These cottages are vacation rentals during the summer, but during the off season--September 1 to June 1--some of them are rented out at a greatly reduced rate, providing that you're out by the time the tourists flock for vacations.
We found a tiny house that looked like a ship, with round porthole windows and a Dutch door. It had two tiny bedrooms, neither big enough for two beds, so bunkbeds it was. Wendy and I shared one room; Travis and Derek shared the other.
I have remained friends with all three of them--Wendy, Travis, and Derek--since graduation. Even though we didn't always agree about dishes and the proper placement of throw pillows, that year was magical.
Part of what made it so magical was watching Travis draw. He drew like some people dance--so naturally, seemingly without effort, in a way that makes everyone else sit up and take notice.
So when my friend Erin O'Shea and I decided to do an art show in conjunction with SACRED's launch, Travis was on the top of my list.
And he's still magical.
Look. Here's his vision of Will Cohen:
I know. So, so gorgeous. Amazing. Travis, thank you!!!
I asked Travis a few questions. Here is what he shared:
E: I think your Will is amazing and perfect. Tell me, how did you arrive at this image?
T: Thanks, Elana! I'm sure you have a very clear picture in your mind of how Will is supposed to look, so knowing that I met your expectations is a relief and an honor. I knew I was going to do a portrait before I even read the book because I love drawing people more than anything and I wanted to focus on the character aspect of your story. Plus I wanted to make your hero look as dreamy as possible! When I sat down to do the piece, I first had to pinpoint exactly what I had in my own head as to how he looks. I'd been watching Teen Wolf and decided that Tyler Posey had Will's hair. Then I went to the internet and looked through pictures of actors to try to narrow down what I thought his facial features should be. Then I started painting. I spent an hour or two on one piece, but wound up not liking it and started over. The do-over became the piece you have now. It has better composition and, I think, is more intense. As Tyra Banks would say, he's "smizing."
E: I agree completely!
E: Lots of your past work has been of superheroes; do you have a favorite hero or heroine?
T: I read one of your interviews where you said that the inspiration for Sacred came from a friend suggesting you write a superhero story. So maybe my favorite superhero is Will! In comics, my all-time favorite superhero is probably Wonder Woman. I've been a fan ever since watching Lynda Carter do her magic twirl back when I was a kid. I also love Spider-Woman because I thinks she's such a complex character with so many outside forces pulling at her. Wiccan and Hulkling of the Young Avengers are my other favorites because I think they're such positive role-models for gay teens. In books, Thom from Perry Moore's Hero is a great character.
E: That makes two of us! Will is my favorite superhero, too!
E:Tell us about how you work.
T: At heart I will always be a sketch artist, so I almost always work with pencil and paper. That being said, this Will portrait is entirely digital from start to finish. It really depends on what I want the end result to be as far as how to approach it. When I draw, I'm usually just trying to express an idea, not creating a finished piece for everyone to look at. The finishing part is kind of like going on autopilot; it's that initial burst at the beginning of the creation process that's the fun part, which is why I don't have a lot of finished work. Most of the art I have floating around in the world has had other hands touching it (inkers, colorists, finishers, etc). This Will piece is a rare instance where I actually did the whole thing.
E: I know you're a writer as well as an artist. Do you think your work as an artist has made it easier or harder for you to describe characters in words?
T: It surprises me how similar the processes of writing and drawing can be. For example, if I'm designing a character for a comic, I have to think about who that character is, what he looks like, how he would stand, gestures he would make, etc, the same as I would in writing the character. I will usually do a sketch exploration of the character to sort of "settle in" to him before taking him to the finished comic book page, the same way I'll often write short stories about characters I want to use in a novel so I can get a feel for who they are, how they speak, and how they react to different situations. I also give some thought to how the words on a page look visually to a reader, how will the eye flow over them. For example, I might make a sentence longer just to create a visual barrier to the big reveal in the next sentence. Can the way the words are arranged create an illusion? I started out a story once with water dripping. Instead of writing, "Drip. Drip. Drip." I wrote:
Because, to me, that "looks" more like dripping water. I think that comes from having a visual arts background.
E: What are you working on now?
T: Currently, I'm writing a novel about a group of teens in a small Oregon town whose high school becomes ground zero for a hostile alien invasion. I'm also working on a collaboration with two other writers, a post-apocalyptic tale where we each take a character through the first year after the end of the world. I have a lot of other projects floating around in the background, too, but I'm not ready to talk about those yet. Stay tuned!
E: I can't wait to read it! I hope I can get my hands on it early...
E: What advice would you give people who'd like to break into the art world?
T: Network. Nothing gets you in the door faster than the recommendation of someone who's already through it. Also, be aware that breaking in is an ongoing process. I "broke in" to comics four times. Even when you break in, it takes a lot of diligence and, again, maintaining professional relationships, to stay in. And one other thing--never stop learning and growing as an artist. You can never know enough. I think that goes for writers too. They say, write what you know; if that's true, then Know. More.
E: Travis, you've known me a long time, since college. And since I'm in the unique position of getting to interview you, I have to know... what was your first impression of me?
T: Aside from the fact that you're gorgeous? Well, okay, my first memory of you was when we were living in the dorms, and there was a group of us in the common room all playing various forms of solitaire. You walked in and said, "Half a dozen games of solitaire? That's anti-social." We were all like, "Who does this girl think she is?" Hahaha. But now I love that about you. You say what you think and you're completely honest. And funny as hell. And so caring toward the people you love. You're amazing! I'm so proud you're my friend. Oh, one other thing I remember thinking about you back then was, what the heck was that pi sign doing in your name?
E: (Blushes). Aw, thanks, Travis!! (And, more on the mysterious pi sign in another post...)
E: Do you have a web presence?
T: Yes! I'm on Twitter, goodreads, Deviantart, and Pinterest. I'm also working on a website/blog where I'll be posting artwork, short stories, and general musings about art and writing and pop culture. Hey, maybe I can interview you!
E: I can't wait!
Also, Travis shared some of his early sketches and ideas for the Will portrait.
Here's a sketch he started on before deciding to go another direction:
And here are a few screenshots of the final portrait as it progressed:
And one final shot of the final art. Because, come on, he's freaking gorgeous:
Travis, thank you so much for being part of the SACRED art show. I think you are amazing. And your artistic ability makes you a superhero to me!