Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, digital illustrator and writer Jade Mere tells us about her creative process, the story behind her works, and sheds some light on the rules for aspiring creatives. How did you get started with illustrating? I did not draw when I was a kid because I was so bad at it. So, so bad. About mid-way through high school, I started drawing. I had a difficult high school and got into some trouble, and turned to writing and art instead of hanging out with a not-so-great group of people. Over the next few years, as I struggled to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I found myself always drawing, always creating, and decided to finally learn how to properly illustrate a picture. Which interest comes first for you, illustration or writing? Writing. I love storytelling, and writing is the most fulfilling way, in my opinion, to tell a story. Is there a story behind your art? That depends on the piece of art. Sometimes I draw something because I think it will look cool, no deep meaning. Other times, I do have a purpose behind the picture. I tend to draw a lot of big cats. Most big cats are endangered. A lot of what I paint deals with the plight of large cats, especially tigers, and how they are disappearing from this world. I love animals and I love nature. What’s your creative process like? I typically think of an idea and thumbnail it out. A month or two later, if the idea still appeals to me, I’ll gather references and illustrate the picture. The idea might change along the way, but generally, I stick to my original idea. Is there a tool that you can’t live without in your studio or while working? My digital drawing tablet. I learned how to draw and paint traditionally, but digital work is my life. Do you have a creative routine or ritual you constantly practice? I always get up early, get some coffee or tea, and then watch some kind of video that teaches me something, something art related or writing related, and then I go to work painting or writing. What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? Travel. See and experience the world. [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FFD700″ class=”” size=””]Don’t use the internet as your only source of inspiration.[/perfectpullquote] Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators and writers? I am a firm believer in learning the rules before you break them. People often get ideas in their heads, but when they try to paint them out, the picture looks nothing like they imagined. Learning color theory, light, perspective, anatomy, composition, these tools will help you understand what it is your brain is seeing, and you’ll be able to better get your ideas down. Same goes for writing. You might have a kick-ass story idea, but you’re unable to make it work on paper because the structure is lacking or the characters are flat. There are tons of free tutorials out there to learn art and writing. Which illustration style would you love to pursue but haven’t yet? I’d love to learn cel-shading. How do you know when an illustration is finished? When I can’t stand to look at it anymore. – Images © Jade Mere. Check out more of Jade’s illustrations on DeviantArt or Instagram.