Between The Lines is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.
I first discovered Kaitlin Trisciani’s art several months ago on Twitter, thanks to my dear friend and awesome human, Diya Mishra. I was immediately captivated by Kate’s art, style, and all-around vibe. After following her for a few months and discovering that she was not only a wildly talented artist but also an excellent person, I decided that I wanted to hire her to create Furyborn character portraits. Working with her was an utter delight. She made the collaborative process fun and easy, and I knew from the moment we first started talking about this project that I’d made the right choice.
For the past few days, we’ve been revealing Kate’s portraits on social media. I wanted to further highlight her work by interviewing her about her life, her art, and her process — as well as offer readers a chance to see her beautiful Furyborn portraits in closer detail. Read on! And, of course, bask in the beauty of Kate’s art, embedded throughout this post. – Claire Legrand
About Claire Legrand
Claire Legrand is the author of several novels for children and teens, including the Edgar-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Winterspell, Furyborn, and the upcoming young adult horror novel Sawkill Girls. She lives in New Jersey.
About Kate Trish
Kate is a Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator, a writer, and a passionate fan of film and television. She uses both digital and traditional media, and she draws inspiration from the dark and surreal imagery in art history, television, and film. When she’s not creating work for clients, she focuses on personal work that incorporates themes related femininity, light/darkness, and connection/disconnection.
1) Tell us about yourself, Awesomesauce Kate (that is your new official name, by the way). What kind of role has art played in your life? Have you been painting and drawing since childhood? What experiences in your life have led you to become the artist you are today?
For starters: I gladly accept the new name!
My mum tells me I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, and I remember doing a lot of coloring and artsy things as a child. Although I’ve always drawn a lot (for myself, for others, in the margins of my notebooks, etc.), I didn’t study art seriously until college, when I earned my BFA degree. Before that, it was just something I did for fun.
I don’t know that I would have become so focused on my creative interests if I hadn’t undergone spinal fusion surgery when I was twelve. Losing the ability to move most of my spine took me away from sports and ballet, but it made me recognize and invest in my love of art and writing. From there, the support of my parents helped me find my path in education, which put me on the right track for my career.
Another big turning point was my experience with developing my BFA thesis and graduating from undergrad. Studying fine art gave me a great foundation in art-making in general and introduced me to my art history influences (Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Nouveau, primarily), but it was stifling at times. When I graduated, I returned to digital art, in which I’m self-taught, and threw myself into work I truly enjoyed. That’s how I built the audience I have now and started finding my creative voice.
2) How would you describe your artistic style (or brand, if you want to use that word)? What themes, ideas, and emotions are you most excited about communicating through your work?
In my personal work, I gravitate toward subjects that feel dark, dreamy, and surreal. The themes that tie my projects together stem from my experience of femininity, connection, and disconnection, both independently and in my relationships with the people and things around me. I think this comes through in the way that I collage different forms together, combine line and tone, and balance light and dark shapes in my compositions. I enjoy the process of striking a balance between contrasting elements, discovering the image as I work, and exploring relationships (visually and conceptually).
I prefer to depict recognizable forms, but I enjoy creating inventive collages and spaces that invite the viewer to have a unique experience with the image. Although I consider all of my work narrative, I don’t want to dictate anyone’s experience with it. My style has evolved to reflect the excitement I feel when an image is specific enough to be evocative but open or general enough to allow people to apply their own interpretations. I typically create with the intent to inspire imagination and feeling, rather than telling a specific story, even if I have a story in mind while I work.
3) How would you describe Furyborn to someone who knew nothing about it? Who is your favorite character from Furyborn, and why? (No spoilers!)
Oh, what a task! I would reach beyond the basics of the plot to describe Furyborn as an exhilarating ride through a world of magic, in a story that invites us to see through the eyes of refreshingly passionate and imperfect young women. It has everything a fan of the genre wants, with rich world-building and exciting action, but it’s also a well-paced and unique experience of complex characters that feel like a breath of fresh air. It puts young women at the forefront in a way that I wish more stories would have when I was a fledgling fantasy fan, learning to tell her own stories.
Plus, it’s so exciting and heartbreaking that I was yelling about it to a friend when I was only a few pages in!
The plot is full of twists and turns that made me reluctant to put the book down, but I really think the characters are the core of the story (as they should be), and no personal recommendation would be complete without screaming about how endearing they are.
My favorite character has to be Simon, thanks to his particular relationship with loyalty, responsibility, and emotion. I relate to him more than any other character, and I appreciate the way that he represents the challenge of balancing personal and societal responsibility – sometimes at great personal cost. Plus, he’s a witty fellow with great dialogue! What’s not to like?
Of course I also adore all of the women in Furyborn, and no description of the book is complete without an acknowledgment of how strong they are in their convictions and agency.
4) Let’s talk about the process of creating these gorgeous portraits. Obviously you read the book, and then you and I talked about things like wardrobe, physical features, personalities, etc. But beyond that, what were the steps of this process? I bet other character artists reading this post would love to know how you tackle a project like this!
Well, the descriptions and photo references were a great starting point, to help me get a sense of the general look of each character. Actually reading Furyborn, though, was probably the most important part of getting started. After all, knowing someone’s height and hair color doesn’t produce a portrait with personality! Furyborn gives the reader an opportunity to empathize with the characters and visualize how they move through the world. That was the key.
I started planning the compositions with thumbnails, alongside the notes in my sketchbook from our conversations. I was mostly focused on poses and making sure that each character would fill the frame well and show some personality. For example, Ludivine has a more regal and reserved pose, while Eliana looks ready to fight.
From there, I started on the digital sketches in Photoshop. These were mostly an effort to refine my ideas for poses and get started on colors. Of course this was also my first crack at styling for the characters’ hair and clothing. I had to find balance in each portrait and across the seven portraits as a set, but I couldn’t spend too much time nitpicking details because I needed to keep things open to change as we explored each character’s design. Thankfully, we didn’t have to adjust too much early on, though I did completely redraw Simon, who needed a more imposing and sleek look.
It’s worth noting that we did have a good bit of back-and-forth throughout the process. Normally I wouldn’t run through so many rounds of previews and edits, but I think it’s important with a project like this to ensure the characters look and feel right. Communication was important.
As I developed the paintings further, most of my sessions involved pairing two characters together, to develop them side-by-side. I would rotate the pairings, and I tried to keep all seven portraits at a similar stage of development. This helped me ensure the portraits would work as a set, in the end.
Technically speaking, there were a lot of layers involved, but these were developed somewhat like a traditional oil painting or drawing. I didn’t start with lineart and blocking in colors. I developed larger shapes of color and value and refined each character along the way. Sometimes that meant completely repainting an arm. It’s not the most organized approach, but I appreciate the freedom to discover the painting as I go, because I get caught up in little details too easily and can be burdened by analysis paralysis. I also have a fine art background, so I tend to apply that mentality when working with digital tools.
That also meant I had to use masks to separate the characters from the background and frames, which are consistent across all of the portraits. That’s the magic of working digitally!
5) Music is a huge part of my writing process. Did you listen to music to get you in the Furyborn mindset? Do you usually like music or some other background noise when working? And if so, do you have any good recs for us?
I did listen to your Furyborn playlists at the beginning! It was one more way to get into the right headspace with the themes and emotion of the story.
Generally, I like to mix up the art-making music selection, depending on my own mood. It helps me manage my energy and quiet the inner critic. Sometimes I’ll blast metal to get myself going, but I might need gentler background noise an hour later to keep myself in-the-zone without drawing too much attention to away from my work.
As for recommendations: I discovered Crywolf while working on these portraits, so I listened to his albums a lot. I also listened to a bunch of AURORA tunes. Both are pretty unique and imaginative, with a dash of darkness. They suit my love of fantasy, which was appropriate for working on these portraits.
For folks who need music without lyrics for their creative adventures: Clint Mansell’s soundtrack for The Fountain is one of my absolute favorites, and it made its appearance during this project, too.
6) What’s one element of these portraits that you are particularly proud of? Do you feel like you learned something about yourself or your process while working on the Furyborn art?
This was one of my favorite projects of the year, and there are two main reasons for that:
First, it was an opportunity to merge illustration with realism and use digital media in a way that reminds me of traditional tools. I’m proud of the balance between imagination and reality, and I love the texture of the paintings. I’m grateful that you embraced the grittiness of my personal work instead of asking me to create something glossy or altogether different from what’s natural for me. That’s a dream for commission work!
More importantly, I feel like these portraits were an exercise in finding and communicating a shared vision, and I love how they came together. I wouldn’t have been satisfied if I felt like my voice was the only one represented or if it looked like I didn’t contribute my voice at all.
As for what I learned: The joy of working on this project was an even greater lesson than the actual art-making and workflow experience. When something feels positive and right in my art and business, I know I need to pursue more of that. In this case, the greatest takeaway was the realization that character art is something I need to create more often…and that great collaborators make all the difference.
7) What are you currently working on? Do you have any fun art projects in process? Or maybe recent projects you’d like to highlight for our readers? What kind of artistic adventures do you have planned for the future?
My current projects are comprised of a few different things:
● A tarot project! I can’t call it quits on cards now, so I’m doing a tarot-inspired series of paintings. This is in the early stages and will take me well into the year, but I’m excited to give this a try.
● A few digital and traditional drawings and paintings that really lean into what life has shown me since I moved to Los Angeles last year. I feel a renewed sense of self in my work, and I’m excited to share these more involved and developed images with everyone! New prints and originals will show up at KateTrish.com/store over the next few weeks.
● New stationery, available as printable downloads! I’ve been dabbling in stationery design, and I have a bunch of sassy sets in the works that feel very authentic to who I am and how I love to motivate myself and others. These will be available for purchase at KateTrish.com, too, where I already have some stationery packs for sale.
My schedule is in flux as I explore opportunities to invest in all of my creative interests, but I have ambitions to try a webcomic and continue expanding into new types of storytelling. Folks can follow along on Twitter and Instagram @Kate_Trish for frequent updates and/or join me at Patreon.com/KateTrish, for more in-depth behind-the-scenes content.
Author Claire Legrand
Pages 512 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Fantasy
Publication Date May 22nd 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Find It On Goodreads ● Series Website ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable ― until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world―and of each other.