Artist Feature: Jaded Dragon StudiosOctober 17, 2014
Conventions are always great for meeting people that are passionate about their art and they want to share that with you. Meeting the team at Jaded Dragon Studios was no different and we are happy that they are our newest artist feature for Fan Friday! We had the opportunity to speak with Lara about the humble beginnings of the studio, their different mediums, and a convention they put together called Art-O-Con.
When did you begin Jaded Dragon Studios?
Jaded Dragon Studios was Founded almost 11 years ago in a very small apartment in Burlington Ontario, Canada. Paul and I had just had a baby girl and were spending a lot of time at home. We spent a few months brainstorming on how we could turn our love of art into a paying, thriving business. It has taken 11 years of hard work and sacrifice for both of us to reach this far. That being said it has been super fun along the way. We have networked and made new friends, met movie stars and Illustrated children’s books and worked some of the best shows in Canada. It has changed our life in such amazing ways. We really love what we do.
I find it interesting that Jaded Dragon is a collection of three artists, as well as Sheridan co-op students who have the chance to showcase their work. When did you decide to start helping students and how did you come to the decision that was something you wanted to do?
The three Artists you speak of Are Paul (Pablo) Schultz my husband, Alexandria Maya Schultz my daughter and myself, Lara Aiken. We work as a team and that makes us a closer more level family. Part two of your question was about the Sheridan students, who over the years have come to work with us and learn “real world applications” of the skills they were taught. Their Co-Op was done at our studio as part of a program at Sheridan. Over the years we have mentored 6 students in total. Paul and I both went to Sheridan and after a few years of building our business we wanted to give back and help out other students. All our Co-Op’s ended their time with our studio at Fan Expo selling the wares they made well with us. We were super proud of them!
You have different mediums as well including illustration, graphic novels and sculptures. Are you thinking of branching into something else next as well?
My brain is filled with ideas and they come at me all the time like a freight train. I have dabbled in a ton of different art projects over the years. From silver work to large wall murals, from jewelry making to becoming a colourist on book projects and 100’s of things in between, I just feel a drive to do as much as I can for as long as I can. As for next project we are Illustrating 2 children’s books and 2 graphic novels and a 5 piece comic series right now so we have our hands full, but my brain will start me down a new path sometime soon I just know it.
In 2012 you began to take on the massive task of running a convention for artists; Art-O-Con, a concept which I love since many larger conventions have vendors overshadowing independent artists. Was this the reason for the main focus?
We love artists and wanted to bring veterans and new-bloods together for the love of art! I agree that large vendors at cons can very much overshadow artists who are there for the love of their craft and to support their families. We created a show for all kinds of artists to sell their wares! Thank you also for saying “take on the massive task of running a convention”! Most Conventions have large staff or money behind them. Paul and I did this show out of pure love and out of our own pocket. Most of the time I worked 18 hour days neglecting everything around me including my family and my art. Paul was working full time at a restaurant so I had to step up and do double shifts. I loved doing the show and all the artists were excited at how the first one went. So… year two was a must! It was 100 artists and was massive to run for me and way more expensive than I had thought it would be.
We had hundreds of letters we had to sort through and tons of people requesting favors I felt a bit stressed but the show itself went amazing with only a few hiccups. I had a few friends who really love us step up as our staff on the day and it was an amazing success! After that… People wanted a show number three and so did we. Even in burn out mode, I was trying to set a new date. Long story short, we had a huge issue and lost our venue and date. But you know what? We took it as a sign. We now are in the most happy most level place we have ever been. We are doing what we love and Paul now works 4 days a week at our studio in a few years he will be full time here like I am. We Love Art-O-Con very much but are a little bit glad for the rest this year has given.
Will we see an Art-O-Con 2015?
I think you will see another Art-O-Con but as of a date we are not sure yet. We want to have Paul full time in the studio first so he can split the load and we need to find staff that can work with us on tasks before the show. If these things happen then you will see another show in the near distant future!
What is one of your favorite pieces of art that you’ve worked on recently?
I think the large Pyramid Head painting is one we are very proud of. I love to paint, it’s like true freedom of the mind stuff for me! Also very proud of my digital colour work to Paul’s line work. Oh and right now I am working on a last supper/Labyrinth mash-up that I think will be so cool when it’s done!
What is your most popular work when you travel to conventions?
I think it’s a toss up between our Doctor Who stuff and our Sherlock art or our Glass magnets. People seem to really dig our 6 types of Cootie Catchers depicting things like Game of Thrones and the Ghostbusters as well.