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Toronto ComicCon Artist Profile: Deena Pagliarello aka Deena Draws

In a previous post, I mentioned my appreciation of Artist Alley at Toronto ComicCon. Illustrator, Deena Pagliarello aka Deena Draws is one of many artists you will encounter in that enclave over the three days of the convention.

donna g: What is it about Toronto ComicCon that keeps you coming back?

Avatar created by Deena Pagliarello
Deena Pagliarello: I started attending Fan Expo in 2009 as a con goer. I always felt that there was a great sense of community among people who enjoy the nerdier things in life. I had a couple of friends who had tables there that year and I thought I should give it a shot. In 2011, I shared a table with my talented friend Amy* and we loved it, so when they introduced Toronto ComicCon in March, I decided to try my hand at that one. And truth be told, it's a lot more manageable size and stress wise but still remains fun.
donna g: Organizing for a Con must be nerve-wracking. How do you know decide what to bring? Do you focus on a theme or go with a variety of subject matters? 

Deena Pagliarello:  Ha, it definitely can be. Something that a friend of mine told me when I first started doing them was "Never take it personally". At a con, it's so subjective, in terms of what people are looking to shop for. I basically make pieces that I would want to see, and the last couple of years I decided to create some nostalgic prints, Princess bride, Labyrinth, Alien, She-Ra, and Jem. I grew up watching these characters and I figure "I loved these films and shows as a kid and still love them today, maybe someone else loves them too" Over the years, I've made a lot of prints with DC, Marvel and various pop culture characters, and I'm always striving to better myself with my work and reaching a wider audience. At the con I'll be selling various prints of all sizes along with some magnets and necklaces, too.

donna g: I noticed an Ursula postcard on Etsy. Is that something you decided to create especially for Toronto ComicCon?

Disney's Ursula by Deena Pagliarello
Deena Pagliarello: Actually, I created three new prints for this con, Ursula is one, followed by an armoured Wonder Woman and a print of Agent Carter. I like to try to create at least 1 new print per con, it sets a challenge for myself and allows me to create some new product. I did the Ursula because I got on a Disney kick last year, creating Frozen and Tangled prints, but I  think a Disney Villain print series would be kinda cool, so expect more Disney Villains!

donna g: When did you decide to make the move to digital art?

Deena Pagliarello:  I started working fully digital a couple of years ago. Before, I would draw out a sketch, then I would ink it. I've got these fantastic brush pens that can create some great  and unique line art. I then would proceed to scan in my image and colour it in Photoshop, including the line work. In recent years, I've gotten a better handle of Photoshop and my pen and tablet so the majority of the work I produce now is all digital. I still love to sketch and colour traditionally. Who knows, maybe I'll tire of the digital world and return to traditional work sometime.


Wonder Woman by Deena Pagliarello

 donna g: Will you be doing any commissions at Toronto ComicCon?
Deena Pagliarello: I only started taking commissions last year. It took me a really long time to gain enough confidence to do them at conventions. It's nerve wracking  to create a piece for someone in a matter of an hour or two. And after that, you hope to God that they like it because I've definitely have had both kinds of reactions to's much nicer when they're ecstatic with it. But I plan on doing them again this year. 

donna g: How do you deal with mental and physical difficulty of sitting at a table for hours a day for three days? Do you ever get bored, tired of talking, or answering the same questions over and over?

Deena Pagliarello:  It can be a little taxing being behind a booth all weekend, though when you get out onto the floor to grab a tea or get a bathroom break the hordes of people immediately make you want to get back to your table. It could get boring too, but having a table mate or working on commissions takes the edge off being behind a table for so long. I have to remind myself to drink loads of water and have lots of small things to snack on too, so I'm not so thirsty and hungry by day's end. And as for the questions, I never really tire of them. Most people are genuinely curious about my work and how I create it, I'm only happy to answer them and maybe provide them with some insight into an illustrator's work.

Deena will be at booth AO5 at Toronto ComicCon, March 20 - 22. Metro Toronto Convention Centre.



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