The Whimsical World of Angela Oster

A moment of inspiration with Cleveland artist Angela Oster

Cleveland artist and illustrator Angela Oster cultivates and creates a world of whimsy, filled with criminally cute, odd and wonderful beings. A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of the Art, Oster gave Go Media a glimpse into her life, her art, and some of her lovely work.

Little Vampire Girl's first, last and only slumber party
Little Vampire Girl’s first, last and only slumber party

Go Media: Hello Angela! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today!

I took a very circuitous route to drawing – in art school at CIA I was into sculpture, video and performance art. When I got out of school and had my daughter, I found that my audience shrunk! That was a good thing – it was just me and my pencil. It is now totally stripped down to what I feel is essential – lines on paper.

Everything starts out as a pencil drawing. I usually work back into the drawing with a crow quill pen and ink – I just started using some Micron art pens. I do add watercolor with varying degrees of success!

Go Media: What mediums do you work in most often?

Everything starts out as a pencil drawing. I usually work back into the drawing with a crow quill pen and ink – I just started using some Micron art pens. I do add watercolor too!

Go Media: I understand that social issues often impact your artwork…why/ how so?

I’ve worked for many years at Ohio Citizen Action – it makes me realize how vulnerable human beings can be. Chemicals are entering our bodies without our permission – companies are allowed to put poison into our air & water… that’s just not right. If I can find ways to express this through art, I’ll do it!


Go Media: What in everyday life is most inspiring to you as an artist?

Images that explore buoyancy – both physical buoyancy in water and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. I think resiliency is one of the most important skills you can develop. Many of the characters that I draw are alter-egos – autobiographical snippets that deal with happy memories of childhood, and also with awkward moments.  I want the audience to be entertained and maybe look at their own insecurities with compassion. What I really try to capture is the beauty of the bitter-sweetness of life.

Little Vampire Girl does not want to be in her sister’s wedding

Go Media: I love the whimsical nature of your watercolor paintings, tell us a little bit about how hard or easy it was to develop your style or niche as an artist.

Thank you! It took me my whole life to develop my style – it’s an amalgamation of all of the artists that I like to look at. Everyone had a hand in what my stuff looks like – from Dr Seuss to Edward Gorey to Graham Annabel.

Go Media: Tell us about the challenges you face as an independent artist, and about what you love best about it.

The challenges are many – sometimes I thank people who buy my stuff for supporting my art habit. I heard someone say that art is half “doing it” and half “telling people about it”. You really do need to have some kind of business sense and maybe a little luck. I still have a day job that I enjoy, and I have to manage my time well between work, family and art. Honestly, I’m pretty bad at it, but I’m making it work somehow and having fun.

Go Media: What advice would you have for other illustrators/designers who are starting out and trying to make it on their own?

I saw a great speech by Neil Gaiman, whose message was “Do good work”. That is a big part of it. Do good work and the rest will follow. I think it helps to have other artist friends to help buoy you up when you start to sink down. There is a really great blog post that I love to revisit now and then – Super Obvious Secrets That I Wish They’d Teach in Art School… Words to live by.

This is fun.
This is fun.

Go Media: What is it like being an artist here in Cleveland?

The Cleveland art community is extremely supportive. It is small, but it seems to be gaining momentum – new galleries keep popping up. There are a lot of groups around town that draw from live models like Dr. Sketchy or the Murray Hill group and some events like Drink & Draw at the Lava Lounge and Buck Buck Gallery has a weekly drawing night. It’s a good way to meet other artists. Go to openings – see what other people are doing.

Go Media: What’s next for you?

I am currently showing my work at the Still Point Gallery through June 20.  I am curating my first show in July. It’s at Arts Collinwood. The show opens on July 5 and it’s called CRUNCHY: Sugary Cartoon Art for Big Kids. I’ll be selling my stuff at the Summer Market on July 26 & 27 in Avon Lake and at the Berea Arts Fest on  September 8.

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