Chats With Artists: Pearl Hodges
Written by: Katya Cummins


I’m pleased to welcome Pearl Hodges to Niche  Features, and I want to take this opportunity to thank her again for conducting an interview about her artwork, which has appeared in multiple issues of Niche. If you want to view her current artwork, please take a look at our current issue.

NICHE: Welcome to Niche Features. I believe that one of your pieces has appeared in an almost every issue of Niche. The first one was entitled “The Day the Cranes Ate the Wolves” and this most recent one was called “Take Only What You Need.”  Your artwork has ideas or messages they want to impart.  What comes first when you’re crafting a piece? The images or the message? 

PEARL HODGES: The process varies for me, sometimes I very strongly have a short phrase or background that I want to portray, this is the case with ‘The Day the Crane Ate the Wolves’.  I draw on a lot of influence from both world mythologies and my own dreams, and I was caught up with the idea of alternate mythologies at the time.  The phrase struck me as a mythology I wanted to visually interpret.  With ‘Take Only What You Need’ the process was quite reversed.  The image came from a dream I had several years ago, the title did come with within the context of its own story, but followed the image in my mind.

NICHE: Is there any one feeling you want to evoke in the people who view your work?

PEARL HODGES: I’m not sure there’s any one feeling in particular I aim to provoke, but as an artist with a theater background, ideally I aim for any kind of connection.  I’m not particularly caught up as to whether a person takes my own interpretation from a piece or one that is their own, so much as they find some moment of interest and perhaps their own story within it.

NICHE: What can you tell us about your artistic process? That is, what medium do you work in and why do you use it? How did you go about crafting this particular style?

PEARL HODGES:  I consider myself highly variable as an artist, and on a whole I’m not particularly limited to one medium.  However, I lean most toward watercolor when working traditionally, and digitally, I do find that I create a lot of work that mimics my process there.  I admit I like both mediums as I’m someone who likes quick results.  I don’t tend to belabor pieces, and while digital can become a drawn out process, I favor a workflow that keeps results in a reasonably tight frame.  Perhaps not the best for my own artistic growth, but I like quick finished results where I can get them.  No drying times is a delight.  I think the style itself evolved naturally from there.  Favoring organic lines, bright colors, and wrenched out of a lot of influences, I do try to continually learn and grow to improve what I do.

NicheNo4NICHE: It doesn’t appear as if you limit yourself to one style. For instance, I see you work with clay as well so I’m curious as to how your style evolved over a span of four or five years?

PEARL HODGES: Honestly variety in medium has been an ongoing thing for me.  I have had access to art supplies and willing teachers since I was small, and I would bring my dad ideas as a kid and he would help me realize them.  The final result was always the most important thing over the process (apart from respecting the difficulties of it if need be) and so I’ve had both 2D and 3D in my background as long as I’ve been making things.  I’m not sure the development of what I do can be summed up in four or five years, as its been an ongoing process as long as I’ve been able to work on it, still, I’ve learned in that time to play to my strengths, yet remain open to growth.

NICHE: You’ve said elsewhere that one of your influences has been fantasy? Can you tell us a little more about that? Do you mean fantasy from books or graphic novels? Along the same lines, how has your experience in theater influenced your art? 

 PEARL HODGES: Books, graphic novels, movies, tales, stories, anything fantastic, unusual, or weird catches my eye and has since I was small.  I think it’s a twofold thing, one, on the more serious side, everyone in their own way has their own fantasy, they are the hero of their own story and magnify their thoughts into dreams beyond their scope of life, whether it’s as simple as a promotion as work, or as elaborate as wurm riding swords and sorcery.  Humans need fantasy in their lives, and I find myself drawn to it.  The second part of this, however, is the part of me that just thinks dragons are rad.  As for theater, I feel my work there has given me a perspective into the relationship of viewer and artist that generally isn’t something visual artists are privy to.  It has highlighted the nature of complete work as an entity in and of itself that the artist no longer has control over.  The audience reaction is their own, and while the creator can direct and build it, the pay off is a tremendously personal thing.

NICHE: What advice would you give other artists who want to take up freelancing?

PEARL HODGES: Hm, I’d say the best thing to do is never mind the bollocks.  I mean, I think that’s what it all boils down to.  Freelancing is hard, making art is a skill, and there’s no other career where people simultaneously deride what you do as lacking in value while simultaneously demanding your services.  In the end, you just have to keep going, put your foot down, and make what you love.  I will say, finding the right market for your work is important too, its not always that there is something inherently wrong, just that you have to find your own niche (and it’s no easy feat, so… see the above I suppose too).

NICHE: Are you working on any special projects now?

Niche_5 copyPEARL HODGES:  Unfortunately as a freelancer who still has a day job (it is what it is) I don’t have a lot of time at the moment between it and commissioned work, however, I have a current and presently ongoing bestiary project cataloging and detailing an area of magic fallout called ‘The Darkening Wood’ the blog is here:

NICHE: Where can people buy or see your work?

I have quite a few places where people can see what I do!  I keep a personal portfolio at my website here: as well as a blog here where I post my own work, process sketches, casual personal works, and other ephemera here  I have an etsy shop where I sell a variety of odds and ends I’ve made as well as a Society6 shop where I sell prints of my work


Written by: Niche Lit Magazine


Niche News: An Interview at Smile Politely
Written by: Katya Cummins

3659299_300Carly Gubbins, a staff writer at Smile Politely, was kind enough to interview our Managing Editor, Katya Cummins, about the founding and future of Niche. We want to thank her again for taking the time. Carly Gubbins’ wrote in part:

In Fall 2011, U of I English and creative writing students launched the online literary magazine, Niche Magazine. Although these students have graduated, they still carry out their skills and passions through the publication, which is released annually. To encourage limitless expression, Niche is currently accepting submissions for all types of work: experimental or conventional, literary or genre fiction, creative or standard nonfiction, poetry, short stories, interviews, artwork, and graphic media. Submissions are encouraged from all community members, not just people associated with the University of Illinois, from September 1st through December 31st, 2015. 

Managing and Founding Editor Kataya Cummins had the idea as a freshman at the University of Iowa. Her dorm fortunately fostered the Iowa Writers Living Learning Community (IWLLC), where she met Fiction Editor Rochelle Liu and Art Coordinator and Acquisitions Editor Shannon Hewson. She expressed to them her interest in starting a “literary magazine that looked beyond aesthetics and genres,” as Cummins says. The two not only encouraged her to do so, but they also agreed to be on the staff when the time came. 

You can read the full interview here. Please be sure to check out Carly’s other articles at Smile Politely here & her articles from buzz weekly here.