Interview with Julia Nascimento About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

I met Julia Nascimento last year when she came to an Art Byte Critique meeting. She showed us her books and her illustrations and I was blown away. One of the things I love about Julia is her vision and her drive to create not just art, but community. She has enriched the Tokyo art community by setting up the Sequential Art Meetup. Many thanks to Julia for taking the time to answer questions about her art and collaborative process with Craig Atkinson for their Monogatari story, “Little Key.”

Julia-Nascimento-artist-illustrator-indie-creatorHow long have your been making sequential art?
I’ve been telling stories visually since I was very young. But it only got serious when I started FE&JUada Comics with Felipe Kolb Bernardes, which is a series about our life as a foreign couple living in Japan.

What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I really enjoy being able to use images and words together, and balancing how I use them depending on which way I want to tell a particular story.

What inspired your story for monogatari?
This time I collaborated with a local writer, Craig Atkinson. He provided the text about a lost key in Shibuya and I created four illustrations for it.
When Erica Ward and I decided the theme for ToCo’s second issue was going to be “monogatari”, we agreed that the focus should be inanimate objects, rather than people. Shibuya always represented a kind of sea of people for me, and I tried to depict people as a form of landscape, once the main subject of the story is a key.

What are you most proud of in your story?
To be honest what I’m most proud of is the fact we were able to put together such an amazing book with thirteen stories! I took the first printing test with me to read during a long overseas flight and it was extra special to read it up in the air. The stories are so different from each other yet they give the reader a great feeling of diversity that Tokyo has.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?
Working in the same piece with another person is always a challenge, both sides need to be in tune for the partnership to be successful. At first I thought of drawing the story in panels, but the text I received from Craig was nothing close to what I imagined as comics, and I didn’t wanted to force the story into something it was not. So I had to figure out a way to display the text on my illustrations in a meaningful way for the storytelling itself.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
I do! I love Julia Wertz’s brutally honest comics (plus she does an amazing job drawing interior), Sarah Glidden‘s journalistic watercolor comics, and Carson Ellis‘ whimsical picture books. I’m also a huge fan of Daniel Clowes and Adrien Tomine. Guy Delisle‘s comics diaries abroad are also a delight! As for Japanese authors, I love Yukari Takinami‘s “Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan”, Junji Ito‘s “Uzumaki”, and Katsuhiro Otomo‘s “Akira” was probably my first encounter with manga in my uncle’s storage boxes when I was around five or six years old.

Where can people find out more about your work?
You can find me on Instagram, Tumblr, Bigcartel for my shop, and on Carbonmade for my portfolio. My autobiographical comics FE&JUada is on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Bigcartel under @feijuadacomics.

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Drawlloween 2018 Daily Sketch Practice Wrap Up

Did you notice the surge of illustrations on social media in October? Have you heard about Inktober? What about Mab’s Drawlloween Club? Both provide a drawing prompt for everyday of October. Anyone can participate by sharing their illustration and tagging it with the challenge name. Inktober, created by Jake Parker, has topics which are perhaps broader in scope. Mab Graves, creator of Drawlloween, makes prompts oriented to Halloween or horror genres.

I’ve wanted to do Inktober for a couple years but was a little shy to do it on my own. This year, an artist friend started a small group on Facebook to support each other through the Drawlloween challenges. Sharing the art more widely on social media was optional. Perfect!

The idea of some kind of daily practice without a lot of pressure was really appealing. But I didn’t want to get too caught up in this challenge while I had other obligations. I set a few personal rules:
1. Try to spend no more than 20 minutes on a sketch
2. Try to use a medium I’m not good at or comfortable with.
3. You have permission to make bad drawings

Week 1:

LIKES: The Cat, the mushrooms, the haunted object
DISLIKES: The witch, the lab. Mainly time issues. My idea for the lab was an old alchemist lab but… ideas bigger than my skill.
DISCOVERIES: I’m not as good at pencil drawing as I thought. Drawing on Post-Its is awesome. White ink on black paper isn’t what I thought it would be. WORK SMALLER!

Week 2:


LIKES: The yokai, the lagoon creature, the vampire.
DISLIKE: The skeleton. It was freaking hard, couldn’t put in the time and it shows. 😦
DISCOVERIES: I love the idea for spider babies. I’ve m finding that some of my ideas are not going to happen in a single, quick, sketch. I’m spending time on pen and ink and I think I’m getting a bit better.

Week 3:

LIKES: Werewolf, Rat
DISLIKES: Seance
DISCOVERIES: The wax crayon (Caran d’Ache) was fun but I have to relax on detail control with them. My determination to make the white on black paper is… I just need to let that go.

Week 4:

LIKES: I like the pun for pumpkin. The Lint Monster (which was surprisingly popular) but I’m not a fan of anything in particular.
DISLIKES: Pretty much this whole week, especially the forest.
DISCOVERIES: Super swamped with deadlines and visiting family in the hospital. I wasn’t doing these daily. At first I was excited by the prompts and then I found them excruciating. The watercolour pens for the forest annoy the heck out of me. I’m frustrated and annoyed with the stuff I’m making but since I’m 21 days in, I’m not going to quit. I liberally applied the DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT rule.

Final Days:

LIKES: Mary Shelley was the one I was least keen on at first. It’s my favourite. Victor Frankenstein is a single line drawing. The Bride… I find it funny.
DISLIKES: Not this week!
DISCOVERIES: By this time I’m caught up and doing one a day.  I think these are the best ones of the series. I took way longer than my allowed 20 minutes. My image of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab was similar to the day 5 challenge. I barely avoided that rabbit hole.

THE FAVORITES GALLERY:

SUMMING UP
Daily Practice: Momentum in a project is really a thing.
At the beginning, the idea of daily practice really appealed to me. By the third week, I’d fallen behind and started to get stressed. But having done 21 drawings gave me that extra push to make sure that I completed the challenge even though I was doing multiple drawings on some days.

Time Management: Reflect, compromise and know yourself?
No surprise that investing time gives better results. My favourite images took way more time than I planned. The biggest struggle here was letting go of certain visions in order to meet deadlines. A couple things were good: working smaller, use whatever is on hand (result was drawing on Post-its). I was really inspired by the artists I did the challenge with. They inspired me to make my work as good as possible. The drawback was  frustration. I know I could do better with more time. It was also easy to start comparing myself to them and that was totally not the point of the challenge. More importantly, we are all on different points of our artist journey and I think comparing yourself to another artist is a waste of time and harmful.

Different Media/ Technique Challenge: good to try new things but great to be in the comfort zone
I felt like pen and ink work improved a lot. Using black paper didn’t work out how I expected. The guache was better than white ink pen and the coloured pencil on black paper… no. I feel like I needed to try a wider variety of techniques. I realized my pencil drawing technique is not as good as I thought. That’s fine. It’s good to know what to work on.

Permission to make bad drawings: taken at full face value
This permission also freed me up to try different techniques. Even when I didn’t like the direction of the sketch I kept going. For me and this kind of practice, it’s important to say done is better than perfect. It also helped me with time management.

Anyway, a very long wrap-up of my daily art practice with Drawlloween. If you’re curious about any of the drawings, feel free to comment.

Also, if you have any art medium or techniques you recommend let me know. I do love to experiment.

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The Book of Eringi: A Mushroom Story

There’s a pile of polymer clay that I’ve wanted to incorporate into art-book making for a while. My previous experiments with polymer clay pages and coptic bindings will not see the light of day. Making new work for the September exhibition, Reading Between the Lines, provided inspiration to try polymer clay again.

The Book of Eringi

I liked the idea of having a realistic front and concertina pages. I tried first with a shiitake shape but the sculpture was too top heavy. Eringi proved an idea shape for the concertina  format I had in mind.

Pop Up Mushrooms
popout-mushroom-handmadebook-polymerclay-watercolor-lori-ono-2I have a bunch of small tins I planned to make into mini-sewing kits, but they ended up being made into a type of book, instead. I covered the lid with a thin layer of polymer clay and then sculpted mushrooms to go on top. My favourite challenge with polymer clay is mixing the clay until I get the right color. The pop-out mushrooms are hand-painted using watercolour

Glow in the Dark
It’s the same method as Pop-Out Mushrooms. The glow in the dark polymer clay actually glows in the dark! That was really exciting. I have some glow in the dark paint but haven’t decided what kind of content and how I want to design the pages yet.

Other Projects and Ideas
I started another book in the shape of a shiitake to do in the same format as the eringi. It didn’t work as the stem wasn’t thick enough and it kept falling over. I found an old hymnal book with pages falling out so I took the cover and attached the shiitake. I still haven’t figured out the content of The Shiitake Hymnal. I have another couple of ideas of layered images and cut outs that I want to try.  I’ll post those when I get more done on them.

QUESTION:
What kind of mushroom book would you like to see?

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Turning the Page–An Art-Book and Zine Exhibition at PAPER 2 Gallery

“Turning the Page” was an Art-book exhibition at Paper 2 gallery in Manchester that ran from September 29-October November 3, 2018. The exhibition was a collaboration between British artists and members of a Tokyo art collective called Art Byte Critique.

It was really exciting to see the collaboration between the two work and for artists from each group to see their work in the other country via Skype chats and videos.

The British artists generously shared their images of the reception at Paper 2 Gallery. It looked like a great time. I wish I could have been there.

-above images courtesy of the artists

Joan Birkett of St. Helens connected with Tokyo-based Art Byte Critique through Arthur Huang to develop relationships and collaborations. The two groups have had previous collaborations in St. Helens, UK,  at Heart of Glass  and Eccleston Community Library for for World Book Day.

Find out more about the participating artists by clicking the links below:
Jane Barwood
Joan Birkett
Paul Cousins
Deanna Gabiga
Arthur Huang
Patty Hudak
Mariko Jesse
Yuko Kamei
A.J. Malone
Jeni McConnell
Carol Miller
Julia Nascimento
Lyle Nisenholz
Mia O
Lori Ono
Jacqui Priestley
Louise Rouse
Yvonne Tinsley
Claire Weetman
Nick West

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Reading Between the Lines–An Art-Book And Zines Exhibition at Launch Pad Gallery

In September, Art Byte Critique artists collaborated with artists from the UK for joint art book exhibitions in two countries. “Reading Between the Lines” at Launch Pad Gallery in Yokohama ran from September 21-October 1, 2018. “Turning the Page” was at Paper 2 gallery in Manchester from September 29-October November 3, 2018.

Joan Birket of St. Helens in the UK developed the connection to Tokyo-based Art Byte Critique to develop relationships and collaborations. The two groups have had previous collaborations in St. Helens, UK,  at Heart of Glass  and Eccleston Community Library for for World Book Day.

Arthur Huang, Art Byte Critique founder, wrote an excellent summary of “Reading Between the Lines”

We would like to thank everyone who came out over the last two weeks to see the exhibition, attend the reception party, listen to artist talks, participate in bookmaking workshops, talk with artists, and most importantly, spend quality time with all the artists’ books created by 20 artists.

It was deeply inspiring and satisfying to see people discovering the book arts for the first time, donning white gloves to pore over the works, finding inspiration in the workshops, and talking about the works and the process.

A big thank you to Fred and Ling from Launch Pad Gallery for giving us the opportunity to put this exhibition together. Their support and enthusiasm for this exhibition was priceless. Thank you to all the Art Byte Critique artists for amazing work and their collective effort in putting on a beautiful, fun, and engaging exhibition supplemented with artist talks and workshops!

Thank you to all the Northwest England artists for sharing their works with us and getting up early to have a great conversation about the book arts and creativity.

It has been an amazing two weeks and we look forward to future opportunities to share our love for book arts in the near future.

While “Reading Between The Lines” at Launch Pad Gallery closed at the beginning of October, Art Byte Critique and Northwest England Artists books were on display at PAPER 2 Gallery in Manchester for the “Turning the Page” artist book exhibition until November 3rd.

It’s been great to meet Fred and Ling at Launch Pad Gallery and to get to know the British artists and talk about books. I look forward to connecting and collaborating with them more often.

COMING SOON: Check this link to see images provided from the reception of Turning the Page at PAPER 2 Gallery

Find out more about the participating artists by clicking the links below:
Jane Barwood
Joan Birkett
Paul Cousins
Deanna Gabiga
Arthur Huang
Patty Hudak
Mariko Jesse
Yuko Kamei
A.J. Malone
Jeni McConnell
Carol Miller
Julia Nascimento
Lyle Nisenholz
Mia O
Lori Ono
Jacqui Priestley
Louise Rouse
Yvonne Tinsley
Claire Weetman
Nick West

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Interview With Jessica Whitfield About Sequential Art and Monogatari

Jessica is one of the collaborating artists in Monogatari. We didn’t have the chance to meet as she couldn’t make it to the release party. Her story about the Romance Car, a train that travels from Tokyo to Hakone, shows a keen observation of Japan with a perfect dash of whimsy. Jessica kindly took the time to reply to my questions about her work.
jessica-whitfile-illustration-sequential-stories-comics-interview-thespendypencil

Q: How long have your been making sequential art?

I’ve been sketching cartoon strips for about 6 months. It started as a diary to try and remember funny things my friends said during the day. Monogatarizine with ToCo is my first published piece!

Q: What do you like about sequential art compared toother forms of expression?

I like that sequential art is very accessible. You don’t have to understand art to get it. It’s also a little nostalgic.

Q: What inspired your story for Monogatari?

I think Japan must be the only country in the world to make people fall in love with trains. Nearly every one I met in Japan would get animated talking about their favourite train line. I worked in a kindergarten so trains were a massive deal for the kids and a great way to make friends! My favourite train in Japan is the romance car; I love the style, the destination (Hakone)and the name of it.

Q: What are you most proud of in your story?

I feel proud that I was able to capture the small things that made me love Tokyo; like the little plant pots outside houses and seasonal flowers.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?

The hardest aspect was coming up with an original plot! I wanted it to be a love story but not too cliché or soppy.

Q: Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artiststhat you recommend to readers?

I love Dodge Greenley’s instagram comics. Yumi Sakugawa is another inspirational sequential illustrator!

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?

For now, just my instagram: genki_jess

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Kanna Arts Matsuri 2018

This view  greets me overtime I return to Onishi. The weather may change but the green and the water are always welcoming.

Onishi, Gunma has a great art residency program with Shiro Oni Studio. The studio and the town are really doing great things to support art. 2018 marks the fourth Kanna Art Matsuri. This festival also showcases the work by the artists in residence during that session.  It’s  a great time to relax, meet people and enjoy looking at and talking about art.

I really enjoyed the residents’ artist talks. In fact, I was so into what they were saying, I forgot to take photos!

As a past artist in residence and being a local-ish artist, I was invited to participate. This year I showed three pieces I took in Onishi during different visits. I printed on washi paper and mounted them on gessoed wood panel.

The chair scene and the glass of plum wine are from a summer I was writing haiku on the second floor of the Shiro Oni Studio’s repurposed old kimono shop called Kinuya.

onishi-shiro-oni-studio-kanna-autumn-art-festival-lori-ono

My work just before taking it down.

onishi-shiro-oni-studio-kura-lori-ono

The Kura of the old sake brewery that hosts Kana Arts Matsuri

onishi-shiro-oni-studio-mushrooms-lori-ono

 

I had a chance to continue my mushroom photo project after I helped with the deinstall. I appreciate the way Shiro Oni Studio gives different ways to work on one’s art practice and also experience nature.

Thanks Shiro Oni Studios and artists for the great art festival!

 

note: edited Nov 3rd, 2018 to put in the correct video–the Sanba River instead of the hedgehog video. Though hedgehog was pretty cute.

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