Echo Chernik is a graphic artist who has been showing her work at conventions for several years. I met her at Baltimore Comic Con this year and she agreed to this interview at New York Comic Con. Her work draws a lot of attention from fans and other professionals during the conventions. Several models asked me to give their cards to Echo since they liked her work and want to model for her. Her website is http://www.echo-x.com/. She recently won a silver award for a Shadownrun illustration. All of the illustrations below are courtesy of Echo and Lazarus Chernik.
Me: When did you start showing at comic conventions?
Echo: I started doing comic conventions about 3 years ago. This is my second time at NYCC.
Me: What other conventions do you go to?
Echo: The first one I ever did was MegaCon in Orlando and this past year I did MegaCon, Wizards, Chicago Comic Con, Otakon, Origins, Gen Con, San Diego Comic Con, Fan Expo Toronto, Dragon Con in Atlanta and Baltimore Comic Con.
Me: What is you favorite convention to go to?
Echo: Oh, they’re all different. I like MegaCon. I do that one a lot. That is my home show and it is the closest to where I live now. Toronto is awesome. I went to Calgary last year as well. New York is another one I like. San Diego is a beast in itself.
Me: Why did you move into comic conventions to market your art?
Echo: I primarily do illustrations and Art Nouveau in order to be a successful advertising illustrator. The economy goes up and down. Either you get a lot of work and you don’t see your kids and then it will slow down a little bit. The first time it slowed down was after 9/11 and I started teaching to supplement my income. I still had advertising work but I started teaching. Then it picked back up. It slowed down a second time after the market crashed and I figured I could either take a lower level drop or change things up a little bit and start to travel. I wanted to travel with my children and it allowed me a chance to do my own personal pieces as well as the pieces I got from clients. I did this while travelling and a lot of my influences are comic book artists. I started off in role playing games.
Me: You taught at Pratt Institute. What was that like?
Echo: Teaching at Pratt was great. I taught at Pratt and Manhattan for a while. I went to Pratt and I taught illustration and graphic design there. I love teaching. I still teach and still do interviews with people.
Me: Like this?
Echo: Like this, exactly. I wrote my book specifically for students. The book talks about being an illustrator and the industry which carries over into teaching.
Me: Do role playing games and comics have a large influence on what you put out?
Echo: It’s funny because I have a lot of the Art Nouveau pieces and I have a growing number of pieces for Shadowrun. When I started to do RPG work I did a lot of work for White Wolf. I didn’t get to do any Shadowrun pieces for 17 years so when I got a chance to do those pieces I jumped on it. I split the art pieces and the Shadowrun pieces but the fans don’t seem to care. They like both.
Me: You use a lot of models. How do you choose which model to use?
Echo: I use some professional models and I sometimes use a model off of Model Mayhem. A lot of times I find people at conventions. Sometimes they are models and sometimes they are fans. The model for “Cupcake Cthulhu” is Elena Artimovich who is actually a geneticist and a gamer. She is not even a model. I met her at Otakon. I use some cosplay models. Marie-Claude Bourbonnais and Yaya Han are cosplay models I have used.
Me: What inspires you? What make you want to create?
Echo: For individual pieces, a lot of it comes from a basic idea. That is what I like about illustration versus fine art. It is like a problem to solve. I will get a theme or an idea for personal pieces. I didn’t do any personal pieces until three years ago. It takes a while for the inspiration to fully develop. Some pieces, like “Tiger, Tiger”, require three years. It takes awhile for the inspiration to fully develop. I guess that is the creative process.
Me: Some of your works are, such as “Pie Cthulhu”, based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft. Are you a fan of Lovecraft?
Echo: That actually came to me in a dream. I’m not a huge fan of Lovecraft. I am familiar with his work but I never read the stories. I’m familiar with who he was and I had a dream about a beautiful women being tormented by pie. I thought that’s kind of bizarre. I should at least sketch that out and I sat back and asked myself what am I going to do with that now? I was thinking about how weird it was and I brought it out to a show where people just loved it. It obviously speaks to them. Then I read Lovecraft.
Me: What is coming next?
Echo: I am doing three new Cthulhu themed pieces that will be done next year. I am actually doing a Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/155549251/we-all-scream-for-ice-cream-cthulhu-mixed-media-tr) campaign. I will spend more time working on it and do pre-orders for some of the more special items. That will be up by November. Disney work pushed it back to November.
Me: Speaking of what you’ve done, you had a picture of Weeping Angels as a profile picture on Facebook. Are you a Doctor Who fan?
Echo: Yes. I love the Weeping Angels. That was actually for the Doctor Who San Diego Comic Con Contest. My agent hired me to do that. It had to be the angels since the angels are awesome.
Me: Tell me about the “The Courtesan Prince” comic book by Lynda Williams.
Echo: I was hired to do that and it was one of my earliest covers. I was so busy after that one I could not do the later covers. I try to read the books people send me. For that one, the specific art direction was that the character was mixed ethnicity. I was able to find a blended model from different backgrounds and different cultures. It was very important that she looked a little bit Asian, African-American, and white. That was an important concept for the character. They also did a sculpture of this. When I was in Calgary I was next to the sculptor purely by coincidence.
Me: What do you do outside of creating art?
Echo: I do Shadowrun. I have been playing for 17 years. I do that with my husband Friday and Saturday nights. I have two kids who are 9 and 6. I like to bake.
Me: Who are some of your clients?
Echo: Miller Campbell, Corrs, Nascar, Cuervo, the post office, the military, Regal Cinemas, Disney, Rockport Shores, Dave Matthews band and the Connecticut Opera.
Me: Do you take commissions?
Echo: I do about two a year since my pieces take so long. It normally takes me a couple of weeks to do them. I don’t do sketches at shows.
Me: Thank you for your time. More of her work can be seen at http://www.echo-x.com/.