Aspiring cartoon artist and freelance illustrator Sharon Stokes has been drawing since childhood. “I used to draw on things I wasn’t supposed to” shares the 25-year old Brooklyn native. Now, with both social media and local shows, the artist has grown a following and a career in digital based artwork.
Stokes graduated from City College of New York with a BA in Studio Art in 2012. Her inspiration derives from anime artist Masashi Kishimoto , and first African American female cartoonist Jackie Ormes. Among these big time names, Stokes shares that the online community through social media has allowed her to thrive.
“Not everyone’s in museums, not everyone’s in history textbooks” Stokes shares. She says tools such as Facebook, instagram, and online galleries allows her to engage in community and exchange with artists she otherwise would not know.
Although the internet has offered numerous opportunities for Stokes, the young artist talks how it can be both a blessing and a curse. “The key is not to get too caught up in other people’s art” Stokes explains. “There’s a balance. Yeah there’s always going to be someone out there better than you, but you have to put your best out there at that moment.”
This strive for confidence permeates through her artwork. Her latest project in the works is a collection of affirmations, with pieces having titles such as “Speak Up” or “Breathe”. These personal mantras were created out of a need to get back to what really matters for Stokes. This particular collection will be featured at her next event, Pancakes and Booze, happening in Manhattan on April 28th.
Stokes also teaches art at P.S. 193 Gil Hodges Elementary School in Brooklyn along with her freelance work. What she teaches her students is to get out of their comfort zone by drawing everything, and not just what you know. Stokes’ hope is to someday work for a corporation such as Disney or Nickelodeon. “I was watching these shows on TV, and now I’m in an actual studio making them” Stokes shares she hopes to one day say. “It would be coming full circle.”