In my editing work with Mark Scamman, editor of Larceny in the Aisles, I was introduced to Destinee Almeida, a young woman from New Hampshire who illustrated Mark’s chapters and created the front cover. (Learn more about Mark, his book, and see Destinee’s cover illustration here.) I was impressed by Destinee and her work and wanted to showcase her talents in my blog. The following is a conversation between Destinee and my assistant Jillian Tully.
Destinee Almeida, Drawn by Destinee, Multi-Media Illustrator
How long have you been creating art?
I started taking it seriously when I was 13, so that would be about eight-plus years ago.
What inspires you?
Honestly, it tends to be very random, spontaneous things. It could be something very familiar to me, like the music I listen to, my favorite kinds of movies, and video games, or it could be something as simple as a stranger’s outfit I saw in public. It tends to be random things that there is something stylistically that I fixate on and can’t stop thinking about creatively. I get to a point where I just have to draw it.
Where do you pursue your training?
I’m self-taught. I am not going to college or to a trade school, as much as I’d love to. It’s been mostly a self-taught journey with the exception of high school, where I took an AP art class.
How did you connect with Mark Scamman to illustrate his book, Larceny in the Aisles?
It was actually through my mom. She’s on an app called Next Door, which is like a neighborhood app where people are selling stuff or trying to put something out there that they need help with. It’s kind of just a mishmash of posts. She happened to see a call-out for an illustrator for a book, and she was like, “Hey, would you be interested?” I went for it. Mark had a bunch of other people who wanted to do the work, but he decided to go with me.
What inspired you to create each piece of art for the book and the great cover art, too?
Our process was that Mark selected chapters he wanted illustrations for, and they all had a focus. He would give me a very basic concept—“I want these people in it” or “I want them doing a specific action,” and I would just take that and try to make it as intricate and interesting as possible.
What was the creative process like for you on this book project?
It was a huge learning experience because I have never done anything like this before. It’s the first time that my work is being used in a published work. I’m used to doing very simple commissions—one single piece of art. This was a first for me, and it was a lot of trial and error to kind of get into the flow, but it was an amazing experience. My specialty is doing ink and intricate, detailed line work.
How did you connect with Janice?
I naturally connected with her through Mark. I didn’t talk to her until much later in the process when we were kind of wrapping up the work I had to do for the book. Then we all started talking altogether about it and tried to make decisions about the book overall.
What was it like working with her on this project?
It was a real pleasure to work with her. It was my first time doing something like this, so I was already nervous. I was pleasantly surprised that she kept me in the loop and frequently asked for my input, which I really appreciated. She gave nothing but positive feedback on my contributions.
What other work are you pursuing at this time?
More personal stuff—I’m trying to build myself up by name at the moment. I just designed my business card, and I have been doing an illustration for that for the past couple of weeks. I’m trying to cement my style and associate it with my name and build my more professional presence right now.
How can people reach you to see samples and learn more?
I currently have an Art Station account, which is a website that is commonly used for students and professionals alike as a public portfolio. My website for that is drawnbydestinee.artstation.com. I also have my email for people that are interested in commissions or ask questions and that is also firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anything else you would like readers of the Beetle Blog to know?
Something I get a lot from people who see my art is that they are like, “Oh my God. You’re so good. You’re so talented. I can only draw a stick figure,” that kind of thing. Something I want people to understand is that this skill takes time and practice and trial and error. Despite my age, I have put a lot of hard work and dedication into my art, just like any other artist who’s been doing this her whole life.