From Doodles to Digital
WORDS Adelle McLean | Photography Josh Burnett
It doesn’t take long to figure out that Jae Ruth is not your typical fourteen-year-old. Quirky, with a strong sense-of-self meets contemporary with a dark edge; traits that are personified throughout her characters. She is observably articulate, expressive and, according to her mom, “very intense and silly.” Having been raised by artistic parents, she speaks the language of the art world as you would expect from a seasoned artist. This talented, self-taught, digital artist has success and opportunity already knocking at her door.
Jae’s interest in art began at an early age and has since established recognition with showings at Crafty Wonderland. After delving into Photoshop and Manga Studio, Jae has built quite a following on Instagram. Her passion and talents lead her into the future: a successful a career. Although, recently having been commissioned for a local advertisement, a career is already in the making.
Jae immerses herself in art finding inspiration in graphic novels, cartoons, animation films, art and photography classes and even a playlist ranging from Indie to K-Pop that helps her “get into the mood of the character.” As she maneuvers around the computer searching through hundreds of images, clicking, dragging files and typing faster than these adult eyes can keep up with, I find myself thinking, “I want to be her when I grow up.”
When did you get into digital art? My parents bought me a beginner’s tablet about five years ago. At first, I really hated it. It was hard with the hand-eye coordination, but as I went on, it looked cleaner in a way; more professional. After a while, I started using my dad’s old tablet. Even now, it’s just kind of become what I do.
You mentioned your dad had a tablet, is your dad an artist as well? He does it like a hobby. He’s more into photography, but he definitely does a lot of drawing; more traditional than digital. But, I do think I’ve taken some inspiration from him.
How would you describe your art? It’s very cartoony. There’s really not a lot of realism in it besides the proportions. I feel like my art style is taking inspiration from other artists. It just feeds into my own style. I have the opportunity to doodle in art class and I’ll bring it home, scan it, and digitize it. When I do digital art, I try to keep a line list with something called, cell shading. It’s basically, no blending. Usually, the shading is on a top layer so, if you erase it, you don’t have to erase the whole entire thing. I end up with around ten layers because I mess with the opacity and the colors a lot.
Your home is filled with creativity and various styles of art, how does this impact your life as an artist? Both of my parents are very creative and that’s seen all around the house. Like, my mom does crafting, fabric, sewing and a lot of work with felt that’s very intricate. My dad does illustration, photography and editing visuals. They both, like me, have a love for artists, graphic novels and just anything where you can really see art shining. It’s the main focus of how they decorated their houses. So, I feel like I’ve always grown up knowing that art was a big thing in my family.
Is there a particular artist or style of art that stands out to you? There’s a comic called, Snot Girl. I just really like the color palettes and the way that she shades and draws the characters.
You have a lot of graphic novels on your bookshelf, do you have a favorite? To be honest, probably Scott Pilgrim because I really like the story. It’s just super quirky and the art style is very cartoony. As I read it, I got really attached to the characters. I always like something where I can see character development and really connect with them.
So, when you’re creating your own characters in terms of character development, what is that process like for you? I find that it’s really hard because I make this character and start writing for it. I find out that it’s really difficult to write a character with a personality and with different traits. I have to make a lot of changes and add new characters so there’s more content.
How does your art reflect your own life? I think it’s mostly in my characters. A lot of times I will base them off of things that I’ve had happen or just different traits of myself to make them seem more realistic. This also applies to my friends. I will take something like, a habit and subtly mix it in to make them seem more human-like.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve created and why? One of my most recent digital drawings of a character. I really liked the color palette and it was one of the first times I got out of my comfort zone. I went from doing very bold line-art to just having no line-art and working more with shading; making it detailed despite not having black lines. Lineless art is kind of hard when one of the biggest things, that gives it a lot of personality, is just gone.
When you dream of your future, in regards to art, where do you see yourself going? My biggest dream is to be a freelance artist. You’re not under a really big management, but it’s also probably one of the more difficult ones because you have to rely on people seeing your art and commissioning you, going to art shows or places where you sell your prints and stories. But, I also think that concept art such as, video games or movies with character designing would be kind of cool!
What advice would you give to a budding artist of any age? Just practice. That’s how you get better. Also, by going out of your comfort zone and taking reference from other artists: noticing details and incorporating it into your own style, but continue adding your own personality. I think it’s important to be willing and brave enough to help yourself learn different things. Just keep getting out of your comfort zone.