Name: Monica L Knighton
Where do you live: Austin, Texas USA
I’m mostly known for doing symbolic works and tarot decks, like The Tarot of the Dead and The Stolen Child Tarot although my laser engraved jewelry is becoming popular.
Currently working on:
Currently I’m working on completing illustrations for my third tarot deck, The Stolen Child Tarot, which is an art deck inspired by the Yeats poem, The Stolen Child. I’ve been using Patreon to fund continuing the artwork for it.
When did you realize that you were going to work with this:
I have always loved to draw and to write. At a certain point — and the internet is a great prover of this — I realized it was easier to get people to pay attention to images than words.
If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I honestly don’t know. I’d like to live closer to nature, some place less urban. I think you have to live many places to really know what your preference would be.
How would you describe your design:
Organic and symbolic and a little bit storybook.
How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I completed and self-published The Tarot of the Dead in 1999. While it wasn’t my full-time work at the time, from then on, I’ve always treated my artwork seriously.
What do you do at the moment?
Right now my focus is on completing The Stolen Child Tarot. I continue to sell online and do some consignment and shows, but I’ve cut back on commissions to focus on this larger project.
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
There’s an adage of “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have”. And I think the idea of starting smaller with what is immediately available so you can start cultivating an audience without a lot of risk is solid advice. I totally believe that to run a business and to make things, you have to give yourself the tools to succeed, but in the US at least, where you are programmed to think and spend big big big, you can get yourself into trouble throwing money and resources at overhead if your initial idea isn’t perfect out of the gate. And in a creative business, you need the room and flexibility to self-discover and evolve. Don’t be cheap about your materials, but be resourceful and start small because there are so many smaller lessons you’ll learn along the way and a single misstep will be a learning experience instead of wiping you out.
Tell us how it all started.
My pursuit of illustration began full-time in 2010. I was the executive director of the Central Texas SPCA, which was essentially an operations and management position. Animal welfare work is emotionally and physically demanding and I was just burned out. It had been drilled into me that you should have a ‘real job’ and do art on the side, but here I was approaching middle age, already with arthritis and a little nerve damage in my hand from a dog bite, and I just realized, “If I don’t do this now, I don’t get to do this at all”. The world doesn’t reward you for following perceived rules, and you only get to experience the things you make happen.
What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
To be undisturbed and well lit.
What is your favorite film?
An American Werewolf in London. It has so many elements of Greek tragedy and dark fairy tales and I’ve always admired Rick Baker’s effects work. I’m known for drawing children and animals, but I watch tons of horror movies.
Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Living or dead? There are so many writers I’d like a chance to talk to. It’s impossible to answer.
How do you like to spoil yourself?
Usually spending money with other creators at shows or going to see a live performance. I love experimental theatre and music and there’s a trend with social networking to set up smaller parlor concerts that are always interesting to see and talk to people.
What is luxury for you?
Being able to pay my bills and still make a preferential choice about what I eat. Also being able to afford any healthcare.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your design, and from whom?
At the last Cherrywood Art Fair, I had a customer say that my work was not cute or saccharine, but that it conveyed nature and the subconscious with a ‘gentleness’. He kept saying that he didn’t have the right words to covey.
What do you fear most?
My body falling apart. Not being able to work or take care of myself — which I think is pretty standard.
What is a happy life to you?
Being able to work with, meet and support other creators and their projects.
What does a regular day look like for you?
I usually get up and deal with an orders or online work during breakfast, work on research, pencils, ink or painting for the meat of the day and go to the gym at night.
Tell us about your dream project.
I wrote a series of spec scripts when I was teaching myself screenwriting structure, which is something very close to comic scripting since the focus is on what you see and hear. I really want to partner with another artist to pitch in with penciling and try turning one into a graphic novel.
Who is your favorite designer?
I am a really big fan of Deth P. Sun and his ‘Last Cat’ series.
How would you describe your style?
Organic or storybook. A lot of my influences came from older illustrators that focused on line quality and detailed ink work.
Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
Music or books.
What inspires you?
A lot of music verse and literature. I always go back to my love of the written word.
A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
Possibly Idols of Perversity by Bram Dijkstra.