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For over 25 years The Upper Deck Company has been at the forefront of quality and innovation. We are proud to maintain an award-winning portfolio of gaming and entertainment products that contain some of the industry’s best original works of art. We are excited to share exclusive interviews with some of our top artists bringing a look at the amazing people behind these amazing works. This is the Upper Deck Artist Spotlight Series.
Upper Deck: Hello Vanessa, would you like to introduce yourself?
Vanessa Lemen: Hi, my name is Vanessa Lemen. I love to paint and explore. I’ve worn a few different hats over the years in the art industry, from greeting card illustrator to art educator to gallery painter, and have always continued to create my personal work all along the way.
UD: What does “being creative” mean to you?
VL: I’d say being creative means to have a sense of wonder and be open to and enthusiastic about problem-solving, experimenting, and discovering the new. Being creative isn’t necessarily only pertaining to art, but it’s more of a way of thinking and seeing – a way of being.
How did you create your own style?
Our own style essentially is what naturally comes out. That’s what I’d assume others recognize as my style – my natural tendencies combined with everything I’ve learned and experienced up until that moment. How I’ve created that is by allowing myself to let what naturally comes out come out, while continuing to learn and experience new things.
UD: What made you decide to pursue a career in the art world?
VL: It’s what I wanted to do. I’m not even sure there was initially ever a decision that had to be made when it came to the pursuit, but that it was more of a natural progression that came from interest, enthusiasm, hard work and dedication to the craft. But I can say that whether I had a career in the art world or not, I’d still be making art no matter what.
UD: How do you work? Is there a “process” or more of a “flow”?
VL: More and more, the thing I like to try to incorporate into my daily routine is spontaneity. As far as a routine goes, I mainly wake up at 6am, I stay up late, and I paint most of the day/night, finding time in there to possibly run errands if I need to, to do other types of work, and definitely to spend time with our furry kids and Ron. Also, sort of a side note here, but something I see every day because it’s a handwritten note to myself that I’ve pinned to my easel is: “Everything could have been anything else.” A daily reminder to roll with whatever happens.
UD: Who are some of the artists that have inspired you?
VL: That list might be miles long… but here are a few artists whose work I always enjoy looking at: Vachagan Narazyan, James Gleeson, Zdzislaw Beksinski, JMW Turner, and Andrew Wyeth.
UD: Who is your favorite Marvel comic book hero or character?
VL: I’m not sure I could choose one favorite, but I can say that I do really like Squirrel Girl because she’s very different as far as comic book heroes go.
UD: What were/are some of your favorite games to play?
VL: My favorite games are ones that either involve the outdoors or laughing (or both!), and always involve other people.
UD: What type of work do you most enjoy doing?
VL: Personal work and/or work that is commissioned with the expectation that it will have the feel of my personal work. For me, this is in all aspects of my experience as an artist – In gallery work, commissions, and projects – and I am thankful to be able to say that.
UD: What’s your favorite piece of personal work you’ve ever created?
VL: If I had to choose one, it would probably be a small sketchbook I’ve repurposed from a book. It’s a 64-page book that I’ve painted entirely throughout, and I’ve sanded and scratched out areas to allow for some words and texture from the pages underneath to show through. It became like a little book of reminders for me – especially when in doubt, to remain positive, to keep experimenting, and to never lose my sense of wonder and discovery.
UD: What is your dream project?
VL: A dream project, to me, is one that allows for exploration. On a personal level, I do look forward to continuing to create in more of these repurposed books, and seeing where that takes me next. I’m working on a pretty amazing project currently. It’s one that I’d consider a dream project for sure, but I can’t say much more than that except that I can’t wait to reveal it when that time comes. It has been both exhilarating and challenging, and I love it for that.
UD: Who would be your dream collaboration with?
VL: Really, I just mainly wish that more artists would like to collaborate. There’s something that happens with a collaboration that’s much different from working solo, and I think it’s a good thing for everyone to at least try.
UD: What was your favorite part about working on this product?
VL: It was fun to work on this project because it was a bit different for me. Also, I do enjoy the characters’ personalities, so that was a fun aspect to the project as well.
UD: What were some of the challenges that you faced?
VL: I’d say the biggest challenge I had was when I got the flu in the middle of working on the project. I was pretty much useless and unable to move for about 4 of the worst days. Otherwise, it was just a lot of fun to work on this.
UD: Anything else you would like to add?
VL: I just want to say that working on this project and with the people at Upper Deck has been such a great experience.
Want to grab one of these prints for yourself? They’re numbered, and limited edition! You can grab one at our store, here. Interested in seeing more art from Vanessa? You can find her at a few different places with the following links!
Website – VanessaLemenArt.com
Muddy Colors – MuddyColors.com/contributors/vanessalemen
Instagram – @vanessalemen