The DeviantArt Podcast | Episode 006: Never Not Drawing (with Skirtzzz)

The DeviantArt Podcast | Episode 006: Never Not Drawing (with Skirtzzz)


– Hi, welcome to the DeviantArt Podcast. My name is Matt Buchholtz,
I’m gonna be your host today. Today we are joined by Alli White. Hello.
– Hi! – How are you?
– Doing pretty good. – So, just a little disclaimer, Alli and I have known
for a few months now, so this is gonna be real comfy. – But it feels like a lifetime. – Feels like a lifetime! So you can find Alli on DeviantArt. Alli, what’s your DeviantArt username? – Skirtzzz! But instead of an s, there’s three z’s. – Okay.
(laughing) So you can find Alli
at DeviantArt/Skirtzzz. Where you make amazing and beautiful art. – I guess. – You do! Alli makes beautiful art.
– Thanks, buddy! – Alli, before we get into all the fun, I want to hear a little about
your history with DeviantArt. When did you start on DeviantArt? – It was the year two thousand and five. I was a small weeb, in north Idaho, with dial-up internet, ’cause that’s all we had. – What intrigued you about DeviantArt? – Well, you know, you could
post like, a lot of art. I think the only other site I had found, this was before, like social
media wasn’t really the thing, and there wasn’t anywhere to put your art. It just, we weren’t there yet. There was one site I was using but you could upload two things. And no one went on that site. It was like a .org, no one knew about it. And then I don’t even know
how I found DeviantArt, but I did, thank God. I just started filling it up. Yeah everyday after high
school I’d come home and I always had new things to post ’cause I didn’t pay attention
in school, I just drew. So I always had something to put. – One of the reasons I think
you and I connected so well is because we’re both from the Northwest, both from very small towns. And so having a creative
outlet was kind of something very special. And I imagine a lot of our listeners also might find themselves
in similar situations where they might not have
that artistic community. So what sort of advice
could you offer people who are listening or watching on YouTube, who may feel a little more
isolated with their art? – Well, especially now, I feel like with the internet and social media, you have the world at your fingertips now. You can do this from anywhere, and there’s so many resources now too. The world is kinda your burrito, with art. Like, nothing’s impossible. – That’s a t-shirt, “The world
is your burrito with art.” (laughing)
– Print it! Yeah, I guess for small town folks… I don’t know. It’s hard because it
depends on your environment, the kind of people that are around you. Because I was constantly
discouraged as an artist, ’cause it wasn’t like the norm back home. And really the internet was my reprieve, and it was like the one place I had that I could delve into
that, and find support. Because it’s hard. You’re kind of sequestered off, away from like, more artistic communities. And it feels kind of hopeless, and that you’re that one person. I don’t know, it’s hard being in a small town and being into art. So, I don’t know. – It’s tough when you’re not a farmer. – Yeah, it was like the
decision for most people in north Idaho was like,
“Do you like horses? “Or nursing?” And I’m like, neither. – Yeah, you could have
been like an amazing equestrian doctor, but, uh. (laughing) – I really, it was a hard decision. – What I love though is you took this leap and you’re in Los Angeles now. And you’re doing your art.
– That happened. – And you’re like, killing it. – It still hasn’t really sunk in, but it was just kind of
always a thing I wanted to do and I felt like I would regret it if I didn’t just make that move. And now I’m surrounded
by people who live that very similar, fast paced,
always working kind of life. Everyone does something
in the creative field. And it’s just… it’s the perfect environment. And it’s like, I feel normal here. Which is really nice. I don’t have to explain to
anybody what I do for work. I say, “Yeah, I’m a freelance artist.” And they go, “Oh, okay.” But back home they’d be like, “I don’t understand, like what do you do?” And I’m like, “I’m an illustrator.” – You do art for free? – Yeah they’re like, “You
just draw cartoons all day?” “How does that work?” – I like this voice that you
affected for people back home. (laughing) – Well it was usually
like a confused barista. – Of which there are numerous
of in northern Idaho. – That’s the other career choice. If you live in north Idaho,
you can also be a barista on a roadside coffeehouse. – Oh they have a ton of those!
– The drive-throughs. – They don’t have them
here in Los Angeles. – [Alli] It’s not a thing
here, it’s so weird. – Like Dutch Bros, or Windham Coffee. – Dude, we had so many
small little shacks, with a drive-through window,
and we had like Java the Hut. – Yes, they had good puns! – They were always puns. But like every couple miles you’d see one. I don’t know what, is it just
a Pacific Northwest thing? – I don’t know. – ‘Cause I know the Seattle area, well the quieter areas have them as well, but I went to the East
Coast and no one knew what I was talking about,
and I was like, “Weird.” – [Matt] Well I want to
talk a little bit more, going back from coffee, to your art. Okay?
– Okay. – [Matt] So how would you
describe your art style? – It’s definitely an amalgam
of like, anime and Disney. Because it’s like, I grew up on Disney, but then I went through this extreme Weeaboo
stage in the early 2000s. So I was like, just drawing anime. And then I slowly went back
to kind of the Western styles. And so yeah, it’s just
a mix of those things. – Yeah, and you draw a
bunch of really great, emotive, just beautiful artwork. – Aww.
– Like, it’s so fun. Yeah, I enjoy it! And the way that you do like, hair and clothing is so dynamic. You just have a really great eye for making things look
like they’re flowing. – I like the flow. – It’s easy to make things look super flat and you never have that in your work. Yours always has this
dimensionality to it that really– – I want a sense of movement.
– That’s important. So how do you go about achieving that? – Well, yeah, like billowing hair is a good way of making that a thing. – I like that you say it so simply. I feel like this is where you see that Alli is like, a master artist. “Well, to make a piece good, “you start with something very difficult.” – What?
– “You do the hard thing.” And you say it like it’s
the base level intro. – I mean, billowing hair isn’t extreme. – But creating billowing
hair is not an easy task. – All right, fair enough, fine, I guess. – [Matt] So you find
ways to make it dynamic? – Yeah, it just comes with practice. You know, when you’re drawing
the preliminary sketch and you have the figure
of a body, usually. What I learned in college was, what is it? The line of action or
something, some term. It’s like you draw a nice little line, with a little bit of movement. Add the hips, add the ribcage, and tilt them in various
ways to try to get like– – Yeah you gotta get that balance, as I knock the mike around. I’m sorry audio technicians.
– How dare you! But yeah, it’s a good way of getting something
down that’s not stiff. My favorite thing about
working in Photoshop, is you can do that… pelvis and ribcage shape
and tilt them at your will until you get something
that feels just right. Especially if something
is looking too stiff, you can kinda go back in and
add more angles and what not. ‘Cause yeah, it is easy to
get used to just get used to drawing the same
stiff pose all the time. It just takes practice to be like, maybe if I like, tilt this this way. If you want the character
to appear in motion, the hair blowing one way and the fabric kind of following through. Little things like that. – That’s important, some people
don’t consider those things. – Yeah, well… it’s part of the journey, man. – It’s just part of the journey. So, I wanna hear, we’ve
alluded to different parts of your artist journey, but take me from small
town Idaho to Los Angeles. – I was always the art kid. Since like, the beginning of time. It was just always the thing I did. I was never not drawing. That was just my bread
and butter all the time. And then it took years to finally be like, I could never conceptualize
doing art as a career. I was always just doing it for fun. And then the older I got, the more you’re kind of faced with this, “So, what are you gonna do?” I’m like, “Uh, I never thought about it.” I almost went into journalism,
for college, which is weird. I like writing, I guess. I was like, this is a
thing I could probably do. Because I was always discouraged
by everyone in school. My counselor told me that I was gonna flip
burgers the rest of my life, when I told him I wanted to be an artist. And I was like, “I don’t really want to go “to the community college here. “I kind of want to go to Seattle.” And he’s like, “(scoffing)
Have fun at McDonald’s.” And I’m like, “You’re a counselor, sir.” – Sounds like you had the
worst high school counselor that you could’ve had. – Dude, everyone sucked there. The teachers were coaches
first, teachers second. And they all knew I wasn’t on any teams– – Football! Horses! – Yeah. I wasn’t out there throwing
the old pigskin around, so I just– – For those of you, I know
this is an audio podcast so, you probably have already put together a very great mental picture of Alli. Approximately 500 pounds,
very square at the shoulders, so hearing she didn’t play–
– I’m a tank! – Yeah, hearing she didn’t play
football, probably stunning. – Yeah, I know. – What sort of drive did you have then to continue through that? Because it sounds like you had a lot of forces pushing against
you having a creative career. – I’m really stubborn. And I’m inspired by pure spite. If I feel like I just want
to prove to people wrong that really gets the motor going. I’m like, “Screw you, man. “I can do what I want.” I’m kinda glad they were like that because I probably would’ve been like, “I’m comfortable here,
everyone nice to me, “everything’s fine,
I’ll just settle down.” And never search for more. Instead, everyone made me
very angry and I was like, “I’ll show you!” And then I just picked up and
moved to Seattle for school. ‘Cause I was interested in video games. So I was like, “I’ll go do
the art program over there.” ‘Cause I really wanted
to get away from everyone that I was stuck in school
with for the last 12 years of my life and all these people that didn’t understand or
care what I was trying to do. So, I figured a whole new environment and a school focused
on that would be good. For awhile it was good
but then it was weird that I even faced
opposition in art school. My professors were really hard on me and they used negative
reinforcement constantly. The problem with that is
everything in balance, but they didn’t use any like, “Hey, here’s what your doing good, “but here’s what you could work on. “Don’t be discouraged, but here’s.” Instead, their just like, “You’re like…” They just made me feel like I was the worst artist
in school, all the time. And so then I got really down
on myself and I was like, “Maybe I’m not supposed to be an artist. “Maybe everyone in Idaho
was right, this is stupid.” I got really depressed and I quit and then after they were like, “I can’t believe you just
quit school like that. “You were the best student at the…” I won’t say the name of the school. – Okay.
(laughing) – Yeah I was like, “Why
didn’t you just tell me?” It’s not like I was gonna
get a big head if you said, “Hey, you’re good. “But, here’s what we’d
like to see you work on.” If I just would have had
any positive reinforcement, at all, I probably could have
hung in there and been like, “No, I’m good at this,
I’m gonna keep going.” But they just beat the
love of art out of me. And I think I quit drawing
for about a year and a half. Which is a lot of time lost
for an artist, I think. And recovery took forever,
getting my bearings back and being like, “No, I do want to do art.” Again, spite kicked in and
I was like, “Ya know what, “I don’t need that college degree “to do the thing that I love.” So, I came home and I just got to work. And only recently did I decide to make that big move and come to LA. ‘Cause when you’re on social
media you find your tribe, and I found a really great
art community and everyone, for the most part, was here. And I felt I was having like FOMO. I was like, I had just
turned 30, and it’s like, “Dude, the clocks ticking, if you don’t go “and have this experience,
when are you gonna do it? “Just do it, do it while you know a bunch “of people there and see what happens.” And thank God I did. (laughing) – Well it’s been spectacular
getting to know you now that you’re down here. We went to Comic-Con with you this year, you got to experience
that which was insanity. – The best week of my life. – Yeah, tons of fun with
lots of great artists and then we’ve gotten you into the office a couple of times now. So it’s been fun having you in LA. – I know, it’s still really
surreal and still it’s awesome that DeviantArt has been personified as this group of lovely folks. – Yeah, look at all these lovely folks. – Look at them! – So many lovely folks. – Hey! – You guys at home are really missing out by being on that side of the camera. There are a bunch of lovely folks. – Yeah, the gangs all here. So, that’s been pretty wild. I think the San Diego thing that we did, was one of the first things
I did when I moved here. So, it was like I had just unpacked and it was just like, “And away!” – I think we wrangled you
from a U-Haul to a van. – I did an interview while I was on the road with all my furniture. I pulled the U-Haul over
and did this interview and it was just this
back-to-back, like I just moved in and now the caravan got me
and off to San Diego we went. And I was just like,
“This is happening, okay” It’s wild, like it’s still, that whole week and I
still think about it a lot. I’m like, “That was, for how
short of a time we really had, it felt like we all spent like
a year together or something. I don’t know what it was. It was just this magical
thing that happened. – Yeah, and people can
still see a lot of stuff that happened that week on DeviantArt. We’ll put a link in the
descriptions below for you guys to click to and get to
see some of the stuff that you guys did at Comic-Con. – Yeah, I also have a
journal about the trip and a lot of photos on my DeviantArt. It was an awesome time. Definitely a good way to
kick off the new LA life, with a bunch of cool artists
and DeviantArt and just– – Which is how art should be. It should be something celebrated and exciting and fun.
– Yeah, I know! – Art is creativity just
exploding forth onto paper or sculptures or written word. – Yeah, and it’s even better
when you’re experiencing it with other people that are
passionate about the same thing. And their all looking for that thing that you’ve been looking for. It’s just the right mix, I
had not had enough of it. That’s for sure. – And one of the things
we talked about alot, especially with that group at Comic-Con, was the idea of imposter syndrome. Because we had so many
stellar artists, like Alli, who go there and the first
thing we here is, “Why me? “Why am I here? “Whoa is me as an artist.” – I’m like, “Did you make a mistake? “Did you you mean that you know me?” “Is that a mistake?” – I believe that was looking at Matt, our artist relations person, that was the real email we got from Alli? Wrong email, right? – [Matt A] Right. – Sorry, you’re looking
for someone much better. (laughing) – But it’s so not true because artists, I feel, a lot of them have
that same experience you did. Your time growing up and
the very formative time of when you’re creating,
people are asking things like, “How are you gonna make money? “What’s your real job? “When are you become the horse doctor?” (laughing) They want to know those
things and it puts this, even your time in art school
sounds like you had just more and more negative reinforcement
where it makes you feel like you’re not doing enough for
art, that your art isn’t worthy. So I wanna talk on that a little bit because your art is spectacular. Which we’ve hopefully shaken
into you at this point. – You’ve tried and I’ve
appreciate the effort. – Talk to us a little
bit about your experience with imposter syndrome and how you feel that people can get a
little bit more objective about what they do. – Yeah, I’m still learning
to wrangle it myself. Hmm… It’s so complicated ’cause… I don’t know, I guess I just always feel like I’m just that girl from north Idaho, who just drew for fun in school. I just don’t see how I could
amount to much else, I guess. I don’t know, it was funny though, because when I was in high school, I constantly day dreamed
about all these amazing things that I could become and
all these things I could do. I had big aspirations and dreams
and I would picture myself in all these crazy
situations and its like, I’ve arrived and these
things have happened to me. And it’s surreal, I guess. And then I’m left with
this feeling of like, “I wanted that but I don’t
feel like I deserve it.” So it’s really bittersweet for
me because I always feel like there’s so many other better artists or better people out there
who probably deserve it. I don’t know what it is. Moving to LA has really
ramped it up a little bit. And I try to just push it
to the back of my mind like, “Don’t overthink it, just be glad, “and be grateful and just enjoy stuff.” Sometimes I feel like I’m playing
a video game or something, where I kind of have a
disconnect from Alli White. It’s like, “I guess this is happening.” All these nice opportunities
that come my way, and I’m like, “I don’t
know why it’s happening “but I don’t want to sabotage
myself, so I’ll do it.” I wish I could slow down and go like, “Yeah, you earned this and it’s fine.” But I have a hard time with that. – So, what are some specific
examples of some victories that you’ve had when you
talk about you’ve made these achievements and had
some great things happen? – Well, you guys got ahold of me. That was one, that was a weird day. I got this email like, “Hey
it’s DeviantArt, what’s up? “We wanna hang out with you.” – Which is how professional
our emails are. (laughing) – “Yo, what’s going on?” That was my first taste of like, “I guess I’m someone that
people want to know more about “and I guess my art has made
the rounds enough to be like, “‘Yeah, Skirtzzz, she’s cool.'” I don’t know, I think another thing that
happened since I moved here, is the company WayForward has contacted me for some projects and
that’s been really crazy. ‘Cause that’s my first time
with something like that and I’m just like, “Out of all the people, “you guys wanted, you picked me?” – Yeah and their a very well known gaming company.
– Yeah, their legit. So I was like, “Oh!” And their all awesome, they
want to work with me more and it’s just me trying to
wrap my brain around this. It’s like I’m over the moon about it, but then I’m always waiting
to wake up in my bed. Like, “It was all a dream!” (laughing)
I don’t know! – Well, those are both great things. So when you’re trying to rationalize or find ways to stay
objective about your talent and your art and your worth, what are some steps that
you take to do that? Or that people who are
finding doubt in their work, what could they do to help
balance themselves there? – For me I find you
need to keep a timeline, a visual timeline, of
the journey thus far. I keep everything I’ve ever drawn. I keep journals about where
I’m at each year of my life. Because it’s easy to forget
and the older you get, the faster time goes and
it all becomes a blur. Sometimes you forget certain
landmarks and you shouldn’t. If I start feeling like,
“Why me?” kind of thing or “I’m not that good, I don’t get it.” I’ll stop and I’ll look
at what I was doing even, I don’t know… Four, five years ago and it’s like, “Wow, that’s a huge difference. “Here’s all the stuff that’s
taken place since then.” And I know that I’ve worked really hard. I may be hard on myself but I know that I’ve worked really hard. So I just look at how much
time I’ve spent working on this craft and
putting myself out there. I guess it does start to
make sense to me that, “Yeah, it does make sense
why this is happening to me.” I always tell myself, “Oh, my whole career is just
a fluke and it’s all luck.” And then I’m like, “Well, no, “you’ve been posting everyday since 2005. “I thinks its a little
more than just luck.” You have to put in some effort and… sow some seeds and eventually they grow. You just gotta keep watering them, right? – Yeah!
– So it’s not like I woke up with all this stuff, but that’s what it feels like sometimes. So that’s why I have to
look back and be like, “Well, what did you do till this point?” It’s gotta make sense somewhere. It didn’t just happen out of nothing. – So keeping track of the data? – Yeah, you need to keep
some kind of timeline so you can remind yourself
like, “I’ve been through a lot.” – I think one of things you
hit that’s so easy to do, is looking at that spread
of time and saying, “Five years ago I drew this.” And you see the draw it again
sort of stuff that people do. – Yeah I love doing those. – Yeah, and even if
it’s not the same piece, just looking at the growth over that time. ‘Cause my drawing from day one to day two, might not show an improvement. But from day one to day 1,000, is gonna be completely different. – Especially if you keep at it. If you’re drawing like
everyday, every other day, you’re going to improve
and if you don’t compare your old work to your new work, you’re never gonna see your own growth and then it’s easy to get discouraged. And I feel like it’s also
interesting when you look back at an old piece you have to
remember where you were then, what was in your mind. The things you were aspiring to. I noticed that a lot of the things that I really wanted to
happen, have happened for me. I always try to think even
if I’m struggling with like, “Oh, ah, this is weird, I can’t believe “this is happening to me.” I have to remember to be
happy for me five years ago. That girl would have been freaking out. Like, “Enjoy this for her, then.” ‘Cause it’s easier said than done, you need to be proud of yourself and be like, “I deserve this.” So, yeah, it’s good to
think about the old you because you’re still in there. You still wanted those
things and you still worked for them and it’s hard. – Now you get them and you should party! You should be so happy! – I know, I know! I sometimes I’m like,
“Should I talk about it? “Do people care?” I don’t know, it’s weird. – That being said, over
the course of the time that I’ve known you, there have
been a couple of times where you’ve gotten to say a little bit more about how you feel about your art. And the support for you is insane. People really genuinely
care, love your work and the work that you put into it. It’s so huge! – It’s weird, man. – It’s not weird when
you look at all the stuff you just told us to look at
because you’ve done that time. – I’ve been very active
in the art communities that I have placed myself in and… I see that, but sometimes, and I’ve always tried to be very human, I don’t want to be a manufactured robot. I don’t want to hide too much of myself. Sometimes it seems easier
to do that but then, I’ve noticed that being also,
the human that does stuff. Like people have been really nice to me. Really, really nice to me, all the time. It’s like, “You’re
taking energy and emotion “and you’re sending it
my way and that’s crazy.” But, it’s really endearing
too because it’s like, “Oh, that’s for me from
another living being.” It never gets old. It’s still shocking to me. I think if you would
have shown me my inbox for DeviantArt now, if
you would have taken it and shown it to me in 2005 when I started, and I used to have a party
over one comment and one fav… I would just keel over. I would just (blows raspberry) just die. Like, “Are you kidding me?” It’s crazy when you think
about how the span of time, now I have all these awesome people like my little cheerleaders
in the comments section. I’m like, “I love these
people, their amazing. “But why are they here? “What are you doing?” – So what I’d like to do is
let’s take that positive energy and that idea of celebrating someone and I want to know three
people that you follow on DeviantArt that you
think are just awesome. – Okay, so, these are all
lovely friends of mine that are all constantly an inspiration and I’ve been following them forever. So there’s Briana Garcia, who
does a lot of Disney stuff. She’s amazing. And Tsuaii… and David Lajoya. Those are three– – That’s a great three.
– amazing artists! It’s like every time they
post something new, it’s like, “(sighs) Really you guys?” – Where can people find you on DeviantArt? – You can just find me at
Skirtzzz, with three z’s. Don’t forget the z’s. (laughing)
– Otherwise it’s just skirt. – But yeah, I’m always on
there, come talk to me. – And again, I’m ggMattB on DeviantArt and thank you so much for joining us guys! Thank you, have a good one! – Later!
– Bye! (laughing)

10 thoughts on “The DeviantArt Podcast | Episode 006: Never Not Drawing (with Skirtzzz)”

  1. Alli White is one of the nicest people I have had the honor to interact with on DA (and other platforms). Watching her talent grow over the years has been a great joy. And having the opportunity to have her interpret one of my characters was (and still is) amazing. I always look forward to her next project.

  2. Skirtzzz is one of my favorite internet presences and artists. I really appreciate the insight into her background and the shared struggle with impostor syndrome.

  3. So she want from one extreme (N. Idaho) to the other (L.A.). I think there are more opportunities for creativity in a large place like Los Angeles, but there is also a LOT more bullshit and snobbery. One thing that you notice with a lot of creative types, especially when they get together, is that they have this rather pretentious view. Like, they're the unique one and everyone around them is just like a dull cow who doesn't get anything.

    It's interesting because when you listen to people like that, especially ones that come from small towns, they usually describe themselves as such. But then you notice that a lot of very creative people come from small towns, and you realize so many of these people are so caught up in themselves that maybe they're a big part of why they may have struggled in their towns.

    It's just something I notice a lot. Not the small town part of it. But that creative types generally seem to think they're somehow rare and unique within their respective communities.

  4. Dad said, "But if you were an artist you would do art all the time." He wasn't trying to talk me out of it he was genuinely confused that I would think of my self as an artist when I didn't do art for a month here or a whole year over there. Less and less all the time. I decided he was right so I stopped nearly completely save for a doodle here or there. Been over a decade so I would say that's The End of that.

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