Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with fanartists who bring your favorite young adult books to life.
Lila Selle is a 20-year-old art student living in Boston who spends much of her free time reading and drawing gorgeous Harry Potter fanart.
What is it about the authors’ writing that inspired your art?
I think what I most appreciate in the books I read are good characters. I don’t know exactly why, but I live for a good character-driven story. So if I read about a character who interests me, I’ll kind of latch onto them, and then it’s only a matter of time before they find their way into my artwork. I’m also a very visual person, so it helps me to become more engrossed in the story if I draw characters from it and can picture them more clearly.
I love drawing characters from books because I feel like I have the most creative freedom there, because there’s no one way the character is supposed to look. But I do really love drawing people from TV shows and movies, too. A couple of my favorites are Stiles and Lydia from “Teen Wolf”, and any of the characters from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
A couple of people on Tumblr have told me that looking at my art helps them with their anxiety, which is probably the highest compliment I could ever receive. It’s something I would have never thought possible when I started posting my drawings online a few years ago. I have diagnosed anxiety, so it’s so incredible to hear that my art could offer someone distraction or relief from their own anxiety. It’s the highest honor to think that I could have made someone feel better with my art!
Sometimes I have a really clear idea of what I want my characters to look like in a particular drawing, but other times I kind of just make it up as I go along. I have a folder on my desktop where I put photos I see on the internet that I think would be good to use for references. It could be screenshots from movies, or photos of celebrities, or even a stock photo if I like how the model is posed. If I get stuck on an idea, I’ll go through that folder for inspiration!
I recently bought Photoshop, so I’m really trying to make the transition over to that because it’s pretty much the tool of the trade in the professional art world. It’s so hard though! I’m so used to the program I use now, which is a free program called Fire Alpaca. I’m getting there, though, slowly but surely.
Without a doubt, it was an artist I followed named Brigid Vaughn, or as she’s known online. If you haven’t seen her work, I can’t recommend it enough! I was following her for a couple of years, completely obsessed with the way she drew, and then finally plucked up the courage to post my first drawing back in 2011. It was so encouraging to see even a few people liking my work, and so I was motivated to continue posting. Four years later, and here we are! (Bragging moment: Brigid follows me on Tumblr now, which still makes me freak out a little every time I think about it…)
I’d say I’m most proud of the drawing I did of Hermione in honor of her birthday. Any artists out there can relate to this – there are some drawings where you’ll work on it for hours and hours and it still ends up not looking right. But then for other drawings, there’s that rare moment where everything kind of comes together and it just works. That’s what happened with this drawing for me, and I felt like I captured exactly the energy that I wanted to capture in the character.
I’ve recently done some freelance illustrations for Sparknotes, Howler Con, and the Harry Potter Alliance, which has been so much fun, and I’m continuing to post drawings regularly on my Tumblr. Ultimately, I think my all-time career goal would be to work for an animation studio like Pixar or Dreamworks as a storyboard artist. But who knows? Life is weird!
Draw what inspires you, rather than what you think will be popular. People can tell if you don’t really care about the work you do (I’ve definitely made this mistake before). I’ve found that the more passionate I am about the subject matter, the better the art will turn out, and the more people will respond to it. Also, don’t be afraid to take a break! People love to tell you that art is easy, and make you feel guilty about relaxing and watching some Netflix because “isn’t that what you do all day long?”. Art is not easy! Sometimes it can be really grueling work. But try not to lose sight of the reason you started drawing in the first place, whatever reason that may be!