Thursday, 11 August 2011

Interview with Phatpuppy (Claudia Bartoli-McKinney)


Claudia Bartoli-McKinney, known as Phatpuppy, is a mom to four children and a digital artist by night - specializing in book covers for best selling authors including, Amanda Hocking, JL Bryan, Courtney Milan, and others. Her clients include: Random House Books, Flux Publishing and Monalis360 Entertainment, to name a few.

  1. Tell us about your artwork.
I discovered it rather later in years at the age of around 41. For me, my art is like keeping a journal - each art piece represents a time in my life, whether good or bad; and it's clearly reflected, for me anyways, in my work.


  1. What led you to become an artist?
After the birth of my 4th child at 37, even though busy with being a wife and mom, I wanted to do something to fulfil something inside of me personally; and I literally fell into it, when having to help my daughter with something on one of her photographs used for her singing career.

  1. How do you define your art, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
I am a mixed media artist; and I hope to just continue what I'm doing - hopefully it's uplifting to people.

  1. What’s your strongest memory of your childhood, and how has it helped you develop as an artist?
My strongest memory is always, probably, of one of my heroes - my grandfather who raised me like a daughter. His love and sacrifice envelops me to this very day.

My Bestest Friend

  1. Is there an underlying theme or message in your work?
Always hope. I have very strong faith, and even though I may at times do darker images, I always try to put the element of light to leave a glimmer of hope. For me, especially in today's times, this is sorely lacking. I find that so many young people seem to gravitate towards the dark, seemingly gloomy and hopeless images. Although they may be emotional pieces I see out there - they still lack hope.

  1. How is creating fantasy art different from creating other genres?
Fantasy art is just another type; and I usually, with the help of Danny Elfman’s music, can get transported there mentally rather easily. It's different for me, in that it's colder - not necessarily what I prefer to do, but often what authors want when commissioning me for covers. Yet, I still LOVE making them.


  1. What do you find most rewarding in the creative process?
A happy client rewards me the most - someone who flips over the moon for their pic.  That always makes me so happy.

Geisha Walk

  1. What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome it?
Most challenging is how to introduce new styles of art to my watcher base. People have a harder time accepting a new style if they really like you for one type. But to be honest, the dark gothic stuff is wildly popular, but also, in my opinion, totally overdone.
Blind to Beauty

  1. Of the images you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular work?
My favourite, and I do have a few, is "Blind to Beauty", because it represents a time in my life when I did feel hopeless, and the miracle that came from it. To sum it up, I had been suddenly struck blind, told I would not live by doctors, scheduled for a surgery to try to abate the progress of the disease, and less than 8 hours before surgery, had a bona fide miracle. That's the condensed version.

  1. What have you done to promote and market your artwork, and what advice would you give to other artists?
The Escape
I have never promoted or marketed ever; other than art sites where my work appears.

  1. What memorable responses have you had, regarding your work?
Just happy customers referring me; and that's the best of all.

  1. Evolution seems an inherent facet of digital art. What new developments are you aware of, with regards to the application of technology in this genre?
I stay fairly up to date - but don't go too crazy.  I have a mind-blowing computer with 16 gigs of Ram and a monitor that is 22 inches that I actually paint directly on - so my monitor is my canvas.  I have an electric desk that goes up and down, so I sit or stand while working.

  1. What aspirations, or reservations, do you have with regards to your art being used in film and television?
I have been blessed in that I do work in film now, doing storyboarding for films in production.  I love the creative process.  My daughter is now in film and television makeup so it's fun to work with her on projects.

  1. What do you do when you’re not being artistic?
I have fun with my children - a LOT of fun!

Here I am Lord

  1. Describe your art in one sentence.
A Light in the Dark.

  1. Where can we find you and your art?
On my Personal Page or on Facebook.

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