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Hi! My name is Monica Lee. I am a professional illustrator. I have worked in the children's market and have recently started licensing my art. I also do the traditional design projects, websites, logos, brochures, etc. I owned my own greeting card company Monica Lee Studios and realized I liked the illustrating more than managing sales reps! During all this, I have been a mom and wife (girlfriend, sister, daughter) and an international flight attendant. (A girl needs to get out once and awhile!)

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
Which time?! HA! I have recommitted myself to my art career several times as it has evolved. I owned my own greeting card company for several years and then I divorced and decided to close it. After I emerged from that sorrowful time I attended an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference and really committed (again) to an art career. So far, so good!

Who or what inspires you?
Tough question! So much! Even though I am in a visual field, books are a huge sense of inspiration for me. It must be the story teller in me. Other artists also inspire me, I love to hear their success stories. I have a whole section on my website dedicated to being inspired and staying focused! I think artists should stay connected because it can be hard to work in a vacuum if you are working alone.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I studied art in college and learned all the design and traditional art basics but it was so long ago, (another ouch! I am old!) I didn't learn any computer graphic skills so I recently returned to school just for computer graphics. It is tricky to keep both skills in check. I am going to take a life drawing class at RSDI this winter because I haven't drawn from life in awhile.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
Well, I guess the answer above would fit this but I also attend SCBWI conferences and spend time looking at what art is out there.

What are some of your current projects?
I am doing a great project now! It is the cover art for a Young Adult novel book series based on a popular the word "series"!

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I am always the most proud of the work I just completed (does that make me shallow)? I can't link to my book covers, they aren't out yet but I have been working on illustrations geared towards fashion. I have been involved in licensing projects and that seems to be getting a lot of response for me now. I am actually proud of my website my blog and some articles I have written have turned out to be a great forum for connecting people and motivating them to stay inspired.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I just gesso'd a piece of watercolor paper-yikes and I am going to try using some Finity Windsor Newton acrylics. I traditionally work in watercolor and digitally but I have painted several murals with acrylics so I thought I should stretch myself a bit.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Read this! The Care and Feeding of a Dream.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
If it does what it is supposed to do..or if you do what you were hired to do. Are you telling a story, evoking an emotion? Selling something, branding a product? Does it complete the task? I know that doesn't sound too profound, but I am a *commercial* artist.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I attend an illustrators group that meets once a month, it is nice to be around like minded people. If you can't do that, I have really enjoyed blogging with other artists.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
Well, as a girl who was raised primarily in the South, the show My Name is Earl cracks me up!

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