Instagram: @earthdilemma
Website: www.earthdilemma.com

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I’m from Omaha, NE in the United States. I’ve lived in Austin, TX for the past several years, studying Molecular Biology at the University of Texas. I spent most of the time in a laboratory doing research about the neurobiology of alcohol addiction. I only started actively producing digital art in the last couple years of my doctoral program. Before then, if I made a visual it was related to my research. For slideshows, conference posters, literature review articles,  I’d sometimes whip up little illustrations to help convey basic concepts like different cell types in the brain, or the experimental steps to measuring a specific behaviour in mice. I loved any excuse to dabble with graphic design but couldn’t spend too much time on these things without feeling guilty that I wasn’t being productive enough in the lab. But as the years went by, I knew my level of enthusiasm for academia precluded academic research from being my destiny. With graduation looming, I started an internship with a scientific journal to learn more about publishing. I found more excuses to make visuals, generating promotional content for research articles about alcohol addiction. I’d volunteer to do visual abstracts, infographics, and some clunky illustrations that nobody asked for. My creations were pretty hideous but I felt like some basic need of mine was finally being fulfilled. Then when I was done with my experiments and all I had to do was write my dissertation, my guilt had faded just enough to give me the freedom to invest time into finally learning how to use Illustrator and other digital art tools. I could finally make whatever I wanted. I got totally obsessed, in a good way hopefully. Then the pandemic closed everything down a month before my dissertation defence, which only encouraged my hermit-like qualities and facilitated my progression. Since then, I’ve just been trying to infiltrate the world of illustration.

@earthdilemma

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

It’s a work in progress. I seem to be drawn towards more simplistic shapes with bold lines and bright primary colors, and a healthy dose of grainy texture. And, I can’t seem to stop giving everything eyes. I think I’m going for “creepy-cute” a lot of the time. But sometimes it’s just cute and playful with a slightly ominous undertone.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

I haven’t really attempted anything besides digital art, so that’s probably my favorite. But I really want to learn animation. And I would like to dip my toe into lots of different things, like weaving and ceramics.

4. What is your artistic process like?

It kind of depends on what the project is meant for. If it’s an assignment, with a prompt and a deadline then I’ll first just think about what to do for a little while. Usually that’ll give me a few different images in my head that I try to sketch out as quickly as possible before they vanish. This step is difficult, because I’m really not very good at drawing. Developing the sketches in vector format helps things start to take a clearer shape. when I have the basic shapes and colors, then I have to spend a lot of time tweaking things. Eventually I reach a point where I feel kind of nauseous if I look at it anymore. Then I know it’s time to stop.

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

Pretty much every time I see any illustration I get a jolt of motivation. Even if I’m not actively looking, I’ll see something that makes me want to try something new. On the label of an old pickle jar, the design on a coffee mug, a piece of mail, etc. I can’t avoid it. Ideas for subject matter also come from everywhere, especially the mundane, little things in life. If I have a problem on my mind, like moths, or a leaky pipe, or mosquito bites, that can form the basis of an illustration. I often get inspiration from looking around at various inanimate objects in my apartment and pondering what it would be like if they were conscious of their surroundings.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

It’s gone from an occasional guilt-ridden distraction to a constant, necessary, still somewhat guilt-ridden activity. The last time I spent so much time being “creative” was during my childhood. I think illustration now serves as a conduit for me to that feeling of creative freedom that comes with being a kid with nothing to prove.

@earthdilemma

7. Where did you study?

I studied Biology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then at the University of Texas at Austin for my PhD.  The only art-y class I took was a “Visual Communication” class in college. I never even considered studying anything non-STEM.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t know! Five years ago I certainly wouldn’t have seen myself like this.

9. What about in ten?

I hope to have a solid plan by then.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I’m not sure what I hope to achieve. If I could converge my interest in illustration with my background in science to help improve science communication, that would be cool.

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

Ben and jerry’s ice cream, milk and cookies flavor

12. Favourite book?

A couple of books I really enjoyed in the past few years: The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

13. Favourite genre of music? 

Spotify says I like classic country pop and bubblegrunge. 

14. What are your hobbies? 

Like a million other people, I started sewing during the pandemic. I listen to audiobooks all day long. And I used to make candles, so I have a lot of supplies left over from that.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I’m not sure if I have the credibility to be considered an “artist”. I’m still just beginning. My credentials and resume point more towards “scientist”. So, if I wasn’t an artist, I’d be a scientist. However, I would like to be an artist. 

@earthdilemma
@earthdilemma