Radio Drama
Science Faction

Volume 1, Issue #3
"Stand By For Mars!"
March 2006

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Sharon Young, media based artist

Interview by Caroline Miniscule
All artwork © Sharon Young

I first met Sharon Young at Marscon 2006, held in Williamsburg Virginia at the Holiday Inn Patriot. She and another artist were volunteering as minders in the Art Room.

Sharon Young, artist, is currently dividing her time between a Teddy Bear alphabet, an animal series entitled "Multiplicity" and illustrations for a number of fan fiction stories, based on the Harry Potter novels. The artist works primarily in colored pencil, using acrylic paint and air brush for backgrounds and special effects. She lives in Newport News, Virginia.

I drew as a child but I was no great shakes at it. I didn't get training until 9th grade, as the school system at that time wouldn't let you take art class because "you really didn't know what you wanted to do" until you reached 14. I taught myself to draw by looking at the Norman Rockwell magazine covers, art in childrens' book ( N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, etc.), and Disney comics. I got some training in high school, but most came from college. I did not, like so many girls, draw horses. I drew whatever came to hand.

As for television, I watched as many cartoons as I could (mostly Disney) but my parents controlled the TV so I watched what they watched. Later on, as an adult, I watched some sci-fi but not that much until a friend suggested I do art for the local sci-fi convention. At that point, I started to watch whatever was available, but based my art on whatever sold, not just what was a good or bad show. Needless to say, some things I attempted did not sell, and so were abandoned. I seldom read science fiction, preferring to read mysteries, which is probably why most of my sci-fi art is media based.

First career
I worked for the U.S. government as a Recreation Therapist for the Veteran's Hospital in Hampton and for the Department of Defense at Defense Re-utilization & Marketing Office in Norfolk, as a Property Disposal Technician. I put in a combined 24 years.

The Art Process

I start off with a pencil sketch to block out the picture on the paper. From there, if it involves various groups, such as "Helping Hagrid", I do separate drawings of the groups (Hagrid with pumpkins, Harry and Ron with pumpkins, Hermione with pumpkin).

Once the groups are done in a sketch pad, I get enlargements or reductions done at Kinko's, position them on the finished paper, trace them onto the final paper in pencil, (which cuts out a lot of erasing on your good paper if it doesn't go right), ink important lines ( a holdover from cartooning) and then start to color, using a glaze technique previously developed for oil painting.

I like to work from left to right, as (since I am right handed) that way I don't drag color onto a previously finished surface. Once it is done, you spray it with fixative, go back with white acrylic and highlight any area that needs it and then sign it. Voila! One finished piece of art.

What art I did was purely extraneous, a logo for the head office in Battle Creek, a T-shirt design for the local Marketing office, Christmas decorations for the hospital, etc.

I've been doing sci-fi/fantasy art since fall of 1982. Before that, I did calligraphy for the Society for Creative Anachronism, landscapes, wall murals, cartooning (it doesn't pay unless you work for a major company), signs and portraits.

I was never in the military; I just worked for the Army, and thank goodness, they would let me off to go to the occasional convention. I worked for them from 1985 to 1999.

Art Career
When I retired from government work, I had thought about doing some of the outdoor shows, such as Occasion for the Arts, or the Stockly Garden Art Show. I decided I needed another line of art other than science fiction/fantasy and decided to do the animal series (Multiplicity) and the Teddy Bear Alphabet. Since 1999, however, I have decided that the work of getting to and setting up an outdoor show is more than I can handle. But the series are progressing, so I am selling them at the sci-fi shows now days.

I've been going to conventions since 1983, but other than the local cons, SciCon (defunct) and Marscon, the last one I went to was WorldCon 1998 in Baltimore. I think it would be great if I could afford to go to DragonCon in Atlanta, but while I was working, it was hard to take the time off. Now I'm retired, I have the time, but not the money. Catch-22. As for well-run art shows run by friendly & excellent people, there is Willycon (in Nebraska) run by Ron Vick. He is just great. Also, DragonCon, run by Patrick Roberts, who has started a web site group at Yahoo for artists, dealers, con goers and those that run them.

You can get to it by going to[] It is worth the time and free.

Star Trek Conventions
The first Star Trek convention was a since defunct con in Norfolk, in spring of 1983. I didn't do Trek but drawings of "fuzzies". The "fuzzies" come from the series of stories by H. Beam Piper. I drew them because my friend Tom, who is much more familiar with sci-fi books recommended them. They were a good idea, but they didn't sell. At that time, I was on unemployment, so money was a necessity. I really don't remember much about the first convention I did except that the art didn't sell.

The convention in the fall of that year was when I combined Star Trek with teddy bears and started the black and white series, as I had discovered that you can sell an original once, but, you can sell a print for the length of the print run. At that time, it was easier to get black and white prints than it was to get color. About 3 years later, David Cherryn suggested taking a photo and getting photo enlargements made and selling those as prints. This worked very well until the perfecting of the color laser print, which is what I mainly sell now days.

I didn't have any favorite actors until David Bowie in Labyrinth and then I drew and drew and drew. Since then, I've done a couple of things of Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohegans), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Derek Jacobi (I,Claudius) and a couple of ex-boyfriends (they appear in the Fantasy art section of the web site.)

My media art is my job, but a real commercial artist would do a great many more jobs than what I currently do. Their art would be more in the advertising field. I do pretty much what I want to, which is the beauty of not having to do it for a living.

Fan Fiction
I did a story and illustrated it when "The Phantom of the Opera" was so popular. It was a vanity press edition, but I notice that even though it is out of print, it is still listed at some of the Phantom of the Opera sites. Some of the reviewers hate the story, but everyone seems to love the art. Well, I never claimed to be a writer. As for the Harry Potter based stories, I'm sure everyone has put themselves into the story. Who wouldn't want to be part of Hogwarts? The story comes first and then I illustrate various scenes from the story line. I started out obsessing about the stories and then decided that while I couldn't sell them (plagiarism, you know) I could illustrate them and sell the art work, while including the story for free. (The catch is that you can't get the story without buying the art.) However, you can see the illustrations on the web site.

I decided to do a romance with Snape rather than any of the other characters. The kids are too young, and the other people only just so interesting. In fact, I really was only marginally interested in Snape until I saw Mr. Rickman's version of him on the screen, and then I changed my mind about the Potions Master.

Stage set designer
I did set designs for The Mikado, Iolanthe, Gypsy, No Exit, Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella, On Golden Pond, Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, Dial M for Murder, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Barefoot in the Park all of which is either local or some of the stuff I did in college.

Doing set design is like planning a picture, but with a lot more restrictions. First you read the play to see what you absolutely have to have, then you check the layout to see about entrances and exits. Then, you can design the set and/or the backdrops, then, draw out the plans for your work crew to build the set (like blueprints). Once it is built, then you can start painting it. Hopefully, you have a crew or else you get stuck doing all the set painting yourself ( very time consuming and tiring).

It takes a lot of your time, and it is almost always gratis. Theater does not always pay. Sci-fi art/fantasy art does - which is why I don't do theater any more.

Of course, there is a current picture in the works. I've discovered that if I don't have something to work on at night that I become very bored.

Teddybear Alphabet Series

J" is for Jamestown
I just finished "U... is for Uncle Sam" in the Teddybear alphabet series and am working on "K... is for Kittyhawk", after which I have an idea for the scene in Harry Potter book 4 where Snape finds the egg for Challenge 2 in the corridor one night. I can really see Mr. Rickman in a long gray night gown with a slit up the side for mobility. Plus some illustrations for my Book 3. Always something going on art wise. As for the stories, I've finished #5 and am proofing it. I'll probably start seriously messing with #6 this spring. It's just such a downer of a story - it's not easy to write. Still, the stories are mostly for me; I enjoy them as a way to be part of Ms. Rowling's world. It's nice when someone else likes them, too - or at least the illustrations.

More on Conventions
I don't go to conventions anymore that I can't reach in 2 hours and still come back home so I can take care of my dogs. As such, I am only going to show art. The size of the panels dictate how much art will fit in the space. Set up is based on how I think it looks in the space provided. If I am having a good time at a show, then I'll volunteer to help in the art room, if they need the help. Otherwise, I go home and come back Sunday to help tear down the show.

Dave and Jodi, who run Marscon, are good people, Micheale Jordan who runs MidWestCon, Matthew and Lisa Ragsdale at Marcon in Ohio, Mary Cruishank Peed and Candis at Duckon, Ray Gish for Leprecon, and on and on. One meets so many nice people at art shows ( via e-mail or by mail.) It is hard to find a favorite.

Can a person with no artistic skill learn to be an artist?
I do think you can be taught to be an artist, but you need some modicum of ability. No amount of training can make up for lack of talent.

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