Who Is Lela Dowling...

Early Years As An Artist

I waslela-at-work born in Santa Barbara and raised by parents (both teachers) who loved the outdoors, good books and a sense of humor. I began drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil -- doodling, creating things out of clay, fabric, beads, or seed pods and twigs. And since I was a relatively sickly kid, I put in hours of practice with pencil and paper to keep myself entertained while I waited out my latest case of the sniffles. My Dad taught print shop at a local school when I was very young and kept me well supplied with pads of paper of every conceivable color, shape and size.

A Focus on Science Fiction and Fantasy Art

     My artwork naturally tends towards fantasy and science fiction themes and by early college I began entering West Coast sci-fi and fantasy convention art shows. My detailed pen and ink, pencil and watercolor illustrations still show traces of an early influence by the English Illustrator Arthur Rackham. And my cartoons were probably unduly influenced by Walt Kelly-- Mom & Dad were both big 'Pogo' fans and owned many of the collections.

Education and Career

     I majored in Commercial & Fine Art at Foothill College, and after one more watercolor class at San Jose State University began my career as a freelance artist. My earlier and better-known works include a set of four portfolios with dragon and unicorn themes published by Schanes & Schanes. Not long after that I began working in the comic book industry, primarily on two bimonthly black & white titles for Eclipse Comics. 'The Dreamery', for which I did a cartoon rendition of 'Alice Through the Looking Glass', and 'Fusion', a tongue-in-cheek science fiction fantasy (splitting the art chores with artist Steve Gallacci.) A humorous spin-off of one of the back-up stories in 'Fusion' was ‘The Weasel Patrol', a collaboration with Ken Macklin. It gained the attention of both Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, both of which seriously considered releasing it as a televison cartoon series. I also did the layouts and finished pencils for a three-part graphic novel rendition of Anne McCaffrey's 'Dragonflight'.  
     Like many other artists left high and dry by the collapse of the comic book market in the mid 1990's, I eventually landed in the then fledgling computer games industry. After a crash course in computer animation I worked at LucasArts doing cartoon character animation for their critically acclaimed PC game 'Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle', and 'Sam & Max Hit the Road'. I later freelanced for other computer game companies as well.
     I'm primarily a freelance commercial conceptual artist now, working on projects that involve cartooning, character or toy designs, logo design and book or magazine illustration. I often work on collaborate projects, and some past clients include Hasbro, Mattel, Electronic Arts, Totally Games, Big Ape Productions, Leapfrog, Yahoo!, XCOR, and Playdom. And I still occasionally display and sell my fine art and prints at sci-fi & fantasy convention art shows around the country. 

Current Location and New Gallery

Most recently my husband and I have started an online wildlife art gallery, please visit us at www.skylandgallery.com.

Now living in the Santa Cruz mountains in Northern California with my husband Frank Cirocco, I work primarily for his commercial art business 'Lightsource Studios', which he owns and manages with partner Gary Winnick. Visit their web site at www.lightsourcestudios.com.