SOLD ON ART | Senior’s works making way to commercial outlets

Senior Isa Smith created this piece, entitled “The Storm Crow,” for Kalyn Josephson’s book of the same name.

Dedicating a lot of time to her craft over the last three years, senior Isa Smith has worked her way from sketching, to painting with watercolors, to now creating unique digital illustrations. 

“I used to be strictly into traditional art, but I transitioned into digital art about a year ago and now make my profit off of digital illustrations,” Smith said. “I made a couple of pieces for a book company based off Irish fae folklore. They were incredibly detailed and took me a full month per piece. The originals were sold off for $400 a pop, and that’s when I really decided to get into art seriously.”

With a popular Instagram account, it’s easy to say that Smith has grown her own fan base and collection of clients over the years. Taking an interest in books mainly, Smith has received many perks simply by illustrating her own passions. 

“I get inspired from books most often. Reading is a huge passion of mine, and it also helps that my clients are made up of many book themed companies. Monthly book boxes will sometimes send me free merch, including the monthly book, which will be my monthly inspo,” Smith said.

Although she is finding success in her art career, Smith said she struggles to balance her own passion projects with her clients. “It’s sad to say, but the majority of these days, I haven’t had time to make a personal piece. I have purely been creating for my clients, and it tends to be much less enjoyable, especially when the client doesn’t follow your policy,” Smith said. “I try to cater to a specific demographic which is females, age 14-40. They tend to be the demographic that loves to read YA fiction, which is the genre that I base my art off of. While I love drawing fantasy, my ideas don’t always match those of my fanbase.”

Drawing many characters from the books she reads, Smith said her Instagram is full of book illustrations for two reasons. “It’s half because I want to, half because it caters to a demographic and I’m more likely to get more likes and shares. I can have one personal piece reach 800 likes, but a piece based off of ‘Throne of Glass’ or ‘The Wicked King’ can get up to 2,500 likes within a couple of days,” Smith said. “I also enjoy doing book characters because I tend to have a lot more freedom with how I draw them. It’s based off of my own interpretation, and if I already love the book, I’m going to love the drawing process.”

Contemplating which of her works has been her favorite piece, Smith said it’s a tie between three or maybe even four. “My watercolor of a Fae Quarter Market, my Jude Duart twin card design or my Feyre design that was commissioned by Wick and Fable, or maybe my exclusive Storm Crow cover I did for Kalyn Josephson. That one was pretty sick,” Smith said.

To create her pieces, Smith uses an app called Procreate, “a cheaper, less complicated version of Photoshop.” While it has its drawbacks, Smith noted that she loves the app and mentioned the other essentials to creating her art. 

“While there are certain textures I’ll never be able to achieve with Procreate, it was definitely worth the money. I use the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 inch 3rd Generation along with the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil,” Smith said. 

Outside of the main office, the display case houses one of Smith’s extravagant works. “The watercolor tiger was an assignment in my Painting I class. Mrs. Olson sort of gave me free reign with it and let me work my magic. I wanted something a little magestical, and what better does that than a tiger walking through sunlight?” Smith asked. 

Emily Olson, an art teacher at the high school, said she loves Smith’s drive and determination to keep exploring different avenues of art both in and out of the classroom. “Isa’s use of light and shadows help her to make super realistic images and are above and beyond a high school art student. She is also not afraid to try different materials and techniques to continue to always improve,” Olson said. 

Without a doubt, Smith said she will continue with art in the future; however, she is still trying to navigate the best option for after graduation. “I have gone to a few art institutes and have been offered a few scholarships, but I think I’m either settling for Iowa State for a Bachelors in Fine Arts, or there is a possibility for me to take an internship in Gateshead, England, at a concept studio that has worked on Marvel movies and shows such as ‘Game of Thrones.’ I’d move to England the summer after graduation and decide from there if I want it to be my career,” Smith said.

Considering that she would like to make a career out of it, art is a passion of Smith, and she finds extreme attachment to what has now become more than a hobby. 

“Art got me through an extremely difficult time in my life. Throughout my childhood, my biological parents discouraged me from drawing, thus hindering me from discovering my artistic talent. Now, I’m able to express it freely,” Smith said. “Many people can say ‘I like art,’ but few can say, ‘I am art.’ Drawing and painting literally takes up every fiber of my being, as weird as that sounds.”

Check out more of Isa Smith’s art on her Instagram @artbyisambeleza.

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