Article by Selene Muldowney; Creative Artwork by Chrissy Schram
What inspired you to start this business?
Growing up I was encourage to draw by everyone around me including my parents, aunts, uncles, friends, and teachers. I would draw the things I saw around me no matter what it was, the stereo, television, a plant, almost anything. We didn’t have computers or iPods to entertain or occupy our time, so I drew. Much like people like to read or watch movies, I began to draw cartoon characters of the people around me, garnering my inspiration from the cartoon shows I watched as a child.
What or who inspired/influenced your decision to continue your drawing?
Two of my television idols were Robert Munsch, in A Bunch of Munsch, and Ernie Coombs as Mr. Dress- Up. Both were inspirational in my desire to draw and animate my world. I will never forget watching Mr. Dress-Up sit at his easel and show us how to draw the top of a cylinder which he then turned into a bucket with water dripping onto the floor.
Another major influence was when I attended Central Technical High School’s art program, which incidentally was more influential in perusing art than my time at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). I miss high school; I learned so much and had an incredible time. One day I would like to walk the halls as I recall the smell of paint from art class, the dark photography room, and the 1996 Mac computers. Those were some old computers as compared to what we have now – wow!
I studied editorial graphic design and corporate identity at the OCAD, which happens to be what I really enjoying doing for people.. I love taking a thought, a desire, an image from someone’s imagination and converting it into a thing – a real tangible thing. I geek out with corporate identity – I really think I have a knack from converting thoughts into real things and understanding what people want. – CHRISSY SCHRAM
What lead you to create What, When, Who, Where, Why?
I have always loved drawing people as caricatures with a style I developed from mimicking other cartoons I watched on tv as a child. The more I draw, the more my style evolves and molds, it is constant refining of my skills. Having two children gave me a new outlook on life and a new subject matter – of course! Kids are funny and motherhood is hard.
Some days are amazing, filled with love and joy, while other days you just want to crawl into a tiny hole in the wall and live with the mice hanging out in there. I really needed a way to express both my joyous moments and my frustrations. This inspired the creation of my comic, “What, When, Who, Where, Why”. I posted my cartoons on Facebook and soon family and friends where asking me too draw them as cartoons. I started by drawing a few and then soon people started talking and before long I was taking 4-5 orders a day. Besides Face- book, I began to attend vendor and trade shows where I offered on the spot framed family portraits for $40. Attending those shows really help spread the word about my business. I am glad I did those events, the environment is very supportive.
Fun family Portraits – children’s book illustrator
How long have you been doing this?
Before long I realized I was making more money drawing cartoons than working at the factory dead-end job I had got- ten after I retired from serving seven years in the Canadian military with the RCD (Royal Canadian Dragoons). I asked myself ,”why am I here?” Interestingly I was encouraged to be an artist and encouraged to get a degree in art, yet I was never encouraged to get a job as an artist. At the time when I was studying art, being an artist wasn’t really considered
My Dream is to write and illustrate childern’s books! I Love Robert Munch and always Envision myself to be as cool as him! “weekly comic strips Every week, I create a comic strip about a moment i experience as a mother, a daughter, a “sister, a friend and wife! having a job, at least in the eyes of my family.
This was different, and with the encouragement I needed from my husband, kids, friends, and family, I knew I could work as an artist. Of course, there where the “naysayers” discouraging me and insisting a look for a “real job”. This job – this is more than a job – it is my life and what I truly was meant to do. It always was. It comes way to naturally to me. It took 35 years to realize it but I was meant to do this: CREATE. Be it pet portraits on canvas, watercolor homes and landscapes, fun family portraits, or illustrations for a children book….I was meant to do this. My heart, my guts, my soul craves it. If I don’t express myself through the work I do. I don’t know what will happen really …once I released that creative side I couldn’t turn back. April 2018 marks my one-year anniversary since my business started.
Describe your creative process and how we can order work from you.
I have really worked out an effective system, my orders primarily come from either my website, Facebook, or Instagram. Someone will either email or message me asking for a portrait. I ask them how many people will be in the portrait and size (8×10 or poster size). Those are important factors in determining the final price of the portrait. Generally, a family of four would fit comfortably in an 8×10 design.
After we settle on size and number of people, pets, etc. I ask for a picture of each person to be drawn with a description, such as “this is my husband, he loves the Toronto Maple Leafs and coffee”. I take that information and the picture and I create my interpretation of that person and then design a family portrait with everyone’s interests and/or occupations as part of it. I love to encourage themes in the portraits as well, such as Star Wars or superheroes; it’s always a fun way to bring the family together when everyone is in their favorite superhero outfit!
I then send them a quick sketch for to approve before I ink and color the final hand drawn and framed portrait. Most of my USA clients order digital drawings in which I draw with my Wacom tablet and send the drawings to them via email so they can print any size they want. I have expanded my repertoire to include other products as well: key chains, magnets, bag tags, posters, paintings, and I also do custom design work : logos, banners, postcards, cards, advertisements, print work, and more.
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, or my website www.chrissyschram.weebly.com
Want to see your gear, art, or company profiled here? Contact our Publisher: Selene Muldowney and let her know!