I am very pleased to share this interview with you today. As a huge Shadowhunter Chronicles fan, I have enjoyed the artwork that Cassandra Jean has produced for the fandom, and am excited about the new things coming, like the calendars and The Secret Treason graphic novel.
For those of you who don’t know, Cassandra Jean is an artist. She works on many things, like original graphic novels, and does artwork for other YA novels, like Beautiful Creatures, The Lynburn Legacy, Shades of London and The Raven Boys. You can check out her website, and her artwork, here.
Cassandra Jean became known to me when she started doing the artwork for the Shadowhunter tarot card series.
Here are some examples:
There are SO many more of these, and you should check them out, because they are SO cool.
After this, I decided to check out Cassandra’s website, where she does a multitude of artwork, all of it so talented and beautiful. I enjoy any time she does work, and especially when its from the Shadowhunter Chronicles. Occasionally she does “sneak peek” or “spoiler” work for City of Heavenly Fire, or to celebrate a holiday and such.
Just recently, she unveiled the Men of the Shadowhunter Chronicles calendar, featuring all of our favorite hotties from the series. You can see all those by clicking here.
Now, I’ve had the awesome opportunity to interview the lovely Cassandra. Enjoy!
Sara: What is your background in art? When did it become something that you were really passionate about?
Cassandra: I’ve pretty much always wanted to be an artist since I was a child. I think there might have been a year in elementary school where I considered being a veterinarian (animals!) but that didn’t last long. I have always wanted to draw. I come from an artistic family so they’ve been a big influence on me and have always encouraged my artistic side. My mother writes, my father paints, my grandparents were art teachers, photographers, writers, seamstresses… so, yeah, I’ve basically always been into art. I majored in Illustration in college and started working on graphic novels straight out of school.
Sara: How did you get involved with doing artwork for Cassandra Clare and the Shadowhunter Chronicles?
Cassandra: Through my fanart actually! She liked a drawing I had done of Will Herondale and approached me about working on the Shadowhunter Codex. I said YES (of course!) and the rest is history! Since then I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating a lot of things for her, she’s so much fun.
Sara: How do you approach a piece of artwork based on something that has already been written?
Cassandra: Working on something that someone else has written is a lot different from creating your own story from scratch. While working on an original artwork, you are using a character who is unknown and you have complete control over who they are and how they look. But while working on something that has already been written, you’re interpreting something that already exists. Neither one or the other is better, but both processes have their own pros and cons. When I work on something already written, I get to skip the whole script writing stage! But, there is a lot of pressure to get things right. Because these are characters that people have already read about and fallen in love with, and the fans will notice if you mess something up. So in order to get things right, I read the book, and while reading, I take careful notes about the characters. I write down their names, their family, their appearances (hair, eyes, facial structure, fashion sense, quirks, habits, etc) so that when I draw them later, I can consult my notes.
Sara: So many people know you as the artist behind the Shadowhunter tarot cards, the City of Heavenly Fire sneak peeks and now the Shadowhunter Men calendar, but what other art do you do?
Cassandra: Well! At the moment my life is pretty Shadowhunter-ed up! But I work as an illustrator for YenPress. I’ve done the graphic novel adaptations of “Beautiful Creatures” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and a short comic titled “Something Wikkid”. And I have more books lined up!
Sara: What is your process like? What sort of mediums do you use?
Cassandra: I work almost entirely on a computer. Sometimes when I’m sketching up thumbnails for comic pages or trying to decide on the layout for an illustration I will use pencil and paper, but most all of my process is done on the computer these days. I use a tablet so that I can draw digitally into programs like SAI and photoshop.
Sara: What is sort of your goal when you are doing a piece of work? How do you work to capture the essence of a character?
Cassandra: Uhm… hard question! Well, I read the book first and foremost. Since that’s the best way to get to know a character. When I draw them, I try to keep in mind their personality. If they are sexy and flirty, or shy, or quiet and moody. Our personalities, and the character’s personalities, effect how they dress or how I would pose them. Often when I draw a picture I try to focus on the overall mood. Like if I’m in the mood to draw something sad, or happy, or sweet. Then I try to pick characters to draw that suit the mood I’m in. It seems to work out more naturally that way.
Sara: You’ve worked on so many different projects besides The Mortal Instruments like mangas, and Beautiful Creatures and Raven Boys artwork. Are there ever any challenges in doing so many different things or do you like the challenge of that?
Cassandra: I like the challenge. In fact, I kind of need it. No matter how much I love something, I can get exhausted drawing it over and over without any variety. That’s the sort of thing that can send me into a slump. So that’s why I draw so many different subjects. It’s refreshing, and I feel like it keeps me on my toes. Especially when it comes to comics. A comic can take me 8-9 months to finish, and every page is filled with tons of drawings of the same characters. So working on a variety of fanart and projects at the same time prevents me from falling into a rut.
Sara: What are some projects that you’ve worked on that some people don’t know about but you’d really like them to?
Cassandra: I used to illustrate an online comic called Land of Lions! I haven’t been able to work on it for several years now, since Yen Press started hiring me for work, and these days I’ve improved a lot so the artwork in it is a bit old. But I’m still pretty proud of what I did with it. If people were interested I’d be flattered if they took a look at it. It’s up on a website called MangaMagazine.net In fact that website has a lot of awesome stuff you should check it out some time if you’re interested in reading original works online.
Sara: What are some of your hobbies besides artwork? Do you read, and have you read the books that you’ve done the artwork for?
Cassandra: Art kind of eats up my life. It’s my work AND my hobby. But I do read a lot too. I have of course read all the books I’ve done artwork for. I try not to draw characters for things I haven’t read because I think that if I didn’t, they wouldn’t turn out right. I wouldn’t have a very good grasp on what the characters looked like, how they acted or dressed… (with the exception of the Dark Artifices and TLH which have not been written yet, but Cassandra describes the characters to me in detail so that I get them right) So yeah! All the series I’ve done drawings of, I’ve read, and I’ve read plenty that I haven’t done art for either, sometimes I like to just read. I also play a lot of video games when I get the chance. And rearranging my book shelves. Does that count as a hobby? Because I love doing that.
Sara: What are you working on now and what can we expect from you in the future?
Cassandra: Lately, I’ve been trying to slowly hash out an original story that I’d like to illustrate. But I think it will be quite some time before that’s ready to show off. I’m also drawing the Shadowhunter Calendars still.You can also expect the “Miss Peregrine” graphic novel to be in stores in October along with the Shadowhunter Codex (some of my illustrations are in there, though I haven’t seen the book yet myself so I’m not sure which ones made the cut!) Also the next book I’m working on, which was leaked a few days ago, is The Secret Treasons with Cassandra Clare. So please look forward to it!
Sara: What can you tell us about The Secret Treasons, and what and when can we expect that?
Cassandra: I can’t tell you much about it other than what you already know. It follows Valentine and the Circle back in their younger days. I’m looking forward to drawing not only the younger versions of Valentine, Jocelyn and Luke, but also drawing the characters that we never got to meet in the books because they had already passed away. Stephen, Michael… I’m so excited about working on a Shadowhunter comic. Hopefully soon, the publisher (Yen Press) will release more information about it for you guys to feast on.
Sara: A nice little fun question that I ask all the people I interview: who is your fictional crush?
Cassandra: Crush? As in just one? UH…Ragnor Fell! My big cranky green lima bean. What’s that? No, he’s not dead! He’s just…hibernating!! [sound of gross sobbing in the distance]
* * * * *
I hope you all enjoyed this interview with this awesome, awesome artist and super cool person. This was a super fun interview to do, and Cassandra had a lot of new stuff to share with us all.
I hope you all will check her out. You can find her at:
Her Deviant Art Site
Happy Reading everyone!