Tom Johnson’s Interview with Illustrator Teresa Tunaley

Night to Dawn features zombie fiction along with vampires.I first became aware of Teresa Tunaley’s illustrations in Barbara Custer’s Night To Dawn magazine a few years back. In fact, I was so taken with Teresa’s art I went to her website and looked at the many pages of fine illustrations she had already done for book covers and magazines. It was no surprise to see the many Awards she has received for her art and website design. When it came time for a new edition of “Jur: A Story of Pre Dawn Earth,” I naturally thought of her for the cover. The previous three editions of my book sported some pretty horrible covers, I assure you. But I felt Teresa had the right technique to capture the scene I wanted. She did!  Let me now introduce you to a very fine lady who has been fun to work with on several projects so far.

Tom: Teresa, to begin, please tell the readers a little about yourself, where you are from, and where you are now living.

Teresa: Many moons ago, I was born in the United Kingdom in a small village called Wigston, in Leicestershire.  In my mid 20’s I had the opportunity to holiday in Tenerife, one of seven small islands off the West coast of Africa (governed by Spain).  I fell in love with the tranquil way of life and found myself spending every summer here; so, after dozens of holidays, I decided in 2002 to move and make it permanent.  So much easier having your Mum, sister and cousins already out here!  They had made the decision to move much earlier than I had.

Tom: How did you become involved in art creations, and has this always been your life’s dream?

Teresa:  I recall painting quite early before my teens, but didn’t take it up as a hobby until much later.  I worked initially in Watercolors and felt quite proud as I sold a few of my paintings to co-workers.  Monet’s works adorned my lounge walls at this time.

I could spend hours in Art Museums; I was fascinated by art especially large pieces painted by the Masters.  The detail even in the background was stunning, fine lace, jewelry and clothing painted so well, every fold was real to me.

I experimented in Oils, Acrylics and left behind watercolors.  Oils became my favorite as it allowed me more time to add and blend.

Tom: Were there any inspirations or artistic influences early on, or later in life. I’m sure you have grown in your fantastic talent over the years. Did you attend art schools, or are you self-taught?

Teresa: No one person inspired me to paint; it was the creation of something new, something entirely familiar or even alien.  To put paint to paper meant you could imagine a scene, in any time, another reality or planet; put yourself and the onlooker right there.  There are no boundaries.

Tom: I’m sure that art is a big part of your life, but do you have other interests? Family and associates, or hobbies that you would like to talk about?

Teresa: Art is a big part of my life because I need to do it.  I have images going around in my head all the time and need to get this on paper; some of my best paintings have been conjured up late at night between wake and sleep and I must say, most of these would be best placed in the Horror Genre lol.

Besides art, I do the normal day to day things around the house: cook, sew and clean.  I don’t dislike any of this but sometimes find it difficult to pull myself away from my art.  I could sit at my easel at 9.00am just to touch up one section or fine tune another; before I know it literally hours have gone by.

Weekends I try to spend with friends and family.  My partner Stefano is Italian and paints as much as I do but only in Acrylic.  The lounge is mainly our studio with easels for each of us.  There are canvasses leaning everywhere, the walls are strewn with art.  We sit in the early evening talking about our work and commenting on each others. (Gently, as we are both sensitive to negativity) each to their own we say…we have differing styles but lovely all the same.

Tom: I noticed several Preditors & Editors Awards, as well as other awards listed on your website. Please tell us about them, and how they came about.

Teresa: I had forgotten about these until you mentioned them as they are quite a few years ago. Some have been won for my work appearing in certain publications. Others for the art website that I have

My most recent award was July last year here in Tenerife.  I entered a competition along with hundreds of other artists from all over the world.  I produced a lady on a large 1.5 m sq canvas. I painted the contours of her body in various colors which represented the heat source.

Well, I was both surprised and overwhelmed to win the Public Vote award. The certificate hangs in my office, its very special; being recognized as an actual Artist makes me feel special.

Tom: What do you find is the most enjoyable aspect of creating art/covers?

Teresa: The fact that others can enjoy my work as much as me gives me the inspiration to create on a daily basis.

Tom: Would you say there is anything you find difficult with creating art, or working with authors/publishers?

Teresa:  I can’t really say that I have worked with any difficult authors or publishers.  I have worked with the same people time and time again; after 10 yrs of working with dozens of publishers, I have made many friends.  Perhaps, I have found it easy. I try to paint a cover or design that the Author/Publisher actually wants, not what I want.  I haven’t written the book, the author has.  They want a cover that depicts a scene and I create it.

There are times I get a full script to read but there are also times I only get notes from authors, one or two phrases to explain their needs.  Either way, I’m neither happy or done, until the client is happy!

Tom: Is there any advice you would like to give aspiring artists and creators who are just starting out, or on their way up?

Teresa: My advice would be: never lose your own style, although you may have to tweak and vary it a little for particular assignments.  Don’t get put off by rejections because they will come thick and fast (they never stop). It’s only the acceptances that count and when you get one, put your heart into getting it right!

Tom: Are you working on anything special at the moment? And most important, where can viewers find your website and contact information?

Teresa: I have just completed “Eden’s Planet” for you Tom, which is always a pleasure.  I have constant assignments from SamDotsPublishing. I am currently creating a piece that features strange planets and aliens for Tyree Campbell, scheduled to appear in the next Drabble issue.

I enjoy receiving copies of each and every book or magazine I illustrate. Especially as I live on a Spanish island with little or no reading matter available in English. I have a huge collection over the years and love to go to my book shelf and pick one up at random, read through the wonderful stories that take me to places afar.

Tom: Teresa, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Your art has really impressed me, and I know it will others. I love the work you’ve done for my books, and I look forward to working with you again in the future.

Teresa: Tom thank you.  I am proud to have been a part of your venture; I still get a buzz when a piece is complete, the author loves it and its ready for print even after creating art for the last 30 years.


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