Chelsea Conlin

Chelsea Conlin

I was born in 1982, and started drawing when I was eight months old. I remember being heavily influenced by Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons from an early age, but I also took a lot of inspiration from PBS television shows like “Nature” and “Nova”. I loved drawing animals, and especially horses. I discovered “The Last Unicorn” when I was five or six, I think, and fell in love with the animation style immediately.

My first exposure to anime/manga style art was “Unico”, which I saw when I was about four years old, but I wasn’t actually aware of the style until I saw “Sailor Moon” and “Dragon Ball Z” in 1995 or thereabouts. After that I started trying to mimic anime and manga styles, which was both detrimental and beneficial. On the one hand, I think it hindered the natural expression of my own style at the time, and made a lot of my drawings very formulaic. On the other hand, I think I learned a lot about line making, and conveying forms with a few well-chosen lines.

When I went to university in 2000 I was forced to consider my own ideas of style and theme, which lead me away from anime and manga in my school work, though I still used the style in doodles and personal work. While I learned a lot about art history at university, as well as how to appreciate a wide variety of art even if I don’t necessarily like it, I feel like I didn’t learn a lot of very basic lessons. Or maybe I just wasn’t mature enough to absorb the criticism I received. 😉

I lived in Sapporo, Japan, from 2004 to 2007, and art sat on the back burner for the most part during those years. In January of 2008, however, I attended and Massive Black’s Revelations workshop in Seattle, Washington. That was a real turning point in my art. The workshop was terrifying, discouraging, motivating, and inspiring all at the same time, and I think my work has improved a lot since then. In the past year and a half, I have been doing freelance illustration, and doing my best to practice art and learn as much as I can from my peers and the world around me.

My primary portfolio website is
My deviantArt page is
In 2008 I illustrated the cover of “Satirica,” as well as two promotional posters for “Another Man’s Terrorist”, one of the anthology’s short stories.

“Ice Cream Cone of Doom” – 1990

I just think this is cute. LOL, I couldn’t even spell!

“Monkey Man” – 2008

“The Swamp” – 1995

I still kind of like certain aspects of this. There are a lot of cool little details, but the composition is meandering and boring, and there’s no variation in value. If I wanted to create a more interesting image, I should have really worked on dark shadows, and moved the main creature’s head to one of the “sweet spots.” Check out this link if you don’t know what I mean:

“The Lord of Pestilence” – 2008

“Epic Battle” – 1996

I remember thinking that this drawing was a huge accomplishment. An epic battle between a three-headed evil dragon, and an alliance of good dragons, unicorns, and pegasi. Looking at it now, I realize that there is no real composition to speak of, no focal points, and a terrible sense of depth/perspective.

“Otter Kingdom” – 2009

“Yggdrasil” – 2000

My first digital drawing, done with a mouse. I wanted to try and convey how immense the Tree of Life should be, but this looks more like a bonsai tree. I should have changed the camera angle to look up at the tree as it receded into the vast sky.

“Balloons” – 2008

“Pirate” – 2001

I relied completely on the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop to shade in this image. Big mistake. There’s no sense that the objects in the environment are interacting with each other, and the whole image is very stiff and boring.

“Shedding” – 2008

Not my best work, but still a huge improvement.

“Raistlin” – 2002

It horrifies me to even post this on the Internet… You can see that I was trying to show how the different elements in the image influence the lighting (the hints of blue on his wrists, for example, which were supposed to be reflected light from the blue trim of the robes), but pretty much failed at it. Also, I really should have studied facial anatomy more.

“Crane Wife” – 2009

The most important lessons I’ve learned about art over the years are, in no particular order:

  1. Encourage constructive criticism of your work, and LISTEN TO IT. People crit your work to help you improve, so don’t take it as an attack.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take your art education into your own hands. I’ve learned more in the past two years than I ever thought possible, and it’s all been due to my own research, practice, and participation in art forums.
  3. Speaking of which, use those art forums. They exist so that we can all help each other improve.
  4. Never allow yourself to be satisfied with where you are in your art. If you’re not constantly learning and improving, then you’re doing it wrong.
  5. If something isn’t working, set it aside for a while. Come back to it later in the day, or the next day. Most of the time, you’ll find it’s much easier after a breather.

2 Responses to “Chelsea Conlin”

  1. Chelsea says:

    I’m glad it’s encouraging! I’ve really been enjoying all the features here as well. 🙂

  2. Coral says:

    Wonderful! I love reading these – they’re so encouraging. They get me fired up to improve and remind me I’m going to have to work at it at the same time, so no false promises. I like the little crits you did, and the advice at the end – thanks so much!