Every once in a while a designer enters the T-shirt design world and literally makes everyone’s head turn with their amazing art. Megan Lara is one such person. Her beautiful art has excelled her into new worlds and an impressive client list is unfolding. A recent winner at Design by Humans with her retro French poster inspired piece, It Makes the Heart Grow Fonder we thought it was time we had a chitty chat with this new star and found out more about her.
Megan Lara Talks Art, Business and Fun
You have a distinct style that harks back to Art Deco style and particularly the work on Mucha, when did you first discover this art movement and what pulled you towards it?
I first discovered Mucha/art nouveau/deco right after my wedding. My husband was really sick, and I had taken a few days off to take care of him. I was leafing through some of the art books I’d gotten as wedding presents, and one of them was a compilation of Mucha’s works. Immediately I was hooked. I had always loved drawing realistic portraits with thick lines, and that was something Mucha did extremely well. He was a HUGE inspiration to me, and I thought it would be great to re-imagine some of the biggest figures in pop culture in his style.
A little birdy tells me that you have an array of wigs and you are into the phenomenon known as Cosplay? What is that and how did you get involved?
I have a wig addiction. I have, like, 15 wigs and only six costumes. I got into cosplay after I had several people tell me I had a strong resemblance to Rose Tyler, and that I should dress up as her. After dressing as her for the first time at C2E2, I was hooked. It’s so much fun getting to be someone else for a day or two, and the challenge of creating your own (or recreating) a costume is SO much fun.
Your art is gathering some serious attention and I saw that you recently did a cover for Dark Horse’s Willow comics. Very cool, how did that come about and do you plan on more comic art in the future?
I got an e-mail from Scott Allie one day, saying he and Joss wanted me to do the variant covers for the new Willow: Wonderland comic, with David Mack doing the main covers. I pretty much had to change my pants after reading that e-mail. Doing comic covers had always been a dream of mine, and working with Dark Horse (on a Joss Whedon property!!!) has been the highlight of my career thus far. I am so hoping they decide to work with me again. They are a great company and I had so much fun working with them.You seem to know your pop culture references pretty well, are you a nerdy girl? What is your favorite TV show, Game and Nerdy item currently?
I’m a huge nerd. Right now, my favourite TV show is Community. My god, a show has never captured my attention so fully. It’s smart, funny and just freaking amazing. And I got to participate in the Six Seasons and a Movie Art Show (put on by Pixeldrip) this summer. Dan Harmon bought two of my pieces, so I suppose I am partial to it now. :) As far as games go, I am waiting (impatiently) for my husband to get done with Bioshock: Infinite, so I can delve into that. Other than that, I play Civ pretty much daily. I love RTS games.
Tell us a little bit about your process, how do you go about making such highly detailed, amazing art?
Typically I take an hour or two to gather references. Deviantart has a wonderful stock section that I often use as inspiration. If I can’t figure out how something is supposed to look, I go there and it’s very helpful! I have a pretty simple process, to be honest. I do a really rough, pretty ugly sketch. I refine it once, then tighten the lines up again (making sure to mirror it several times so I can tell where my mistakes are) before I start colouring. If it’s a t-shirt design, I make sure all the lineart is not anti-aliased before I begin. I do a messy flat colouring and then tighten it up. After that, I add gradients/shading and then halftone all those last. All colours/gradients are on separate layers. Doing digital paintings is much easier—sketch, refine, paint.
You have a huge number of followers and fans. Do you have any tips for up and coming designers on how to build a community all of your own and market your work?
Try and respond to everyone, and share your work and updates often, but not too much. There’s a fine balance between being active and annoying. And don’t be afraid to show your work! With the internet, it’s easy for people to steal your work—and that understandably scares a lot of people off. Watermark everything and be diligent about looking for art theft. It will happen, but it shouldn’t discourage you from showing the world your art. :)
Don’t be afraid to take criticism. Do art every day. Be humble and be kind. It may sound obvious, but really appreciate the people who like your art!
If you could only draw one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
Women! I love drawing soft, curvy things—so what’s better to draw than the female form? I just love romantic, feminine things. Women with flowers, and jewelry and pearls.
You have a very strong work ethic and have worked with many clients, which was your personal favorite and why?
My favourite so far has been Dark Horse. It pretty much fulfilled my life’s goal of doing comic book covers. Joss Whedon is one of my favourite creators, ever, and hearing that he liked my art enough to want me to do art for him.. such an amazing feeling, and I could not be more grateful! And they put my art on a car—how freaking cool is that?
What’s the next big project(s) you are working on? Anything new in the pipeline? Any submissions for Design by Humans lurking around the corner?
I’m working on another project for Quantum Mechanix that may or may not be Joss Whedon related… :) I’m trying to do a lot more original art lately, as I’m really enjoying the series of women I’ve started painting. I have a couple sketches for possible DBH shirts :). I probably oughta get working on those…
Finally, you walk into a bar and there are three famous people waiting to buy you a drink, who are they and why do you want them there?
Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer and David Tennant. I don’t think I can mention why I’d want them there and still keep this interview rated PG.
Thanks again, Megan Lara for such a great interview, we look forward to reading your stories, checking out new designs and wigs. Megan’s Facebook and tumblr’s are full of new designs all the time.
Megan Lara’s Art
Megan Lara’s first print, “It makes the Heart Grow Fonder”