Monday Oct 22

01n It is September. Connotation Press: An Online artifact just turned four years old, and this column is about to turn one! It’s definitely an exciting time. Fall is just on the horizon (although I’m expecting and Indian summer) and the stink bugs are already invading my home. Change is imminent, and, naturally, so would my approach to finding featured artists. This September I experienced a happy accident; I found Mandie Manzano by nothing other than pure chance.

I have to add a quick back story. Last month I was working on stained glass for the first time. I completed a beautiful piece and I was itching to do more, so I went on a search for patterns via the Internet, and I came upon something far too spectacular for it to actually be stained glass. But they sure as hell looked like it.

This young woman has a very unique style. She uses mock stained glass patterns to put together the most stunning compositions that could certainly pass for real stained glass to the untrained eye. She even had me fooled until I looked closer and realized that either these works of art were abnormally large and expensively textured, or they weren’t made out of glass at all because of some of the very precise angles of certain “pieces” that would be impossible to saw with a glass-cutting tool. I was able to find a way to contact her, and we discussed her methods. They are pretty fantastic. For more information on what she uses, check out the interview below.

Manzano’s work revolves mainly around Disney creations, as well as some other popular movie/TV culture, like Doctor Who, MARVEL comics, Garfield, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and just about anything else you can think of. All of her iconic work is highly recognizable, and she has worked her little tuckus off to put out hundreds of original pieces!

It’s clear that Manzano is a stunning young woman with a great future ahead of her. She has already accomplished so much and I have no doubt that she will go far. Please check out her work and her Facebook page to see even more of these whimsical works of art than I can share here.

She even gave me the go ahead to try and attempt to recreate one of her pieces with real glass, so this is going to be a fun start to the autumn season. Happy September, everyone!

Interview with Mandie Manzano

02l What materials do you use for your artwork?

I work in a very broad variety of media. I like dabbling in everything, really. My favorite though traditional wise is acrylics, charcoals and inks. For digital painting, I use my iPad and my finger! I used to use the styluses to draw but I always break them from drawing so much so I just use my finger now to draw. It takes a long time but I love how I have better control over what I create. I use the paint program called Sketchclub. It's AMAZING because it has an online community of amazingly talented artists that keep you inspired and positive. It feels like I’m drawing in my notebook so you'll always see me drawing on it.

07r A lot of your artwork involves Disney characters. What prompted this inspiration?

I’ve always had a love for animation and fairy tales. I would love to work for them one day. What really prompted it were commissions. A lot of people would email me with requests wanting those characters so I started creating them

03l What are some of your biggest challenges?

Theft. I have a great team of friends & family who help me keep an eye out for theft and people selling my work online. I find something every day with my art on it with sites like Etsy, WANELO, eBay, or Pinterest, so it creates a big challenge for me. That's the only downside of posting work on the internet. You will have dishonest people.

06l Your work is widely available on the internet, which is how I found you! (Lucky me.) I saw that your artwork was compiled to create a stained glass looking Disney dress, and all without your consent. What are some of the other disappointing events that you've had to face when it comes to “stealing” your work, and how have you overcome them?

Like I said previously, it stinks. Those dresses actually sold out at their store and what made it really upsetting is that I reached out to them in a very polite manner but they didn't treat me very nicely and they blocked me from their fan page. It's upsetting to see a professional store like that stealing my work and then being ugly to me and not telling me who they bought the designs from. So, you can get a little irritated at the way that those people who are in the wrong treat you. Another thing we found was a company who were putting a rainbow filter over my artwork and selling it on Etsy. Not knowing where your art is or who's messing with it and changing it and selling will just irk your nerves. Anytime you put a lot of thought, hours, and work into and you see someone just capitalizing on it and messing with it will of course irritate you to the highest point. So, that is the downside of putting your work on the internet for the world to enjoy. The upside though is wonderful. When I get messages from people telling me they were inspired by my work or how it brought a smile to their faces when they needed it... it just, wow… It really makes it all worth it and I know that everything will work out and it will be alright

05l What is the furthest you've gone out of your artistic comfort zone and what was the product of that brave decision?

It was definitely painting digitally. It looked so hard and I thought I would never learn it but I set out to conquer it, and it took a while to learn but once I did, I fell in love. I conquered my fear and I absolutely love it.

07r What exciting opportunities has your artwork brought about for you?

It has opened a lot of doors for me that I’ve never would have imagined. If you would have told me in high school that I would someday be a Guest Artist with DreamWorks Animation Fine Arts, I would have just laughed and said that's impossible. It still feels unreal to say. It was a shock to see how many people responded and liked my art when I first started posting it online, let alone artists who worked for those big companies who would reach out to me and tell me how much they liked my style and to keep it up. I really can never complain because I've been so blessed with such positive feedback from people. I am just so grateful to God for all the blessings He's given me and I cannot wait for bigger things to take place so I can start blessing others

When did you get your first big break in the art world, and what advice would you offer to other young artists like yourself?

I've always been an artist. I would draw on everything. Even myself, haha. It was always there. I realized that I wanted a career in art in 2008. So I started majoring in Fine Arts. I fell in love with every class and I instantly knew this is where I needed to be. The best advice I can give artists is to find your thing. Find what you love to do. Schools of course will teach you all the different forms of arts but don't be stubborn and stick with what is comfortable and ignore your professor. Dabble in all the mediums that you see and find the one that you love! Put yourself out there and go to art shows and network! You'll meet some amazing artists and make lifelong friendships! Always look out for your creative neighbors. It's not a competition! You're unique and they're unique so always help each other out. And the best advice I can really give is to always be positive about yourself and your work. Love what you do. "Art colors life and enriches living" You've got a gift of creating. I mean that's Gods main talent… and if you have a talent, please, never waste it. Use it.