My guest today is the multi-talented Raven Quinn! Raven is a singer/songwriter of rock/pop/alternative music (with a beautiful voice!), and brilliant fantasy illustrator, having illustrated for Becket’s Key the Steampunk Vampire Girl series. She will also be making an appearance at Undead Con on Halloween in New Orleans, where will be together on a panel. I can’t wait to meet her!
Please join me in welcoming Raven to the Guest Artist Program!
If you are interested in participating in the program, you can submit here.
1. Tell us your name, and a link to where we can find you (blog, Facebook, etc).
My name is Raven Quinn, and you can find me at my official websites:
Or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/officialravenquinn
I am sort of a hybrid creative person. I am a singer/songwriter of rock/pop/alternative music, and I am also a fantasy illustrator. I’ll tell you a bit about the work I’ve done in each category. 🙂
My first full-length album (self-titled Raven Quinn) was released in 2010. On that album, I was insanely fortunate to have some of my all-time favorite musicians contribute to many of the tracks: Josh Freese (NIN, A Perfect Circle, Poe) on drums, and George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Souls of We) on lead guitar.
My second full-length album Not in Vain is about to released on October 7th, 2014 – and I’d say the overall tone is a bit darker and more personal than the first record. Both albums were co-written with and produced by Juno award winning producer/engineer (and my good friend and collaborator) Dan Brodbeck.
Outside of album releases, I have three songs (“Catalyst”, “Decadence”, and “The Window”) available to play in the Rock Band video game series: Rock Band 2, 3, and Rock Band Blitz on Xbox and Playstation platforms. The songs can be downloaded in the Rock Band Network Store.
I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to illustrate 2 books so far in Becket’s fantastic KEY THE STEAMPUNK VAMPIRE GIRL series. The novels in the KEY series are written for children, but are thoroughly enjoyable to read at ANY age (Becket’s work reminds me much of Roald Dahl, in that sense.)
Here are links to both books:
KEY THE STEAMPUNK VAMPIRE GIRL AND THE DUNGEON OF DESPAIR
KEY THE STEAMPUNK VAMPIRE GIRL AND THE TOWER TOMB OF TIME
3. Tell me a little bit about your current project.
Currently, I am having a wonderful time illustrating Becket’s forthcoming children’s novel GOOD THE GOBLIN QUEEN (this might be my personal favorite of Becket’s books so far), and preparing for the release of my album Not In Vain.
4. What does project preparation look like for you?
For me, the process of songwriting can happen several different ways. Sometimes I free-write poetry, which might eventually turn into lyrics if I can construct a melody that I feel suits the poem. Sometimes, a melody will pop into my mind first and then I’ll write lyrics specifically for it. Sometimes I’ll sit down and start playing something random on the guitar, and the melody/lyrics might materialize overtop of my playing.
One of my favorite song-writing methods, however, is one that my collaborator Dan Brodbeck and I call “Grab Bag” song writing. A “Grab Bag” song writing session usually consists of the following:
We start out by chatting for a bit about a general “type” of song we’d like to write (for example, maybe we feel like working on a heavier rock song that day). After we establish the vibe of the song, we will literally begin co-writing the song on the spot, and usually finish up the basics of the writing in less than an hour. I might have a melody ready to go beforehand and he will follow my melody on guitar, or he will come up something great on guitar first and I will start humming a melody on top of it while free-styling some lyrics. Some of our favorite (and most easily written) songs have been created that way.
5. Editing is a challenge for many artists. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.
I don’t have any process that is set in stone. Each song is kind of its own animal and can be approached from a multitude of angles. Generally, since lyrics are really sung poetry, words in musical form either “sound good” to my ear immediately or they don’t. So, I suppose I edit as I write (and in a lot of cases, I’m also singing as I’m writing). Because of that, I usually get the instant gratification of “does this sound good, or not?”
Normally, I don’t make very many changes after the initial lyrical idea has been written (there are some exceptions, but they are not common). The illustration process is much the same for me: if I don’t like something I’ve drawn, I’ll either immediately erase it (if I’m drawing in pencil) or start over (if I’m drawing in pen) – and continue moving forward until I feel it looks “right”.
6. Research is another challenge artists face. What are some of your research tips?
Since my song lyrics tend to be fairly personal, my ideas are usually drawn from my own life experience, my imagination, or from the experiences of those close to me. As such, most of my song writing doesn’t require traditional research. Occasionally, I might write about something that has some basis in history, mythology, or folklore – as I did with a song called “Melusine” on my new album. For that song, I did quite a bit of research online and in books, and learned about the folklore and various incarnations of Melusine’s story from around the world. Based on those findings, I loosely wove together my own lyrical take on the “Melusine” tale.
7. If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked best for you? What was the least helpful?
As an independent artist, my biggest marketing “strategy” has just been to be myself, create what I want, and hope people like it! (Complex, eh?) 🙂 In all seriousness though, the Internet and social media have been vital to my ability to market and promote my work and to building my audience. I really enjoy and am grateful for the ability to interact with awesome people online that actually care about what I do.
Although I certainly believe it is/has been really beneficial for me to engage in traditional promotion & marketing (interviews, photo shoots, sponsorship, radio, etc.) – it’s really the people who have followed and supported me through social media and on my websites (and the choices they make to share my music and art with others when they certainly don’t have to) who have mattered most to propagating my work into the world. Word of mouth is huge (or…word-of-keyboard, I suppose.)
As far as what has been least helpful – thus far, I haven’t really engaged in any sort of marketing or promotion that I feel has been non-productive. Every little bit has helped to introduce my work to new people, and I am grateful for all of those opportunities.
My musical style falls somewhere into the genres of rock, pop, and alternative. My illustration style is definitely within the fantasy realm. I think for me, my biggest challenge overall is that I am my own worst critic and I nitpick my own work to death. I try not to compare myself to other artists – but I do weigh myself against a level of quality I hear or visualize in my mind for each piece. Because of that, I’m constantly striving to achieve that ideal. It’s an unattainable finish line though, as there will always be more that I wish I could accomplish…but I think that mindset ultimately drives me to work harder and become better.
9. What advice would you give to an artist who is starting out?
Obviously, working hard and honing your craft is key- but I think for any creative person, remaining true to yourself and doing what YOU really love most is just as important. I know a lot of creative people who get caught up in worrying that others might not like or understand their work, so they fall into the trap of trying to keep up with popular trends or molding their creative output around what they think other people want from them. One thing I’ve learned is that you cannot possibly please everybody and there will always be naysayers – but if you stay true to your own vision, there WILL be people out there who “get it” and who will appreciate your authenticity (and those are the people that matter most!)
10. Pretend I am from a recording house and you are looking for me to take on one of your albums. Pitch it to me in 1-2 paragraphs.
Ahhh, the commerce side of art: my least favorite part of what we creative folks do. Lol. This question is actually particularly difficult for me to answer, because in my case (being a musician and visual artist rather than an author) – I don’t really have to go through much of a pitching process, as everything I make yields a fairly instant reaction. You can see a piece of art or hear a piece of music and form an opinion about it almost instantly, which can’t be the case with a book or novel simply because of the amount of time it would take to read through it. In my world, it would actually take MORE time to try to adequately explain or pitch the sound of a song or the look of an illustration than it would to play it for/show it to the person you’re speaking with. It’s a bit easier to discuss why the vibe/feel of a song or piece of art might be a good fit for a particular project – but that conversation is always tailored to the needs of the project being discussed.
11. Finally, is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
Only that I’m INCREDIBLY grateful that they’ve decided to give my work a chance, and that so many have chosen to been so sweet and supportive of what I do; both musically and visually. I don’t think I can properly articulate just how much I appreciate that kindness. 🙂