VSS Illustrator Interviews

In doing these interviews, we hope to give you a glimpse into our artist members' unique personalities, a new perspective on their wonderful work, and the opportunity to know what inspires them!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cynthia Narcisi

This week on the interview series we are featuring Cynthia Narcisi. Cyn has a natural style perfectly suited to storytelling. Be sure to check out her website www.cynnarcisi.com and blog www.cynnarcisi.blogspot.com

How did you get started in illustration?
With a bit of luck, a lot of determination, and support from my friends and family!

What is your favorite medium? Can you describe your usual work process for us?
I don’t have a favorite medium. There’s a few I know I don’t like. Acrylics, for example. I never clicked with that medium. I enjoy watercolor with colored pencil very much. For the past couple of months I’ve gone back to just sketching with an HB pencil and loving the simplicity of the medium. It reflects the ways I’m trying to live life more simply lately, more grounded.

Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Which comes first for you?
Yes, I write and the process is definitely one of give and take. I might be daydreaming and an idea for a story will float into my brain, and it’ll be words, not pictures necessarily. And then I’ll start typing a plot, or a character description, or whatnot. Then I immediately follow with sketches. And sometimes those sketches will start to take the plot further, or away from what I had intended. So it begins with words, then I develop the story through sketches, then go back to words again, then back to sketching and maybe re-working the story…it’s just how my brain works. 

Do you illustrate full time or do you also have a day job?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life?
Fortunately, I’ve always been able to make a living doing art or creative gigs of some sort while continuing to develop my personal works. The balance with different aspects of my daily life has always happened naturally. My husband is totally supportive, and he’s a musician so he understands the need for individual space and time to create.

Where do you live? 
I live in Evanston, IL about ¾ mile from Lake Michigan. Evanston and Chicago are my studio, my playground, my workspace. I love living here. I’m from Chicago and lived in the city nearly all my life.   I used to want to leave and maybe we will one day, but I’m happy here. I would be happy anywhere.

Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences?
I had formal art training at Columbia College Chicago (graduated ’98), and I’ve also taken continuing education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I definitely feel like I learned more through my own explorations of different subject matter and materials. But I’m grateful for my formal education the foundations it provided.

Please let us know your website.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Yoga and meditation, and lots of out door activities like biking and hiking. 

What job would you like to have if you weren’t an artist?
Art isn’t a job to me. It’s what I do, and miraculously, I get paid for it.

Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started?
Have gratitude for all opportunities that come to you.
Do non-art related things to bring some balance to your career.
Don’t isolate yourself in your studio.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I have another website which still uses my maiden name, www.cynthiacummensart.com, which features the work I’ve done for Lucasfilm and various trading card companies. You can also follow me on Twitter, @cynnarcisi.  I also have art blog which features lots of sketches that you might not see on my site. I also blog about spirituality, Yoga, and meditation, all of which are a huge part of my life.  www.cynnarcisi.blogspot.com


  1. Wonderful interview. I Like your standing tree pose there for yoga. I love doing that too. It is so darn relaxing.

  2. It is important to point the "not isolation theme", I agree. Beautiful riding girl!

  3. Awesome interview Cyn! Cool yoga pose and your illustrations are so much fun:) Go girl!

  4. What a great interview! I checked out Cyn's blog too (I'm a fellow seeker.) She truly is an artist of heart and mind.

  5. Cyn, Love your illos. So bright and happy. I love the octopus one! As a fellow creative (writing only - no art here), I definitely need to follow your advice about balance in my life. It sure is hard, though.