Maggie Ivy is a freelance illustrator and artist originally from the Ozark area, currently living and working in Santa Monica. You can find more of her work at MaggieIvy.com. She provided art for this week's story, "The World in Evening" by Jei D. Marcade. This interview was conducted by email in September 2015.
Tory Hoke: A lot of your work—like your American bird series and your Nosferatu/Peter from What We Do in the Shadows—blends horror and humor. What attracts you to that blend? What would you like to do with those creations?
© 2015 Maggie Ivy "What Peace Looks Like After WW3"
Maggie Ivy: I'm a very goofy person but a fan of horror, so it's hard for one or the other not to slip into something I'm working on.
As far as my American Birds go, my goal for the project is to create a field guide of birds that is set a couple of decades after WW3. This is more about mutation than evolution of the species, due to chemical and nuclear warfare. For now I'm just going to paint some more birds. I'll have more details later on (when I actually have some to share).
Tory Hoke: Fascinating! What inspired this field guide idea?
Maggie Ivy: It all started with the prompt of peace. My number one fear with war is how easily we forget about the environment, and how easily we forget that we need it. I made the first mutant bird, "What Peace Looks Like After WW3," based on this. and then the more I saw the idea the more I wanted to work on it.
Tory Hoke: Your art is strong in anatomy, composition, lighting, texture, as well as imagination—and you work in a broad array of styles. What are the challenges of being such a generalist?
Maggie Ivy: Getting work . . . Sometimes being a jack of all trades means you're a master of none.
Tory Hoke: Are you ever tempted to specialize? Pigeonhole yourself?
Maggie Ivy: It's actually one of my goals this year—to get things a bit more consistent in my portfolio.
Tory Hoke: Your portfolio shows you're not afraid of dynamic lighting. How do you go about finding or imagining the lighting you want to capture?
Maggie Ivy: I've studied lighting rigorously in school, but I will always try and take reference photos.
Tory Hoke: What inspires you to take out the camera? How do you know when you've got the shot?
Maggie Ivy: I very rarely take the camera out spontaneously. I work on a bunch of thumbs, focusing on shape, and then from there "test" out the lighting using some cheap spotlights I bought. It is totally contrived and totally controlled.
© 2015 Maggie Ivy "Red Lady"
Tory Hoke: What kind of style or gig is pure fun for you?
Maggie Ivy: As long as it's a good story that I can get into—whether it is my own or someone else's—I'll always enjoy working on it.
Tory Hoke: According to your website bio, you've moved from the Ozarks to the Florence Academy of Art to Southern California. Those must have been very intense transitions! What were those experiences like? How have they shaped your work?
Maggie Ivy: Well, each move was to go attend a new school, which brought me a ton of new tools and techniques with each place.
Tory Hoke: Seems like integrating new tools with the old is itself a special skill set. Is that something that's gotten easier with time?
Maggie Ivy: Yes and no. Yes, it gets easier, but there is a "use it or lose it" factor to it, too. So if I've put something to the side for too long, I tend to get very rusty fast.
© 2015 Maggie Ivy "Thumbnails for 'The World in Evening'"
Tory Hoke: How is the art scene where you are now?
Maggie Ivy: I'm living in L.A. now, and it's awesome. Gallery shows that I would only get to see the promos for online are now within my reach to view.
Tory Hoke: What kind of gallery showings excite you the most? And how far across town are you willing to go to get to one?
Maggie Ivy: Culver City is the center for a lot of the galleries I follow. So, about 30 minutes by car (if the L.A. gods of traffic are merciful). Most of the shows are F/SF artists or people in that social circle. I'm always going to be partial to that genre.
Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?
Tory Hoke: There are definitely some motifs there—dark fantasy, desaturated, atmospheric, with photoreal figures—and Adam Tan has some of your humor. What samples of their work excite you the most?
Maggie Ivy: For Samuel Araya, "The King in Yellow - Cassilda's song." Adam Tan's "Natmada the Exiled - Observer of Truth, Caster of Illusions." Vanessa Lemen's "Face of Venus."
I urge people to go take a look. I was lucky enough to have Vanessa as a teacher for a couple of years and also lucky to have met Samuel and take classes alongside him. Adam Tan's work is a big inspiration to me; his passing is so sad in so many ways.
Tory Hoke: Makes sense. He was very talented and very young, and he is rightly missed.
What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
Maggie Ivy: My work. Just joking . . . OK, maybe not totally.
But on a serious note, I'd really like for chapter illustrations to make their way back into a majority of F/SF books.
Tory Hoke: Oh, that would be lovely. Like Mary GrandPré's for Harry Potter?
Maggie Ivy: Yes!
© 2015 Maggie Ivy "Woodland"
Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?
Maggie Ivy: I'd really like to do some illustrations for some scary/ghost stories. When I was younger I was really inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by author Alvin Schwartz and illustrator Stephen Gammell. So doing a project like that would be a lot of fun.
Tory Hoke: What's next for you?
Maggie Ivy: Right now, I'm just working on some commissions and personal paintings.
Tory Hoke: Thank you for your time, Maggie! It's been a pleasure talking to you.
Maggie Ivy: Great talking to you as well!