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Sylvia L. Armitstead may be an excellent artist who works well with both traditional and digital media, but she is also a normal person who has to fit her art around her work and social demands. Despite her hectic schedule Sylvia has a mind overflowing with ideas for new art pieces as well as comics and her inspiration and hard work can be seen in any one of her colored pencil drawings and her ink pieces that show such great emotion in just one color.
ToonariPost (TP): What are your goals in life? Do you plan to continue art as a hobby or make it a career?
Sylvia L. Armitstead (SLA): As of right now art is my hobby that happens to take up a majority of my “off” time from when I’m not working at REI. However, I have always wanted to make it my career. I am very lucky in the fact that as long as I’m drawing I’m happy, and that after a brief bit of digging and researching I can be happy drawing just about anything. Except monkeys…. and too much gore… But other than that I’m essentially a you name it, I’ll draw it sort of gal.
I did go to school with all intent of being able to graduate and land a job as an illustrator. However, I felt a bit ill prepared and for no one else’s fault other than my own. My overall portfolio is in desperate need of an overhaul, and then it will be off to the illustration representatives, and getting a personal website made. Up up and away!
TP: Do you feel that your culture has influenced you in some way that makes you different than other artists?
SLA: I do, mostly because I’m an Alaskan. As crazy as it sounds the state where I was born still heavily influences almost every piece in some way. Be it mountains in the background that are ever present, a tuft of fur on a bit of armor, or wolf and bear like creatures. As to overall culture…. yes?
When I draw my women I do try to draw “real” women and not just the photoshopped stick figures that are smeared on every cover of media making young girls feel like they need to adhere to only that “standard.” To me it is INCREDIBLY important that women not only know their worth and strength in the world, but to let them know that ALL body types are beautiful and treasured. Not just the ones seen on the covers of magazines.
TP: Can you tell me more about your background? What experiences brought you to be the person you are today?
SLA: The largest influences that shaped me to be the person I am today would be my growing up in Alaska and constantly being in the great outdoors. You can learn a lot about yourself while hiking up a mountain, or taking a midnight sun walk with a good friend while in high school. Being able to be around such gorgeous territory 24/7 for so many years gave me a lot to pull from for my imagination.
In sixth grade I was able to join the Alaska Speed Skating Team and that brought many physical challenges and pushed me to be a stronger, better, faster competitor and that helped to push other aspects of my life, both artistically and academically. Not to mention the experiences of going to the Arctic Winter Games in 98′, 2000, and 2002 being able to compete internationally and meeting great people from across the northern world.
High school was yet another step, being in NJROTC (Navel Junior Recruit Officer Training Course) furthering my leadership abilities, being able to take responsibility for my own actions, introducing me to drill team competitions and riflery. Having that uniform on every Thursday while in school for four years made me proud of how I looked and that has been something that I always look back on whenever I feel insecure.
Not to mention, my Master Sergeant Top Dill once told me, I didn’t need to hurry up to get to being the “Old Lady” (sort of an endearing term for the Company or Battalion Commander), I’d get there someday. Looking back I now know what he meant. I’m already there and am the “Old Lady” running my own life and making my own future and that’s what really matters.
College was definitely the last, final resounding mark in my current history. Graduating and knowing that I have an education that no one can ever take away from me definitely means a LOT.
There were a ton of struggles I went through in college both academically as well as emotionally. Without them I would not know how to be the calm confident person I am today. Oh, and having a boyfriend who figured out after college that I was gluten intolerant and it was making me somewhat bipolar definitely helps as well. Its amazing what eating right will do for a person’s health, emotions, and overall well being!