Issue 038 is out now! Check it out for 13 fantastic speculative short fiction stories by women-identifying authors! As always, with our issue release, we’re excited to share with you an interview with the cover artist. For Issue 038, we chatted with artist Caitlyn Kurilich.
LSQ: Please tell us about the Issue 038 cover art “The Ranger.” Who is this character? Does she have a backstory? Does this piece exemplify your style and aesthetic? Why or why not?
Caitlyn: There were these beautiful pictures of this little Kazakh girl learning to hunt with her eagle posted somewhere online. The girl was so small, and her eagle so beastly and predatory! I had to draw a version of her, grown up, maybe on a hunt or journey to a new land. Because this piece is rooted more in reality (even if it’s an incredibly fantastic reality) I would actually say it’s less exemplary of some of my work. Most of the time, I try to toe the line between history and fantasy a little bit more. Despite that, I enjoyed paying homage to such a wonderful custom and way of life. There has since been a documentary released about this girl, The Eagle Huntress. I have yet to see it, but it’s on my list!
LSQ: Lady knights feature prominently in many of your works. What about this type of character draws you to them again and again?
Caitlyn: I’m embarrassed to admit how self-indulgent my lady knights are! I often use them as an exploration of issues (or successes) that are happening in my life at the moment. The knights function as symbols for the person I aspire to be, and sometimes the person I’m afraid of becoming. I feel incredibly lucky that others happen to resonate with my drawings, regardless of their extreme personal nature.
LSQ: Can you tell us a bit about your interest in folk costumes?
Caitlyn: The 19th century feels like home. It was a time of discovery and anthropology and exploration. Cultures were treated as distinct and separate from one another in a more obvious way, and people were beginning to document those differences before globalization began to blur the lines.The diversity of folk costumes, especially eastern European ones, is absolutely remarkable. There’s so much care and attention to detail in the embroidery, construction, and so forth. Garments just aren’t made that way anymore. I suppose I’m trying to remember that kind of care and detail before it’s lost to time.
LSQ: You mention in a Tumblr post that purple, red, and yellow is your most tried and true color scheme. Can you tell us a bit about why you’re drawn to those colors? What do you think this color palette brings out in your work?
Caitlyn: I tend to be very intuitive and searching with my color choices, though it seems that no matter what road I take, I almost always end up at purple, red and yellow. There’s something lovely about warmer colors — they always remind me of sunny days and comfortable weather. Perhaps it’s a good balance for the quiet nature of my subject matter. Despite all this, I find that my most popular works tend to be the rare all-blue ones! Who would have thought?
LSQ: Tell us a bit about your history as an artist: when/how you began, how your art has developed. Where do you see yourself and your art in five years?
Caitlyn: I started drawing very young. It’s probably one of the cheapest hobbies around! You just need a pencil and a stack of paper, and you’re set. (I’m sure my parents were relieved to find this out.) One of my earliest memories of drawing starts around the age of five or six. At the time, I was completely obsessed with horses, and I recall sitting on the floor of my room, redrawing horse hooves over and over again for hours, trying to get the curve of the hoof just right. I’m still obsessed with the gesture and curve of my linework to this day! It’s kind of strange to think about how far-reaching that interest is.
Currently, I’m creating a portfolio for background design for TV animation. Backgrounds aren’t a field I’ve really delved into fully yet, and I imagine it would be incredible to work alongside other artists in-studio. Mostly, I just hope that in five years, I’m still drawing every single day, no matter where I am or what else I’m doing. Staying true to that is the most important thing in my life.
LSQ: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done, or, if that’s impossible to answer, a recent piece that you’re most proud of currently? And why? What do you find most challenging about the art you create?
Caitlyn: I really enjoy repetition and repetitive processes in my work. (Drawing the same hoof, over and over, for instance . . .) It’s hard for me to break that cycle. Recently, I’ve been trying to move more toward all-digital work, and this requires changing my process from almost the ground up! It’s been tough abandoning a way of working that’s served me so well for so long, but I know the payoff will be spectacular if I continue to challenge myself. Regardless of this, my favorite work might always be The Womanking. There have been few times that I’ve managed to combine such a level of draftsmanship with the raw and emotional nature of that particular piece.
LSQ: From where do you draw inspiration?
Caitlyn: I’m a sucker for historically-informed fantasy themes. So much of history has been forgotten, that when you go searching for the little details, there are often things about it that don’t seem real in the first place. I was first introduced to the small details of history in the work of Auguste Racinet. He’s a 19th century artist who compiled a gargantuan tome of historical costuming, weapons, items, and more in his book Le Costume Historique, known in English as The Complete Costume History. I have yet to find anything more lovely and more comprehensive than this book, and I still reference it often to this day. For other fiddly details, I enjoy perusing online museum catalogues, vintage pictures, and the works of Ivan Bilibin, Claire Wendling, and Hiroshi Yoshida.