It just blew me away. It’s a big tent, this industry, and everyone’s welcome and the community is supportive. Do you have any painting rituals? But currently I just love John Currin, Sam Wolfe Connelly, Greg Ruth, Will Cotton, Josep Sert, Vincent Desiderio and Frank Duveneck. But you do need to get to know this community and the people who help make things happen – and that’s where the IMC comes in. Her teacher showed it around the room without a word – it was a key moment for the young artistWho was your first artistic crush on? If one of my students brought it in to me, or something that showed similar spirit and craft, I’d be happy. My mum went to Massachusetts College of Art and Design and when I was about 11 she said my work was already better than hers ever was – that was so encouraging. It was a piece I did in my junior illustration class, a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt. Since 2007 Guay has organised the Illustration Master Class in Amherst, Massachusetts for artists in the field of imaginative realismWhat advice would you give to artists just starting out? In first grade, when I won the ‘Draw a portrait of your teacher’ contest. I’ve had so many rejections from publishers – especially early on – it’s hard to count. I’m better now, but I think it still has merit. I wanted to provide a place where aspiring illustrators and early professionals could connect with teachers who would push their work forward fast, as well as connect with industry professionals who would give them work when they were ready. My teacher took it off the wall and walked it around the class just showing it to everyone without saying a word. Rebecca’s portrait from her junior illustration class. Read these! Also, make sure you paint as well traditionally as you do digitally. Though Guay cut her teeth in 1990s fantasy illustration, and continues to feature in the annual fantasy bible Spectrum, her art is equally inspired by the renaissance masters. There are so many. Who’s the first artist you turn to for inspiration or to beat creative block? Don’t let the daily demons in your head eat you alive and keep you from working. If I don’t have something going to keep my butt in the chair I’ll wander off. She was a great teacher too: she showed me all the ways I could improve right from the very beginning. Anyone who was drawing Wonder Woman, then Paul Smith’s run on The X-Men, then more serious love affairs with Egon Schiele, Klimt, Solomon J Solomon, Waterhouse, Dulac and more. Everyone has them, everyone struggles with the “I hate it” moments in a piece. Like this? How do you know an image is finished? Everyone who makes it has also been rejected and dissed a hundred times. The test of whether we thrive or fall is how well we get through these challenges, so dig deep and go long – manage your demons and remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. When did you first realise that you wanted to be an artist? Original art sales are a big part of a successful artist’s income, so do both well. Petit Morte: It’s important to be able to paint just as well digitally as traditionally, says RebeccaRebecca Guay has created fantasy art illustration for Magic: The Gathering, DC Vertigo comics, and organises the annual Illustration Master Class, which this year features industry greats like Mike Mignola, Donato Giancola and James Gurney. What were your hopes for Illustration Master Class? This interview first appeared in ImagineFX magazine. Although in my professional career it was probably that event with my teacher that was most significant.