Hello Cameo, please introduce yourself. How old are you? Do you go by your real name as well?
My pen name is Cameo Anderson. I chose it when I was a little girl (15 or 17 years ago, I canít even remember for sure anymore) and my mother told me never to give out my real name on the internet. So, I didnít. While I donít like the alias nearly as much anymore, I still use it because after 10 years I had made it known as an artist and I didnít want to start over again from scratch. My future novels will be published under that alias as well.
I am currently 31 years old. Iím single, female, legally blind (I have one vulture eye like in Tell Tale Heart that I always thought was cool but ulitimately made me a social outcast), Iím 5 foot 1 inch and I like Taco Bell.
At 19, I had a computer repair business that did alright, but I made some mistakes (as you can only imagine a teenager would without a mentor, even a mature teen as I was for the most part). So, I dropped that and went to college once, then switched to a new school and a new major. I worked at a helpdesk as a phone technician with my computer repair cert (got that at 18 because I was a nerd), and I was ultimately focused on computers before I dumped then in favor of art.
1: What sparked your decision to become an artist? You're also a writer, right? Could you tell us about some things that you've wrote about?
---- I went to school for computer programming right out of high school and discovered I suck at it. I canít deal with numbers. It wasnít actually the computer programming part that really challenged me, but the required course (business school) in Accounting. I swear I screwed up my math with or without a calculator all the time. I rarely got the same total on a column more than once. When I did, it was usually the wrong answer. Donít ask me why. I consider myself an intelligent person, but something is blocking my mathematics abilities.
-----Anyhow, I got a bit off track there. Long story short, I dropped out of college for that and chose to go to art school in Chicago with my sister. Everyone (all my life) told me what a wonderful artist I was. So, I believed it. Well, turns out, they lied. Looking back on my art now, Iím ashamed at what I called ďgoodĒ right up until recently! People have power. Because I believed I was a good artist (even though facts said otherwise) I became a good artist. I drew and drew until good just started to come out. Youíve got 1,000 bad drawings in your system, so the more you draw, the faster you can get to the good stuff!
----As for my writing, I have published one novel and one short story. I have about 6 short stories out for consideration right now (largely in the science fiction genre), and I am working on a novel series (the first one is almost finalized Ė editing), I have 4 more already written to follow it that will also need editing.
----The novel is about a former rock guitarist who now lives on the streets Ė unaware he has a son with a special birth defect that has made them both a target by a mysterious religious organization. It is a science fiction/fantasy story in an urban setting.
---The short story is about a gardener whose growing more than plants on his plot. When teenagers destroy his crop (in revenge for the death of a little girlsí escaped rabbit at his hands Ė who had been in his garden) he decides it is war between them. Itís meant to be an idea Iíd love to see made into a b-movie. You know, the cheesy horror flick with the madman on a rampage Ė but it has a science fiction twist.
2: You currently work for Powerpets, what is it like working for Tony and Liz?
----Powerpets has been a recurring position for several years now. I donít work for them exclusively, but they and Exhibited-Sim are the only pet sites I do much work for. I know there are plenty of rumors going on about Liz and Tony. I donít know all of them and I canít tell you which ones are true. They keep it on a fairly professional level with me most of the time. In my experience, Tony is ďchillĒ and there is a reason Sweetfire is called that. I enjoy working for them and I think we have a good relationship. It could be better. All three of us have made mistakes. But I try to move past them and I think they do, too.
3: You have a sister that's also an artist, do you two work together a lot?
---Desiree Joy is my sisterís name. Sheís a ďrealĒ artist when compared to me. She likes to get ďinĒ to her art. If she can get messy, all the better. She sculpts, tries new mediums, does work with found objects, and canít stick to one style or method to save her life. Yes, we work together for powerpets and on My Childís Adventure, an animated interactive storybook commission site we are trying to put together. Iím only missing a sound person. We used to be called ďThe SistersĒ by pretty much everyone in school. This used to bother her, but I always loved it. I like to be a part of a team, one of two, a pair, someone that is always there and someone you can be cool with. But, sheís the littler sister, and wants her own identity, so I try to let her work on her own projects once in a while lol.
4: In your opinion, what are some of your best art pieces?
--- (HEART OF METAL BOOK COVER) Ė Although I did a lousy job using stock brick textures, the rest of this painting is Ö still impressive to me. But I spent 24 hours on it total, so, it took me far longer than anything else I have in my gallery. http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/f/20...on-d37d3cz.jpg
----(BUDDY THE HUSKY CHERITY POSTER)- This one I donít know what makes it better than any of my other pet portraits, but it got an obscene number of favorites when compared with anything else in my gallery, so, it must be special. Thatís the popular vote lol.
5: When you first learned about VPL, what did you think? Did it help your art career?
----I thought it was pretty cool. Then, I was new to petsites in general, (I had a neopets account but Iíd never really used it) VPL helped me connect with the community and got me interested in the industry as well as make a small name for myself. I did TONS of free work back then, until I found out how unappreciated you are when you give away too much of yourself. If a person doesnít have to work for something, they just donít appreciate it like they do if they have to pay or trade. So, I donít do a lot of free work anymore, but once in a while when the mood strikes me or I get a nice letter from a petsite owner I can respect. Most of my free work goes in the direction of powerpets.
----It did help my art career. At the beginning, I was just learning how to use a tablet, so having lots of pet assignments gave me plenty of practice. Back then I was working with Billapaws (which I later purchased from James and my sister recoded Ė it became wytheria). We both did pets, items, flash maps and battle enemies Ė something I never would have had the opportunity to do if it were not for VPL. Also, I learned to be fast. Quick turn-arounds were my specialty for a long time. Thank you VPL
6: You helped us run a few contests in the past, how do you feel about Pet sites today compared to years ago?
---New owners are raising the bar (FINALLY) with features that actually ARE original and art thatís quite good. Itís because thereís more awareness and a bigger pool of talent to draw from, and I think that is a good thing! There are still a lot of carbon-copy *pets sites that all have the same blurb about adopt, battle, train and customize your very own pet on the front page lol, but overall, things are getting better!
7: What's your opinion on Neopets as a company and a pet site?
---Iím not really into petsite politics (which is why even though I work for powerpets, I canít tell you too much about the siteís personal business) so I donít know hwo Neopets runs their company and whether or not Iíd approve of it (not that theyíd care if I didnít lol). I like the art. I still think it stands up all these years later. Cute, simple, appealing, colorful. They have all the right elements for a popular childrensí destination. My only real beef with it is that I just canít get involved in the plot. Itís just a bit too young (I guess I really am not their target audience, anyhow). But I support family friendly entertainment, so as long as they provide (SAFE) quality family entertainment, Iím behind them
8: Do you feel that new artists can make it in this industry? What's your advice for upcoming artists?
--- Of course! If you lack talent, you can find plenty of people looking for free artists that will give you lots of practice opportunities. Thatís all you need to do to improve. Practice. Practice lots. Anyone can be an artist. Learn to be adaptable (draw in different styles) and learn to take critiques (even harsh ones). However, that doesnít mean you shouldnít have respect for yourself and your work. Donít let people take advantage of you. Do only free/low cost jobs youíre interested in and have time for. Donít stretch yourself. Donít be afraid to say no. Branch out. Draw things you wouldnít normally draw or arenít interested in. It really helps increase the speed at which you improve. Also, do not skip a day of drawing. Ever. If you are serious about improving, spend AT LEAST 15 minute a day sketching. It doesnít have to be anything final and you donít have to show it off to anyone. You can even delete it or throw it away when youíre done. Just so long as you DO the drawing and get in your practice time.
9: How much time do you spend drawing? Do you pull a lot of all-nighters to get work done?
----No, I donít pull all nighters if I can help it. Iíve grown out of the whole being up all night thing. It makes me miserable. If I *HAD* to I would, but I donít. I try to be a good scheduler. I draw all the time. No matter where I am, I have a sketchbook/notebook with me so I can jot down writing ideas or sketches. Whatever crosses my mind. Also, a recent study showed that people who doodle during meetings actually remember more!
10: You and another Powerpets artist, @Jokie, had a meet up a while ago, how was that experience?
--- Weíve seen her more than once, lol. I guess sheís famous around the art world, but to Desi and I, sheís a buddy. We have been doing art longer than her and we helped her start taking her art seriously (she drew just for fun for powerpets when we first met her) and now, we are proud to say, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree!
----Sheís an awesome person, full of spunk, who speaks her mind. Donít tick her off. But sheís very cool to hang out with and taught me a great way to make pigs-in-a-blanket. She and her dog, puzzle, stayed at our house for 3 months two years ago and I can tell you there is no better house guest. She helped out with cleaning, food, and did her best to make sure she didnít step on anyoneís toes. She was very polite. I would have her back any time.
11: Where do you see yourself in two years? How about 5 years?
---I bought a house, so I envision myself right where I am. Iíd like to have more novels published and Iíd like to improve my art (thatís a never ending quest). I donít really *like* the town I live in ,but it is my hometown, and itís very cheap to live here. Since I work from home, I can work from anywhere and make the same paycheck, so why not live where it costs less? That gives me more money to go have fun.
12: How many watchers do you have on DeviantArt? What's your link?
---- 191 Watchers Ė I donít know how I rate compared to other artists, but I have always been sort of a shadow lurker. I donít aim to be super popular. http://cameoanderson.deviantart.com
13: Do you feel some artists are under-paid or over-paid? What's the max you think a pet image should sell for?
---As an artist, my opinion is somewhat biased. If someone offers me, or one of my friends, $1,000 for a pet image, by goodness, Iíd say ABSOLUTELY! Thatís highly unrealistic (for now) but I wouldnít rule it out and I support an artist getting what they can out of their work. There are a lot of us, so site owners will always have a wide variety of price ranges and styles to choose from. So I wouldnít worry about any artist cornering the market.
----When you consider most artists (including me) are professional freelance, we are slightly underpaid. We have no benefits so we have to buy our own insurance and take care to save out money for taxes. Itís much more challenging to work as a freelancer, but the ďfreeĒ part of it makes up for it.
14: What are some of your art prices? Do you charge a lot? You also make flash games, right? How much do you sell those for?
---I donít do game commissions often because Iím just not a detail oriented person. I can whip something out, but it almost always has little things here and there I didnít catch that turns out are harder to fix or beyond my skill level to fix, and it just annoys everyone lol. So, I do them for myself, for friends, for fun, and for practice, but I rarely sell them. The last one I did was tetris for mistcpets, and Iím pretty sure they had someone modify it since.
----;b]I usually charge a flat rate of $20 for anything (strictly on VPL, of course). Pets, NPC, Map, battle enemy - $20. [/b]Itís fair for the amount of time I put into them, though I could do better on other markets. I donít back down on pricing often because I donít *need* to sell my work. So, if something doesnít go for the price I want, I will just hold on to it for later use. I price according to the market, however. My pet portraits are now selling for $50 each and only take about an hour or two longer than a pet. So Iíve been focusing on that and the illustration market lately.
15: In regards to Powerpets, how has the site faired in the past couple years?
---Powerpets has been doing alright. Things could always be better, but, Iím proud to be working for a company that provides family friendly entertainment that anyone of any religion, race, or age can play on without being offended. I have always believed just because you have the right to say whatever you want, do whatever you want, or put up whatever kind of site on the internet you want, doesnít make it RIGHT to do so. Everyone has different views, but, Iím very disappointed at how popular a certain pet site (that is easily mistaken for a childrenís game) features cutting/suicide. This is not a joke or a topic I think appropriate for a childrenís game. I donít really think itís appropriate for adults, either, but again that goes with free will. That is what I like best about powerpets.
16: Do you believe in God, Cameo? Do you think your faith has played a huge role in your success an artist?
-----Yes, I believe in God and I believe he plays a strong role in anyoneís life who lets him. As for Godís role, well, he didnít give me any natural Ďgiftsí in the art department. I sucked. But he did give me a family that encouraged me and belief in myself and a VERY strong willed personality that keeps me going determined along whatever path I choose.
17: How long have you known Cpvr? What is it like chatting to him?
----Heís a flaky, crazy nutjob. No, Iím just kidding. I think Iíve been talking to CPVR for 5 years or so. At least, Iíve been around VPL that long, maybe longer. I didnít do a lot of personal chatting with CPVR (or anyone else on this forum, really) so I canít say that I ďknowĒ anyone too well here. But Iíve been a part of the community and known his name for years. Heís mostly pretty cool and I like his attitude and his quest for self-improvement. If everyone worked as hard to make themselves better, the world would be so much cooler!
18: Thank you for your time, Cameo, do you have anything to say to our community members?
---I want to say that virtual pet list bailed me out of a few troubles back when I was in college. We often struggled financially and sometimes we just didn't eat. But, when I was able to sell a pet or two on vpl, it made a big difference to us. A little extra money went a long way on groceries. Thank you, VPL!
We would love to give a shoutout to @Cameo for taking the time out and allowing us to interview her! Feel free to comment and ask any questions that you'd like to see answered as well.