Fan Art Friday #2: Marissa Asal

Intro by Megan Forbes, interview & graphic by Savana Ogburn

Sonic Blume recently had the absolute *honor* of interviewing Marissa Asal, a 19 year old student artist with undeniably rad skills. I noticed Marissa’s work on my Instagram explore page (a diamond in the rough, if you will) and have loved her portraits ever since. They all seem to have such personality, and overall charm the pants off of everyone, us included. Read on to hear Marissa’s tips for becoming a better artist, a glimpse into her artistic process, and how she uses fan art as a way to “give back” to her favorite musicians.

What is your favorite thing about making fan art?

There’s a few reasons why I prefer doing portraits of well known people. One is that they have a better chance of being sold. Nobody wants to buy portraits of strangers (most of the time). Also, they help me get exposure; fanbases are very supportive and when they share my drawings of their idols, it helps me get myself out there. Lastly, it’s mostly just a personal choice. It’s my own way of showing my respect for the people who have played such a big part in my life. I feel like it’s my way of giving back to them.

How has making fan art played a role in your growth as an artist?  

I guess it’s mostly helped with widening my exposure. Also, any time I spend making these portraits is extra practice for me (and practice is the only way to become better).

What is your favorite piece of fan art you’ve made + why?

Oh geez, haha. This question is almost impossible for me to answer. I’ve made so many portraits – many of which I’m super proud of and love very much. They all have a special place in my heart. I get so attached to my art, it’s like they’re my children. My all time favorite pieces are my pen portrait of FKA twigs, the ink and charcoal piece of Lorde (with her slicked back hair and hands behind her head), my colored pencil one of Lana, and my pastel piece of Mathilda (Natalie Portman).

Tell us about the first time you ever made fan art! Who/what inspired it? How old were you?

Well, in middle school I was obsessed with Katy Perry so I drew her a few times just for fun. But the first time I made fan art and actually shared it with others was in October 2013 when I was a junior in high school. I did a portrait of Ariana Grande and it was the best piece I’d made at the time! That was when I just started my art account and other accounts were always posting pictures of celebrities, so I figured I’d give it a try since everyone responded so well to them.

How have your tastes changed over the years, and how has that manifested in your art?

I’ve definitely become a sucker for minimalist art. It can be so satisfying and pleasant to look at. A couple years ago I hated it because I thought it was too simple, and I never took the time to bother with it. The past two years I’ve been exposed to it so much that I’ve gained respect for it. Lately, I like incorporating minimalistic backgrounds into my portraits. They’re perfect because they don’t take away from the subject because they’re so simple, yet it’s very pleasant and compliments the portrait perfectly.

Which medium is your favorite to work in and why?

Oooh this one’s hard, haha. I love so many mediums (as you can tell by my wide range of artwork). Charcoal is great because it comes in many different forms (hard, vine, powder, etc.) so it’s easy to make a piece exactly how you want it. Even though it’s messy, it’s so fun to work with. Watercolors are also great – I find them very therapeutic. I always lose track of time when I’m working with watercolors. Also pen is great! It can be challenging at first since you can’t make mistakes, but I’ve found that once you get an hour into it, the pressure fades off and you get the hang of it. Before you know it, the portrait is just forming on its own. The only downside is that using pen is very tedious. It’s probably one of the most time consuming mediums for me.

Has your fan art ever been noticed by the subject of the piece (i.e. A band member seeing a drawing you did of them)? What was your reaction and how did this affect your confidence in your art?

Oh yes! Many times! Whenever I go to a concert, I make a drawing of them in advance and bring it with me. Either I’ll give it to them when I meet them (Demi Lovato, Lorde, FKA twigs, Melanie Martinez) or during the actual concert (Katy Perry, Grimes, Lana Del Rey). The Internet is also great because you connect with everyone no matter what their social status. I’ve been noticed on Instagram by many- Petite Meller, Marina Diamandis, Cara Delevingne, Sky Ferreira, Shaun Ross, Zendaya, Noah Cyrus, etc. Ella (Lorde) and her family have given me the most attention out of everyone, they’re very supportive of me and I couldn’t be any more appreciative. All of the support and recognition (from not just them, but everyone) means so much to me and just makes me more motivated. Seeing others’ reactions to my art is one of the best feelings. It’s so nice seeing your hard work appreciated, especially by people who already receive so much fan art from other people.

Who are some of your favorite fan artists and why? Shout ’em out! 

I follow so many incredible artists on Instagram. Some are Georgina (@georgina_kreutzer), Elizabeth (@emackelder), Katerina (@katfridayshoow), and Kemi (@drawinds)!

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring artists?

I know you’ve probably heard this a million times but practice is the biggest key. You can’t get better unless you practice, and the more you practice, the faster you’ll improve. It’s all about training your hand to work with your eyes. I suggest carrying a small sketchbook around with you and whenever you find yourself doing nothing, start sketching something you see (person, car, traffic light, salt shaker, etc). Any drawing time helps! Also, follow other artists whose work you love. They help fuel ideas and it’s cool seeing how they create their work as well. 🌼

Fan Art Friday is a weekly Sonic Blume-exclusive interview with some of our very favorite fan artists! If there’s a special fan artist you’d like to see interviewed (this can be YOU, too, compadre!), drop us a line and you may just see their smiling mug here on SB!
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