In today's artist feature we are going to meet someone who you have all seen at least 20 times on this site alone. You see her art every time you visit the AnthroBrand home page, and in nearly every single article I write thanks to all of the ASL Expression Sheets she has done for me. I absolutely adore working with her and any time you see a picture like the one to the right, you're looking at her, just as much as me.
That's right! Today's feature is none other than the wonderfully talented @MerlinMakes and I am thrilled to have had the chance to interview her. I met Merlin on FA by pure chance and she has since become the "Unofficial Artist of AnthroBrand." I could honestly ramble about how great she is to work with, forever, but let's get to the questions!
1. Please introduce yourself! Tell us about your sona, or main character, and what inspired them into your life.
Hi I’m Merlin! I’m a freelance artist living on the East Coast with my lovely partner and two pets. I went to a small arts college and discovered I hated working a 9-5 job, so I switched over to commissions full-time and now I’m here. I enjoy biking, cooking, origami, and reading sci-fi books. I don’t have much to say about my sona, I guess haha. She’s an avatar for me to use online. I don’t have a backstory for her, but she has a name, Freyja.
2. How long have you been drawing in the general sense?
I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, but I took it more seriously in high school, and decided to go to college for art. I really loved making OCs and drawing comics, mostly because I grew up reading comic books, graphic novels, and manga through my dad.
3. Do you prefer digital or traditional art more?
I prefer digital for most things because it’s just more time efficient and there’s such a range of effects you can do (plus the Undo button exists!). I enjoy watercolor and sculpting as well though, with painting and doll-making being hobbies I do on the side.
4. What art program do you use? What are its best and worst features?
I mostly use Photoshop. It has so many brushes and a versatile tool set. The UI is a bit tricky to learn and it's kind of expensive, however.
5. What brought you to the Anthro community?
I’m not sure exactly. Probably a combination of all the anthro cartoon characters I grew up seeing in movies and on TV. I definitely crushed on the Disney version of Robin Hood as a kid. I just really like anthro art, for the most part. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a furry, but I like the community and enjoy drawing anthro characters!
6. Tell us about an artist that inspires you!
Ok so, they’re not a furry artist, but I adore Tomer Hanuka. His mastery of color and forms is definitely something I’ve studied and tried to emulate a bit in my own style. His movie posters and one-off illustrations are so detailed and lush, I’d recommend everyone check him out, especially if you like illustrated movie posters or magazine covers.
7. What are your current art goals?
I would like to refine my skills in cartooning a lot more. I worked my way up to hyperrealism in college and wanted to do something more playful after graduating. So, I’ve gradually been shifting toward a more abstract style over the past year. It’s hard to let myself be loose and do more expressive, simple drawings sometimes.
8. If you could master any skill overnight, what would it be?
Playing my tin whistle (basically a metal recorder, but less [bad]). I’ve had it for 3 years and I can barely plod my way through a few songs. When I bought it I thought it would be an easy instrument to learn so I could at least say I played something.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to new artists, what would it be?
Learn your fundamentals! I know it’s way more fun to draw OCs, comics, or whatever you’re interested in, but you will have to learn basic color theory, shading, perspective, proper anatomy, and all that at some point. Make it easier on yourself and start with the basics so you don’t have to unlearn as many bad habits.
10. What prompted you to begin taking commissions? How was it when you first started out?
I never intended to take commissions, I just posted my art on Reddit for fun. Someone reached out to me after a while about doing some stickers and icons for her and her friends, and I figured this might be a nice bit of side income. After about 9-10 months I realized I was making nearly what I made at my day job and switched over to doing commissions full time. I love being my own boss and making my schedule but it’s also hard to motivate myself some days. I do work 7 days a week, so the hours are a bit long. It was a bit rough starting out but not bad. I got scammed badly once early on by not taking payment upfront on a big piece. Always take half or full payment upfront kids!
11. What advice do you have for artists that are thinking about beginning to take commissions for the first time?
Don’t undersell yourself. If you’ve only been drawing a few months, then yeah, you’re probably not going to make more than $5-10/hr for your work. But if you have some experience under your belt, charge a decent living wage if you can. Some people won’t want to pay, but many people will. You can’t please everybody, and don’t feel like you need to drop your prices or start out super cheap just because you’re worried someone will find them too high. 12. What's your favorite thing about the Anthro community?
I like the creativity that comes out of it! There’s some wonderful artists and writers in the community and most people are very supportive and helpful to newcomers looking to learn. I’m in several furry art Discord groups and subreddits and I love that so many people are willing to give feedback to new artists and writers to help them grow.
13. Tell us a little known fact about yourself!
Oh boy. I don’t know if anyone finds this interesting or can relate but I have a super specific fear of mechanical objects in water. It’s called submechanophobia. Think wave pools or animatronics in an amusement park water ride. I don’t know where it came from, but I’ve had it for years and when I tell people about it they either think it’s ridiculous or know exactly what I’m talking about.
14. Where can we find you?
I’m on Twitter and FurAffinity primarily. My Twitter is @MerlinMakes and my FA username is evil_merlin42. I also have an Instagram and Reddit both with the username evil_merlin42.
And there you have it! A big thank you to Merlin for taking the time to do this interview with me and test out the new, longer format. I think adding a few extra questions wasn't a bad idea and the answers really go a long way to learn about the people behind the art that we see every day.
If you have any questions or would like to be featured in a future AnthroBrand article, please don't hesitate to reach out! My contact information is always located on the front page. As always, your support is greatly appreciated and thank you so much for reading!