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Illustrator and concept artist Salena Barnes creates artwork centering Black people and people of color — representation she didn’t see a lot of while growing in Berlin, Germany. Her passion for drawing and painting has stuck with her since childhood and she now uses it as a tool to visually express her thoughts and ideas.
Above, Cover #7 in progress.
Barnes can’t pinpoint a specific point in time when she knew she wanted to become an artist, but she remembers her passion and natural knack for drawing when she was around four years old. Her interest in pursuing art as a career was further encouraged through the support of a high school teacher who believed in her abilities. She now specializes in illustration because it’s limitless and it goes hand-in-hand with other media and art forms. She draws inspiration from African American and Ghanian culture, as well as the books, movies, music and conversations that surround her. By exposing herself to various avenues of art, she has developed her own unique aesthetic for her images, subjects, and stories. To learn more about Salena, please visit www.salenabarnes.com
Q&A WITH SALENA BARNES
1) How did you approach the cover art for each episode?
I watched the episodes several times. The first time I watched it was to understand the story, the second time was to see which scene or topic inspired me, and the third time was to collect reference material. I also set myself in a mood that fits the story by choosing music for each episode and listen to it on repeat.
2) Which episode were you the most excited to create cover art for?
I think I have to go with Episode 5. It was also the first one I worked on, so I was nervous. That alone made it the most exciting one and the episode itself was mind-boggling! When it comes to the artwork itself, I enjoyed playing with details and symbols I picked up on while I was watching the episode.
3) What was your favorite part about working on this project?
My favorite part was the focus on Black creators: the producers, authors, actors, concept artists, art directors and illustrators. Being a part of a project like that is something I've always wished for.
Also, all the positive and lovely feedback from the viewers and actresses were very touching. It meant a whole lot and I’m glad that I got to connect with the other amazing fellow artists: Taj Francis and El'Cesart.
4) What is your favorite Lovecraft Country episode?
This is so hard to answer. I want to say ALL OF THEM!
5) What inspires your art?
I'm inspired by mostly the thoughts, moods, and feelings connected to experiences or the things I see and hear. It can be the music I listen to, the books I read, the movies I watch, or the conversations I have. Life and other forms of art basically.
6) Which artists have played a role in influencing your style?
It's not really specific artists. It's more different types of art styles or artistic movements. For example, I´ve always admired oil paintings from the Renaissance era in the same way I love the art of Marvel comics. There are so many artists, who I draw inspiration from, so it's impossible for me to only name a few.