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The Outsider Feature!

Our showcase page, highlighting only but a small sample of the best OutsideTheLines has to offer!

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This Month The OutsideTheLines Home Page is proud to bring you another installment of our Outsiders Spotlight.

A Question and Answer forum to help readers get to know the people behind the bylines.


Ladies and fictives, it is our pleasure to introduce the winner of the OutsideTheLines Home Page Logo Contest;
University Of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) student;

Angela "Thistle" Smith

Interview conducted on October 15 & 19, 1998
By David D. Amaya


Introduction.
The Interview.
OutsideTheLines: Thistle, thank you for taking the time to sit with us this afternoon. Well the first thing on my mind is that ... well since you donít look anything like a species of composite plants in the subfamily Cynareae, so how did you come up with the nom de plume of "Thistle"?

Angela "Thistle" Smith: Okay, when I was a kid we had a whole whack of thistles living on a big mound of dirt in our back yard. I had the pleasure of walking the dog in the field beyond that mound of dirt.

My first encounter with thistles entailed me tripping over my dog and falling into a bunch of them. They stung like hell and it really surprised me that something so pretty and innocent looking could actually bite that hard. I was impressed by the fact that nature had demonstrated to me the old maxim 'looks can be deceiving' much more effectively than my parents ever could. It's kind of a rule I live by, look nice, but be harder that you seem on the inside.

OTL: How would you describe your artistic background?

Thistle: I'll let you in on a little secret, I can very rarely draw anything I consider worthwhile, never mind anything I'd let anybody else see :)

I do most of my artistic work with stuff people have already done, like making murals and collages and stuff out of pieces of paper and nick-nacks I find interesting. I've finally managed to get my hands on an amazing graphics editor and take digital pictures of people I know and morph them using either a scanner or a digital camera I occasionally have use of.

Art has always been a passion of mine and I'd much rather be taking sculpture and art appreciation courses than the crap I'm force-fed now :{ oh well, 'tis the price of a stable future. (Yeesh, the injustice of a technology-oriented society!)

I went to Italy a couple of years ago and saw stuff that just has you standing there in awe. Anybody out there seen the Pieta in St. Peter's cathedral? Wow... Michealangelo really was a genius...

Sorry about that, a little off topic. *_*

I don't have much of an artistic background, but I know what I like and why I like it. I try to apply that to everything I make.

OTL: What or who were/are big influences on you and your artworks? Who gave you the push you needed?

Thistle: I am my biggest influence. I see and feel things around me and I often don't understand them until I express them artistically, musically, poetically, physically (dancing) or something else. When I get the opportunity to do something artistic for someone else though, I do my best to capture my first impression of them and what they stand for.

That's the best way for me to do it; I made web pages for people as my co-op work term placement and man o man, the bureaucracy and S*%^ people put you through is enough to make you want to come after them with cattle prod.

The best work I did was the stuff I could interpret for myself and not the stuff that I had to decipher from two-hour long meetings with the committee members.

I have always been my own push, my artistic side has never been encouraged that much and as a result, I love art! I mean, how much do you love the stuff you have to do? That you have deadlines and obligations for? That's my view anyway. :)

OTL: What was the first masterpiece that you created that left you to think "Yep, this is something I like to do!"?

Thistle: Well, actually, I've yet to compose my masterpiece. I do a lot of HTML work, which gives me a creative outlet and I play with the layout of my web site whenever I get five minutes to myself. I enjoy creating computer graphics like you wouldn't believe and I try to mess around with the various features of Photoshop when my brain is too fried from studying. I'm switching into Computer Science (hopefully a graphics option) next semester because I like it all so much. All my masterpieces this far have been runnable java programs. ;)

OTL: You stated earlier that you have 'been your own push,' What do your family and close friends say about your artworks?

Thistle: Err, uh, I don't really show them to many people. I never show anybody ANYTHING I've drawn (my drawing sucks), but my collages and a bunch of jpegs I've done have gotten compliments. I don't really mind what they say though, if it's good in my opinion, it's good enough ;)

OTL: What do you study at the University of Victoria, and what do you enjoy most about campus life?

Thistle: Right now I'm studying Engineering (blech). Like I said earlier, I'm going to switch into CS next semester so that I can take some electives and stuff. Picture this: my first year consisted of six hard-core courses (plus labs) per semester. I took stuff like Physics Mechanics, Calculus, Linear Algebra (like multiple dimensions and stuff), and others that bring back painful memories, so I won't mention them ;) No electives, no creativity, nothing but stuff to make your brain twist into a pretzel. Fun, I don't THINK so! So I'm switching into something that not only allows, but requires electives. Movie watching (Film studies) and listening to music (Music Appreciation) here I come!

The U-Vic campus is amazing! It's so beautiful, even on rainy, crappy days it still looks good. There are so many different people here, it's a haven for outsiders (heh heh). But watch out if you mention logging, Yikes! ;)

Fresh air (Victoria is only about 250-300,000 people), nice scenery, it's almost as good as home.

OTL: About your winning Fan-voted logo you submitted, which is now proudly featured on OTL. You use three characters in the artwork, Nightwing, Spider-Man, and Adrenelynn, Why did you choose those characters, and in your art what do they represent?

Thistle: Okay, I wanted to pick characters which not only looked good, but which I thought represented some of the different aspects of fan fiction writing. I also used characters from three major comic companies (Marvel, DC and Image) to imply that all comic fanfiction is welcome. I know that this is almost word-for-word with what I wrote for my entry, but it's the best explanation I could come up with ;) Besides, this is probably the only opportunity I'll ever get to plagiarize.

Adrenelynn is representative of the dark side of comics; the victim of circumstance, the oppressed, the often violent and mechanical side that makes us rage, sympathize, or hate with the writer. Originally, I wanted to use Gambit or Rogue for this, but I couldn't come up with any good pictures in the time I had. I think 'Lynn worked out pretty well though.

Spider-Man is supposed to represent the fun writers often have with their characters. Who hasn't written something ridiculous just to blow off some steam or to express some frustration at a writer or editor who has horribly maligned a comic and its characters? Spider-Man is usually upbeat and optimistic, cracking jokes at everything, while at the same time in constant battle with the 'forces of evil'. What a perfect candidate to represent satire and irony!

Nightwing (with the magnifying glass, looking between the lines, good one, huh?) symbolizes the insights and growth of everyday life that we all have to deal with. The problems we face are often best dealt with by bringing them out in our fiction and relating to established (and non-established) characters and their circumstances. While Nightwing and Batman have their secret identities, we have our stories.

I also put them in different lighting so that their representative characters could be more accurately expressed and nothing (characters or lettering) is within the confines of the speech bubble. I thought that this symbolized 'OutsideTheLines' quite well.

OTL: After you were notified that you entry was voted our winner by the other Outsiders, how did it feel??

Thistle:
  1. I got a perma-grin and it's still wearing off.
  2. I howled so loud my roommate thought I'd hurt myself.
  3. I floated so high there's a couple of dents in the ceiling where my head hit.
I felt like a million bucks! Thank you sooo much to everybody who voted for me out there!

OTL: Your internet home page "Ophelia's Dreams, you have a story called "Hailey's Comet" which is a part of Indigoís High School of the Humanities arc, and "The Sky Was Red" with Lady Seraph's fictive Dante. Can we look forward to more fictions, as well as more art from you in the near future??

Thistle: Uh, I'll have to get back to you on that one, my writing definitely needs improvement blush :( BUT I'm going to be doing some more artwork for OTL's site with some page headers and banners for links (does that sound rehearsed or what? :)

Also, if anybody out there has any pictures they could e-mail me that I could use, I'd really appreciate it. The characters have to be complete (no missing parts like legs, arms, and ESPECIALLY, no pictures covered by speech bubbles) and have to be fairly high resolution; I can't work with grainy pictures. I find that images off the main comic sites are perfect to use.

OTL: You also mentioned that during a trip to Italy a couple of years ago and saw 'stuff that just has you standing there in awe.' If you could have been the pupil under any of the great art masters through out history, who would you have wanted to study under?

Thistle: That's easy; DaVinci. The guy was the epitome of paradigm thinker; he analyzed his paintings and wrote down why he put certain colours where, how the eye would be drawn to certain areas of the painting and so many things that make you want to say 'now why didn't I think of that? It's so obvious!' Not to mention the fact that he invented a helicopter, a tank, and a glider hundreds of years before his time. I like that; a balance between science and art, that's what I try to do.

OTL: Okay. now, without answering with any of your own work, what are some of your favorite fan fics and/or fan artworks??

Thistle: Well, I can say for sure that my own fan fics aren't on that list. ;) But there are a few personal faves I try to get a hold of for my page; one stands out for me in particular though, it's a Gargoyles Arc by Dylan P. Blacquiere. It is singularly the best fanfiction I have ever read in my life. It should be made into a movie or a series or a bunch of books or SOMETHING. If anybody's interested, I HIGHLY recommend reading it, it's in Lori McDonald's Corner under 'Gargoyles' in the yellow navigation bar at the top of all her pages.

OTL: Well, Now comes our speed round, the dreaded 20 questions, ready, set.....

20. Who are some of your favorite super heroes & villains?

Thistle: Superheroes - Cannonball, Impulse, Chamber, Husk, Skin and Robin.
Villains - Magneto, Sinister, Mystique (if you can call her a villain)

19. If you could have the power of ANY super being, who would you be?

Thistle: I wouldn't want to be Any of those guys! Are you kidding? They're all screwed up! But if I could have any power, I'd 1) like to fly and 2) have telekinesis and/or telepathy.

Pretty standard, I know, but if anybody out there's had dreams about that stuff like I have, man o man, you know why.

18. Seen any good movies lately?

Thistle: Yeah, actually, I saw 'City of Angels' and 'What Dreams May Come' recently. Is it just me or is there some sort of afterlife kick everybody's on?

17. How about your favorite artworks?

Thistle: Favorite artworks, hmm, are we talking fan art or other art?

Well, for fan art I really loved about three works on the old Generation X-Force Archive (It's FicWorld now!). Two of them were by one author (a picture of Skin and one of Jubilee I think) and the other author drew a group photograph of Gen X.

For non-fan art, I adore the Pieta by Michelangelo, Lady with an Ermine by DaVinci, some stuff by Monet (there's this scene with trees and a house and a garden, I can't remember what it's called) , pretty well everything by Escher and this blue room painting by Picasso. There are others, but I could go on forever :)

16. Do you have any other hobbies besides art?

Thistle: I like to sew, write, make hemp bracelets and stuff, make friendship bracelets (although that stuff is really hard with the tendonitis I have in both wrists right now :*{ ), bike ride, hike, read, go boating, go beaching... I dunno, anything that strikes my fancy I guess.

15. What TV shows to you watch?

Thistle: Anything that contains material that cannot possibly happen except Millennium and X-Files. Oh yeah, and Ally McBeal.

14. If you were stranded in the Savage Land, what is the one thing that you would take with you?

Thistle: Teleportation.

13. What 3 CDs?

Thistle: Joshua Tree by U2, The City of Angels Soundtrack, and this Jazz CD my roommate has.

These come with a quality sound system, right?? ;)

12. Do you have a secret talent?

Thistle: I make kick-ass chocolate-mocha brownies. This coming from the girl who messes up instant cookies. sigh

11. What is your favorite food?

Thistle: Normally, crab, and this awesome cheese-loaf-spread my mom makes. But right now, anything that I make and is edible ... seriously.

10. Fast Food?

Thistle: Err, not if I can help it, I've had so much lately, I can feel my arteries hardening. It doesn't feel very good. But if you pass a bag of Aunt Vickies Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar chips under my nose, don't expect to see it again.

9. What was the biggest thrill in your life?

Thistle: Haven't had it yet ;)

8. What's your favorite Radio Station?

Thistle: 100.3 the Q and the Fox. They're pretty well the only stations I pick up here with my crappy little alarm clock. Don't listen to the radio too much anymore.

7. Favorite band?

Thistle: EZ, it's U2

6. Favorite Actor?

Thistle: Nick Cage, Sean Connery and Robert Downy Jr.

5. Actress?

Thistle: Sally Field, Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock.

4. What was your favorite subject in school?

Thistle: Still am in school! My Favorite subject WAS Math, but I despise it now. (burn in hell Calculus!!!.) Computer Science - data structures, is my Favorite now.

3. What is your favorite non-super powered cartoon character?

Thistle: Oh, the Gargoyles probably, Pinky and the Brain is a close runner up and Animaniacs after that.

2. What is the best advice you ever received?

Thistle:
Don't just hear, listen,
Don't just look, see,
Don't just touch, feel,
and whatever happens, all you ever have to do at any given moment is breathe.

1. "If I could have done it differently..."

Thistle: One of my mottos is 'don't regret your actions, learn from them' I try to live by that every day and besides, I don't really have any regrets ... yet ...

OTL: Thank you, Thistle, for your time this afternoon, but before we let you go just one more question...

In 2098, when your great-grandchildren ask their computer for a one-sentence summary of the art and style of Angela Smith, what will the computer say?

Thistle: "You can't ask that, you don't exist."

I'm not havin' kids, thank you very much. Stretch marks, weight gain, runny noses, puke, and black holes for my hard-earned money, don't appeal to me too much. (Just watch, I'll eat these words one day, knowing my luck sigh ;)



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©David D. Amaya
DavidAmaya@Hotmail.com
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