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Interview with Cheryl Chism

Cheryl Chism is an up and coming artist from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland who caught our attention with her beautifully detailed pen and ink drawings. We took this opportunity to chat to her to gain an insight into her inspirations and goals within the industry.

When did you first start drawing and what was it that inspired first you into taking it up?

I started drawing in February 2016 when my friend, Maciej Smuczynski, suggested I draw from photographs to refine skills for learning to tattoo. Initially I began using graphite, then I tried colour pencil. Honestly [if it wasn’t] for Maciej I would never have started to draw. He has been very supportive and truly is my sole inspiration – not to mention a fantastic tattoo artist!

Beetle by Cheryl ChismWhat do you love most about drawing? Is there a particular location that you prefer to go and draw?

Over the past few months I have loved studying other artists’ work, styles and methods. I just love everything about drawing; there’s no pressure, just the ability to draw what I love and learn in the process. I’m always learning.

Currently I draw at home with four children running around! I do like to work late at night when it’s quiet.

What medium do you prefer to work with and why? Are there any other mediums that you would like to experiment with in the future?

I am currently working in pigment ink and ballpoint pen on either FabrianoArtistico HP or Strathmore 500 Plate.There’s a massive difference in the effects achieved on both papers.

Working on a textured paper, for example cold press, the dotwork is light, and requires a number of layers to achieve dark values, whereas smooth paper, or hp, the ink goes down quite black, so not as many layers and not quite the same effect as the cp.

I use a 0.03 copic multiliner for very fine detailed work, it takes so much longer, and requires a lot of layers on the cp, but in comparison to the smooth paper, the effect seems more realistic, not artificial. Of course achieving smooth lines on textured paper is difficult, especially with the 0.03, so for linework im inclined to opt for hp or smooth. It's really dependant on the subject you are drawing. Animals on cp paper is great, because you can utilise the grain for fur and texture.

In the future I would absolutely love to be proficient in colour pencil- Polychromos and Luminance ideally.

Butterfly by Cheryl ChismThe level of detail in your work is stunning. What was it that drew you to the pointillism and fine line style? Did you experiment with a couple of different styles before settling on one you were most comfortable with?

I was drawn to Pointillism by the artist Xavier Casalta. His dotwork is absolutely amazing and the level of detail is phenomenal. It’s a very disciplined method of drawing and requires a lot of patience! Initially I started drawing floral arrangements with linework [so] the pointillism was a progression from there.

You mentioned that you would like to be a coloured pencil (CP)pet portrait artist. Is there any particular reason why you are drawn to this area of the industry?

There seems to be a huge following for CP pet artists – I follow Danielle Fisher, Jessica Lennox, Jess Stanley to name a few. Their pencil work is mesmerising; the detail in the fur is so realistic [so it’s a] truly amazing ability. I really love animals – dogs, cats, horses, wildlife – and I’m so excited to try and capture them in CP. 

I also adore Alan Woollet’s bird art. He is a brilliant artist and a genuinely nice man! I have had some great advice from Alan [with regards to my work].

Elephants by Cheryl ChismFollowing on from the previous question, what is your ultimate goal in relation to your work? Where would you like to see yourself in, say, five years time?

In five years I would like to be an independent artist working full time. I think this is every artist’s dream, to do what they love every day! I can see my work moving into wildlife and big cats, especially tigers and leopards.

Now a fun question that we always ask…if you were a Strathmore paper which one would you be and why?

I would definitely be the Strathmore 500 Plate! It is the smoothest, brightest, most gorgeous paper on the market! I recently gathered up my stocks of plate as I intend to use it for my CP portraits – it’s definitely worth the investment!

Floral Wreath by Cheryl ChismFinally what words of advice would you give to any artists that are just starting out?

For any artists starting out I would advise them to research, follow lots of different types of artists and try different styles and mediums. Of course my best advice is regarding materials…the high end materials will always yield the best results. Try to save and purchase good quality products [as] they will last longer and are just a pleasure to use! At the start I bought everything and 90% of it is sitting in a drawer!

Lastly don’t be disheartened, it’s a learning process and practice is vital. Watch tutorials, read books, try to draw every day. There’s an artist in everyone!


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