The Myth Master interviews Whitney Mattila

Whitney Mattila is a freelance illustrator living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After receiving a Bachelors of Fine Arts at the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, IN, and a Post-Baccalaureate degree at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minneapolis, MN, her expertise at drawing things other than her cat has increased. However, an artist is always growing, so she will continue to fine-tune her ability to draw things that are not cats doing dumb things.

However, tonight she finds herself in the company of one the world’s most dreaded beings. No more warm and fuzzy feelings here. Let us all welcome the maestro of the macabre, the dean of mean and provider of pure punishment…

The Myth Master!

Now then….Let’s get to work.

Myth Master: Where do your best ideas come from?

Whitney Mattila: I know it's a cliché, but sometimes my best ideas come from what's around me. A lot of the reasons my pictures often revolve around children, animals, and nature is that I'm seeing that every day, and I realize things that I find may be a good thing to try to put down on paper. My best work often comes from something that makes me laugh. Others are through stories, mythology, folklore, music, even dreams. The space between being awake and being asleep often holds some of the best ideas I've had.

MM: Some of my best ideas come from people too…dead ones.

MM: Are you someone who; like me, would admit to having a darker side?

WM: Of course!

MM: Really? *Eyebrow arched* Do tell!

WM: Well, perhaps not as dark as yours! But, some of the best children's books deal with darker issues; stories are our way since the dawn of time to deal with things we can't normally wrap our minds around. As an illustrator, my work often deals with stories, and sometimes, it's the darker ones that provide the most thoughtful conversions from words to images. Of course, there's also the fact that it's sometimes humorous to illustrate an image where a person can't decide whether to laugh or to wince sympathetically, like, well, a knight facing an overgrown grumpy dragon cat. There's just this idea that the knight didn't exactly sign up for a situation like this; he wanted his big green fire-breathing dragon.

MM: What are your aspirations/goals for your future, should you survive this encounter?

WM: If I do manage to survive this encounter with Lady Death, my goal would be to... work entirely freelance, to be honest. It's a dream that I'm at a place in my life that I have time for it in the first place, but my goal would be to be able to support myself on it. It's a long climb for new faces, but I'm enjoying it.

MM: Please tell us about some of your past works.

MM: While you're at it have this sandwich I made you.

WM: ...I do hope that's a turkey sandwich, uh. Yes! I started out doing some magazine covers for a local company named Thrive for an adoption magazine they were doing. In 2005, I did illustrations for Steve Bolin and Kevin Adam's novel 'Black Rising'. The next few years I mostly focused on personal projects alongside college work when I was up in Minneapolis, MN for my post-baccalaureate degree. My work was picked for the 2008 edition of Illustration West, a competition sponsored by SILA (Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles). Right now, I've been doing personal commissions for people, as well as small projects here and there, all while being an auntie and various other roles I didn't have when I was going to college. It's been a fun ride. ...You can put away the sandwich now. I've... already eaten.

MM: Greatest fear? Or what creeps you out the most? Aside from this interview of course.

WM: Your interview is getting up there! I'm quivering in my boots! ...Well, er, when I was a kid, strangely enough, I was scared of tornadoes. I still get antsy as an adult when caught outside in a thunderstorm, though I love to watch them when I'm inside. There's just something so unnerving and yet so fascinating about something that dips down from the sky and swerves around unpredictably. You think it has a mind, but in reality, it's just currents of air sliding against each other in just the right way. I remember when that tornado went through my hometown in 2002; my brother lost his house, yet it skipped over the family business like it was playing hopscotch. Scary stuff.

MM: Meat or veggies?

WM: Both! I can't imagine having to choose between either one. I suppose if I had to choose, it'd be veggies. All those varieties of onions, spinach, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and man. Garlic. I would not be able to live without garlic. I practically was a vegetarian when I was at college, canned beans were less expensive than meat.

MM: So if you were eating a sandwich made from a cat’s dead corpse, you would know the difference between it and veggies?

WM: Was that what you offered me? When they said to never eat anything given to you over here, they weren't kidding!

MM: Hardest thing for you to create?

WM: Cars, modern buildings, things that normally don't have organic shapes. Anything that requires me to do straight lines just awakens my need to make everything just *perfect*, and things just go downhill when that happens. It'll never be just right for me. Meanwhile, subjects like cats defy the laws of reality - no straight lines unless they're reaching for something they really want.

MM: Favorite medium?

WM: Watercolor. It forces me to just sit back and let it do its own thing. Even blank spots become interesting when you put a wash of some color on it, since every color is going to do something different depending on what's in the pigment. It also forces you to accept your decisions; with digital work, I've found myself so addicted to the 'undo' button that the finished product always looks too stiff to me.

MM: Mine is blood. Simple and so easy to extract.

WM: Yes, but it's horribly stinky once it dries. Trust me; in art college, you hear *horror stories*.

MM: Well Whitney, realizing I can kill you on a whim, is there anything else you’d like to add that will entertain our readers and perhaps convince me not to kill you?

WM:  I've got three words for you: 20 foot catdragon. It wants to know what *exactly* is in that sandwich.

MM:  Well then, very nicely played.  Your creative touch has inspired me. Perhaps I will provide you the antidote to the poison that was also in the sandwich... then again… maybe not.

MM:  Be warned all who create and are unfortunate enough to find yourself in my grasp.  I am coming and I bring death with me.

About the Columnist

The true origin of the Myth Master is unknown. Popular theory suggests he was once human, over 1,500 years old, when he learned the secret of immortality in the ancient tome of the Necronomicon. He currently stalks unsuspecting victims in the hopes of obtaining “entertaining” interviews for his column.
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