Q: How did you discover the style that best suited your talents? What drew you to the kind of engraving-inspired work that you do?
A: Trial and error. Although, in hindsight, I missed some really obvious things. I found that styles are like shoes. You can’t successfully shoehorn yourself into one. You have to shop around and try them on in order to find the right fit. When I was teaching myself how to illustrate, I would find artists whose styles constantly made me think “That’s so cool. I wonder how they did that?”. Then I’d try to reverse engineer it and incorporate it into my work.
The other important factors were preferred mediums and tools. Silkscreen dictates a limited number of colors, and it was obvious early on I only wanted to work in Adobe Illustrator. I began using big vector shapes but eventually my long-time love of Albrecht Dürer and Gustave Doré converged with my new modern digital tools and the color-blocking became overrun by lines.
I don’t know if my predilection for engraving steered me toward vector or if working in vector decided my style. It’s a bit chicken-and-the-egg, but I will say it was extremely validating to have my collection of Victorian and Civil War era ephemera rebranded as “reference” instead of “weird old stuff Tracie insists on hoarding”.
Q: As a G.I. JOE fan, and with a new Snake Eyes movie looming in the near future, you must have been ecstatic to be involved with the G.I. Joe Classified Series Artist Program. Tell us what went through your head when you got word you’d be working on artwork for Snake Eyes.
A: I was about 2-parts excitement, 1-part jitters. Like many others, I have a strong, nostalgic connection to G.I. JOE and Hasbro. I am continuously grateful to be entrusted with creating visuals for time-honored brands and titles, but I never quite shake the anxiety that comes with wanting to do justice to the history while simultaneously bringing something new to the table.
The fun bit here was topping off this emotional cocktail with a garnish of vengeance. I would be lying if I said that as a kid I’d never been told to go find a doll instead of playing with G.I. JOE toys. So, my involvement as a female artist was central in my mind. I’ve yet to outgrow my tendency of getting cranky when I’m told I can’t do something, so the opportunity to collaborate on this particular project was not only a great honor, but also a source of deliciously vengeful triumph for my younger self.