Friday, June 10, 2011

May Artist of the Month

For the month of May, 2011 the Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month is Vanessa Montenegro. Vanessa has a passion for art. She lives, breathes and eats art, and I mean that in a good way. Vanessa is a mover and shaker in the Tampa Bay art community and was a founding member of the Westchase Artists Society. So, without further delay, here's Vanessa's interview.

Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Vanessa: During the day I am a graphic designer and illustrator. In the afternoon, I am an art instructor. Evenings, when it is quiet, I am an artist. I love art, as you can see. I always try to have pencil and paper or a camera with me. There is so much to capture every day. I have a soft spot for nature. It is one of the wonderful things about living in the Tampa area. On any day you can be in awe seeing a Great Blue Heron in flight or sunset after an afternoon storm, or you can explore a place like Rogers Park or kayak to Anclote Key.

In school, I majored in art. My goal was to do art restoration, maybe somewhere in Europe. I quickly discovered that I loved drawing, painting and animation more than restoration. While I was in school, the burgeoning revolution of digital art and animation caught my imagination. Remember the first time you saw Toy Story? I began to pursue graphic art, video, animation and figure drawing classes. I wanted to learn how to draw people, and learn how they move. A whole new world opened up for me. This is when I quit art school.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and something must have rubbed off. My passion is art, but I love business. What is a girl to do? I quit art to study business. I loved it and earned a degree in Finance and International Business. Still, I couldn't help not wanting to do more art. So, I went back to art school and completed my art degree. Business and art were a perfect combination for me. Being my own boss is wonderful. I have been able to start my own graphic design company, teach art (see, do commissions, and sell my artwork online at places like Etsy ( and galleries.

Question: What first made you want to become an artist?

Vanessa: To some extent, I think I've always been an artst. I've been drawing since I was a little girl. One of my favorite aunts, a grand aunt to be exact, was a professional artist. She was an inspiration as an artist, but also a model that I could make a living as an artist. I went with her and my mom to museums, galleries and craft shows. If I was not drawing, I was tending to my little zoo of animals. I love animals. I had dogs, cats, birds, chickens, turtles, fishes, rabbits and any animal that needed rescuing. I thought of being a veterinarian for a while, but in the end I wanted to become an artist.

Question: Describe your creative process.

Vanessa: I am constantly doodling, taking pictures and writing down ideas. I have notebooks full of everything from sketches to stock market tips. Sometimes I just start playing around on a sketch pad or a canvas and see what emerges. When I have a commission, I tend to do a lot of research and sketches until an idea starts to solidify.

Question: Favorite books, movies, website, groups

Vanessa: Book: "Tell Me Where It Hurts" by Dr. Nick Trout (a day of humor healing and hope in the life of an animal surgeon); Movie: "Toy Story" (all Pixar movies); Websites: The Girl Effect - (love the cause, the message and the animation); Songs: By Moby and Coldplay; Groups: Westchase Artists and my running groups

Question: In ten years I'd like to be...

Vanessa: Wouldn't it be great to be animating Toy Story 10? I guess it would be Woody & Buzz Lightyear's adventures in a retirement home, but still, it would be lots of fun! I love being an artist and entrepreneur. I'd like to see myself grow in these two areas.

Wow!!! Thanks Vanessa for sharing. It's always great to learn more about our favorite artists. Great interview. Be sure to check out Vanessa's websites. Stay tuned for next month's Westchase Artists Society's Artist of the Month.

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