A moment of inspiration with Cleveland artist Angela Oster
Cleveland artist and illustrator Angela Oster cultivates and creates a world of whimsy, filled with criminally cute, odd and wonderful beings. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of the Art, Oster gave Go Media a glimpse into her life, her art, and some of her lovely work.
Go Media: Hello Angela! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today!
I took a very circuitous route to drawing – in art school at CIA I was into sculpture, video and performance art. When I got out of school and had my daughter, I found that my audience shrunk! That was a good thing – it was just me and my pencil. It is now totally stripped down to what I feel is essential – lines on paper.
Everything starts out as a pencil drawing. I usually work back into the drawing with a crow quill pen and ink – I just started using some Micron art pens. I do add watercolor with varying degrees of success!
Go Media: What mediums do you work in most often?
Everything starts out as a pencil drawing. I usually work back into the drawing with a crow quill pen and ink – I just started using some Micron art pens. I do add watercolor too!
Go Media: I understand that social issues often impact your artwork…why/ how so?
I’ve worked for many years at Ohio Citizen Action – it makes me realize how vulnerable human beings can be. Chemicals are entering our bodies without our permission – companies are allowed to put poison into our air & water… that’s just not right. If I can find ways to express this through art, I’ll do it!
Go Media: What in everyday life is most inspiring to you as an artist?
Images that explore buoyancy – both physical buoyancy in water and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. I think resiliency is one of the most important skills you can develop. Many of the characters that I draw are alter-egos – autobiographical snippets that deal with happy memories of childhood, and also with awkward moments. I want the audience to be entertained and maybe look at their own insecurities with compassion. What I really try to capture is the beauty of the bitter-sweetness of life.
Go Media: I love the whimsical nature of your watercolor paintings, tell us a little bit about how hard or easy it was to develop your style or niche as an artist.
Thank you! It took me my whole life to develop my style – it’s an amalgamation of all of the artists that I like to look at. Everyone had a hand in what my stuff looks like – from Dr Seuss to Edward Gorey to Graham Annabel.
Go Media: Tell us about the challenges you face as an independent artist, and about what you love best about it.
The challenges are many – sometimes I thank people who buy my stuff for supporting my art habit. I heard someone say that art is half “doing it” and half “telling people about it”. You really do need to have some kind of business sense and maybe a little luck. I still have a day job that I enjoy, and I have to manage my time well between work, family and art. Honestly, I’m pretty bad at it, but I’m making it work somehow and having fun.
Go Media: What advice would you have for other illustrators/designers who are starting out and trying to make it on their own?
I saw a great speech by Neil Gaiman, whose message was “Do good work”. That is a big part of it. Do good work and the rest will follow. I think it helps to have other artist friends to help buoy you up when you start to sink down. There is a really great blog post that I love to revisit now and then – Super Obvious Secrets That I Wish They’d Teach in Art School… Words to live by.
Go Media: What is it like being an artist here in Cleveland?
The Cleveland art community is extremely supportive. It is small, but it seems to be gaining momentum – new galleries keep popping up. There are a lot of groups around town that draw from live models like Dr. Sketchy or the Murray Hill group and some events like Drink & Draw at the Lava Lounge and Buck Buck Gallery has a weekly drawing night. It’s a good way to meet other artists. Go to openings – see what other people are doing.
Go Media: What’s next for you?
I am currently showing my work at the Still Point Gallery through June 20. I am curating my first show in July. It’s at Arts Collinwood. The show opens on July 5 and it’s called CRUNCHY: Sugary Cartoon Art for Big Kids. I’ll be selling my stuff at the Summer Market on July 26 & 27 in Avon Lake and at the Berea Arts Fest on September 8.