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Dennise Heckman

Dennise Heckman

Dennise Heckman Interview

Dennise Heckman

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

My grandmother was a cartoonist for the local newspaper. My mother loves children's books. My father taught me how to draw horses when I was nine and I took it very seriously. I had an elementary art teacher that had the most wonderful, colorful, welcoming art room in the history of art rooms. My highschool art teacher taught me how to make pictures out of wood! I've been blessed with artistic mentors all through life in places that you might not expect it. Even my highschool swimming coach is an artist at heart.

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Ram created out of wood slats and painted with oils in my highschool art room.

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

Yes! Way back in the 1980's... I attended the then very small Savannah College of Art and Design and studied illustration. My aunt lived nearby and this is how I convinced my parents to let me to travel from Pennsylvania all the way to Georgia to study art. For my family, at that time, this was a big endeavor. I eventually continued my education back in PA, earning my Masters degree in Art Education so that I could teach. While I was in art school, I began drawing with alot of charcoal and pastels. I think there was only one computer on campus! Also I learned how to make a soda can camera that took real photos and then we developed them in a traditional dark room. It was all amazing.

 

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Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.

Yes. I love working with both traditional media such as acrylics and gouache on canvas or watercolor paper, AND digitally with Photoshop and Procreate. Both offer unique ways to get the job done with their own sets of benefits. I always begin with a few thumbnail sketches in pencil or ink.

 

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What would you say is a distinguishing feature of your artwork?

People seem to enjoy the facial expressions of my characters, both human and animal. I try to add humor to the character in some way and it usually shows up in their facial expression. Iv'e been complimented on my color palette, too. I love incorporating vibrant color even when working in a monochromatic theme. 

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Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

We have two little dogs plus a slew of visiting overnight dogs because I'm a dogsitter. On any given night I could have up to six little wonderful dogs running around my house and my two teenagers love it. We grow very attached to the dogs that visit us on a regular basis and love them like they are our own. The photo includes my dogs Winn Dixie the white Westie and T-Bone the black and white Chug-wawa.

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