About The Artist

Welcome to my site. My name is Valerie Totire and I'm an illustrator, cartoonist, sculptor and (sometimes) animator and humor writer based out of Cleveland, Ohio.

People always ask me if I've gone to school to learn how to draw. While I did attend a university for several years, drawing and being creative have been a way of life for me ever since I can remember. As a child and was always keeping myself busy drawing pictures and writing my own stories or comics featuring original characters. I often describe myself as an "actress with stage fright", because I'm most interested in drawing characters that convey a situation, emotion or story.

I landed my first illustration-related job at age 19, working for commission as a cartoonist for a caricature card and sign shop in downtown Cleveland. During this time I was also attending Kent State University and majoring in fine art. pursuing a course of study with the intent of entering the animation field. I took several years of life drawing and life modeling, studying humans and animals in both form and action.

Even though I was still attending college, as it so happened, American Greetings was right down the street from me. One day in 1989 I decided to bring my portfolio in for an interview, and was hired as a writer/concept artist by the editorial department, which eventually evolved into the Alternative Cards division.

Since then I've been making my living as an illustrator. My background is primarily figure drawing and cartooning, but I've adapted to incorporate many different styles. When approaching a project, I try to think like both an actor and an art director, interpreting style to convey the voice or tone: "If I were the sender, what kind of attitude would I wish to convey? What style would best convey mood and attitude? What kind of situation could I show, and how would a character's expression and body language appear?"

Beyond greeting card illustration I've also acquired experience in a variety of other illustration-related fields, including character development and design; toy concept and design; storyboarding; animation; children's book illustration; ghosting for a comic strip and art retouching. I've worked for other clients including Those Characters From Cleveland, Character Matters, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and K & M International (toys).

Even though my schedule can be busy, I always welcome new clients and am always looking for new opportunities to expand my repertoire and develop my work even further. (And, of course, opportunities for licensing and merchandising). Currently, I've begun working more with three-dimensional sculpts and would like to return to my original interest in animation.

When I'm not working I enjoy (among other things): reading, writing, armchair philosophy, surfing the Web, travel and photography.

To inquire about commissioned work, click here.





(personal correspondence please use alleycatstudio1@yahoo.com)





Welcome to Alleycat-art.com, the commercial portfolio site of Valerie Totire. Valerie Totire is a Cleveland-based illustrator who has been working professionally since the mid-1980's. Keywords: Valerie Totire, Val Totire, Totire, Alleycat Studio, illustration, cartoon illustration, cartooning, character design, concept and design, sculpture, greeting card illustration,, caricature, political caricature, sculpts, sculptures, toys, toy design, storyboarding, animal illustration, animals, cats, dogs