Denise Ferragamo (@artsydenise) is a popular artist in the Supernatural fandom. Denise is currently living in Arizona and has connected with many of the fans in the Phoenix area as well as set up in the vendor rooms at the Phoenix Supernatural convention and a small comic con in the Phoenix area.
In addition to selling her artwork in person at various convention venues, Denise maintains an online presence at a number of sites as well. Details of where you can find Denise and her artwork are notated at the end of the story. With the busy holiday season behind her (one of her more popular items are holiday ornaments) Denise had some time to sit down and talk about her experience, her artwork and her inspiration(s).
When did your art find you? What were the circumstances?
Oh gosh, I was always interested in art and drawing. I was kind of introverted as a child and art was one of the ways I found to express myself. I remember back in grade school drawing cartoon pictures to share with my friends. You know, things that were popular with kids at the time. I was always getting art supplies, pencils, water colors, paints, sketchbooks – things like that, for gifts and could almost always be found with a sketchbook working on something.
One of my dreams was to go to art school after high school, but that didn’t end up working out for me. My parents were divorcing right around that time and there just wasn’t the money or support necessary for me to be able to do that. I still kept up with my art even as I did other things, like having and raising my children and I worked as a full-time artist from my twenties until my forties.
After my own divorce, I did finally have a chance go to go to a local college where I got my AA in mechanical drawing. It took me about three years since I was working as well as going to school. I chose to go to school at this time because had two children that I needed to support and I saw this path as a way to help support myself and my children while still being able to keep in touch with my artistic side. Unfortunately, mechanical drawing was sort of a dead-end in that as newer technologies were being developed, the artists themselves were being phased out. I worked in the defense industry and ended up getting laid off a total of eight times over a number of years. It was very discouraging and I ended up losing my home in Florida and moving to Arizona, where I am now, to live with my parents
I am currently working for myself – I do much better working this way than working for someone else, I’m not the best when someone else is telling me what to do – and am pretty happy with the way things are going. I would love to build my business up enough to be able to get out of my parents’ house and into my own place. That’s definitely one of my goals.
The fan art business can be complicated and it takes a lot of money and effort to put together a vendor table for any of the conventions. I usually drive to the venue in order to help keep costs down and generally am able find someone to share a hotel room with, which also helps. Of course you have to consider your overhead like the vendor fee for the con, as well the materials you need to get items ready to be sold. I’m eventually going to get out to more cons, which will mean I’ll have to factor in the cost of flights, but it will be a great way to get my work noticed by more of the fandom.
Even with all the work that goes into vending at a con, I really love getting the chance to meet with the other fans, some of who already know my work or have something I’ve created and others who are just getting introduced to me and my work. It’s also so much fun to meet people who I’ve interacted with on-line and get a chance to see/know the face behind the screen name. I have found that a large majority of Supernatural fans are friendly and so much fun to share stories with.
Do you find that yourself using any of the principles that you learned/picked up from your mechanical drawing experience that you are using today with your art work?
No, not really. They are kind of at two ends of the spectrum, one is very disciplined and needs to be extremely precise with measurements that are held to very tight tolerances. Although, I did do a lot of 3D modeling of airplanes and airplane parts, which is something that I think would be fun to do for the fandom at some point in the future, but other than that, not so much.
Wait, I have to take that back. I think that my training and the work I did in my field has helped me when I’m drawing the Impala. I have found myself relying on some of the fundamentals that I picked up both in school and on the job to make the lines and scale of the car more precise.
What medium(s) do you use for your art?
Let’s see, I use digital, pencils, inks, pastels, water colors and acrylics. It kind of depends on the item and what effect I’m trying to achieve. As far as mixing media, I often do a sketch in pencil that I scan into the computer and finish digitally.
Were you involved at all with the Supernatural Art Show that was held on Twitter this past fall? Did you exhibit any of your work? I really loved the show.
I was actually one of the people in a chat room at the time the original idea came up. There were a number of artists, including myself, who just started throwing out ideas of how to get our art works seen by more people. Once the idea of the online show came up everyone seemed to get behind the idea of using Twitter and a hash tag to mark the artworks shown. There was some initial confusion about start and end times but overall the show went very well.
One of the best things about it is that the group decided that the show would be open to anyone at any level of expertise. There were guidelines in terms of the content in order to keep the art viewable by all ages. In the end I think there was a total of 700 pieces of original art shown over that weekend. It ended up being something that a lot of people wanted to participate in either by exhibiting their work or just by viewing what was posted.
I know that the group is thinking about doing another one this spring. Hopefully there will still be the same level of interest from people in participating.
I have attended other cons in the past where there they had a gallery area set up where people could display their artwork. I think they handed out prizes, but I can’t remember for sure. Anyway, there’s always a lot of down time at the cons where it might be fun for people to walk through the gallery and see the work of various artists and make a connection. Maybe not every con, but a couple of flagship cons a year. Of course, there were some rules in place about what could be displayed in terms of how pornographic the art was.
You know, that’s crossed my mind as well. I think it could be really nice since there is free time that people could spend walking through a gallery and looking at the art. You should send an email to Creation. You can mention how many pieces were shown in the on-line show in order to show them what the level of interest is in fan art to support your suggestion.
After the SPN S10 gag reel was available in its entirety, you were pretty quick to offer a ‘Sam F’ng Winchester’ t-shirt for sale. A friend of mine gave J2 each one of the shirts during her photo-op at Chicon and she said they were both thrilled with it. Are you aware of other instances where your art has ended up in the hands of your inspiration(s)?
I saw that photo-op on-line after that con, it was so cute. There was this one time that I was in line for Jared’s autograph at a con and the girl in front of me, who was a friend of mine, had a copy of my Impala Nights poster – it is a picture of the guys and baby looking up at a sky full of stars.
I know exactly the picture!
Here I was with a small 4 x 4 painting I’d done and she’s got one of my full size posters! Anyway, we were talking as the line moved forward and when it was her turn, she pulls me over to Jared. She actually pulled me out of line and over to the table, and told him that I was the artist that had done the artwork. Jared commented that he’d seen the image before, on a t-shirt that a fan was wearing, and that the picture had actually made him change his mind about how he would like to see the story end! It was really a pretty cool experience and I was kind of shaking.
At Dallascon this past year I had the opportunity to meet both Megan Padalecki and her parents and at Pascon I had my booth right next to Megan’s. They are all so nice. Mrs. Padalecki even bought one of my ornaments. I guess those the two times I can think of right now.
Are there other fandoms other than Supernatural that you’ve done artwork for? Which ones? Do you have a favorite (you can plead the 5th)?
(Laughs) I do work primarily with the Supernatural world and characters but I have begun to branch off with some Star Wars, Dr. Who and a few super hero characters. I know that if I had more items available outside of the Supernatural universe that I could get a vendor spot at some of the multi-fandom cons. It’s hard though, people will come up and ask for things that I don’t have, like ‘Do you have a Robin? I’d buy the Batman if you had a Robin.’ So I’d have to have a lot more inventory as well.
You can find Denise and her artwork at:
@artsydenise on Twitter
Her website Denise Ferragamo
On Etsy at ArtsyDeniseToo
And at Patreon. A site which allows people to pledge their support of Denise as she works to realize her vision of a Supernatural inspired coloring book.