Illustrator Interview – Sytiva Sheehan

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I confess that my first FB encounter with Sytiva remains cocooned in a memory somewhere, but I do know that her magical and mystical illustrations, with a spiritual lining, had me enchanted from the word go. I find her work spellbinding and its uniqueness comes from a sensitive soul and a perception and gratitude for life that I have grown to greatly appreciate. I hope to be able to collaborate on a book together one day.

  • Illustrator or author/illustrator?

[SS] Illustrator.

  • Where do you live?

[SS] Live in California the San Francisco Bay Area

  •  Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.

[SS] As a child at four and five years old, I used to color on light bulbs with crayons and then turn the light on so we can see it as a stain glass. Really do not suggest this experiment as you know crayons melt. Then it switched to color pencils and paper where from then I drew all the time. In junior high I changed to pen and ink. In high school oils and acrylics.

As a kid the beginnings involved observing, just loved the 3 Oclock shadows from trees, could stare at them all day, actually still do. I’ve always been attracted to shadows, light, candlelight and reflections of objects within other objects. I see them first before anything else. Maybe in my last life I was a mosquito. Love light through water and glass and shadows off sculptures and peoples faces.

  • Has any event/person/situation strongly influenced your art process?

[SS] As far as who or what event has influenced my art process, that would be understanding sound through Krys Bobrowski a music engineering instructor who also makes instruments. Learning sound is filled with visuals, which has opened doors in understanding distance, color, sound, texture, perception, density, resonance, and peripherals. It has expanded my horizon and has had a major affect on my art.

  • What is your favorite medium for your artwork?

[SS] There are two favorite mediums which I love, one is pen and ink for its detail and saturation and the other is acrylic for larger paintings and its flexibility.

  • Can you share what you are working on right now?

[SS] In the process of working on a project for Utales with Author Talia Haven. We are in the beginning stages of developing a world where mythological creatures live. She is a wonderful story teller if you haven’t heard of her already.

  • What comes first pictures or text? When you work with a writer do you prefer to be left completely alone to do your illustrations or do you enjoy and element of collaboration?

[SS] As a rule text comes first but recently Talia and I have decided to do both. She is a fun creative heart, I’ve been enjoying expressing ideas back and forth.

  • What books and/or illustrators influenced your childhood?

[SS] Mercer Mayer was my very favorite author and illustrator growing up. Loved the critters and porcupines. I could go through the same book every day and it would be brand new to me.

The cartoon “The Fox in the Hound.” was a ten year favorite for me. Was just in love with the art and storyline.

Facinated by Tom and Jerry the ability to say little as possible and use the collaboration of art mixed with classical/Jazz music as a medium of expression still impresses me.

Loved Charles Schulz.

So many more influences, but that combination has influenced my childhood.

  • What does your workspace look like? 

This is what my work space looks like. It is a tiny room. It is barely ever clean. In the day I cover my bed with a board so I can paint on top of it. 

  • Can you share a piece with us, and the process of producing it?

This is the process of inking a character. This is one of the mythological creatures  for Talia Haven’s story. 

Fun Ones to Finish?

  •  What word best sums you up?

[SS] I’m a child at heart.

  • If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?

[SS] Always wanted to spend a season in Bali to experience beauty and morning art.  Heard the community is filled with local artists who live and are supported by the earnings from the arts and crafts.

  • What do you do for non-art related relaxation?/Cats or dogs?/with which character would you like to spend a day?SS

[SS] My time off from regular life and chores are spent in the kitchen cooking  with friends and my outdoor cat. I’m pretty much a homebody for the most part. This would be the reason for wanting to choose Remy in Ratatouille as a character to be with all day. Yes I know he is a rat, but he washed his hands before cooking.

More of Sytiva’s work can be seen on her website:

 I suspect you are all a little captivated too after this interview? 🙂 How exciting that your project with Talia is so much of an exchange of ideas. Somehow this doesn’t surprise me because of your openness. Cooking for friends and snuggling my cats are also two of my favorite means of enjoying life. Sytiva, thank you so much for sharing with us today and to your success!

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28 Responses to Illustrator Interview – Sytiva Sheehan

  1. Thanks for sharing another great interview, Joanna. Sytiva, your work is beautiful! I think it’s so cool that your and Talia are working together to create the book for uTales – what an exciting process!

  2. Joanna says:

    We really get the idea of an artist’s progression, don’t we Susanna, from the illustrations Sytiva gave us. This is going to be a fun story!

  3. Thank you Joanna and Susanna. 🙂 It is our first time trying Utales. The process of making it is fun 🙂

  4. Lovely interview! So nice to learn more about you and your work Sytiva! Good luck with your book. It looks like it will be absolutely lovely!

  5. Geat interview ladies. I love Sytiva’s illustrations and watching the stages of her mythological creation. So beautiful and whimsical. I so appreciate a really good artist. And, I like her comment that she’s still “a kid at heart.” A great place to be when creating! Will be interested in seeing her uTales illustrations. Enjoyed viewing her website — so magical!

  6. 🙂 Hi Sheralyn, Thank you.
    Hello Patricia 🙂 Happy that you enjoyed the website as well. When we are done with the project, I will email you so you can see it okay. Have a great day.

  7. Intrigued by what Sytiva learned from the music engineering instructor! A musician too? Would love to hear more!

    • Joanna says:

      Me too, I loved this source of influence. I guess it makes sense that we will be inspired by other creative sources.

      • Sytiva Sheehan says:

        🙂 Thank you Julie and Joanna.
        I remember feeling abit mute when it came to describing things when I first started to study how sound works. I say mute because even in just regular art, it can be difficult to describe what you are thinking before you draw it. Through her delivery process of speech and the questions on “What would happen if you did ……?” There are reasons why things flow and how they flow. When I left my vocabulary was hydrated with many ways of describing and looking at things. For me I believe sound and light both bounce off of things and get absorbed by other things. Light and sound play a big role in texture and density which would affect the outcome of a song or a painting if you can understand why it is that way in the first place. It just seemed to really work for me. Forever greatful for that experience. It is sort of like when doing a study of grey, taking all the color you see and determining what shade of grey it would be if you could only paint in white, grey and black. What percentage of grey would be used at 1-100% and which at 20-80%. Some instruments like different kinds of light travel at different %’s because of atmosphere. Some sounds are higher in pitch and are able to travel farther just the same way a brighter color goes along way and you only need alittle bit of it. I’m hoping that this was not to confusing. Thank you for asking. 🙂 Have a great day

        • Wow Sytiva! Can you tell me, was this class meant for artists? If so, you obviously went to a very forward thinking school! This description now motivates me to go and have a good talk with the music instructors at my kids’ high school. When they describe the music to be performed at concerts it seems they must be brimming with just such enthusiasm – for a box of donuts I bet they’d be willing to pour!

          • sytiva Sheehan says:

            The class was meant for learning how to record, capture, defining sound to mix them onto various types of mediums. So probably not meant for artists, illustrators per say. If you think about it though, the only difference between various types of artists are the medium they use. Multimedia or rich media uses a combination of cross art in order to build a body of work for cartoons, film, and so on. Example learning storyboarding and the difference between a close up camera shot and a crane shot for example would cross with stage placement. Sound and lighting also cross and so on. This is an interesting question. It would be interesting if you talked with your kid’s high school teacher. This is just how it worked for me 🙂 I actually went in the class with the idea of cartoons in my head set already. Other students made great songs for sure, me well, I was fascinated just by transitional sounds of expression. 🙂

  8. I, too, was particularly captivated by the influence of music and sound, and the way she expressed it was fascinating and evocative. How she manages to produce such creative art in such a tiny space is admirable!

    Thank you for introducing us to Sytiva!

  9. Sytiva, you do such beautiful work! You and Talia were meant to work together. Love your workspace. It tells me so much about you. Thank you Joanna, for a supercalafragalistic, wonderfully done interview. I so enjoyed myself. (((hugs)))

    • Joanna says:

      Hugs back atcha for all that bubbly enthusiasm! x

    • sytiva Sheehan says:

      Thank you Robyn, 🙂 I agree that Talia and I are suppose to work together. Think it’s a winner when we smile. Maybe in the future I will get to collaborate with Joanna too. Have a supercalafragalistic day. 🙂

  10. Thanks for the interview, Miss Marple. Hooray for Sytiva! She’s truly an inspiration and great friend. I enjoy her work and her color amazes me. Well done!

    ~Elizabeth Mueller, YA Author

  11. Yvonne Perry says:

    Great to get to know you better, Sytiva. Thanks for sharing this interview. I didn’t know you were such an artist! Mercer Mayer is still one of my favorite authors–my kids loved the Grandpa and Me series when they were young. Oh, and Bali? Yes, I want to go there too. I’ve heard there’s a great Mother Goddess spiritual energy in that sacred place.

    • Sytiva Sheehan says:

      That is one of my favorite books too Yvonne. Did you know that they have monkeys that run free in Bali. They consider the monkeys Gods. Although the people who live there will not steel from you, but the monkeys will take any shinny object, even a camera. LOL. Yes it is a sacred place.

  12. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Beautiful work. Thank you for sharing your work and time. I found the comments very helpful. Thank you Sytiva and Joanna.

  13. Markita Pallett says:

    Hi… I think that you are an amazing artist, we a special God giving talent…. you are truly something special…. i love you dearly–love sis

  14. Pingback: Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin – Book Review | Miss Marple's Musings

  15. It took alittle while to finish and
    Here is the link to the
    Ten Busy Brownies [Kindle Edition]
    The print will be out soon.

    Let us know what you think of it 🙂

  16. It took alittle while to finish.
    Here is the link to the
    Ten Busy Brownies [Kindle Edition]
    The print will be out soon.

    Let us know what you think of it 🙂
    Thank you Joanna for taking your for the interview.

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