Tell a Story Worth Telling: An Exclusive Interview With Illustrator Abigail Larson
Abigail Larson is not your average artist. You won’t find her at a community paint night, smudging fruit-shaped stains on cheap canvas, or meticulously crafting a strange series of stripes and squiggles for the sake of being “abstract.” No, Abigail’s art goes far beyond what one would expect. Instead of simply observing, her paintings and drawings actually pull you in, almost as if you don’t have a choice, and hold you there, in this strange invisible orb between person and paper. Her images are fluid instead of stagnant, and one half-expects them to come to life at any moment. Her characters are just as lively, and seem to possess a sort of mystery, as if they are holding some scandalous secret above the both of you. Each one tells a story, which is why we are honored to have Abigail help tell some of Zoozil’s stories through her illustrations.
Abigail’s biggest influences are Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, the Brothers Grimm, and many other classic gothic works of fiction, which is no real surprise to those who have seen her work. Her interest in the strange and archaic bleeds generously into her art, and colors her images with a dark, intriguing presence that few illustrators have successfully achieved.
Though she is a Richmond local, Abigail’s art has been featured all over the world, and Zoozil is extremely fortunate for the chance to team up with her. Her illustrations in “Sergeant Stubby in the Great War” are vivid, bold, and able to engage readers visually, carrying them to the heart of the story. I was able to talk with Abigail about her art and interests, and learn more about her life as a professional illustrator, spook-catcher, lurk-master, and day-dreamer!
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been a working artist for about 7 years now – but I’ve been drawing since grade school. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an artist.
What is a place that inspires you to be creative?
I love to travel, and every time I go on a new adventure I feel inspired to draw – especially places that have historical importance, or great natural beauty.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m a paranormal show junkie, haha! I love ghost stories – the historical events behind hauntings really intrigues me.
Have you found it difficult to make a career out of being an artist/illustrator?
Making art a career isn’t something I’d say is easy, but I was very lucky to have a lot of opportunities early in my career. I was accepted into galleries, and had work published while I was still in school. But I’ve worked hard as well to build a brand for myself, and still feel inspired to create art for myself.
If you could live during any major historical event, what would it be?
I would’ve loved to have been involved with the women’s suffrage movement, or witnessed Tesla lighting the World’s Fair.
Besides drawing, what do you like to do?
I have a tiny garden that I like to work in when I need a break from work, and I love to travel.
Do you have any pets?
No, but I love animals! I really want a dog, but we need a house with some more yard before we get one.
What kind of music did you listen to while illustrating Stubby?
I actually kept a lot of war documentaries on while I worked on Stubby. I liked seeing old photos of the soldiers, and re-learning the history. When I play music while drawing, it’s mostly classical or movie scores.
What is something you’re really good at? (besides art, obviously)
In college I was a very strong swimmer and archer, but these days all I do is draw so I’m a bit out of practice, haha!
What’s something you’re really bad at?
I’m wretched math and anything tech-related!
What advice can you offer aspiring artists?
I always give the same advice to artists: make sure you’re making art you love, and that you’re making it for yourself, not to fit a certain brand or genre. Use your creativity to say something you think is worth saying, or tell a story worth telling, and practice every day.
To learn more about Abigail Larson, visit her website, check out her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Also, be sure to check out “Sergeant Stubby in the Great War” now available in the Zoozil Library!