Artist Spotlight: Taylor Bender

 Taylor Bender, a senior at Pascack Valley, has been published in Outside In both last year and this year. Recently, we interviewed her about her artistic process and, below, we’ve featured some of her work. This is the first in what will be a series of features of some of the most talented artists we’ve published.


What inspires you?

I follow a lot of artists online that are like relatively my age or older I think, and a lot of them use the same art program that I do and the same tablet. (What art program do you use?) I use Paint Tool Sai; it is the best. I’m inspired by artists, usually they’re like fan artists for like things that I like like, comics or books or whatever. And that’s how I find them and I’m like “Wow, your art is really awesome!” And then I follow them and get inspired by their art. And cry whenever they post something new ‘cause it’s so good. It makes me wanna improve upon my art, like “Wow, I wanna be as good as them someday.” Most are contemporary artists but I also look at like classic art, stuff in art history and I’m like “Wow, that’s really awesome.” Or “So great”


What art classes do you take at PV?

I’ve taken Drawing and then Fine Arts and now I’m in AP Studio Arts and also Art History. And last year I worked on the mural during Pascack Period, the one by the lunch thing with the orbs. I did the sunset, that was me. I had fun doing that. It was fun, having my art up there. Yeah, I was also in art club a little bit. And now I’m in Litmag. I’m just an art kid. There are theatre kids, there are choir kids, I’m like the art kid. But nobody talks about art kids. But I’m an art kid. Me.


What is your favorite medium of art?

My favorite medium of art is usually digital art using my tablet, and I also like pencil drawings. Painting is also good, but digital art is the easiest for me.


Do you have any art education outside of school?

Yeah, I have been going to art classes since the 2nd grade maybe. A couple of different kinds but yeah I have an art class once a week nowadays where I practice. It’s traditional, ‘cause I don’t do enough traditional. So it’s good to practice every week. I just kinda do digital on my own.


 Do you plan out your art?

Yes, Sometimes the ideas just come to me and sometimes I have an idea in my head that I wanna just draw. And then I sketch it, I refine the sketch, sketch again, sketch some more, and then you know eventually I just pick at it until I have something close to what was in my head. That’s how I plan it.


What is generally your process when making an art piece?

So I’m going to try to describe this the best I can. First thing that I do is that I have my idea in my head and I open the canvas on the laptop. (Do you listen to music?) Yes, I listen to Crystal Castles and video game OSTs (original soundtrack) and like Vocaloid ‘cause I’m a nerd. And sometimes entire albums like I have a band that I want to listen to and I need to listen to an album of theirs, I just like, “I’m gonna do it while I draw.” But after I open my music and everything, what I do is, I have my idea in my head. And usually my drawings consist of like a subject, like a person, because I really like drawing people, and scenes with people in them, graphical novelly, not always comics but like a scene of someone doing something. So what I do is I sketch out the skeleton of like the person who is let’s just says sitting. And I do that in normally a bright color. So their legs are lines, the joints are like circles, it’s like what you would imagine a skeleton to look like, just to see where everything would be. And I use layers a lot for the program. And then I fade it a little and then I decrease the opacity so that it is less visible, and I draw over that, and that’s when I draw the actual leg, and I sketch that out with the sketching brush. I sketch over the skeleton but they are on different layers, so that I can delete the skeleton when I need to. So then I sketch their body parts and then I do their face and then after the body parts I layer the clothes over because that’s easier. To draw the clothes, I make the body less visible. After I’m all done drawing the body parts, hair and face. I combine all the layers so that it is just one big sketch. And then I take that and lower the opacity, and then I make a new layer and do the line art or the painting or whatever I want to. After I do the line art, I put the colors under it, and then I shade and then I color the line art and then I do the background, and lighting.


What kind of tablet do you have?

I have a Wacom Bamboo Fun Tablet; I don’t know the specific category but that is the name that I remember. Oh, and to go along with the tablet question, it’s the largest; I think it’s large, that’s the size, because they come in sizes. It connects to my computer with a USB. If you have the ability to get it, do.


Of the pieces you’ve made, which is your favorite?

Um, I’m kinda biased because usually my favorite pieces that I draw tend to be the ones that I most recently finished because it’s like my newest thing, like as art gets older you look at it and you’re like “Wow, that’s really gross-looking,” because it’s so old and I’ve gotten better since then. So my favorite art piece that I’ve drawn digitally is like, my two characters uh, ‘cause I also like writing and stuff and drawing them, and they’re sitting in a forest by a campfire complaining about things. Uhm, ‘cause their world stinks. And for traditional, I have a lot of things like traditional drawings that I’m kinda proud of. But like, there was one in fine arts that I drew last year, which was like a picture of a peach or like a couple peaches and I’m still super proud of it. And like whenever I think about it, I’m like “That’s it. That’s the picture.” And there are a couple of other things, but those two are the most like relevant.


How do you feel about people about people approaching you about your work?

It’s kind of weird when people come up to you when you’re drawing and they’re like “Can you draw me???” If it’s a friend, ok, but like, most of the time it is someone that I don’t know at all and then I’m like, “Uh-uh, sorry.”


Do you want to go to into a career in art?

Yes I do! ‘Cause that’s like the thing that I’m best at, I think, and I love most and am most passionate about. So I’m not sure where that will take me but I’m just going to pursue it.


What art colleges are you applying to?

I, mm, I’m kinda really bad because I haven’t looked too far into colleges yet, ‘cause I’m lazy and nervous, I’m a nervous person. Uh, Montclair has a good art program I hear, and also I was thinking of FIT too, maybe but I really need to research it more. Right now, the only criteria is that I stay local and it has a good art program. So anything with a good art program.


What is your advice for artists who are just starting out?

Two things. One: (No one likes to hear this but): Practice, because that’s the key to anything. The more you do it, the better you are at it, and the better you are at it, the better you are at it. Because you need to practice in order to get the kind of art style and skill that you want so why not practice. And also, the other advice is to follow other artists and look at what other artists do, and see art that inspires you and drives to practice more and do better. And look at art from your favorite artists and be like “Ok, what is it that I like that this artist does?” And recognize what you want to see in your own style and what you think you can improve upon.


You can view more of Taylor’s art here, and keep an eye out on our Twitter for more of her work in the future.