Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassie Levin.
Cassie, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My story starts the way that it does for many artists: we picked up a crayon from a very young age and just never put it down. I was lucky enough to have parents that supported my creativity from day one. Many years I would receive those plastic, fold-out, sets of 100 pieces of art supplies including miniature markers, color pencils, and pastels among other things. I drew on anything I could get my hands on–the walls, notebooks, the back of tests I’d finished early in class. I had this insatiable need to draw with a sort-of reckless abandon that artists usually lose as adults.
Around the beginning of middle school, I discovered anime and an online community of artists on sites like DeviantArt and TegakiE and I taught my self to draw (poorly) with a mouse before my parents bought me my first drawing tablet. Middle and high-school was my “weaboo” phase, but it was also the time in which I just constantly made art for fun and for myself without question. Finding an online community allowed me to see art from all over the world and begin to see art as a possible career.
I finished high-school unsure about what my career path should be. I knew I loved making art, but I also have heard from many people that it wasn’t viable, it didn’t make much, it wasn’t stable. I told myself I would never be good enough and, unfortunately, I didn’t have access to people who could steer me in the right direction. I still decided to attend California State University Fullerton (CSUF) where I entered undeclared. I spent the first two years of my college education lost and in denial. I was taking a bunch of general education classes, but I peppered in art classes that I told myself were just for fun. I’m also passionately interested in other subjects such as history, languages, and other humanities and I long pondered what career I could make with them.
When I finally asked myself “What will make you happy to do for your ENTIRE life?” my only answer was to follow my heart and declare as an art major specifically in illustration. Once I declared my major and really immersed myself in the art department, meeting and connecting with my peers, that was the largest and fastest period of artistic growth in my life. For the first time, I was able to explore art in depth and be surrounded by other people doing the same thing. I recently finished my degree at CSUF and will keep exploring and growing for, hopefully, the rest of my life.
I have not forgotten my passion for other aspects of life and the humanities. I’ve found a way to morph them together with my artistic goals. I have joined organizations such as Women in Animation and have seen the need for social change within my industry and I have also reflected on my experiences as a young person and decided to become the person I could have used at that time. My goal is to become a person in the animation industry, and in life, that has the power to help not only my peers gain equal footing in the industry, but also help younger people entering college and the workforce who might be lost like I have been.
I am still not entirely sure where my path leads, but I want to be a force of positive change.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am an illustrator and a visual development artist, but I also like not to restrict myself. I think artists are capable of using any medium and filling any position if they work hard enough to learn them. That being said, my work currently focuses largely on two things: illustrations and concept art. I’m exploring subjects that I personally enjoy and make me happy. During college, I was restricting myself to certain subjects and now that I have the freedom to choose I just want to make art that makes me and other people happy.
Growing up, I experienced a lot of internalized misogyny and I absolutely HATED the color pink and anything feminine. Today, I’ve learned to embrace and love cute, feminine, pink, and pastel things. So, maybe I’m trying to reclaim a little bit of what I lost with my art and show to others that feminine subjects deserve respect too.
I hope when people see the work that I make that they are inspired or feel a moment of warmth in their hearts.
Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
My advice to other artists, especially to younger artists is:
1. Art is a REAL career path, despite what other people might say, but it takes a lot of HARD work and dedication. You will not ‘get good’ overnight. It requires patience, care, and, most of all, time.
2. I know its super hard, but don’t compare yourself to other artists, especially those who have years more experience than you. Everyone’s path is different and winding, you will make it there eventually.
3. Please, take care of yourself. I know many people who have suffered because they pushed their bodies to the limit to feel like they’re good enough. Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, take time off from art to find things that inspire you and gain experience that will influence your stories. Don’t let peer pressure keep you from taking care of yourself. Many artists fall prey to the ideology that if you’re sleeping and eating well, you’re not working hard enough, which is total bs. Remember, we want to be artists for our whole lives, not just to first 30 years before our bodies succumb to tendinitis, back pain, and mental problems caused by lack of sleep.
4. Find what makes you happy and keep doing it, whether its sculpture, illustration, visual development, story-boarding, children’s books, whatever. Check in every once in a while to make sure that thing is still what makes you happy, and if not, then reevaluate and find another thing that does.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
If you wish to see and support my work, it can be found on my Instagram page @cassielevin as well as my portfolio website at https://www.cassielevin.com. If you want a more personal experience, and the occasional glimpse of works in progress, you may follow my Twitter @cassie_levin .
I am open to freelance opportunities and commission work, please send inquires to my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I do smaller, sketch-commissions via my Ko-fi at https://ko-fi.com/cassielevin
- Website: cassielevin.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: cassielevin
- Twitter: cassie_levin