Ep.138: Piper Thibodeau on creating fantasy characters

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Apr 26, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Piper Thibodeau, a freelance character designer, and illustrator who is most known for painting cute animals and critters and has worked with clients like Nickelodeon, CGMA, Concept Cookie and DreamWorks.

Get in touch with Piper

Key Takeaways

“Don’t get yourself glued to one subject, experiment and try different outlets (e.g. animation, children books, toys) to increase your value to clients.”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Piper for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Piper Thibodeau, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists and creative arrives our reality video. My name is Iva, and my guest today is Piper Tibideaux. And in this episode, you will learn about how she manages to create the painting obey. And her idea about creating reference mega library.

Piper Thibodeau

I haven’t really gotten into this, but I would really love to create a mega library of different reference images so that I don’t have to be looking through my different files and previous projects for those images I really liked but said I could just pull that up like Okay, so here’s animals and I have specifics of like, oh, this is what well looks like. This is what scales looks like. I think that’s quite useful and it will, it will definitely save time for artists rather than scrounging around on Google

Iva Mikles

Fiber is a freelance character designer and illustrator who is most known for painting a cute animals and critters. She has worked for clients such as Nickelodeon, Intel, CGMA concept cookie, and DreamWorks TV. Since 2012. She has been creating a painting every day before 12am. And some of that work she collected and published in a book called Daily paintings. So please welcome Piper Tibideaux. And let’s get to the interview. So welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. Hi, and I’m super happy to have Piper here.

Piper Thibodeau

Hi, there. Welcome to my messy room.

Iva Mikles

Hello, thank you for inviting us to your room. And yeah, let’s start with your background. And maybe you can tell us a bit more how you go to art and maybe when did you decide, okay, I want to take this professionally like, Okay, I love this as a career.

Piper Thibodeau

Cool. So yeah, I mean, I ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been into drawing monsters and creatures on my agenda at school. And it kind of evolved from there. And I’d say around the age of 15, about I started to take it more seriously. And I went from just using A to B pencil and some loose paper and to using a small Wacom tablet at the time, which was an Intuos, I think. And then I was I was sort of getting into digital drawing. And it really, really started when I was 60. And up until now that I’m 25 It’s been about the evolutionary period.

Iva Mikles

Oh, wow. So did you have like also some other creative outlets when you were a child like also the inspired by animals? Or did you have a lot of pets as a kid?

Piper Thibodeau

Yeah, I mean, I had a lot of interesting pets when I was a kid. Rabbits and birds mostly. And the occasional reptile that my mom got rid of, because it was too smelly. My turtle that ran away. Oh, yeah, it was like, where is it? I’m not even kidding. Like, my mother had told me that my turtle ran away when I was five. I never bought it. There was a lot. So yeah, I mean, I’d say I mean, my main profession that I wanted to get into was actually to become a zoologist. But it didn’t really turn out. So I kind of I mean, my stuff is mostly cartoony for the obviously familiar with my work, it’s, it’s really on the cartoon and so I don’t really have much realism yet, but it I do like the ability than the freedom as an artist that even though I can’t really get into the profession of being a zoo ologists without taking some significant time off of my main work right now, I could still appreciate it from an artistic standpoint as well, because I can study the anatomy behind animals and the behaviorism and how that would apply to maybe animation. So it’s great to just I think the art is just such a general fields that you could incorporate a lot of different subfields into it. And that’s fascinating to me.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. Do you also watch a lot of documentaries and books about like animal life, I guess.

Piper Thibodeau

I love this. For my favorite, we try. Attenborough. He’s this famous. I think he works for the BBC. And yeah, I pretty much binge watch all his content. Oh, yeah. He’s still got more years and then because I think he’s in his 90s

Iva Mikles

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I saw Sam. Yeah, I still have to go through the rest of them.

Piper Thibodeau

Right. Yeah, he’s he’s great. And yeah, I mean, there’s Some, I think there’s another artists though that I she there’s this artist, I really apologize for butchering her name. I just for some reason, I just can’t commit it to memory. I think it was terrible. Which sled

Iva Mikles

I think would be clutch. Yeah, we’d like

Piper Thibodeau

I really have a trouble with those. W last names Anyways, sorry, what I wanted to just mention was just that I found her artwork really inspiring, because I think it really does bridge that, that gap between art and science. And she she would think she was she was definitely commissioned by Star Wars to do the character designs on the prequel films. And yeah, it’s, it’s great to see how she will implement that knowledge of scientific illustration Into a Fantasy drawing. It’s, I mean, I never do that with my work. And I wish I can, I think that it’s slowly I want to work towards that. But it’s just blows my mind, I think that she’s extremely talented.

Iva Mikles

There is a lot of studies of the anatomy and how the creatures actually work. So it’s kind of like, yeah, as you mentioned, that the bone structure the muscles and everything behind it. So how to create actually the fantasy creature.

Piper Thibodeau

Right. And I think that it’s just taken for granted. Because, let’s say working on an animated film, I mean, you could draw a stylized, alien creature, but it’s just so much more fascinating, so much more depth, when you can understand how this thing evolved, or how it walks or what it eats, and, and the mannerisms that you might have. And it’s really quite fascinating. I love the field.

Iva Mikles

So how does your creative process look like, you know, when you have, like inspiration, maybe from nature, and you know, like, you’re trying to create, like a story moment and these combinations, like do you sketch? Or do you write down the ideas you want to draw? Or do you have a sketchbook with you all the time?

Piper Thibodeau

I really need to get more into the habit of carrying a sketchbook around me. But I would say that I have in recent months, I’ve been taking that more seriously, I’ve been trying to draw more than I have in the past. In general, I haven’t been doing many studies, so it’s hard to really answer that. But for my freelance work, I often will be doing, like prelim, I’ll start almost, let’s say with my dailies, for instance, I never really just jumped straight into an illustration, I tried to at least just test out what it will look like through a few sketches beforehand. And even a lot of times, especially when something is color dependent, as often my dailies are, I always will do a very quick draft of what color will look like on this thing, because I think one of from what I’ve learned in my experience as an illustrator is the most painful mistake is color. Because it’s really hard to change later on, you could change quite a lot of things, but color is just probably the most unchanged like unchangeable is a really bad English. It’s pretty fixated. Right. And, yeah, I find that, especially when you’re working on a larger project, like let’s say, a children’s book, it’s even important in that respect, because it’s a sequence of images. And if you’re going to be reusing the same color palettes, that might be problematic, because if you let’s say we’re using too many greens, and it’s hard to see that if you’re doing it just spontaneously, and you don’t you kind of don’t look at it from afar and just kind of see what it would look like overlaid on like side by side. It’s difficult to kind of see through repeating yourself. So I really suggest to artists that regardless of what kind of project you have, before you jump in, try to minimize the risk. Although I mean, I hesitate to give direct advice as an artist because I mean, I’m still fairly early in my career. And I don’t want to lead anyone astray. So I mean, hey, if you want to work in love, I think the value is there’s a lot, there’s some folks who will work with values, like the grayscale, and that’s perfectly fine. I mean, if that works for you, that’s fantastic. But for myself, personally, I’m very paranoid about, you know, starting to render stuff and then having to get wrong. But actually, just sorry, I’m not going on a tangent, but what I would just say about the grayscale bed is that I think that you’re kind of you’re a little bit protected, because you don’t really have to render in color, you’re not doing those values in color. So you have the render done. And all the details done in adding the color is kind of just it’s a it’s just a slap on at the end. So you could backtrack more easily in that respect.

Iva Mikles

Because it’s also good to check the values if your contrast is right. And so the colors are working properly. Do you also sometimes do when you start right away with a color then you switch it to black and white to just check it and then you go back to color or you don’t work like that?

Piper Thibodeau

I think it really depends on the depth to the illustration. Usually I don’t though, if I’ve been working on something extensively for over 20 hours or so I’ll definitely do that because I think it’s it kind of is my stuff’s you Usually not so realistic, it’s sort of flat. Sometimes when they’re very detailed, though they won’t be flat as flat, there’s more of a three dimension to it. So in that case, I definitely will, like, check back to to make sure in the gray scale that it’s functioning.

Iva Mikles

And know when you have already the idea for a color scheme. Do you just put down the colors on the side before you start painting? Or do you do like, different thumbnails of different color schemes? Or how do you try it out?

Piper Thibodeau

Yeah, definitely the latter, I tried to keep different thumbnails of attempted color schemes, and I’ll go with whichever one I feel works the best. And oftentimes, I’ll take that one. And I’ll kind of push it a little bit further with modifiers. I find that using the curves tool, and some of the hue and saturation modifications in in Photoshop, it really helps to kind of harmonize all those colors together in a way that is a bit of a cheat, but it gets a good result. Who cares? Yeah, definitely like if you

Iva Mikles

can be more efficient, and just put your message across on the story point. Yeah, definitely.

Piper Thibodeau

Right. Yeah. I mean, I think one thing that I would suggest to artists, while they’re working, I mean, it’s sorry, I hope I’m not going off tangent by mentioning something about references. But I’ve kind of gotten to the habit more, more lately, where what I’ll do is, especially on larger paintings, I have a library ready of all these different sorts of references for materials. So anything I see in a scene that I know that I don’t want to stop my painting and go on Google to go check, I’m going to have that there beforehand. I mean, it’s not to say that you can’t go check on Google, but I think it disrupts the workflow quite a bit. So it’s better to really just do that first. And it’s good, because I think that while you’re going on Google, and you’re searching for these reference images, you might actually inspire yourself along the way. And I think that it’s quite useful. And up until recently, my workflow has been that I have a dual monitor, and I will put my references on the second monitor, and I will be working with my main image on the first because I’m working on a 22 inch, HD Cintiq. So it’s moderate space, it’s not really a lot. But I thought that I was really sure that I wouldn’t be able to kind of split my working screen with the references on the side. And like 5050, because I thought, well, this is, this is horrible. I mean, I have nothing to work on. But I attempted it before. And I thought it was fantastic. Because it really kind of gives you a better look at like, you know, the cross reference. Whereas like when you’re looking at a screen, it’s you have to turn your neck. And it’s just, I know, that sounds really lazy. But it’s harder to kind of attach the images that you’re looking on from the other screen onto what you’re working on once.

Iva Mikles

So the one file or do you have you just list the images outside the photos?

Piper Thibodeau

I have it in a separate file in Photoshop. So I don’t I used to be putting them under the reference layers it because I tried to keep a reference layer on and on my main PSDs. But now I just kind of have it as its own separate file.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. Because then you can close it. If you don’t need it, then yeah, because I also use the references as you mentioned. So if you’re like not sure how the shape of some any middle of the year, or whatever it looks like or right, these kind of

Piper Thibodeau

ends up helps, right. And in addition, I mean, I haven’t really gotten into this, but I would really love to create a mega library of different reference images so that I don’t have to be looking through my different files of previous projects for those images I really liked but instead, I could just pull that up like Okay, so here’s animals, and I have specifics of like, oh, this is what will looks like this is what scales looks like. I think that’s, that’s quite useful. And it will, it will definitely save time for artists rather than scrounging around on Google. Yeah. And

Iva Mikles

do you like using mainly from Google or just like you put it on on your computer, as you said, like you have libraries, because for example, I use Pinterest. So I have all these boards or like, as you said, like dogs, cats. I don’t know what

Piper Thibodeau

I mean, it’s really tough. I, I kind of feel dependent on Google images, because it’s a quicker option than Pinterest. But Pinterest has better images as far as like the better quality and you can really kind of sift through to get what you want. It’s interesting to kind of see the recommendations like, like you’ll, you’ll be looking for one thing, and then there’s these really awesome recommendations, whereas Google is kind of like, you’re looking for wool, and there’s like a picture of a car or something random in there. And this is you have to sift but it is quicker. So it depends on the workflow. I guess if someone could kind of take their time and they’re less rushed, then I’d say use Pinterest.

Iva Mikles

And what about your workflow in like digital terms? Do you have like favorite brushes you use all the time? Like, do you have few or do you use a lot of them or did you create your own or how did that work for you?

Piper Thibodeau

I’d say that. I’m not sure if anyone’s familiar, but I take that back think that he’s really like he’s he’s a quite a popular artist, Kyle T. Webster. He basically created this Mega Pack of brushes, and now they’ve been integrated into the recent Photoshop, so I don’t really need to plug him in right now at much since he can’t really buy them. But hey, props to him for making it

Iva Mikles

perfect. Yeah. I didn’t know he made them for the the Photoshop the predefined new set. So it’s with the Photoshop, CS right. The new right, yes,

Piper Thibodeau

the very newest release, I think 2018 Yeah, that has all of his brushes just in the in the defaults, which is fantastic. Because I think they’re probably some of my favorite pre made brushes. Overall, I feel like I tend to default to using defaults. That’s a really bad con there. Sorry. It’s, it’s a force of habit. I do cons all the time. It’s curse. But yeah, I mean, I feel like a lot of my stuff requires softer brushes. For the effect that you normally see my daily paintings. It’s a lot of airbrush. Kind of any kind of other brush that I use at the end. It’s just more for little details. So little splatter brushes to get some spots and whatnot. I tried to manually put scales in sometimes because it doesn’t sometimes brushes don’t really get the effect that I want. Yeah, because they look repetitive. Yeah, exactly. It starts to lose an organic look to it. But yeah, definitely for freelance work, it’s very useful because you don’t necessarily have all the time unless your client gives that to kind of go overboard in that respect. So it’s good to have a good array of brushes

Iva Mikles

perfect then so when you mentioned also the freelance work what is your kind of the the main kind of income would you make the leap from easy the from the client work or also like selling your art brains and book or maybe how the Combine your incomes,

Piper Thibodeau

I’d say it’s a bit of those three, I mean, I’m mostly I sustain myself off my freelance work. But I also have a deal with the person that I did the book with, we’re I’m selling my prints on his site, and I get booked, I get income coming from the book, I also have a Patreon. So thank you, all you lovely people helped me on there. So yeah, I mean, I think it’s good to definitely vary up where you get income as a freelance artist, because there’s a bit of a danger involved with the certainty of getting freelance work, I would say, it’s, that’s, that’s kind of the trade off that you get for not working full time in an office. Because in that case, the worst you have to worry about is a layoff or getting fired. I say mostly layoff. But yeah, I mean, if when you’re working freelance, even if you’re skilled, or whatnot, you still have to understand it, like there’s fluctuations within industries, you know, like, maybe animation might have a sudden turn for the worst or, or maybe a boom, you really don’t know. So it’s really best. And also in that in that same time, By that same token, I would say that don’t just shove yourself in one field, it’d be so if you’re, if you’re if you notice that you’re getting a lot of freelance work for animation, I would suggest that you try to take a step out of that, honestly, take a step out and just put your eggs in more than one basket. So try to seek out work for toy design, or for children’s books is a really good one. Because I from what I hear a lot of children’s books, publishers right now, they really seek out animation folks, because they really like that, like they, they understand certain fundamentals that regularly the people coming out of the illustration stream don’t have with their work. I mean, I’m not sure that this is secondhand information that I heard. So there’s that advantage. And I would really suggest that you add also you should always supplement it with doing your own work. I know that’s kind of difficult, because finding time for that is probably most difficult elements of that. But I would really suggest that you tried just a little bit a day, even 30 minutes a day, just tried to make a lineup of projects for yourself that you can work on. And I think making a lineup is particularly very useful. Because sometimes if you’re like me, you have a project to add, I suppose, like you just really can’t stay it’s like because I mean, when you’re trying to be creative, it’s difficult to really just stay on track for one project the entire way through, you’re going to kind of have moments of lapse to creativity. But I would say that like when you kind of vary it up into different venues like you’ll just work a little bit here a little bit. They’re on a different project and kind of keeps the flow going. I do that with reading too. I’ll pick up three books, and I’ll be like to get different genres because I have books add to I guess

Iva Mikles

three Mr. Brooks at the time, right? So and how did you start? The daily drawings? Was the the the motivation from this like, Okay, I just want to do something every day to improve or what was your starting point?

Piper Thibodeau

Right. So I have to be very careful with how I word this. But a lot of it resulted with the fact that I just really wasn’t fitting well into a school system. In college, I had been going to college more out of a need to get a visa, because I didn’t want to get into a situation where if I was going to get hired outside the country, that I’d be restricted from doing so. And that unfortunately happened. So I’m glad that I actually did finish my degree for that reason, but it was given me a lot of difficulty, because I’m not really the type of person that really fits in school. And because I think that there’s certain types, like there’s certain people that it’s fantastic. That’s why I’m really hesitant to say don’t go to school. I think that some people, it’s a great fit. Other people don’t really like constraints very much. So I mean, whatever floats your boat, that’s what matters. But make sure obviously, that the finances are right, because sometimes our schools can really break it up. The school I was going to wasn’t expensive, thankfully. So what I would say in that regard is just, I was experiencing an issue where I was doing a lot of 3d stuff, because I was in a 3d program. And it wasn’t really jiving well with how I normally do my work. So I wasn’t drawing this much. And I was I felt like my ability was fading. So I really just ended up like, there was a student in the class above me that was making a challenge herself to do paintings for a year. And so I kind of wanted to do what she did, except I kind of went above the year limit. And I because I guess I just really am stubborn like that.

Iva Mikles

So how long did it take? If someone in our audience, maybe they don’t know. And yeah, so if you can tell us a bit more about that project, did it?

Piper Thibodeau

Oh, yeah. I mean, I have quite a bit to say about that. So what ended up occurring was that was the first time I tried this, I failed catastrophically, I would end up doing this really dumb regimen where I went home, I have to travel two hours to get to and from school, even more than that, probably like four collectively in a day. So I mean, I would come home completely exhausted. Instead of doing my homework, I was doing these, like, I would wait, I would probably stay up until for the morning or something dumb like that. Just trying to get my painting in for the day because I didn’t give myself limitations. So it was really hard to put a cap on when do I call it quits? Like, when do I call this a speed painting. And I kept being stubborn about it. And it was ridiculous. Because a lot of if you look farther, if you look into the early parts of my gallery, you’ll know on DeviantArt you’ll notice that I tried it a few times that I gave up and I haven’t tried it and give up so and get the day while I go from day one to day 10. And then after I want the time, I almost got to day 30. But if you look at it, there was I was doing these things called penalty dailies because I was trying to recap on the second day. So then I noticed I was like, okay, none of this is going to work unless I instill rules. So that’s what I did. And I just said, okay, so it has to be in before 12 o’clock, or else it starts back to zero. So it has to be day one. So even today, if I were to somehow screw that up, I gotta have to start back to day one. Unless there’s a medical emergency. That’s the only time that I give a pass, or a family emergency or anything like that. So sometimes life is just unavoidable. So I mean, I don’t want to be unnecessarily cruel. But yeah, so I mean, it’s not like, I’m not trying to do a Guinness Book of World Records or anything like that. Or, like my, my point is just it’s more of a self disciplinary thing. So people could try similar things like this and just alter the rules. I don’t want to sound like you have to do what I’m saying. Or if you if you want to attempt doing a daily painting regimen, but I will say that it works for me in that manner.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. Because you need to find what works for you. And kind of like maybe like, because some people love to draw for like 10 hours straight, right? One thing and just fixing stuff because, yeah, we have never kind of satisfied like, Okay, this is done, move on to the next one. So

Piper Thibodeau

I really do uncomfortable giving general advice, because it’s never, it’s never good to just say what works for you and assume that it’s going to work for everyone else. But you could suggest so

Iva Mikles

just from your experience, right how your project actually worked out. And the same as you mentioned the school for some people, it works really well then you create the contact or you like the workflow and others like to I don’t know, learn online and just from others maybe Yeah,

Piper Thibodeau

and it’s fantastic. And if you are learning online, I would say that this is a fantastic time to try that if you find that you don’t want to go to school. I think that the wealth of information online at this particular time in human history is just unparalleled. Like you could there’s there’s books in the public domain, there’s countless classes is online from like professionals working at DreamWorks and what have you so you have more than enough with like, let’s say like I think Noah Bradley yeah there’s no Bradley he made a great article on why you shouldn’t go to art school which again up to you but I would suggest reading it because if it’s something that you’re considering he talks about how you can pretty much just take aside like $10,000 And you would supplement an art school education just fine which is something I’m considering for myself because I still feel like my art isn’t really where I need it to be. We learned that right? Yeah, exactly. So I mean, I think that’s a fantastic way of looking at it you know, you’re and yeah, you always want to be learning new things like don’t don’t stagnate you just try to in the same way I’m trying to do a daily everyday I would suggest that you know, people should try to take a part of the day you know, and just have that be even 15 minutes of just doing live sketches it’s nothing you can drink tea for 15 minutes so come on

Iva Mikles

yeah, and do you also draw sometimes I like with you do you have also like a board is it Apple the iPad with procreate? Are you mostly draw on your Cintiq

Piper Thibodeau

you know, I feel really bad right now because I skimped out buying an iPad before because I want it to be cheap. And I got a normal I think it’s a Samsung that it doesn’t have procreate. But yeah, otherwise, I mean, I really want to try out procreate, but because everyone’s doing it. So left out. But yeah, I have a Cintiq Companion that I was

Iva Mikles

with you as well. Right? With me, right?

Piper Thibodeau

Yeah, that’s my issue is just so bulky. I can’t, I would. And at one point because it was it was a really insane period of my life where I was getting work from Dreamworks. I was getting work from Nickelodeon and I was doing freelance, but I had to go back to school to finish my degree. And I lived I still live very far away. It was really I couldn’t really move at that time. It was really inconvenient. I had family issues. So I wouldn’t be taking my, my Cintiq Companion with me and trying to do that on the bus and trying to do it in class discreetly. Like it’s kind of like instead of doing the game. giant screen instead of like, you know, kids to play with play a Gameboy underneath their table. I’m trying to hide my Cintiq in the humanities class, because I was really disinterested in the material. Okay, yeah, whatever. All right, and I say half heartedly after this. I just want to get this degree.

Iva Mikles

And so So how did it work for you, when you found your first freelance jobs? Or the studio jobs? You are, as you mentioned, you were still at the uni. And so they contacted you through the social media they for they found you on DeviantArt? Or maybe how did you do your networking?

Piper Thibodeau

Or I think, pretty much 99% of my networking just comes from doing the daily paintings, which kind of supplements the portfolio, which is fantastic, because I’m so lazy, and I did not put a portfolio up in years. I just I there’s just some mental barrier to me doing that for some reason. So

Iva Mikles

it seems like yeah, you don’t work well with constraints. Yeah. But

Piper Thibodeau

I have to say, if anyone’s, you know, for those listening to this, don’t listen to me on in that regard, put up a portfolio, it’s really stupid. Even for me, it’s stupid. I mean, it kind of also might I mean, I’m just I’m just suspecting this, but there’s, there might be some art directors who don’t appreciate that, like they, they might see it as Okay, well, you’re really disorganized, I don’t really want to hire you. You can’t bother to put up a portfolio. So you kind of I mean, I don’t have access to a resume very, very easily at the present. So you want to make it feasible for clientele to access you. Right?

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. And the daily drawings you were posting mainly on DeviantArt. And then it was picked up by some blogs and so on, where was it kind of spread?

Piper Thibodeau

Right. So what happened was I was kind of half heartedly doing these dailies in the beginning, assuming no one was watching them. It really picked up after I did these Pokeyman redesigns. And I ended up getting a Imgur feature or so someone went on Imgur made a compilation of all the little drawings I did and then Kotaku picked it up. And I got an article on that. So I got a stream of attention for my artwork, which is great. And I say that, you know, that really can help kick off my career. But the interesting part came afterwards where I didn’t want to do, I didn’t want to do fan art. And I think that that’s a struggle that a lot of artists tend to have these days where you don’t really well, I mean, it depends. There’s some people who are perfectly satisfied doing fan art and if they want to do that I’m not criticizing them, but I’m saying that for myself, personally, I My goal is to create a lot of my own IP. So I didn’t really like how people were expecting A lot of like I was hounded by a lot of folks that wanted the polka mon stuff done. But I really wanted to get my own stuff done because it doesn’t mean that much to me to redesign something that I don’t own. So it was difficult to transition into that because I noticed obviously, it wasn’t as successful. So I did, I did notice that the more that I did separate myself though, like, my art was looking more distinctively, like my own. So my Pong stuff was kind of taking its own life and which I’m really happy for because that allows me to just draw my own way. And I’ve noticed even now if I do a fan art piece, it’ll get equal amount of attention. So I got the jackpot in that respect. So I’m really happy. I level that, but it took time, I will say it really did. It wasn’t an overnight process. I did experience a big dip and attention afterwards. And I think as artists, you have to risk it if you want to do what I’m saying. You know, obviously if you want to keep the fan art going, I think that fan art here and there if it’s something that you like, like I in sup to you again like this is just my opinion, but you know, it’s it’s something that I really feel I want to do especially parody type stuff. I love joking around like I did a like a Pikachu, but like a Picasso said, Good. Picasso. I forgot even upon that I did for that one. But like, you know, if it works, I’ll fit it in there. And yeah,

Iva Mikles

and what about your inspiration, as you mentioned, like, you have inspiration from nature? And do you maybe have something strange, which inspires you as well, some kind of like a combination of interesting, fun stuff.

Piper Thibodeau

You know, I think that what really fascinates me is tiny, microscopic organisms with like, macro photography. I mean, it’s, everyone’s everyone, I know that I show that to his freaked out, but I think it’s adorable. And I was getting that fight with people or my friends in particular that I’ll show them pictures of water bears, and they’re really creeped out. But it’s so cute as little Tabby arms. I mean, sure the face is kind of creepy. It’s like a little suction mouth. But then it has little tiny Bitsy claws. It’s cute. Yeah, really

Iva Mikles

strange shapes when they you blow up, actually. But yeah, try. They’re

Piper Thibodeau

fascinating. Because it just kind of makes you think like, maybe this gives insight into like how alien life would evolve. And I know this kind of gets my gears going. So thinking as like, what kind of creatures can I kind of create in that respect, it’s kind of hard to say, because you don’t really see that with my artwork that much. But it is something that I will work in, in time. But it’s it does fascinate me. And it’s really inspiring.

Iva Mikles

And when you mentioned as well that you threw a lot for before, when you started this project, how does your normal day look like now? Like, how many hours maybe do you draw? Or how much do you split the time maybe for going to nature or other ideas?

Piper Thibodeau

You know, I would say at this time, it’s a little bit up in the air. In the summer, I was working quite a lot. Right now it kind of took a bit of a dip. Like I mean, up until last year, I was working full time with DreamWorks. So yeah, that was that was that period where I’d been I’d had regular job, I would just do my daily on the side. So those were really full days, then it kind of took a low period for a while we’re probably like four or five hours a day of work. Now it’s pretty much the same. And I don’t like that situation very much, I really have to kind of kick my bit. I just feel like I could push myself further. And I’m not doing that lately. So I really have to keep going. Because I think when you really just keep control. Actually, this is a really important point that I would bring up to artists starting off because I’m on a similar footing as you I’m not as advanced in my career. So I could say this, you know, really truthfully, watch your health, what really watch what you’re doing with your health, because I really got in a rut with that. And it’s because I thought that I am invincible. I could I could pull crazy all nighters, it’s going to wreak havoc on you. And for myself, I got like, a lot of weight loss to a dangerous level, you know, anemia, like you could, you know, it could go all across the board in terms of consequences. But the biggest consequence for you or the one that you’ll probably pick up on as an artist is that it’s going to take a dip on your work, you’re not going to have the energy to really sit through your stuff. You mean the brains not functioning as well. You want to make sure that you’re sleeping enough. You want to make sure that you have a good diet that you’re hydrated that you get enough exercise because all of that is going to contribute to you putting your best effort when you sit down in front of a computer. And even if you think that you’re you know, you’re 21 years old and you’re invincible you’re not like you have to swallow that pill fast because you know you’re going to even if it and believe me, I mean, I remember it used to work like the first few times that I was trying that like I could go days without sleep. It catches very shortly like you’re not going to be you’ll be 21 and a half By the time it catches up to you

Iva Mikles

five, yeah. And do you exercise? Like do you go for walks every day? Or do you like yoga or something like that?

Piper Thibodeau

Right, I do a lot of cardio activity. So like I walk quite a bit. And yeah, I think that it really helps to kind of get your brain going, I suppose. Also, I don’t know why it’s just a personal thing. But like, what after I take my run, I just take the coldest shower possible and just completely wakes me up. Yeah, refreshment. Yeah. Just any sleepiness that you may have in that moment is just wiped.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely. Because I also totally, yeah, definitely, because I tried to do it as well, like after exercise, like take a cold shower and like exercise every day, at least the like half hour or so. Because then if you’re tired, it actually wakes you up, which is quite interesting.

Piper Thibodeau

Right? Yeah. I really want to look into standing desks. Yeah, I think that a lot of people are talking about like how, I mean, I’ve heard a lot of artists, especially those who have been doing this for years, they’ve developed a lot of back problems. I think as an artist, you really have to look at the issues that people encounter from overuse of the materials. So for instance, I’ve been hearing that the blue light off of a Cintiq is actually very dangerous for cause retinal detachment. So I actually got some glasses. And even though I don’t really need glasses, I wear them anyways, when I’m using a Cintiq. Because it there’s a UV glass in here, like an anti UV ray glass, and it’s, you know, yeah, and there’s also a program called Flux. And what that does is, unless people are not familiar with it, it pretty much after a certain hour, it’s going to dim your screen to remove the blue light. Now, when you’re having color sensitive work, that’s kind of problematic. So you have to vary that up. But I’d say that maybe even when you’re not using color sensitive work, you should probably turn the blue light off. Yeah.

Iva Mikles

I use the program as well. Like, I’m not sure if that’s the same name. But yeah, I think so that the turns to yellow kind of light, that it’s more normal. And also like lights in the flight actually helps if it is blue, or this kind of office wide. So it helps but then as you said, if you’re painting something when you need to check the colors, then that doesn’t work.

Piper Thibodeau

Yeah, that’s not so great. So that was that involuntarily would go on when I’m doing my daily because I usually do them later in the day. So I have it set to eight o’clock. And I didn’t fix it yet. So I’ll be doing my painting is slowly changing the screen. I won’t notice it because it’s so gradual. Like, why does all my colors weird on me as well. I thought I was the only one. I’d say another problem is definitely carpal, you have to be very careful about carpal carpal tunnel, that could put you out of drawing for a little while. I mean, I haven’t seen anyone get major injuries from that. But it’s still pretty disruptive. So it’s good to do exercise. I don’t know, the whole exercise thing by heart. But, you know, like, pretty much just makes sure that I think, if I’m not mistaken, Cintiq should reduce that. I think it’s more the hands of the mouse, but I don’t I don’t want to I’m not a medical professional. So basically,

Iva Mikles

we should take breaks. So yeah, everyone who is throwing then we should at least like maybe 40 minutes or one hour just to get up or have a water or something like that.

Piper Thibodeau

You should always keep water on your desk. That’s what I do. Like don’t don’t make it difficult for yourself by having to get up and go to the kitchen. Or

Iva Mikles

maybe you don’t get up you know, they need the vote. But yeah, and so and when you mentioned also the social media and networking kind of like online. Do you go also to some festivals? Or is it mainly the social media where you find new jobs?

Piper Thibodeau

Personally, I pretty much relegate myself to social media, I don’t really do the whole festival route, because I think it’s a bit of an expense for me. I mean, when I do kind of any kind of festival stuff, it’s more conventions, and I’ll be selling books or materials and meeting people and that sort of stuff. But it’s less to make connections on the spot. I’d say that, you know, I’ve been I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t do it. Because again, like it’s my experience. It’s not like everyone else’s. And some people must have had great success with that. I’m sure. So I mean, if you could do it, and it’s not inconvenient. Like that’s, that’s what you should put in your head. It’s just if you could do it, do it. I mean, it’s about the loss of golf. I mean, like if there’s not if there’s nothing for you to lose, and you have the money to afford the expenses and the hotels and whatnot, go for it, the sky’s the limit. But if you do feel like oh no, I’m going to be in the red if I do this like well, I mean, you don’t need to like social media really does supplement us quite a lot nowadays.

Iva Mikles

Yeah. And so will that your project like for the future kind of what would be your dream scenario in like, five to 10 years, you know, or maybe something you can share what you’re working on now, which is not confidential?

Piper Thibodeau

Good, right, I have quite a lot of to answer to that. But unfortunately, the, I can’t talk about the right details. But what I could say is just that, I really might as a dream, I would love to really move into creating my own IP. And I have ideas for board games for children’s books, I all these things I’m kind of working on here and there. A card game, I just said that. I have a graphic novel, I want to kind of get into that, because I just, I mean, I mentioned this earlier, but I love how art just doesn’t have those constraints where you could, you could like biology, and even if you can’t be a biologist, you could still kind of implement that. And I really, as an artist, I think my worst fear is just repetition. So I really do want to implement as many different projects as possible. And I think by doing my own IP, I get more freedom in that regard. So I mean, my personal struggle about that, though, is I still don’t really know if I’m going to go the route of a, like a one man company, versus a like, maybe collaborations with this company, because it kind of feels like it’s a bit difficult when you start having a studio and you have to keep track of other artists involved, which I’m not against it. But I don’t know if that’s gonna kind of take away from the creative aspect for me.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, well, someone that will have to manage it. So it depends if it is you, or you can actually hire a project manager, or you can build your studio in a way that you can do it as well, or just share the creative idea. So yeah, so many different ways to do it. But it’s actually really interesting. Yeah.

Piper Thibodeau

Yeah, totally. I mean, I would definitely do more research into it before I make a final choice. But that’s definitely the trajectory that I’m hoping for. I still love doing freelance, a little bit, not interested in working full time. I mean, I had a great time doing it. But I think that I’ve more. I worked better with flexibility. So you know, I mean, that’s still open. So,

Iva Mikles

definitely. And so what about, like, firefighter future? And what do you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years? Hmm.

Piper Thibodeau

So, I mean, I don’t want to be obnoxious and say, I want to be famous or anything like that. But like, I’d say that if I could make any impact with my artwork, I would absolutely love to have tried my all with the time that I have on earth and make sure that the work that I do inspires people and children in particular, and it makes people happy. And then if I could have that, at the end, just knowing that I did the best that I could do. And I made as many projects that I could have they had a positive impact, then I could die happy.

Iva Mikles

Yeah, yes. Oh, that’s nice. Super good. Yeah. Before we say goodbye, and just finish the interview, maybe you can share last piece of advice or key takeaway from your experience, maybe something you wish you knew before you started, and then we slowly finish.

Piper Thibodeau

Right? I think that one thing I would mention is a piece of bad advice that I would recommend to artists to completely ignore. And because this is a very embittered about hearing this, and I just really hope that no one thinks this way. I remember some years ago, I was told from someone that I knew before I really got into my career, I’m not naming names, I just I’m not. And I’ve been insulting the sad person, I just, it’s just a mentality that needs to die, frankly. And that’s that, why bother going into art, if you don’t have any context, so that you could get those jobs in the industry that is so false, you’re at the same, the same argument was the study, if you don’t have enough money to go to the most prestigious school, you’re just going to fail. None of this applies. You don’t need any context whatsoever going into this, you don’t need to go to the most prestigious school. I mean, I got all of my I mean, I know that like I can’t just use myself as a general example. Like everyone has their own individual circumstances. But I could tell you without a shadow of a doubt that from people that I’ve looked at their careers, their paths and whatnot, like, you are not dependent on context that you had beforehand, like you people are and think about it realistically, you know, yes. Neoplatonism is a problem that exists in every industry out there. I’m not going to say anything in regards to animation. I’ve never seen an animation so I can’t talk but I would say that probably less so in creative fields. Because, I mean, if you hire an artist to get into a project and they suck, and they just they’re there because their uncle Well, I mean, now the entire project is jeopardized because someone wanted to get their nephew and so you know, I mean, it’s nothing like the like ignore advice like that. If you ever hear

Iva Mikles

Yeah, definitely because I mean, you’re building your network along the way and all of that and you just get better every day. Then you get recommended by someone, maybe you meet, maybe on volleyball you never know where you meet the right people and also on social media just to share your artworks and and see and then you will find your audience as you said. So yeah, perfect. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So thank you so much, again, for being here. It was pleasure. It was so nice. Yeah, but a lot of good teams and discussions. So super happy about that. And thanks, everyone who joined today and see you in the next episode,

Piper Thibodeau

I guess.

Iva Mikles

Hey, guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a couple of free artists resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can reach and inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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