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Conversations with the Inspiring Susana Lopez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susana Lopez.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my love of art through Pokemon!! I loved how different the art style was from most American cartoons and tried to replicate it (…it took a while for my drawings to look like the characters). I ended up drawing pokemon characters whenever I could and eventually tried to make my own characters.

As I got older, I started to draw all kinds of cartoon characters and ended up falling in love with art in general, drawing whenever I had the chance. Silly as it is, I never considered art as a career path since my family was constantly encouraging me to become a doctor (everyone wants a doctor in the family *shrugs*).

Fast forward to the start of my college years, I was set on becoming a neurosurgeon… then a member of the CIA … then a psychologist… then a journalist… I changed my major a lot during my first year of college. I finally decided that art was what I really wanted to do; my notes were always filled with sketches. All of the previous subjects interested me, but none of them were able to capture my attention as much as drawing and storytelling did.

After becoming an art major, everything kind of fell into place. I became an art teacher for three years at Inspyr Arts Studios while I was completing my BFA degree. I also landed an internship at Cartoon Network, met amazing artists and still draw as often as I possibly can today!

Has it been a smooth road?
DEFINITELY NOT!! I don’t know about other artists, but I can definitely say that it’s been a long and bumpy road.

I am a first-generation child, a female, the oldest in my family and the first in my family to go to college. Needless to say that I felt like the pressure was on. My parents have always loved and supported me but it was also pretty clear that they were not initially thrilled about my decision to pursue art.

When I finally became serious about my art, I felt that I was far behind my artistic colleagues. It didn’t help that I have a competitive spirit and wanted to be the “go-to artist”. My self-esteem, art-wise, rapidly decreased and I started to think that I should just quit art completely. I practiced and drew but it always felt like I just wasn’t doing enough to improve.

Thankfully, my parents were always there to encourage me and talk some sense into me. Don’t get me wrong, the ever-impending thoughts of doom and doubt still creep up on with me. The only difference now is that I know that there will ALWAYS be someone who is better than me. But I also know that there will also ALWAYS be something I can do to improve my art. Like I said, I’m naturally competitive and I love a challenge, even if the challenge is with myself and to see how much I can grow.

If I could give any advice art-wise, it would be to keep an open mind and welcome constructive criticism, it will definitely help you grow as an artist. Always remember, that behind every good drawing is 1,000 bad drawings (thanks Michelon!). Surround yourself with likeminded people; friends who help you grow, make you laugh and encourage you to try new things. Don’t let the bad thoughts get to you, and if they do, go outside, take a breath of fresh air and don’t be afraid to talk to someone you trust. Talking about how you feel can really go a long way.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I’m currently a freelancer who is looking into pitch work at a local post-production house. A pitch artist is responsible for creating a set of slides to visualize a story to clients, such as car companies, tech companies and various entertainment studios. It utilizes graphic design and various illustrations and or photographs to create a natural flow of how the project will be handled.

On the side, I work as a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist. A storyboard artist is an illustrator who takes a script or idea and translates it into a series of various sequential drawings. As an illustrator, I create a story within one drawing that has various tones or is in full color. I love helping people bring their ideas to life through images.

I am incredibly proud of how far I have come as an artist. I’m still growing and still trying to expand my audience and get a gauge for where I want to end up next. Something that sets me apart is definitely my determination. I’m always up for a challenge and ready to learn something new. Ultimately, I’m 100% a jack of all trades… minus the “master of none” part… I’m honestly still a work in progress. As they say, it’s all about the journey.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I think that one of the barriers to female leadership is that there hasn’t been enough of an emphasis on needing them until recently.

I feel like in any industry, males tend to seek more leadership roles, even if they are not 100% qualified for the position. In contrast, women are more likely to slowly work their way up to leadership roles, assuming they are presented to them at all. From what I have seen, women are less likely to seek leadership roles if they do not feel qualified for the position. I also believe that it has become a social norm for leadership roles to be given to their male counterparts.

I also believe that women may not get exposure to the entertainment industry until later on in their careers. Fortunately, there are many communities like Women in Animation and LatinX in Animation that supports everyone and anyone who has an interest in the entertainment industry.

As time progresses, we are starting to see more and more women in previously male-dominated roles, such as storyboarding, directing and producing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Susana Lopez (Susillystyles)

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