I met Conley Smith at the Portland Comic Book show. She is an aspiring illustrator here in Portland and she was displaying her and Dan Tabayoyon's new comic, Lady Red. She is a member of the weekly sketch group over at Sketchery. She also made an appearance as a guest artist at this year's Women of Wonder Day.
Doug Dorr: What projects are you working on currently?
Conley Smith: I'm currently getting ready to begin working on a short comic project with Terry Blas, which should be a lot of fun! Besides that, just working on a couple little projects for myself, to keep busy.
DD: What is your artistic Process?
I tend to draw inspiration from my own life experiences, as well as things that I enjoy! I prefer to draw and ink things on paper, then scan them and color in Photoshop. However I am in a tiny apartment, and recently had to get rid of both my art desk and my scanner, so I've been doing a lot more things completely in Photoshop lately. I've been trying to do some watercolors lately too. It's a lot of fun, but I miss ctrl+z a little bit, haha.
DD: Illustrating, it is said is essentially storytelling. Have you thought of writing a story?
Several years ago I used to write stories all the time. These days though I've been much more focused on drawing... I'm pretty out of practice at writing! Hence working with other writers (Terry, Dan Tabayoyon.) I'm definitely trying to get back into it, though.
DD: What Comic/ Trade would you recommend?
As far as comics that are currently coming out, I've really been loving Batwoman. On a completely different note, I think one of my favorite things I read this last year was Asterios Polyp. Upon finishing reading it, I immediately turned to the beginning and read it again, and have re-read it a few times since.
What Comic/ Trade would you recommend to someone new to comics?
It really depends what they are into! When I started getting back into comics though, one of the first things I started reading was Fables.
What skill would you like to learn?
I would love to learn to animate. Many of my biggest influences are animated films, and I would love to work in that industry. Besides that, I'm really trying to get better at inking. I have basically the world's shakiest hands... it's getting better though.
What's the most important thing you've learned?
To draw constantly, and continue to strive for improvement! I know I still have a lot to learn, and am doing my best to get there.
Do you have a collection? If so, what is one of the items you're most proud of?
Comic collection? Or just general nerd-ery? I have both. Too many collections, really! We have two large bookshelves in our tiny apartment that are completely full with comics, art books, collectibles and the like, and a giant list of prints still in need of framing. Comics-wise, I covet my Hellboy library editions. General stuff-wise, at Comic Con this year we got one of the Rusty Venture lunchboxes, and had it signed by the show's creators... it's awesome. And for art, a sketch of Bigby and Snow that I got from James Jean in 2007.
What is your favorite genre of Comics?
I enjoy some of pretty much anything, but lately I've been really back into superhero comics. The first comics I read were old Spiderman and X-men comics when I was in elementary school. However, watching Batman the Animated Series when I was younger has probably had the biggest influence on my current comic reading tendencies. Besides superhero comics, I enjoy autobiographical comics, some horror comics... really I'll try reading just about anything.
Do you have an Ipad? If so what do use it for the most.
Ha! I wish! Someday.
What is your favorite TV show/ movie?
My favorite TV show is definitely The Venture Bros. Its still at least a year though until the next season! Bummer! I also recently watched all of Mad Men on Netflix, which was great. As far as movies, my favorite movie of all time is Jurassic Park.
How does the Portland comics culture shape your work?
It seems like comic creators are everywhere in Portland! Having so many awesome creative people around, and going to events such as Stumptown, etc. is always hugely motivational in inspiring me to try and do new and better work.
What was your first comic convention?
The first I attended was San Diego Comic Con in 2007. So overwhelming! I went again this year, and fun as it was, that really tires you out. As far as actually having a table, my first was Stumptown of this last year. I also just shared a table at the Portland Comic Book Show with Emi Lenox! Lots of fun.
What is your favorite part of comic conventions?
Probably meeting different artists who I really admire. It's always great to talk to them, and I've met some ridiculously nice people at conventions!
If you weren’t doing comics what would you do?
I would really love to work in animation some day, perhaps doing story boards or concept art. Making video games would be fun too! Basically... something art related.
Do you have a favorite restaurant that you would recommend?
When I feel like getting a little fancy, I love Nostrana, which is an easy walking distance from my apartment. The butterscotch budino is AMAZING.
How long have you lived in Portland, what made you choose Portland?
I've been here for a little over five years now. I originally moved here to go to college, ended up not being able to pay for it at the time, but stayed anyway due to loving the city, and meeting so many great people.
What is your favorite part of Portland?
I grew up in several much smaller towns, so I love the variety of things to do. Most of all, I love the variety of FOOD. There are so many great restaurants! I could probably never go back to a small town for that reason alone.
Where in Portland/ Oregon would you most like to visit?
I'm not sure of any Portland places I'd really like to go to but haven't yet. In Oregon, I've never been to the Newport Aquarium, and hope to change that soon.
Would you like to write/Illustrate for another media? Is there another character from popular culture you would like illustrate, for example, Sookie Stackhouse, Dr. Who, James Bond? What would you explore?
I enjoy drawing fanart! I think it would be really fun to do a Star Wars comic aimed a little more at younger girls. I also enjoyed the older "Gotham Girls" shorts and comics that were spun off of Batman the Animated Series, and would love to do something like that.