I began to incorporate more textural brushes into my original pieces.
What one painting are you most proud of? Could you talk us through the making of it?
I'm quite fond of "Granite State" from my Breaking Bad series. For the most part the pieces were portraits incorporating elements from the episode. I really loved the imagery in Granite State however, so I pushed myself to forego any portraiture and focus on the artistic elements. The end product and the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received gave me the confidence to explore with more scenic pieces.
You’ve made a lot of beautiful tutorials. What inspired you to help other artists out? Have the tutorials led to any work or other opportunities for you?
I've taken so much from the community in terms of watching tutorials and inspiration, so I guess I wanted to put something back into it. Nothing's really come from the tutorials but I do have a brush pack available for sale.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to digital painting? How do you try to overcome it?
I think like artists of all mediums the blank canvas can be quite daunting so it's hard sometimes to find motivation. It's also easy to find yourself comparing yourself to others and their work and questioning the validity of your art. I try to remind myself that art is not a competition and to create for me.
Thanks for the interview. Any tips or advice you’d like to give aspiring digital artists?
Get used to failing. Draw something you've never drawn before and completely fail at it. Then draw it again in a new way and fail again. Learn to take pride in how painfully average some of your work will be, because now there's one less crappy piece you've got in you, and you're a step closer to reaching your full potential. Don't try to be a "good artist", just focus on being better than you were before.