From Hobby Artist to Lucasfilm Pro
By Amy Ratcliffe
Erin Lefler is a character designer, concept artist, and licensed Lucasfilm and Marvel merchandise artist.
When did you become interested in being an artist, and did any particular fandoms inspire you?
I’ve been interested in art ever since I could pick up a pencil. I would drive my parents insane as a child trying to draw all over everything I could get my hands on! I was definitely interested in drawing Star Wars growing up, but also Marvel Comics, because I was an avid comic book reader. I adored Spider-Man.
How did sharing fanart online help you get professional work?
I had been working as a freelancer for a couple of years before I was encouraged to put my work online. I love making fanart when I’m not making art for work, so I just started posting the art I made of the things I loved, and people started following my work, which, for me, was insane. I had put my application into a lot of different places about a year after starting my social media accounts and got a lot of rejections. But I ended up getting an e-mail from Lucasfilm, and I remember them saying, “We’ve seen your work online and we love what we see.” So I feel it’s a very important thing to put your work out on social media.
What advice would you give to kids who want to celebrate their fandom by making art?
Do it. I can’t stress it enough—don’t let anything or anyone stop you. If it’s what you love and you want to express it by making art, cosplaying, writing, and so on, do it. You’ll find some people along the way who love the same things as you. You’ll be able to make some cool art, and who knows—maybe someday you’ll be able to take that and make a career out of it like I got to!
Excerpted, with permission, from A Kid’s Guide to Fandom by Amy Ratcliffe, illustrated by Dave Perillo (Running Press Kids, 2021), www.runningpress.com/rpkids.
Amy Ratcliffe is part of many fandoms, including Star Wars, The Witcher, and anything Tolkien. She’s cosplayed as Han Solo and Merida. She’s the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and Elee and Me. She’s the managing editor for Nerdist and an entertainment reporter.
Dave Perillo is a freelance illustrator and designer based out of the Philly burbs.