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.

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.

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

Interview with Tania Vicedo About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

Tania-Vicedo_Artist-profile-pictureI met Tania Vicedo on the day of the Monogatari Release party set up. I love the pared-down style of her images. She really gets to the essence of her subject. I enjoyed speaking with her about her work. She graciously took the time to answer questions about her art and creative process for her story in Monogatari.

Q: How long have your been making sequential art?
I made my first comics when I was a teenager inspired by manga and the cartoons on TV. However by that time I don’t think I finished any of the stories completely.

During my MA Communication Design at Kingston University, London (2014–2016) I got interested again in sequential art specifically in wordless stories. I really enjoyed books by the independent publisher Nobrow. In consequence to that, my final project was a wordless and completely handmade book on the topic of emotions. To see the project please visit this link: https://taniavicedo.net/Emotional-Symmetries-book

After I graduated, I made a short graphic story for the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize, which got shortlisted and exhibited in Orbital Comics, London. Because of this I decided to make a zine version of this story which I have been bringing with me to several zine and illustration events. Please see the project here: https://taniavicedo.net/In-a-not-so-far-future-zine

Nowadays, even though my main focus is on creating conceptual illustrations, I keep creating sequential art for personal projects or collaborations, such as Monogatari.

Q: What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I like that there is always a narrative to it. It is a medium for telling stories, and it is as diverse as films or books can be.

As I mentioned earlier I am particularly interested in wordless visual stories for several reasons. I like that they are universal, anyone can read the visual language despite of the word language they speak. However the visual language is not a precise one, so anyone will interpret in their own unique way and will perceive the story differently, which in my opinion that makes it a very interesting experience.

Q: What inspired your story for Monogatari?
I was inspired by my neighborhood charming irregular buildings which remained me of the wabi-sabi philosophy, that’s why I decided to make a series of images on this topic.

Wabi-sabi in its origins referred to the solitude felt when living in nature and it was also linked to the tea ceremony. It is also about looking closer, appreciating imperfection and the pass of time.

In my story I made a sequence of images so they are a continuous close up, one vignette leads to the other, so the next vignette is a close up of the previous one (except for the two last ones).

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

I am happy I was able to tell a story completely without words this time. Also I am happy about how I found this story; during the brainstorming stage I had the ideas for what could be some other stories, but I reached a point where I was drawing a tea cup, and then I drew the crack on it, and then I could see the crack looked like a mountain. From that moment, I was able to build the story quite smoothly. I am happy I could find an idea in the serendipity of the process.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making your story?

Coming up with a story is always challenging. But it also was working in black and white, as I usually work using colours.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
I really recommend the work of Marion Fayolle, especially her book ‘In Pieces.’  Her stories are incredibly ingenious and funny.

Also the work by Jon McNaught is very interesting. He creates these quiet, poem like graphic stories which are also very beautiful. I like his book ‘Birchfield Close’.

I would like to recommend also the work of Evan M. Cohen and María Medem. They both create very unique sequential stories which they share on their Instagram accounts.

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?
In my website and social media:

https://taniavicedo.net/
https://www.instagram.com/taniasillustration/
https://www.facebook.com/tanias.illustration/

Tania-Vicedo_monogatari-exhibition

Mildred Trevor Thornes Giveaway

Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.
Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.

Finally!

I finished the drawings for the winner of The Great Mushroom Detective’s hedgehog-character naming contest. I ended up calling the international-hedgehog-of-mystery-criminal-mastermind Mildred Trevor Thornes of the Hedgely Trevor-Thornes. It started with casting the villain for The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom. Once I settled on the hedgehog, I needed a good name. Readers to the rescue! Big thanks to Dolly Tartan who supplied the names Mildred or Thornes.

The portrait angle of Mildred was pretty difficult for me but I finally came up with a sketch that I like. I love how she looks like she’s up to wickedness in the front-view. The portraits I drew made her look too sweet. I drew on artist trading card illustration board. I really like that surface for drawing.

Here’s the finished gift (photographed on the train so there are some weird reflections).

Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.
Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.

 

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MaiNichi Mushroom Issue #2 Update: Casting Shiitake Sensei.

Work progresses on MaiNichi Mushroom Magazine. I’d hoped to have Issue 2 ready before now but got stuck with details about taxonomy. How much detail to include? How much to leave out? How to make it interesting? I’m not sure if I succeeded but Issue 2 is almost ready to go.

“The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom” continues to be a lot of fun to write. I outlined the whole story but now I’m reconsidering the ending. You’ll see why later in this article. I have 10 more issues to go so no critical choices to make yet.

The second biggest challenge for Issue 2 was casting Shiitake Sensei for “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom.” When I was writing the story, I imagined Shiitake Sensei’s character but not his appearance. I toyed with the idea of Shiitake Sensei as an owl, it didn’t seem to fit. I like the sketch but… something’s not right. I suppose it’s too cliche to have an owl teacher, plus owls don’t eat mushrooms.  A quick search about animals that eat mushrooms lead me to ants, mice, some birds, slugs, deer, hedgehogs and badgers.

shiitakesensei-cast-1-web-loriono-thespendypencil

So I made some random sketches— in effect casting Shiitake Sensei. Some research revealed that hedgehogs are not native to Japan, but badgers are! I originally dismissed the badger because I mixed it up with tanuki  (racoon dog). In Japanese folklore tank are shape-changing tricksters. And that choice also seemed a bit cliche. Then I learned that badgers (anaguma or mujina) are often mixed up with tanuki, even by Japanese people.

I love this badger! The badger has this kind of slumbering gravitas that I imagined when I created Shiitake Sensei.

The hedgehog was a surprise for me. I think he’s hilarious. This sketch is making me rethink my story so I can cast the hedgehog as the villain.

So with these decisions made and one last sketch to go, Issue 2 is coming to a close. Here’s hoping that the subsequent issues move along a lot faster.

If you’re interested in MaiNichi Mushroom, you can learn a little bit more about it here. I’m hoping to have 12 issues ready for Tokyo Art Book Fair 2016.

Birthday Zine Update: Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover

Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
I’ve almost got the cover completed. I want to add a fox behind the mushrooms or looking up at them as if they are gigantic. I used the illustration I posted about yesterday. I scanned the sketch and then applied the dark strokes filter to a copied layer of the sketch and reduced the opacity to see some of the sketch underneath.

Still having font issues. I gave up on looking for cute fonts in Japanese. I used Hiragino Gothic Standard, rasterized it and played with the edges. I just wanted a softer, more playful look for the kanji. I’m also going to change the font for Fiction Feature–it’s hard to read on the mushroom colored background.

Now that I’m doing content for 10 Types of Mushrooms, I realize I’m going to have to change it to 5 types. It’s getting pretty text heavy, and frankly, I’m getting bored. Plus I still need to write “The Great Mushroom Detective.” Games are done and put into a Photoshop file. Still thinking about how to decorate them.

My first idea is to print the zine on craft paper, but the stuff I have is quite dark. I’ll probably need to do some color adjustments for text. But it’s kind of coming together.

Birthday Zine 

I’m making a zone for my husband’s birthday. It’s themed around the story of a little fox who likes to study and collect mushrooms but slightly formatted like a lifestyle magazine. Maybe it seems odd but we live in Japan. Cute is a thing here.

And because I’m like Foxy (I’m great with names, aren’t l?) I’ve also been studying up on mushrooms.

I spent three hours yesterday trying to find cute Japanese fonts. It’s an interesting but overwhelming proposition. I found some free sites but I feel nervous about downloading them. I tried to get to the font creator’s site when I could. But that virus fear doesn’t go away easily.

I’ve got three puzzles done and two illustrations. I “finished” two illustrations today. I’d like to do more with them but I think it’s time to just say enough.

 I like the pencil drawing but it doesn’t really do with th playful tone of the zone. 

line drawing. media: frixion erasible pen
 

The Foxy Mushroom Detective would be better with some more depth, shading or color but I only have time for a line drawing.

Well, work in progress at any rate.

Artist Interview with Daniela Arias

Daniela Arias at work in her studio in Kotoriya

From: Patagonia, Argentina, currently Buenos Aires

Currently: Illustrator for graphic design and editorial.

 

Tell me about your work and your medium?
I started in graphic design and moved into illustration. Mostly I use water color and pencil on paper. I like lines. I paint as if I’m using drawing material.

I love illustrating. When I imagine something it’s like a comic. I imagine things in panels. I think I don’t communicate very well. What I do is like a bridge. If I have a pencil I can draw and I feel like people can understand who I am or what I am thinking. But I think whoever is making art is doing that.

daniela-arias-5-webInteresting Point that Daniela Made During Our Discussion
We make what we make to understand who we were before this moment. What makes us the way we are now.

Why did you choose to come to Japan.?
I’m a big Japan fan. I wanted to come to Japan for ten years. I really like that in Japan people talk about anime and manga and it’s not just for children. Even adults have a favorite Studio Ghibli movie.

Why did you choose Shiro Oni?

I decided that when I come to Japan I wanted to have a real taste of what it is like to live in Japan. I like what Shiro Oni is trying to accomplish. It was great to participate in the culture here. I’m in the matsuri (festival) not just taking pictures of it.*

daniela-arias-1-webWhat are you working on now?
I planned to do an illustrated travelogue. After meeting local people. I changed my idea. I want to make short stories, fantasy-style recollections of my travels. I also want to do some portraits–not a real life style. I like drawing people the way I remember them.

Find out more about Daniela’s work on her website:
www.behance.net/dani-arias

Daniela’s End of Residency Show is on July 7/25-26 at Shiro Oni Studio
370-1401 Gunma Fujioka Onishi 529 Japan
http://www.shirooni.com/about/directions/

daniela-arias-4-webHow to Get to Shiro Oni From Tokyo (train and bus)

  • Tokyo -> Honjo Station 本庄駅 on JR Takasaki Line (I like to take Shonan Shinjuku Liner because it goes straight to Honjo)
    • fare about 1660 depending on originating station
  • Use South Exit.
  • Take the bus which stops in front of the 7-11., bus leaves about once an hour
  • Get off at Onishi Yubinkyoku Mae (鬼石郵便局前)**. Bus fare is 660 yen.
  • Walk about five minutes to Shiro Oni Residency main building, Kinuya.

*The Shiro Oni artists in residence practiced and prepared with their Onishi neighbors pulling the yatai and playing taiko for the Onishi Summer Matsuri

**If you use a train navigation app you can enter the kanji and it will give you the departure times for the bus from Honjo.

Artist Interview with Teresa Currera

Theresa Currea at her desk.

 

Based In:  Columbia
Job: Full time artist with a tiny studio in Bogata.

 

Tell me about your work and your medium.
The majority of my work is with cut paper and different aspects of drawing, working with space and layers incorporating 3-D elements. I also do large size drawing and makes 3-D fabric versions of my illustrations.

Theresa Currea illustration cut out work in progress.

Why did you come to Japan?
In 1989 or 1990, a full package of Japanese shows from Japan came to Columbia about travel, food and entertainment. This has influenced my generation but older generation sees this but doesn’t understand the influence and don’t like it. Japanese artists have had a big influence on artists in Columbia. I always wanted to come here to see why. Isamu Noguchi, Takeshi Murakami, Hayao Miyazaki. I’m interested in Japanese paperwork and Japanese paper.

Why did you choose Shiro Oni Residency?
I won a prize to get money to attend a residency. I had one opportunity at the moment and wanted to go as far away as possible.

Interesting Point Theresa Made During Our Discussion

The artist has one question and tries to answer it with different methods and materials. This is the most important part for an artist when travelling to find different ways to answer that question.

What is your project here?

I started in January 2014. It’s inspired by the structures that living creatures use to protect themselves–camouflage, shells, hair, exoskeletons.

illustrated paper cut-outs on a string.Explore more of Theresa’s work on her website:
www.teresacurrea.com

Theresa’s End of Residency Show is on July 7/25-26 at Shiro Oni Studio
• 370-1401 Gunma Fujioka Onishi 529 Japan
http://www.shirooni.com/about/directions/

Going To Shiro Oni From Tokyo (train and bus)
• Tokyo ->Honjo Station 本庄駅 on JR Takasaki Line (I like to take Shonan Shinjuku Liner because it goes straight to Honjo) (fare about 1660 depending on original station)
• Use South Exit.
• Take the bus which stops in front of the 7-11., bus leaves about once an hour
• Get off at Onishi Yubinkyoku Mae (鬼石郵便局前). Bus fare is 660 yen.
• Walk about five minutes to Shiro Oni Residency main building, Kinuya.

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