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Interview with Cameo, artist of the VP community

Discussion in 'Interviews' started by cpvr, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. cpvr
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    cpvr Owner and Founder Administrator

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    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 can’t even remember for sure anymore) and my mother told me never to give out my real name on the internet. So, I didn’t. While I don’t 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 didn’t want to start over again from scratch. My future novels will be published under that alias as well.

    I am currently 31 years old. I’m 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), I’m 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 can’t deal with numbers. It wasn’t 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. Don’t 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, I’m ashamed at what I called “good†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. You’ve 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 – 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 – 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 girls’ escaped rabbit at his hands – who had been in his garden) he decides it is war between them. It’s meant to be an idea I’d love to see made into a b-movie. You know, the cheesy horror flick with the madman on a rampage – 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 don’t 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 don’t know all of them and I can’t 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 “chill†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 sister’s name. She’s a “real†artist when compared to me. She likes to get “in†to her art. If she can get messy, all the better. She sculpts, tries new mediums, does work with found objects, and can’t stick to one style or method to save her life. Yes, we work together for powerpets and on My Child’s Adventure, an animated interactive storybook commission site we are trying to put together. I’m only missing a sound person. We used to be called “The Sisters†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, she’s 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) – Although I did a lousy job using stock brick textures, the rest of this painting is … 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/2...metal___painting_by_cameoanderson-d37d3cz.jpg

    ----(BUDDY THE HUSKY CHERITY POSTER)- This one I don’t 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. That’s the popular vote lol.
    http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2012/146/e/d/buddy_commission_by_cameoanderson-d516vd4.jpg

    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 I’d 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 doesn’t have to work for something, they just don’t appreciate it like they do if they have to pay or trade. So, I don’t 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 – it became wytheria). We both did pets, items, flash maps and battle enemies – 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 :D

    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 that’s quite good. It’s because there’s 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?
    ---I’m not really into petsite politics (which is why even though I work for powerpets, I can’t tell you too much about the site’s personal business) so I don’t know hwo Neopets runs their company and whether or not I’d approve of it (not that they’d care if I didn’t 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 childrens’ destination. My only real beef with it is that I just can’t get involved in the plot. It’s 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, I’m 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. That’s 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 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have respect for yourself and your work. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Do only free/low cost jobs you’re interested in and have time for. Don’t stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no. Branch out. Draw things you wouldn’t normally draw or aren’t 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 doesn’t have to be anything final and you don’t have to show it off to anyone. You can even delete it or throw it away when you’re 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 don’t pull all nighters if I can help it. I’ve grown out of the whole being up all night thing. It makes me miserable. If I *HAD* to I would, but I don’t. 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?

    --- We’ve seen her more than once, lol. I guess she’s famous around the art world, but to Desi and I, she’s 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!

    ----She’s an awesome person, full of spunk, who speaks her mind. Don’t tick her off. But she’s 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 didn’t step on anyone’s 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. I’d like to have more novels published and I’d like to improve my art (that’s a never ending quest). I don’t really *like* the town I live in ,but it is my hometown, and it’s 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 – I don’t know how I rate compared to other artists, but I have always been sort of a shadow lurker. I don’t 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, I’d say ABSOLUTELY! ;) That’s highly unrealistic (for now) but I wouldn’t 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 wouldn’t 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. It’s much more challenging to work as a freelancer, but the “free†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 don’t do game commissions often because I’m just not a detail oriented person. I can whip something out, but it almost always has little things here and there I didn’t 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 I’m 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]It’s fair for the amount of time I put into them, though I could do better on other markets. I don’t back down on pricing often because I don’t *need* to sell my work. So, if something doesn’t 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 I’ve 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, I’m 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, doesn’t make it RIGHT to do so. Everyone has different views, but, I’m very disappointed at how popular a certain pet site (that is easily mistaken for a children’s game) features cutting/suicide. This is not a joke or a topic I think appropriate for a children’s game. I don’t really think it’s 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 anyone’s life who lets him. As for God’s role, well, he didn’t give me any natural ‘gifts’ 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?

    ----He’s a flaky, crazy nutjob. No, I’m just kidding. I think I’ve been talking to CPVR for 5 years or so. At least, I’ve been around VPL that long, maybe longer. I didn’t do a lot of personal chatting with CPVR (or anyone else on this forum, really) so I can’t say that I “know†anyone too well here. But I’ve been a part of the community and known his name for years. He’s 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.:style
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  2. Jimmy
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    Jimmy Member VPL Member

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    @cpvr Man you always do a hell of a job when you interview someone ^^
    That was a great read, i enjoyed it a lot and i think @cameo is a wonderful artist :)

    I wish to one day be able to do beautiful digital art like that :/
    outstanding job c:
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  3. Gabby
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    Gabby Happy to help! Administrator

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    @cameo, you are one of the coolest people I know. Thank you so much for being apart of this community and being apart of my life. I love you. Don't stop what you're doing, you are gold.
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  4. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    You guys are awesome, too. I always thought VPL was a very encouraging community (something I should have mentioned up there). No matter how "bad" someone is, there is always advice offered, not criticism. It's all done in such a friendly, positive manner and I think that's something we can all be proud of here.
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  5. bird
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    bird Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    Awesome interview *u* I love taking a peek into the lives of other artists owo love your art, @cameo!
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  6. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    @bird - I took some liberties when answering questions and gave more details to keep it interesting. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I didn't want to come across boring or pompous so I tried to watch what I said :) It was so very kind of cpvr to honor me with an interview :)
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  7. Corleone
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    Corleone Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    Both @cpvr and @cameo are cool chizzles! Great interview, I like how chill it felt, like a conversation between good friends.
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  8. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    Thank you! I like being chill :)
  9. cpvr
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    cpvr Owner and Founder Administrator

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    Ya, that's the way I thought about it as well. @cameo is such a sweetheart. It amazes me how much her art has grown over the years. It's like watching a little baby grow up. :style Thanks bro, I like being a chilled-out person. ^^
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  10. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    o.o Well, I'll try and get over the fact that @cpvr just called me sweetheart and compared me to a baby when I betcha I'm a few years older than him lol.
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  11. cpvr
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    cpvr Owner and Founder Administrator

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    I've learned so much from you! =D I didn't mean it a bad way - its just that you're so sweet, you remind me of a baby! <3 *huggles*
    And of course, I think you're a lot older than me. Which is why you're one of my role models!:style
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  12. Sid12192
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    Sid12192 Member VPL Member

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    really important question that i wanted to ask for LONG TIME.
    what happened to your pet site that u were making?
    i was following ur temp boards but all the sudden it went out. lol this was over year or 2 years ago right?
  13. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    Wow, I'm not sure what temp boards... oh wait... yeah we were going to re-open it becuase James was going to help us do it. Then he backed out deciding he wanted to work on a project from the ground up (we already had a good deal of the framework/storyline and stuff done becuase the site was already released once before. We just needed help with the interface.

    Wytheria was ahead of its time. We had interactive site characters (conversations in which they'd treat you differently based on your gender and what you said to them), explore grids with random battles/items/events, flash animated cutscenes, boss battles, hidden worlds, and an actual RPG plot (not just that the island was being invaded by xxx, but an actual detailed plot). We had to close it down becuase we didn't have an easy enough interface and our lazy players didn't want to look around for things. I was very dissappointed becuase we had all fhe features people had been asking for long before most other sites did, but nobody appreciated it. I still have every bit of the site, of course, and Desiree and I might re-open it again but we won't market it to Virtual pet game plaers. We'll market it where we should have in the first place: the RPG market (though now it won't be as impressive. But back then, we did good, darn it!). RPGers don't mind complicated battle interfaces.

    I was super sad to close it down, but for all the work, time, and love we put into it only to unsuccessfully try to balance between RPG and petsite crowds (we had petsite players complaining about the complexity of the game and RPG players complaining the art was too cute and there were too many pets lol). It just... didn't work out. *pulls hair out*

    as you can see, it drove me half crazy. We went so unnoticed.
  14. Sid12192
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    Sid12192 Member VPL Member

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    ohhhh
    i think i got the wrong person lol
    i was talking about person named chicachi or something like that.
  15. cameo
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    cameo Approved Artist Approved Artist VPL Member

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    Ahh. I was going to say.... wytheria was open for a long time. We did alright, but not alright enough to warrent the time and effort.
  16. Jokie
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    Jokie New Member VPL Member

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    @cameo is like a sister to me :) So is Desi. They are both amazing artists and amazing people. Great interview!
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