Interview with Caleb Cleveland
Caleb Cleveland is a freelance artist based in San Diego. His career began in theatre designing sets and costumes and has included illustration, furniture design, comics, and concept art for video games.
His clients include Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Chaosium Inc., The Jim Henson Company, and BOOM! Studios. He teaches at Laguna College of Art and Design.
What projects are you currently working on? I’m currently Lead Art Director at Hunters Entertainment, a tabletop role-playing game company. I’m also producing my first creator-owned comic, Kate Kanaveral.
How has this pandemic affected or shifted your practice? Online instruction is difficult under the best of circumstances, but when teaching art it becomes especially challenging. I’ve had to rely on the patience and participation of my students more than normal in order to make sure they get the most from the experience, but even then I haven’t been able to fully take advantage of the tools at my disposal. I’m still learning about what’s possible when you’re separated from your students.
What has your journey been like as an artist? My journey as an artist has been rife with gaps and false starts, but always it’s led me where I believe I’ve needed to go – inspiring others to create the best art they can. I’ve been focused on narrative my entire life – in college, I designed sets and costumes for theater, watching the paintings I made walking around on stage. After college, I reverted back to what always drew most of my attention – illustration. Pulp and fantasy art was my initial calling, but as I refined my voice I started to see other motifs start to emerge, patterns that weren’t intended but nevertheless led back to very satisfying origins.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists? Talent is overrated – if anything, it can be misleading, making people with an affinity towards artistic expression lazy or reticent towards learning. Discipline and dedication, no matter how you might measure yourself, is paramount if you want to achieve mastery at any creative pursuit. Above all, learn to be patient – take risks, embrace failure; with your peers, with your artistic progress, with yourself.