The Showcase: Courtney Coffman

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This months featured artist is the one and only Courtney Coffman. Read her interview below and follow the link to help support this artist and their work!

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a digital/watercolor illustrator based in the lovely region of SoCal! I also am a community leader here that helps run and stream a whole bunch of events for Project M and other Smash games.

Why do you do what you do?

Took my a long time to pop out of my comfort zone, but once I did and started DOING things, I could never go back. I really just enjoy making things, whether it be drawings or experiences people have in the Smash community. With both my art and smash projects,  not only do I find satisfaction in doing them, but it makes me happy that others get to enjoy them as well.

How do you work?

Just about everything art wise is at my desk! I usually will pop on some music or documentary stuff on the computer. For my digital stuff, there is this fancy thing called a “Cintiq” that allows me to draw on a monitor directly into the computer (I generally use Adobe Photoshop). For watercolors, I just slap out a sketchbook and go from pencil to ink to painting.

What’s your background?

Grew up in Northern California near San Francisco and lived in various areas there until I eventually moved down here for college. It wasn’t until the last year of high school that I sat down and decided to “get serious” about art. Up until then I did doodles on homework, but outside of photography I didn’t really “make art”.

What’s integral to your work as an artist?

Color! My favorite part of any piece I make is how it feels with the tones, lighting, etc. People don’t realize how powerful even a single color can be. How shades of blue can push a piece emotionally into making a viewer feel as the artist does. Color is a complex tool, but certainly my favorite one to keep expanding on.

What role does the artist have in society?

I encourage everyone to try to be an artist in some way. To be, art is all about expressing your perspective on the world. There are millions of people who make art and so many different styles with unique backgrounds as to who they are and what helped form the sort of things they like to make art on, what medium they use, how big or small the pieces are, what colors they use, so on and so on.

Outside of just being really therapeutic for the artist, I think art is able to help people see things in a new way or rekindle what has been lost. Words are great, but we don’t all speak the same language. Imagery can be used to hop those borders, to make people feel and see things the way the artist does. Whether it be paintings of kids playing at the ocean that brings someone back to their childhood or photography of festivals that allows others outside a culture to have a view into a new world, art is limitless.

How has your practice changed over time?

My timeline as an artist is one where I placed my own roadblocks. I knew I loved drawing and as a kid I watched cartoons endlessly, but when it came to creating my own stuff I was so paralyzed with fear of how bad the stuff I made looked. I wanted to be able to make grand pieces without having to put in the work to earn those skills.

I danced with photography for a while, which gave a limited taste of the kind of art I wanted to make. I was able to capture the world but it ultimately is very dependent on what is physically in your world.

I give credit to a good friend of mine, Chelsea, to be the inspiration I needed to get over the fear of being bad. Pretty quickly I did a 180, where instead of never trying I was now always trying. Sketches every day for almost six years now have brought me to where I am today, and I am only excited to see where I land in another six!

What art do you most identify with?

Illustrations, whether they be simple pencil sketches or full blown oil painting masterpieces. People’s ability to fill a blank, 2 dimensional void with expansive words, adorable characters, or just beautiful mixes of abstract colors just gets me really excited about making more stuff.

A lot of my favorite artists are able to take things from their lives, shops they walk by every day, a person they saw at work, a nice plant on the side of the road, and mix it with things from their imagination to create  such expressive pieces that give such an interesting taste of their world. I love being able to just look at all the simple yet beautiful things around me and just simply appreciate their form, color, or texture.

What work do you most enjoying doing?

Right now, even though it frustrates me to no end, I really have been loving watercolor. A lot of my more polished work is digital, which is fun and allows for endless opportunities and abilities to edit, but ultimately it’s not something I can ever really touch.  With watercolor I really have to respect the medium and think about what I am doing with a good amount of patience. It slows me down. My favorite part in the end though is having a physical piece!

Why art?

To me, art is really all about creating stuff. It’s a skill that has pushed me mentally to think about myself and the world around me, physically to master how to use tools to make whatever I want to make, and in how I communicate. What do the images I create say to people when I am not their to give my background. Art has pushed me to better understand myself, others, and the general world while also giving me a chance to make super cool stuff! What more can you ask for.

Describe your Local Smash Scene?

Hooo, the things I could say about Southern California’s Project M scene. While we are all goof balls that take this game pretty damn seriously in one way or another, I ultimately consider this community a family. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years! I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, but everyone has left some sort of print on the community whether it be fun memories, a dope combo on stream, a post on the facebook page. We know how to have fun which makes creating events for folks all the better.

What superpower would you have and why?

Change into animals! That’s, like, hundred powers in one. Become a bird and fly places, transform into a fish and breathe underwater,  change into an elephant and crush my enemies. If I could make it more OP, I’d change into any creature even if they don’t exist. Get the power of Pokemon in there and you’d be pretty unstoppable.

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