Part of our mission at FAN/FIC Magazine is to highlight amazing fan creators and pull back the curtain on their creative processes. For our second interview, I talked to UpTheHill, an incredibly talented fan artist whose work is lighting up the Harry Potter fandom at upthehillart.tumblr.com. In the following interview, we discussed Dramione, graphic tablets, the magic of portraits, and how we’re all shameless trash.
Get To Know Yous
Malory Beazley: Something on your Tumblr bio intrigues me. You describe yourself as “very hufflepuff (and horned serpent).” Can you explain this wonderful contradiction?
UpTheHill: In my own interpretation, the Hogwarts houses represent what a student values but not necessarily exhibits, whereas the Ilvermorny houses suggest how a student approaches their values and what, in general, they rely on – heart, mind, body, soul. Personally, I care about human kindness and loyalty, I appreciate hard work and patience, but, most of all, I value justice, fairness, and tolerance. I am a person of “feeling” (Hufflepuff), but my way of achieving those values is through logic, rationality, mindfulness, and knowledge (Horned Serpent). Information boosts my morale!
All the quizzes I’ve taken tell me that Ravenclaw (close Horned Serpent equivalent) would be my second house, and same goes with Pukwudgie, which is generally associated with Hufflepuff. The Sorting Hat’s accuracy truly astounds me!
MB: I love your analysis of how each school approaches house sorting differently. Very philosophical. House assignment aside, which Hogwarts student do you think you would have been best mates with? (I only ask the very important questions.)
UTH: I think I would want to make best friends with Neville Longbottom. I like a friend who might need my help, yet would be somebody I look up to at the same time. We could both teach and learn from each other. Neville fits my vision of an ideal friendship!
MB: Neville would be a great listener. Now, on to the main attraction. I love how your blog specifically features Harry Potter art. What is your relationship to the Harry Potter series?
UTH: I am a fan who was introduced to the Harry Potter films first. I grew up with them, waiting for the new parts to come out, rewatching them countless times, playing Harry Potter games, and admiring this fictional world immensely. In general, I have always preferred movies over books (no wonder I’m getting a degree in film production), so only last year did I finally get myself to read the books. And, I have to admit, it feels as though my whole life has turned upside down. In the best way possible, of course! Because of Harry Potter, I’ve made new friends, improved my English (which is not my native language), taught myself digital art, advanced my critical thinking, and simply learned more about who I am. For me, this is more valuable than anything.
Making Fan Art
MB: Your art is incredible and conveys such intense emotions. When did you start making digital art? And at what point did art and fandom converge?
UTH: I’ve enjoyed drawing since I was a kid. Art has always been my favorite hobby. However, I never took it seriously. I did consider it as a potential career path when I was figuring out what I wanted to become, but I decided against it because I realized I only enjoyed art as a hobby and nothing else. So I’ve always doodled, but I’ve never drawn as much as I’m drawing now. After reading the Harry Potter series, I discovered fan art. This was the thing that inspired me to go to a store on December 2015, buy a graphic tablet, and begin drawing! So there never really was a point when art and fandom converged. I draw because of Harry Potter. As I like to say, I’m not an artist who happens to like Harry Potter. I’m a Potterhead who happens to like drawing!
MB: I love how Harry Potter inspired you to take your hobby to the next level and buy a graphic tablet. Can you describe your creative process? How long does it usually take to finish a piece, from the moment of inspiration to publishing?
UTH: My inspiration for what to draw comes from all kinds of sources, such as things I see on the internet, discussions with fellow fans, suggestions from my followers, and just things that pop in my head. I rarely draw art that depicts specific situations or scenarios. I tend to focus on emotion and aesthetic value, especially when I illustrate “out of context” moments from my imagination.
On average, it takes me 3 hours to finish a piece, although overall it can vary from 1 to 6 hours, if not more. I never publish art straight away. I like coming back to my drawings after a while to see if there are things that need fixing or if I can improve it a little. So it can take weeks for me to get a piece finished and ready for publishing.
MB: It boggles my mind you only started drawing on a tablet a year ago. You have such natural artistic talent, but I imagine making digital art comes with a steep learning curve. What’s been the biggest creative challenge you’ve faced?
UTH: When drawing traditionally, I always preferred a simple pencil—quick, basic, familiar. And since digital art offers limitless options in terms of tools and possibilities, the hardest part was figuring out what works best for me within this new medium. I care about consistency, and I believe my newest art is fairly successful at it, but it’s still a process of learning and improving. So my biggest challenge was to find where I feel comfortable within all the possibilities of digital art.
MB: It’s safe to say your blog, UpTheHillArt, houses one of the most gorgeous collections of Harry Potter art in the fandom. How do you feel about all the positive attention your art has received?
UTH: It’s unbelievable. I cannot lie, it genuinely blows my mind. I’ve never even dreamed of the amount of attention I’m receiving now, so I would never allow myself to take it for granted. I couldn’t be more grateful for the support I’ve been getting! It also warms my heart when my followers come to me saying how my art has inspired them to draw or to write or merely to dream. Or that my personal representation of the Harry Potter universe matches the world they’ve created in their own imaginations. It’s nothing but magical!
MB: Magical, indeed. You draw a lot of Drarry, Dramione, and the Marauders. What’s special to you about these particular groupings?
UTH: Dramione is the pairing that started it all. It caught my attention when I was discovering and exploring the fandom. My fascination for Dramione comes from how impossible this pairing sounds—a muggle-born and a pureblood with nothing in common at first glance, only mutual hate. It has friction, it has challenge, it has a story. It’s all I need as a shipper. Dramione was what made me want to draw fan art, so it will always stay special to me.
Drarry came a little later, but it immediately felt natural. I like pairings with Draco in general—he’s such a conflicted, difficult, controversial character, and I enjoy exploring, bending, and developing his personality within the context of unusual (but promising) relationships.
Lastly, I like drawing the Marauders because, first of all, Remus Lupin is my favourite character (and who I relate to the most), and also because I simply enjoy the dynamics of the Marauders. All four of them are interesting characters with intriguing, ambiguous pasts and personalities, and their stories are tragic, compelling, and inspiring.
MB: Your HP Portraits series is incredible. And (moving) portraits play such a major role in the Harry Potter series. What is it about portraits that inspires you?
UTH: I admire the human face. I admire how a still image of a face can tell a viewer something about the individual—who they are, what they’re like, what their story is. It’s fun taking characters that exist, figuring out how I personally envision them in my head, and recreating them. I try to capture and represent the essence of the character while still heavily relying on my own unique perspective of them.
You know, I believe that the person in the portrait doesn’t have to actually move like in the Harry Potter series in order to feel more real, more palpable, and to tell you something. I hope that by looking at the characters in my portraits, viewers can recognize them as coming from J. K. Rowling, while also learning something new about them from my own imagination. It’s the perfect balance!
MB: Not that I would know (*cough cough*), but you have an extraordinarily delicious NSFW art blog. And I love the humour that comes across in your tags (“we’re all trash,” etc.). Does your creative approach change when making more explicit art? What value do you see in erotic art?
UTH: I took my time mulling over this question, thinking about something smart and inspiring I could say about my erotic art. But, you know what? Like in my tags, I’m humorous and open about it for a reason: we really are all shameless trash over there. Not all art has to be taken seriously, and my NSFW drawings are merely a product of common fantasies of the Harry Potter fandom (mine included). Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be drawing such art if I wasn’t fascinated by the human body (usually an idealized version of it) and by the expressions people make in their most vulnerable states. It’s emotional, it’s beautiful, and, of course, it’s hot! And I appreciate all art that makes people react.
MB: As shameless trash, we sure do love to react. Your artwork is magic. Thank you for talking about it with us.
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