The Talenthouse Community is jam packed full of creative excellence. We'll be featuring a #TalenthouseArtist every month to delve into their creative process, inspiration, tools and tips. Know someone who we should feature, or want to recommend your fine self? Pop a note in the comments or find us on Twitter or Instagram @Talenthouse.

This month's featured artist is the incredibly talented and wise Cheryl Savala. Cheryl's journey with Talenthouse started softly, until the perfect creative brief came along that suited her art skills to a tee. After submitting to a few briefs, the team noticed (and loved) her artistic style, and she was invited to work on a Closed Brief with Talenthouse. What happened next was an absolute delight for creativity, artwork and bank balances! Getting creatives seen and paid makes us truly happy.

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Hi Cheryl! Tell us about how you got involved with Talenthouse...
I first heard about Talenthouse from an illustrator friend. I was immediately intrigued by seeing so much high-caliber work, many from professional artists I followed on social media.

After years of directing branding campaigns, I was eager to return to my illustration and entertainment design roots. So after reviewing the creative brief for Birds of Prey, I decided to give it a shot. I saw it as a chance to step away from conventional entertainment marketing and explore a more illustrative approach. Although I was not selected as a finalist, it was just as rewarding to play on my terms.

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Cheryl's Birds of Prey submission

So you were enjoying the process of submitting to briefs without becoming a finalist? That’s awesome.
Yes, it’s so much fun! No boundaries. No pressure. And honestly, there’s no risk of failure. I believe the win comes from creating. The project I did become a finalist came as a total surprise. 

I challenge myself to keep my skills sharp and creative eye focused by working on self-directed 30 Day Projects. I develop an overall theme, then create and post a new piece to Instagram for 30 consecutive days. In March 2020, my 30 Day Project was designing and illustrating posters for 30 films still in production. I also wanted to pay homage to early poster artists, so each piece was inspired by the portraiture and typography from the 1920s.

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The 30 films I chose ranged from blockbuster thrillers like No Time To Die to indie film dramas like The Roads Not Taken. At the time, I had no idea so many of their release dates would be delayed for months, even years, due to the pandemic.

One of the posters I most enjoyed was Jungle Cruise, so when I saw Talenthouse’s creative brief for the same film, I thought, ‘what perfect timing.’ I returned to my illustration, finessed some details, and added the official title treatment. Then I hit the submit button, and lo and behold – the right door opened at the right time. I became a selected creator.

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The dream!
Right? It’s exciting to connect artists with global brands through a community like Talenthouse. It’s the perfect mix of technology and artistry that wasn’t accessible a decade ago. 

Speaking of technology, what kind of tech and software do you use when you’re working?
I’ve been a Mac girl since the 90s when the screen was the size of a postcard and pixels came only in black and white. I was also an early adopter of Adobe and Wacom products. When I was younger, I used to play the drums and the piano, so I liken my approach to holding a drumstick in one hand while the other is locked on the keyboard. I also move between Procreate and Photoshop and hope to work on a Cintiq someday. 

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Through Talenthouse, you sold a massive 17 pieces of work to TNT through a closed brief for Snowpiercer art. How did that happen?
After submitting a few projects to Talenthouse briefs and becoming a finalist for Jungle Cruise, the team approached me directly to submit to a closed brief for Snowpiercer. The funny thing was, I was on vacation with my daughter when the email came through, but it sounded so fun. Dystopian sci-fi is right up my alley, so I turned in my pitch in less than four days and figured if the team liked my concept – great! And if I wasn’t selected, I still enjoyed working on it. 

A few days after the deadline, Talenthouse emailed saying they wanted to work with me. But rather than the idea I’d pitched, they asked for a series of portraits in the painterly style I’m most known for. From there, no pun intended – things snowballed. 

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So you were commissioned to create work straight away? [NB, Talenthouse’s Closed Briefs involve a select number of Creatives chosen from our community who are invited to create work for a set fee, with the potential of then creating more work for further financial compensation]
Initially, I submitted four portraits, then unexpectedly, the team said TNT wanted to commission more. In two weeks, my commission went from four portraits to seventeen.

Your work is beautiful, how could they not want more!?
That is very kind to say. I see beauty in every face and enjoy capturing it through color and brushstroke. Like many artists, I started young and made tons of missteps along the way, but I’ve stuck with it because it’s genuinely what I love to do most! 

And you got paid!
Creating work with a reputable, high-caliber business like Talenthouse could not have had a better experience. Contracts are written. Agreements are made. There’s a high level of respect between the artist, project managers, and brand directors, which is essential.

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So for Creatives who are reading this and are thinking “Well damn, I want a brand to purchase loads of work from me through Talenthouse!”, what advice would you give them?
I believe in two essential values…visibility and credibility. Create new work as often as possible to improve your skills. Then regularly share your work on social platforms and participate with creative briefs like Talenthouse.

The more active you are, the more visible you become. Credibility comes from remaining consistent and supporting the work of other artists and brands you love. And if you want to make art based on someone else’s story, character, or branded IP, that’s cool too.

Always show respect by putting credit where credit is due and avoid profiting from the sale of unlicensed work. 

Cheryl, we salute you. See more of Cheryl's incredible work on her website or over on her Instagram.

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