Creator Feature: Birchly
Where to even begin about this silly, silly antelope. Birchly is not only a professional artist working for a major animation studio, but he is also a kind-hearted member of the Anthro community! From opening his Discord server to launching his Patreon, I have been with Birchly through several wonderful milestones. Now though, it's my turn and I am thrilled to be writing his creator feature article right here on AnthroBrand.
As always, if you are interested in being featured, please reach out to me! All of my contact information can be found at the bottom of the home page. Now let's get to it!
1. Please introduce yourself! Tell us about your sona, or main character, and what inspired them into your life.
Hi, I’m Birchly! My sona is a gerenuk, who - just like my participation in the anthro community - was inspired by the release of a little film called "Zootopia." Before that, I was thinking I might try a birdsona; but then I discovered the fragile little doe-eyed weirdos with wind sail ears. They inspired me to make a character who would fit within that movie’s world. I never really ended up using him that way, but he stuck around, and I’ll give him this: horns are easier to draw than feathers.
My flagship character is Courtney Brushmarke the skunk model, whose origins were similarly Zootopian before I cast off the restrictions of that universe to let her exist on her own. I’ve actually had an appreciation for skunk girls for a long time. After including one as a snooty side character in an early fan comic, I sort of sidestepped into the chance to develop my own fluffy pinup star.
2. How long have you been drawing in the general sense?
I dunno man, forever? Not that I always knew I was going to be a visual artist full-time, mind you. In my early life I was one of those kids who was naturally good at a lot of things (blessing and curse) and it took until halfway through high school to find it was my primary passion. But now, many years on, I kinda lament the things that making art for a living AND a hobby prevents me from becoming an expert at! Oh completely unrealistic expectations.... what would I do without you?
3. Do you prefer digital or traditional art more?
I feel dirty saying it, but digital. The thing is, I know part of that is a fear of making permanent marks, and I need to do a lot more throwaway exercises on paper to build up my sure-handedness. That being said, however, digital is SO freeing! I LOVE IT! It makes exploration and consistency possible through amazing, lightning-fast tools, and takes so much stress away. It’s so much freedom you can easily get lost, and often I find it’s best to imitate elements of physical media to give texture to the tools.
4. What art program do you use? What are its best and worst features?
After using Photoshop for years and years, I finally got an iPad just over a year and a half ago and started doing almost all my pieces in Procreate. Its best and worst feature is really the same - it’s on an iPad! You can take it anywhere, but working on it for a sustained period of time can be much less comfortable than on a Cintiq. Keeping it charged can also be challenging. The tools, however, are fantastic. It’s less precise than Photoshop, but feels so much more natural.
5. What brought you to the Anthro community?
Well, I had the fortune to work with a talented little gang of anthros for years before I accepted the label. My latent appreciation for anthros was able to blossom into a full-blown creative expression thanks to their unforced exposure therapy, including attending FWA since 2016 (er... until 2020 that is).
6. Tell us about an artist that inspires you!
There are so... SO MANY. I love looking at other people’s art almost too much! But the obvious answer here is FtK, a treasured friend and brilliant mind who held the door to the anthro community wide open for me from the beginning. It’s not just her unique and appealing style, the influence of which I think is obvious in my work, but also knowing her has helped me to restructure my worldview. Allowing me to consider and appreciate all kinds of things I might have been closed to otherwise! This is my favorite kind of friend to have, I’ve found such relationships crucial to my development as both an artist and a person.”
7. What are your current art goals?
Goals are tricky for me right now, which is one of the reasons I’m happy to be working with Mariah! (Flatterer!) But let’s not overthink it. I want to get more of my art out there, and into more eyeballs. I want to build my speed and confidence, and maybe get into streaming for my patrons. As for Courtney, I want to come up with a bit more development for her, or maybe get her onto some merch or products someday.
8. If you could master any skill overnight, what would it be?
Oh boy, again, so many. I’m not even going to say drawing, because that would redefine my central struggle so completely I’d probably go insane from shock. Let’s say, jazz piano! I can tickle the ivories a little already and a recently lockdown-purchased synthesizer is giving me even more reasons to smile. It astounds me to listen to people improvise awesome riffs and I wish I could just GET THERE.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to new artists, what would it be?
My name is Birchly, and I am a perfectionist. You might admire someone who indulges their perfectionism, but it’s not a superpower. It’s an addiction. It’s dangerous. Nothing burns you out faster than chasing an impossible standard! If you want to sustain a healthy creative life, you must make peace with your own humanity. You can’t make flawless art and you never will. As a certain bunny-cop said, “We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half-full, we all have a lot in common!”
If this is what you wrestle with, make specific, quantifiable goals that you know you can achieve right now. Then go get them. Through taking small, repeated steps, you'll get into a habit of doing what you set out to do. Reward yourself for meeting the challenge, no matter how it turns out. Stop punishing yourself for crawling forward instead of flying. Your strength will come from such testing periods. Acknowledge your fears, but follow your passion instead.
10. What prompted you to begin taking commissions? How was it when you first started out?
Peer pressure, I guess? People just kept asking (thanks by the way!) and when I opened, they got snapped up. It went great the first time but I spent too long on them (did I mention the perfectionism?). Every time I’ve opened, the slots disappear in about an hour, and I don’t take that for granted. It is a little nerve-wracking though, and I wish I had the time and energy to make everyone happy. This is not necessarily a healthy impulse. Nevertheless, I want to doubly thank my commissioners, because nearly all of them have been exceptional clients.
11. What advice do you have for artists that are thinking about beginning to take commissions for the first time?
Everyone might tell you something different, so I guess I’d say, don’t be too nervous about how you start. You can change everything up as you learn and still move forward. The more you progress, the higher your value will be. Do what feels right for you and adjust accordingly the next time you decide to open.
12. What's your favorite thing about the Anthro community?
We may have our fringe creeps and the occasional Nazi (I’m not finished with the sentence yet) BUT, most of the community seems to be based on the genuine pleasure of fundamentally harmless enjoyment. A lot of us have a difficult relationship with our mental health and it’s so encouraging to be connected with others on the basis of all the positive things we like to creatively pursue and appreciate.
13. Tell us a little known fact about yourself!
I sing. (Shortest answer to this question, ever. lol)
14. Where can we find you online?
I finally started a Patreon that will be my new primary outlet (patreon.com/birchly), but my largest following is on twitter (twitter.com/birchlyart), which will continue to get regular updates. (For those of you who are 18+, there’s my somewhat neglected AD account, twitter.com/birchbeerart.) I also have less frequently updated galleries at artbirchly.deviantart.com and furaffinity.net/user/birchly, if you’re looking for a more easily accessible collection of older works.
Another creator feature completed! I wanna send a big thanks to Birchly for both participating and allowing me to help get things off the ground. It's been an absolute joy to work with such a talented, patient person! If anyone has any questions about AnthroBrand or the free services I provide, please get in touch! Thanks for reading!