The concept artist creates beautiful work in service to stories.
Larisa Bumb, known among her fans as Lara Pickle, specializes in visual development, concept art, and background design for animation. After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s in animation, both from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, she accepted a job at Brown Bag Films in Manchester, UK. The talented illustrator, who describes herself as a storyteller who loves cats, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, shared how she developed her personal style and how artists can build confidence in their art and careers.
What was your early intro to art, and how have you progressed to this point?
I was always the creative and dreamy person in my family. Always had stories to tell and loved drawing since I could hold a pencil! My early introduction to art, though, was Cartoon Network and UPA cartoons. I loved my Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, and Powerpuff Girls cartoons in a way I can’t even describe. I would watch all the episodes every time, and I would draw them all the time as well. It really made me want to just draw and create!
Then I discovered manga and anime, and it was a turning point in my life. I would always draw my fav characters, and I’d be so obsessed with creating stories—it didn’t really matter if it was by writing or drawing or whatever I could do.
I honestly wanted to draw manga for a living at that time, and when I got into uni, I slowly detached myself from that for a bit and focused more on animation—first on 2D character animation and ultimately on concept and environments.
How did you develop your personal style?
I have a lot of influence from manga and anime, but I also like European style and Disney. Ultimately, though, I feel like I don’t really want to be held in just one style because I feel that, as a concept artist and background artist, I need to be versatile and do many styles in order to better serve any kind of production.
My ultimate desire is to be an art director someday, so it’s extremely important to me to be able to have an open mind and work within the best styles to tell a story. I’m still working on that, but I’m getting there!
When did you know you wanted to make a living with art, and what has your journey been like since then?
I think it was in my last uni years. I mean, my dream was to work at Cartoon Network, Cartoon Saloon, Disney, or DreamWorks, because I love everything they do, but I didn’t start to take it more seriously until I started my master’s degree. I first started as an animator, and after the master’s, I realized that, as much as I love animation, enjoying it and actually doing it are not the same. I was very worried about restarting on another profile because I thought I started rather late, but I did it anyway. I focused on my portfolio and my personal background and concept art studies.
What are the greatest challenges and rewards of your work?
It was especially difficult to begin and to actually get into the industry since I hadn’t done a proper internship, as many others have, because my school didn’t offer that. Having no experience in the industry was a real issue for me, especially since it’s always really hard to receive millions of rejections! I didn’t give up, though, and finally I got my first remote job, for which I’m going to be forever grateful, and since then it always went pretty smoothly.
It’s also difficult to start when you come from a country with not as many big studios as there are in, say, Ireland or France. In Spain we have many studios that are big, but we have a lot of professionals and not as many job opportunities, sadly!
But even though there have been many challenges, the rewards are just as great. It’s especially wonderful to be able to make a living out of drawing every day, even if it’s for other people. When you have an opportunity and you do well in it, this usually leads to many other opportunities that are just as interesting. For me, one of my biggest achievements so far was getting to be an official part of the Doctor Who universe—in quite a small way, but it’s enough for me!
That’s exciting! Aside from making art, what are your everyday inspirations?
I take a lot of inspiration from real life and films. It could be from seeing a nice composition, a nice bit of lighting on a ceiling, or a random sentence I hear from someone. Even a joke. It doesn’t matter. I like to let my imagination flow, so I can get the best of it as much as I can. Life is very complex, and it’s the best source of inspiration!
Cinematography is also a great inspiration for me, as well as dancing, theater, and traveling.
What’s your advice to artists who want to build confidence, both in their art and with self-promotion?
I’d say, draw every day, but don’t aim to make masterpieces out of it. Getting attached to our own work can become an issue, especially because we don’t think straight, we give it too much credit, and we tend to think it’s something special. Truth is, when we do a lot of drawings—like, a lot—it’s easier to detach and say, “Hey, if I’ve done this once, I can do it as many times as needed.” Thinking that will help you avoid a lot of stress about who likes your drawings or not on social media.
Social media is a very good tool for self-promotion, but it also can be a huge stabbing knife for our self-esteem. Each day Instagram makes it more and more difficult to get noticed—even for people with a lot of following!—but it’s not the end of times. We still can promote ourselves there and also use many other sources, such as groups, live gatherings, tabling events, etc.
I’d say, make yourself a clear business image, with a clear name and a business card to give to someone when you’re talking to them. Create a website for your work and make it accessible and easy to find. Invest in a .com, in good quality material for your stores, etc. There are many ways to self-promote, but the most important thing—and I can’t emphasize it enough—is to give yourself enough space for your own work. It’s necessary to see things in perspective to find proper solutions!
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I would like to let people know that everyone struggles and that it’s very easy to wish for someone else’s life. I did that too, but life isn’t easy for anyone and we all have our struggles. The important thing is how we manage to overcome problems. I’m really grateful to my friends and followers because they’ve supported me a lot, and because of that, I’ve had many great opportunities!