PHILOSOPHY | never settle. never stop growing. always compete with yourself and be self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.
CURRENTLY LOST IN | san francisco.
TEMPERMENT | virgo & fire tiger.
THINGS ENJOYED | drawing. coffee & tea. anime. spinach. everything black. alice in wonderland. astrology. ghosts. alternative fashion. calligraphy. the forest. summer rain. candlelight.
ESSENTIAL MUSIC | dir en grey. ling tosite sigure (凛として時雨). one ok rock. merry. plastic tree. capsule. immi. rip slyme. 8-eit. cinema staff. 9mm parabellum bullet. mucc. fact.
ARTISTS ADMIRED | takato yamamoto. aya takano. takashi murakami. shirow masamune. aya kato. james jean. joao ruas. daniel danger. amy earles. yun kouga. kaori yuki. fukaya yuichiro. tama. yoskay yamamoto. shirow miwa. hima kawagoe.
What drove you to become an artist?
When I was young, my mother actually took me to her office when I wasn't able to go to school on holidays or whatever. I ended up being really bored with being there. Since it was a computer science company there wasn't much there other than computer and office supplies, and computers weren't fun back then like they are now. So I began to learn to draw to entertain myself. The moment I really knew that art was something I wanted to pursue was actually during high school. I realized after not having the mind to grasp computer science, that art was really something I wanted to do and that I was good at and wanted to be better at. So in the end, my boredom as a kid and my realization of it being something that I enjoyed and could be self-motivated about was what drove me into being an artist.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Right now, I wouldn't call what I do a profession. It's a dream for me to call it a profession just yet. But I love being able to spend my time drawing things I like to draw and sharing those thoughts and feelings with people who appreciate it as much as I enjoyed putting what I love into it.
What Inspires you to keep drawing?
Seeing other art or watching other people succeed at their own dreams keeps me going. I love trying to top my last drawing and to better polish my own skills or learn new ones to more accurately depict what I wish to show on paper.
Did you have any internships in college, if so what was the internship for?
I did not have any internships in college, but I had one in high school. I worked at ArtSpace, a local non-profit organization geared towards creating a space for artist studios and classes to be held in Raleigh, NC. My mentor was Eric McRay (http://mcraystudios.com) where I learned a bulk of what it means to be an artist in the art business. It's not just painting what you love, but also knowing how to paint what you love and make money too. It's also about marketing and promoting your work and you. The image you create isn't just your work, but your personality and your public image as well. It's also about networking and people skills. Things you wouldn't normally think about right of the bat when you decide "I want to be an artist."
What problems did you face inside your profession?
Problems... Let's see... I guess explaining my profession right now would be best to start. I consider my art to be a part-time profession. I attend Anime Conventions to sell my work at. There is Artists Alley, which is usually a place set aside for artists to show and sell their work. Currently there is a standing issue within the anime community about original work versus fan work/fanart. Fanart is creating your own work with characters that are not your own. In Japan, this is not seen as a big deal but more of an act that promotes the original work. In America, this is in all terms, a copyright violation UNLESS it's a parody of the original. This tends to be completely overlooked by any and all who attend Anime Conventions in America. While I understand that Fanart has a part in these events, and that you make good money doing it, I choose not to let Fanart be a large part of my body of work. Probably only 5% of my work is actually Fan work. Most of my earnings are from my original work, but in the end people attending these events will many times pass by my work without looking since they don't recognize the familiar characters they know and love. I am always having inner debates about if I should do more Fanart or if I should just continue only doing my original work. It's a tough choice, but so far I've kept to mostly my original work. In the end, I think creating your own vision is more important than making the money quickly and up front. I want people to know my work and to like my work for what it is.
How long did it take to move up in the field when you first started out?
I've been doing Anime Conventions as an artist for almost a decade at this point. That's how long it's taken me. It can take some people longer and some people much shorter. I'm still not really where I would like to be, but I'm not an impatient person when it comes to "moving up" in my field. I want to properly grow and change and get better. Right now I don't think I am a professional artist. I want to be one in the future. But I don't think I'm good enough just quite yet.
How well do traditional means of drawing compare to digital means in the field today?
Regardless of anyone ending up in a digital or traditional medium, you should always have traditional training. Not much can really replace that kind of learning. I like being hands on with media, even if I don't like a certain medium, I will try it. I've done everything from charcoal to paint and from pencil to tablet, even screen printing and fibers. It's good to experience media, even if it's not in your comfort zone. The more you do the more influences you'll gain and be able to use in your vault of skills.
Have you ever experienced an art block, if so what do you recommend for moving past it?
How can any artist not ever experience an art block??? The only way I think to move past it is to actually pause with whatever you're stuck with and go do something else. Look at what inspires you and look at other artwork. I keep tons of inspiring art books and a folder of inspiration images on my computer. That way if I am ever stuck, I can set it down and just look at other things until I have decided on what to do.
What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out or still in college?
Don't rush it. Take in everything you can and really make the effort to define you and your own art style. It's easy enough to just rip off someone else's idea and tweak it as your own. It's a lot harder to create something brand new. But there really isn't anything like creating something that people haven't seen and seeing their reactions to it. Make a lot of friends. They will help you in the long run in one way or another. Networking is one of the biggest things I cannot stress enough to anyone who wants to be an artist. If no one knows about you, you can't go very far. Take an interest in yourself (without being arrogant) and really find who you are, who you want to be, and how to get from point A to point B. And lastly, NEVER stop improving. Don't get comfortable. Just keep pushing and pushing. I met a guest teacher who used to teach figure drawing to Disney animators who said, "the more I draw and the older I get, the less I know about drawing." I feel that this really stuck with me because even though I feel I get better, I always feel like there is so much more to improve on than I could even attempt to master in a lifetime. But it's ok, I'm going to keep trying anyways. And you should too.
[ Interview by Ja-mes Kirkwood in 2009. ]