Cayla Belser

Jan 19, 2017 | Doodle Interviews | 0 comments

Welcome to the FIRST Doodle Interview, a new series on this blog! In each interview, I ask the artist about their process, work/life balance, and much more. The artist doodles the answer and can write a short paragraph to further explain their answer. Check back every month for a new interview. And now, I will turn things over to Cayla!

Hello there! I’m a freelance illustrator with a love for the whimsical and fantastical. A regular jack-of-all-trades, I have worked on a number of projects ranging from layout, design, and illustration. Currently, I work for a local community college with one of their art outreach programs. (Avoiding that “starving artist” image is a real thing.) Additionally, since it turns out I do like some level of socialization, I have returned to college and am currently pursuing a masters degree in counseling and art therapy.

It should also be noted that my life, in many ways, is centered around my dog whom I love immensely.

Where do you create your artwork?

My home studio encompasses a large portion of my living space and is where a majority of my work gets done (oh, the plight of a digital artist). I dwell there in a gremlin like state, sustained by the ambient light of my computer screen. Not pictured are the various cats that often drape themselves inconveniently around the area.

What do you listen to while creating your art? (music, podcasts, books on tape, etc)

I must confess, I’m probably a truly musical person’s worst nightmare. My taste varies and changes on a whim, and is easily persuaded by aesthetically pleasing music videos, nostalgia, and addictive dance beats. Lately, I have rediscovered radio theater and podcasts – for the days when I want to hear people talking but don’t want to participate myself.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

The process of creating “art” has always been something that I view in stages. You start with this wonderful idea – all bright, shiny, and wonderful. Then, things get complicated, you contemplate jumping ship, you wonder why you didn’t take reference photos, and muttering to yourself nonsensically is commonplace. Finally, you somehow drag yourself to the finish line, for better or for worse. A reluctant warrior who has returned home, lessons have been learned, and a glimmer of optimistic hope that next time it will be a little easier.

What creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

Does the ukulele count for this question? I have an immense desire to wander into the woods and artfully strum my ukulele, like a wandering minstrel. Truthfully, I have had my precious ukulele for a number of years, but have never gotten anywhere near proficient in it. I can’t simultaneously pat my head and rub my tummy so I often question whether this endeavor makes sense for me.

What’s the best advice you have received about how to be more creative?

Rich Harrington, one of the most wonderful human beings ever, often told myself and my classmates that each piece we created was a journey. He encouraged us to take heart when things went horribly wrong because a solution was just around the corner. Those words have served as an ever-present reminder to persist, to see your project through until the end.

What do you do to relieve stress?

Wallow? That doesn’t sound mature, does it? One of the key points that my counseling program has been focusing on is the idea of self-care and mindfulness. Essentially, a part of this process is acknowledging the stressors in your life – and not necessarily shoving them away, but thoughtfully examining them. For me, sometimes it is important to just lay on the ground for a while and be still. When you pause in the midst of chaos there is a little bit of a reset. A breath of fresh air. Try it sometime!

What passions do you have in your life besides art?

Hmm…a lot of what I do is sort of art related, or it ends up being that way. Photography is kind of like that, sometimes it is work but it is always a grand experiment as well. I enjoy the process of building up the composition of a scene in a way that is different from creating an illustration. A lot of what I learn in my photography directly inspires and influences my art and visa versus.

I’m also a huge advocate of reading. Over the past Christmas holiday, I pretty much sequestered myself away for a solid week and just read. When you read a good book you get sucked into the world, and I find that rather addicting.

I also, as stated previous, have an in intense love for my dog Atticus. (For those who are curious, he is a shepadoodle – a mix between a german shepherd and a standard poodle.) I’m probably on the same level as a stereotypical “crazy cat lady,” and I have no shame in that. He is my fur baby.

What’s your favorite quote?

I recently came across this quote in Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning (highly recommend it), and I found it so profound. For me, my why is my faith and it truly does enable me to bear most any how. It isn’t easy, and is often heartbreaking but I find comfort in knowing how much my strength my “why” gives me. What is your why?

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I work at my local community college with an art outreach program. Essentially, we bring a museum to schools and hold classes teaching the students about the art housed in our trailer facility. Currently, I work mainly on campus doing a mixture of contract work and preparation for upcoming tours.

I also take on illustration freelance projects. Right now I’m working on a mixture of pieces for a children’s book and a couple features for a magazine (ooooh so fancy.) The dream is to work with major publishing companies on children’s books.

Grad school is a job, right? It certainly sucks up a lot of my time. As mentioned in the introduction, I’m pursuing a masters degree in counseling and art therapy. It is a looooong road and a lot of reading and paper writing. I’m looking forward to getting to the field work side of things (that is another year away.)

If you had 30 free minutes for yourself, what would you do? (It can’t be art or job related)

Since the school semester has started back up, I get more than my fill of reading so I would just sleep. I love naps and cuddling with my dog. That would be a 30 minutes well spent.

To check out Cayla’s amazing work, you can go to:
Cayla’s Website or
follow her on Instagram!

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