The watercolourist on Norman Rockwell and Kickstarters
Why Tiffany England’s cat is hungry for art!
Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your art?
I grew up in Mesa, Arizona. My family was very influential in my creativity by encouraging me to play and make up stories. When I got to high school, I was lucky enough to have a dedicated art teacher who gave me a head start on the fundamentals of art and art history.
You’re a child, you see a painting that changes everything. Where are you and what are you looking at?
I was lucky enough to get a field trip in high school to see the travelling Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Phoenix Art museum. I was blown away by the expression and characterisation of each painting and thinking to myself, “This is what I want to do. I want to connect with people the same way these paintings connect with me.”
What was your next step in art?
After that, I started preparing to take art classes at the community college. I remember I didn’t have a specific direction I wanted to go in, but I knew I wanted to explore.
Does one person stand out as being helpful during your early years?
Community college was where I really made the decision to pursue the arts. I had two teachers who fed my art hunger and they couldn’t have been more opposite in their approaches. One was a classicist figure painter teaching the fundamentals and the other came from a contemporary perspective encouraging creativity and exploration. Taking their classes made a well-rounded art lesson.
Tell us about your first paid commissioned piece?
It’s important to understand not to put too much emphasis on perfection
It was three months before I graduated. It was to illustrate several characters for a self-published book about green living. I soon realised that what I learned in school didn’t translate equally to real life.
What’s the last piece you finished, and how do the two differ?
My latest illustration was a fullcolour, watercolour mermaid painting. My first commission was pen and ink characters. I feel they both are genuinely me, but they differ in material and subject matter. I definitely feel more comfortable using watercolour than ink.
Is your art evolving? What’s the most recent experiment you made?
I feel my work is always evolving because there’s constant experimentation going on. Just recently I picked up a watercolour sketchbook for experimenting with colours and textures.
What is the most important thing that you’ve taught someone?
I feel like it’s important to understand not to put too much emphasis on perfection, especially the first time you try something. Most of the satisfaction you’ll get from creating comes from the process, not the end product.
What advice would you give to your younger self to aid you on the way?
Keep going and make decisions that will keep you true to yourself. Also, don’t worry about combining financial stability with your passion. Find work that enables you to pay your bills and is as stress-free as possible, to give you the time to create in your free time.
Can you describe the place where you usually create your art?
I have a very tiny apartment that I share with my sweetheart. My studio space is in the corner of our bedroom. I have a nice wooden drafting table that my parents got for me and I’m surrounded by baskets and jars filled with my art supplies. I have to keep my watercolour paper tucked away in portfolios to stop my silly cat from nibbling on the edges of the paper.
How has the art industry improved since you’ve been working in it?
It’s been encouraging to see independent artists publishing their art books via Kickstarter. This is becoming more important for me to have creative freedom and this avenue provides a viable opportunity for that. I’m excited for the future. Tiffany is a full-time freelance illustrator who’s worked on children’s books, trading cards, CD/DVD covers and more. See more of her art at www.tiffanyengland.com.
The Siren’s Silence “This is a recent illustration inspired by the Mermay hashtag. I was really taken with this particular drawing, which led me to explore her environment a little further.”
Thistle Queen “This was inspired by a hike around Watson Lake in Prescott, Arizona. I was fascinated by all the different variations of thistle present in one area.”