Today’s fan artist spotlight is on Laryssa Ferrara, a 22-year-old who will soon be graduating from Auburn University, where she’s earning a degree in Conservation Biology.
“I’ve worked in museums, zoos, wildlife rehab centers, and research labs, and I love all the really awesome opportunities that I’ve had, but I sometimes feel like I got a biology degree just to make my parents happy and I’ve been missing out on doing what I love,” she wrote to The Wookiee Gunner.
After graduating, she hopes to pursue her passions at an art school. In the meantime, she’s known for her love of Pau’ans—more specifically, the Grand Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels. She even created a custom beanie based on his unique features, and recently, she unveiled a new Inquisitorious scarf, which she will make public on Redbubble after Star Wars Celebration Orlando in April.
When and how did you become a Star Wars fan?
One of my earliest memories was of my parents taking me to the local midnight premiere of The Phantom Menace. It really just stuck with me for some reason, and I remember being in school when the other prequel movies came out and being surrounded by the hype and the merchandising. The Force Awakens also sort of caused a re-kindling of the Star Wars lover in me because it came at a time when I was finally old enough to really engage in the community and start producing high-quality art. Star Wars Rebels has made me feel like I really belong as part of a fun community bigger than myself now, so I’m grateful for that.
When and why did you start to create fan art?
I would say I started when I was really young. I’ve always been artistically driven, but as far as Star Wars fan art goes, I’ve only been in the game for about 2 years now.
Why do you think fan art is so popular?
I think it gives people an outlet to engage in something together with a group of (often) like-minded people. It went a long way in helping me feel actively engaged in the content I am consuming. I have much more passion for the media I make fan art for than for any other shows or movies or books I consume.
What tools do you use to create your art?
Honestly, I will use just about anything available to me. I started with traditional media because that’s what I’ve been trained in, so pastels, charcoal, watercolor, pencil, and such. I also dabble in crafts, like sewing, perler beads, etc. I’ve only just now started getting into digital art, which is fun because it’s easy to upload and share onto all kinds of goodies!
What is your favorite Star Wars piece that you have created and why are you fond of it?
Well, this is a tough one, but I have this pair of matching Grand Inquisitor and Grand Admiral Thrawn digital prints which are near and dear to my heart (as seen above). Of course, the Grand Inquisitor takes my heart as my all time favorite Star Wars character, but what makes these prints special is that I took them with me to DragonCon and got them signed by Jason Isaacs and Timothy Zahn, and I’ll never forget that experience. Zahn was so kind and pulled everyone around his table to look at what I had created, and I was so touched! And certainly it’s difficult to feel down about my artistic abilities when the voice of the Grand Inquisitor himself told me that my artwork was “exquisite”!
What are the best and most difficult things about being an artist?
The best thing so far for me have been the people I have met and bonded with through my art. I’d say the most difficult thing is staying motivated. Sometimes, I get discouraged by lack of support or my own abilities, but when I look back at how far I’ve come, I feel proud of the progress I’ve made. I also look ahead and think about how much more amazing I’ll be once I get a formal art education somewhere, and that is really exciting for me!
What advice would you offer to someone who is interested in pursuing art as a hobby or profession?
Well, certainly try not to talk yourself out of doing what you’ve always wanted to do because it isn’t exactly “practical” (and trust me, it is plenty practical). Keep at it, even when it gets tough and you don’t think you can continue. Switch things up, try branching into a new media or a new style. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I switch to writing fan fiction for awhile until I feel good enough to jump back in.
What are your thoughts regarding Star Wars Rebels? How do you think the series will progress?
Star Wars Rebels is great, as is the community! I think we’re going to get to see things going on in the galaxy outside but alongside the main events of the original trilogy we know and love! Now, if only we could have a show detailing the 14 years between the Ahsoka novel and the first season of Rebels, detailing the lives of the Inquisitors, Ahsoka, and the Ghost crew before where we see them in the show. That would be great!
What are you looking forward to seeing in the future of Star Wars films?
I want to see more Star Wars Stories films (e.g. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), all the neat little in-between things that happen outside of the main focus of the episode films! The galaxy is so vast, I can sit all day and imagine what all might be going on at the same time. It’s so much fun!
How else do you express your love for Star Wars (cosplay, fan fiction, etc.)?
I definitely mentioned my fan fiction, which can be found on my Tumblr, and to a lesser extent, on my AO3 account. I really like to use my knowledge of biology to visit worlds and characters we don’t get to see much of in the canon media. Technically, everything I write is plausible because I like to try and explain why characters became the way that they are, or how their culture works, or what their physical adaptations to their environment are. I’ve been called the “Pau’an Queen” before because I loved the small glimpse we got of Utapau in Revenge of the Sith, but it just wasn’t enough for me, so I went on to really, truly flesh out the flora, fauna, and culture there as best as I could! Since I’m also an artist, I like to make comics and short works to go along with these fics, too. I dabble in cosplay, but you’re much more likely to find me wearing clothing with my artwork printed on it than anything else.
Any final thoughts?
Thank you so much for reading! I hope that you too find inspiration and engagement within the Star Wars community! May the Force be with you!
Laryssa, many thanks for sharing your art and your love of Star Wars with us! We wish you the best of luck and hope you’re able to pursue your passions. May be the Force be with you!
Thank you for visiting The Wookiee Gunner! You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Send us news, tips, and inquiries here or visit our Contact page. If you’re a fan artist looking to showcase your Star Wars fan art, check out our Star Wars Fan Artist Spotlight. Finally, if you’re looking to add a few Star Wars podcasts to your playlist, check out Rebels Chat, Galactic Fashion, Hangin’ with Team Kanan, and Star Scavengers.