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Meet Cheyenne Knehans

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cheyenne Knehans.

Cheyenne, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up on a farm in rural Nebraska, my imagination roamed as much as the animals that lived on it did. I filled my time by exploring the many corners of my father’s farm and drawing my discoveries. My head was filled with stories of magical lands and mysteries of the unknown. So in order to keep records of all my discoveries, I would draw everything so as not to forget and to show others later what I found. I dove as deep into my own little imagination as I assumed the mermaids that lived in the pond by our house did.

As I continued my pursuit of the arts in the real world, I attended Hastings College, a liberal arts college in Hastings, Ne, and majored in theatre arts and studio arts. My pursuit of telling stories never rested. I was captivated by being able to create worlds and characters that an audience could relate to. I fell in love with scenic art and emotive based paintings. I wanted to be able to connect with the audience. My goal was to make them feel something or relate in a way with my art.

After college, I took a position as a scenic charge artist and properties master at a theater in Connecticut. Here I continued to create with my hands and paint the worlds that designers gave me. I enjoyed being the one to bring the color to the story but I knew I was missing out on something. After many conversations with my amazing mentors, friends, and family, I decided to get my masters at Calarts and focus on visual communications, development, and art direction. Here I found the many joys of illustration and design. With my childhood passion coming into fruition, my focus as a concept artist and visual developer started to bring life to the worlds and characters I used to imagine.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As an artist, when I become interested in doing something, I give my 100%. My path to where I am today was full of learning experiences and trials. When I graduated high school, I knew I wasn’t ready to leap from the Nebraska nest. I was still curious about what was out there in the world and needed some strong ground underneath me before I took off. I originally went into theatre to become an actress. I was fully convinced that acting was my passion but as I continued my education, I realized I was drawn more to the stories and the worlds that theatre created more so than just acting. My theatre mentors showed me everything the theatre had to offer and I realized I could combine my love of painting with scenic art.

This newfound interest helped me spread my wings and move to Connecticut. I still continued being apart of the story and creating many aspects within it. I also had the opportunity to work with many amazing people who enjoyed the same aspects of storytelling that I did. Although my time in Connecticut taught me many valuable things, I knew that I wanted to get my master’s degree. It was my undergrad mentors that introduced me to Calarts and it quickly became my dream to go to the school that Walt Disney founded. Once I stepped into my classes at Calarts, I discovered the many creative outlets in animation and themed entertainment. I quickly found my love for visual development and art direction with the help of my new Calarts mentors. I feel that I had found my path as an artist.

Please tell us more about your art.
As an artist, I specialize in illustrations and designs for environments, characters, and stories. I thoroughly enjoy deciding colors and personalities for my designs and my background in acting and studio art helps me in those decisions. My art usually has some sort of magical or fantastic topic to it. I am usually drawn to the concepts of adventures through mystical lands and meeting creatures along the way. I am most proud of my growth as an artist. I have tried many different outlets and I am happy to say that every experience has helped me improved in my field now. I am also happy to have known the people who have helped me out along the way and continue to inspire me today. 

I believe that my art has a tendency to connect to an audience. Whether it’s a connection to a character or a sudden urge to live in one of my environments, my goal as an artist to be able to provide those connections. Another aspect of my work is communicating with other creatives on an artistic vision. I enjoy working in a team setting and being apart of a group vision is as satisfying as completing my own personal projects.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I have the mindset that things will work out in one way or another and, luckily, things have always had a way of falling on the bright side for me. I also wouldn’t say that luck has had a large hand in my progress. Growing up on a farm, you quickly learn the value of hard work and responsibility. So, I’d like to think that the big reason why I am where I am today is because of my determination and process. Also, the people who’ve surrounded me with love, support, and guidance. I feel a lot of my art is owed to them.

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