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Interview with Gina hilton

1.What’s your background?

Art has almost always been in my life. Anything creative really. I practically drew my way through school. I recently came upon some of my old school books and found more drawings and doodles than work in most of them! I went on to get my GCSEs and A-Level qualifications in Art and Fine Art but ultimately went on to university to pursue writing. For those 4 years, Art took a backseat. Though I would still low-key draw and doodle, it wasn’t until a year after graduating that I discovered digital art. I absolutely fell in love with fanart and simply said to myself “I want to do stuff like that.” And so I did! Since then I have developed a portfolio that I have posted across several social media outlets, worked with some fantastic people and businesses for commissions and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

2. What does your work aim to say?

My art name is Dark and Beautiful because that is always the tone I want to create in my art. I find there is so much I can do with it. Stereotypically those words are like polar opposites. If something is dark it must therefore be unpleasant or sinister. But I like finding the beauty in it. Whether it be dark colours, dark lighting, subject matter or expressions...I like to make them beautiful.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

Towards the beginning, my biggest influencers (and some truly wonderful people who helped me so much) were Tiara L’Hommedieu (BloodyDammit) and SnCinderArt. They were amazing people to talk to and Tiara helped me out big time when it came to my first commercial commission! They’re truly amazing artists, both extremely talented. Charlie Bowater’s lighting is just stunning to me. I often use her work as a lighting reference! Zara (@za_ra_h_ on Twitter) and Fernanda Suarez I’ve always admired their attention of detailing on skin, especially facially. Nuri Sky, Jen Bartel and Salome Totladze (morgana0anagrom) are quite different styles but I love the way Nuri uses their brushes. Even though their art is smoothed out, you can see how the brushstrokes literally shape the art.

4. How have you developed your career?

Seizing opportunities. The thing about being an fanartist is that there is an almost constant pressure to keep up with the latest book trends. For the YA book community, the likes of ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ and ‘Cruel Prince’ are a given. Bookstagram practically expects that kind of art. So I made it. I was lucky enough to make some art for ‘Caraval’ by Stephanie Garber, back when it was still fairly new on the scene and there wasn’t much fanart for it. The series grew and the more art I made for it, the more my following grew too!

5. How do you seek out opportunities?

I don’t like to straight out ask for opportunities by contacting people. I know some artists are bold like that but I don’t think I’m a big enough artist to do that right now! But I do try to lay my cards out. I make art for a certain book if I know the next one in the series is due out soon and book boxes might want to hire artists to design prints or dust jackets for it. I’ve been extremely fortunate that so far in my time as an artist, most opportunities have presented themselves to me.

6. How do you navigate the art world?

I try to befriend other artists and authors where I can. It’s always good to have connections in any industry. But when you’re a freelance digital artist, you don’t really interact with anyone other than clients otherwise. It’s through these artists that I’m then introduced to other artists who will either become a good friend or another good art influence. Maybe both!

7. How do you price your work?

I change my prices annually. Because during that time my art will improve, but as my art improves the time I spend on each piece increases. For example, on my earlier commissions I would spend maybe 3-6 hours on them and for my most recent commission, I spent over 30 hours working on it!

8. Which current art world trends are you following?

Currently, I don’t believe I am following any. My art time is mostly spent on commissions which doesn’t give me much time to spend on personal projects or art trends. Though I did do the ‘Six Fanarts Challenge’ in early 2020 which was very fun! It consisted of drawing six different characters. I tried to draw characters I either hadn’t drawn before or I hadn’t drawn for a long time. Eventually I chose Jaskier from Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’, Cardan from ‘The Cruel Prince’, Rowan Whitethorn from ‘Throne of Glass’, Bryce Quinlan from ‘Crescent City’, Harley Quinn and Ciri from the game ‘Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’. I really challenged myself on this one and to this day my Ciri piece is still one of my favourites!

9. What is your favorite genre to create?

Fantasy, hands down. I love incorporating magic into my art and I find fantasy characters to be so fun to work on. I also love the horror and gothic genre. Though it’s not something I can draw for very often, I would love to work more on it. The fantasy and horror/gothic genres definitely compliment my art name — the horror being the dark and fantasy being the beautiful!

10. Do you like to create original pieces or would you rather create fandom art?

I like both, though personally I do love creating art for my own characters from the book that I’m working on. It gives me complete creative freedom and because my story is very dark and has several psychological horror undertones, it means I can incorporate it into my horror/gothic art!

11. Any given piece, how long do you think it takes to create?

It varies! But I would say a standard couple piece would take me between 15-20 hours, assuming they were fully clothed. If it were a more NSFW (Fleshy) piece, it would probably take me between 20-25 hours as skin takes longer to detail!

12. What would you say is your end goal in your career?

I suppose the same as many artists, I would love to be able to make a living off my art alone. There are several companies and book boxes I would love to work with too. I would also love to be an artist who becomes popular for their original content!

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