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Art & Life with Karma Reclusado

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karma Reclusado.

Karma, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been an artist for a long as I can remember. Born and raised in Modesto California, a good chunk of my early childhood was devoted to watching animated movies and cartoons. I remember watching behind the scenes featurettes about the making of classic Disney films. The concept art, storyboarding, character designs, and other artistic elements to tell a story. From that point on, I drew the characters that came to life on screen like Pinocchio or Spongebob, inspired by the magic that animators and artists brought into making this possible.

Over time, I became one of the most artistic students in elementary school all the way up to middle school. And even though I was occasionally the center of attention, I was a very reserved kid. It was after moving to Oceanside and starting anew at Mission Vista High School that I felt like my art skills were improving. I took as many art classes as possible. I started taking art very seriously during Freshman year, and felt enrolling in Art Instruction Schools (correspondence) would greatly help me. I ended up taking it for four years, alongside my classes. From both fields, I learned fundamentals and how to properly use mediums. I also became passionate about film and drew cartoon sketches of actors from classic horror or Noir. Even though this was for fun, I loved taking a well-known figure and recreating them as if they were a part of a comic or animated series. It was like a combination of life studies and stylization.

Life at that point was exciting but also stressful for me because one of my biggest fears in life is failing. That thought alone increased my anxiety as time went by and, ultimately, has led to my habit of being a perfectionist. It’s hard to let yourself loose with any art piece you’re doing without the thought of messing up inking a sketch or making a mistake with watercolor. But what keeps me going forward is the passion that drives me to create the art I enjoy.

After finally graduating high school, I started posting my artwork on social media and have received encouragement from some of my closest friends, but there are some days where I would fall into slumps of self-doubt or embarrassment. Once in a while, I would recreate fan art or an art piece based off of something obscure and would get anxious about showing it to anyone, with the fear of being judged for being odd or not millennial with my interests. And I tried very hard to do what all other artists were doing at the time like sketching quickly or using various art supplies. Then around mid-2017, I started to question my art style as a whole, and my anxiety made it worse. Slowly but surely, however, I had to reassure myself that I will never be like any other artist out there but that’s okay. I can get better by acknowledging what I’m already good at but also learning some new tricks to help further my improvement.

I’m still the reserved but happy-go-lucky person that I am. Early this year, I finally got an indication that my artwork was going somewhere. But I’ve still got a long way to go. At the moment, I have a part-time job as a cashier, but long term, I see myself as an illustrator or cartoonist and studying the fundamentals of animation. I’m anxious but willing to improve and learn, but most importantly, never give up. This Fall, I start college where I can hopefully make a difference in the art world somehow. I’m very grateful for where I am now, for my artistic vision and where I have my heart set for myself.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I do traditional art most of the time. I use 9″ X 12″ Canson watercolor paper but also work with whatever paper I can find. The drawing materials I use are mechanical pencils and, depending on what pen and ink piece I was working on, I use Faber-Castell ink pens or an old-fashioned ink dip pen. For any full-color pieces, I apply gouache paint or Copic markers. I want to start drawing digitally and will be purchasing a new tablet in the very near future.

The majority of art pieces I create are slight realistic interpretations of characters and scenes from movies, with a cartoon tweak; Half of these are concept ideas resulting in various fan art of well-known personalities. Last year, I visited the Backfence Society in Vista and showed a few members an inked drawing of actor Vincent Price from the horror film The Raven. One of the members immediately pointed to it and said, “I want this as a tattoo on my arm!” I felt very proud and honored. What I enjoy drawing the most are portraits. It’s fun to indulge in because I can take a one’s face, find out what features make it distinct, and reinvent the person the way I see it from a visual perspective. When it comes to creating original pieces from imagination, my influence stems from vintage illustration or screenshots from films; I want to convey that warm scenic atmosphere. If there’s a story that needs visuals to correspond with it, I want to be a part of it. I also illustrate social stories for my younger brother, who is autistic. With that said, I hope people will view my artwork and consider how I visually depict the world with a stylized sense of mind.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
From the way I see it, no one is lonely if they can connect with any friends or family members. But making acquaintances can be a challenge, especially on social media. The best way to start interacting with other artists is by asking questions about their work like what do they enjoy drawing, what materials do they use, or just a simple “Hi, how are you?” Giving pieces of compliments and constructive criticism to their artwork is another good way to interact, too. By doing this, you’re able to encourage them as well as pick them up with helpful advice. Eventually, you’ll get to know them better and let them have an opportunity to get to know you better, thus creating stronger bonds. Many artists out there, high profile or not, can inspire and motivate you and make you feel less lonely as you draw or plan your next big piece. So don’t be afraid to ask people for advice or compliment their work, because getting to know them on a personal level will lead to better interaction with others as well as boost confidence in you.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I showcase most of my artwork on my Instagram account. I also have a Tumblr account, though I post very little of my art on that platform. I might set up a Paypal or Patreon account, too. I’m not taking any commissions at this moment. Why? Who knows? What’s important is getting your voice heard. Appreciation is all one can ask for when it comes to supporting a person’s creative ideas.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, Frankenstein’s monster, Gouache self-portrait, Phoenix Rose Hoffman (@ivoxus), Arin Hanson and Danny Avidan, Backfence Society Clubhouse, Vincent Price from The Raven

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