I’m a artist from Chicago currently traveling through Australia and beyond. I create original illustrations as well as creative resources for other artists and designers.
I’ve created commissioned art pieces over the past 8 years, primarily within the Anthropomorphic fan community. I’ve mostly pursued art as a hobby, completing pieces and attending fan conventions on the weekends, while maintaining my career as a business analyst for IT teams full time. Working on art gave me an eye for color and design, and attending conventions taught me salesmanship, while working in IT gave me a knack for perfecting processes and business savvy. The two sources of skills and perspective have been complimentary in everything I do.
My art was popular and successful wherever I showed it, but until recently I haven’t been able to take advantage of that popularity and push my skills further. Since around April 2017, I’ve paused my BA career to improve my art and UX design skills, produce more content and run my own business. While I believe the work I do during this “break” will strengthen my BA skills in the end, I also have a “now or never” mentality for my art business; Rather than always wonder what could have been, I’m taking the leap now to give my entrepreneurial spirit a go. I’m learning so much during this journey that will be immensely useful no matter where I end up.
Through my Patreon and other outlets, I’m sharing what I learn about creating art, running a business, and traveling the world. I have other projects I plan on starting in the near future. I hope to see you join me in this amazing journey I’m on.
When not making art or doing BA/UX stuff, I love to travel and see as many places as I can. The more remote and quirky and unknown, the better! Hiking, camping, and swimming are among my favorite outdoor activities. I also enjoy cooking elaborate dishes and binge watching Game of Thrones and other great TV series.
Want to know more? Check out these FAQs.
What does “Zelaphas” mean?
Zelaphas is a name I made up somewhere between my late teens and early twenties after I read the book His Dark Materials. In the book, people’s souls exist outside of their bodies and take the form of animals which represent their personality. I was so captivated by the idea that I imagined one for myself, a striped hyena, and imagined the name “Zelaphas”. Hyenas are known for their “humor” and laughing call, and striped hyenas are fairly rare and known to thrive both in groups and on their own. As a moody teenager striving for independence, identity and recognition (and having a good laugh through it all), this seemed to fit.
I’ve left a lot of “childish”, imaginative things from my past far behind me, but Zelaphas somehow always seemed to stick. The name Zelaphas might be a bit tricky in terms of branding, but when it comes to snagging domain names or usernames, I always get first dibs. My real name isn’t unique enough when it comes to search engines (there’s a Fox News sports reporter and the leader of a pro-marijuana group with my name…go figure), and many other creators have already used “Creature” or other relevant names in their branding. If you have something truly unique that you’ve stuck with for years, why not keep it?
A lot of people also ask how to pronounce it. I’ve always imagined it sounds like zeh-LAFF-us, but really, any way you want to say it is fine.
How did you learn to draw?
I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I picked up the habit early on and haven’t really stopped.
My art mostly existed in the sides of school notebooks as little doodles until I discovered the website DeviantArt in 2002. I made an account there and the supportive and active community inspired me to take my art more seriously. I also discovered Photoshop around this time and began dabbling in digital art as well. Everything I learned about Photoshop comes from the Internet and lots of trial and error, so, thanks, Net Neutrality!
While the Internet is an amazing resource, it doesn’t compare to one-on-one instruction, working with live models and other more structured forms of learning. I’ve taken short classes in everything from portrait drawing to oil painting and even a bit of street art. I’ve joined art groups in Wellington, New Zealand and gained lots of inspiration from the wealth of talent here, and sat in on a few live models or “costumed” models drawing sessions.
The bottom line is, I’m always open to trying new things, and I aim never to stop learning.
How would you describe your style?
People often comment that my style seems like a hybrid of cartoony and realistic. I’m obsessed with little details but also don’t want to be constrained by reality. I often reference from photos or trips to zoos and nature sanctuaries to learn how beasts should look, but then take lots of creative license from there.
I’ve been a big fan of artists and creatives like H. R. Geiger and Tim Burton since I was young, so their dark and twisted styles often find their influence in what I make as well.
I really love dull colors.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your art?
I would love if I could get my art to a place where I could support myself. I’m trying to experiment with t-shirt designs and prints, which you can get in my shop.
I have lots of ideas for comics or interactive, visual stories, as well as illustrated books and guides I want to write. You can let me know what ideas you want me to pursue the most and help me bring them to life through my Patreon.
Painting lavish and captivating backgrounds and designing intriguing characters are two of the biggest goals I have with the content and capability of my art.
How can I support your art?
First of all, thanks so much for even thinking of supporting me. I appreciate all the support I get.
I share my art on Patreon first before anywhere else. People who follow me on Patreon can see both WIP’s and completed pieces alike, and download tutorials and other resources at discount. Those who support me as Patrons can get other awesome rewards, too (check out the full details). So, if you like my art, want to support me, and want something cool in return, Patreon is the way to go:
If you like my art but aren’t interested in Patreon, consider buying me a cup o’ coffee. It’s only 3 bucks and easy to do.
If you’d like a custom piece for yourself, consider getting a commission. A commission from me can be anything from a quick sketch to a fully-detailed, colored piece.