How did you become an artist?
My dad had a huge collection of comics and graphic novels through my childhood, of which I had unbridled access to for just about my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are hanging off the counter of “Legends of Superheroes” while he handed in his catalogue of new issues and picked up the ones he’d ordered last month, or the month before that. Tons and tons of indie stuff from smaller publishers like Sirius, El Capitan, Avatar Press, Image, Top Cow and Mad Monkey. It was all I did, all day long. I just sat with cardboard boxes all around me and read and re-read anything I could find, and that’s something I still do. Eventually I fostered my own collection, and I imagine that’s what kicked me off the ledge.
I started writing before drawing. I was lucky I lived somewhere with public schools that focused in art, and I got my bachelor’s in illustration at university after that. My dad wanted to write, but never pursued it for work. My mom wanted to be an artist, but also didn’t pursue it. I ended up being this weird amalgamation of the two, and they let me foster those instincts. I think they just wanted to see what would happen; they always said, “You can do whatever you want, as long as you can pay your bills.” When I was little I wanted to tell these huge stories, I wanted to draw like the greats. I was also like, seven years old, so you can imagine how that went for a long time. While I cultivated my drawing abilities in school, I wrote about all the things I wasn’t good enough to draw, and that became its own inclination; truthfully, I’m a writer first. I don’t feel like a natural artist, I had to hammer away a lot of mediocrity before I could draw anything at all. But comics might’ve obsessed me; it’s something I just need to be able to do.
I graduated college and wandered around freelance-illustrating for a minute. Didn’t work out for me; it’s a weird feeling to go to school for eleven years for something and fail at it. Kinda funny. Instead, I kept the retail job I’d gotten while in college and I jumped feet-first into Webtoon, and eventually I made something people liked enough to support it. Now, all my work is funded by individuals, and creating my own work is my fulltime job. I write, draw, print and distribute everything myself. I know I want to publish comics, I know I want to write my own stories. Maybe those aspirations will carry me somewhere. Until then, I’m grateful to be able to do this in the capacity I do. I’m 26, I’ve got time to figure it out. Hopefully. I’ll keep it up regardless I think; comics are what I do so I’m not just frantically screaming all the time.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Oh god, where do I start with this and how will I stop.
I’d say Ray Bradbury, Bill Watterson of “Calvin and Hobbes” and Jeff Smith of “Bone” were my first big inspirations. I remember being like two feet tall and reading those back to front every single day; the 2500 page “Bone” collection was one of the first books I bought with my own money. Lawrence Andrew Hayes of “Poison Elves” was another big one. Joseph Michael Linsner of “Dawn”, Terry Moore of “Strangers in Paradise”, Paul Chadwick of “Concrete”, Art Spiegelman of “Maus”, a lot of people that wrote and drew and published their own comics and imprints back in the 80s and 90s. That really ingrained in me the idea that I could make my own stuff regardless of if a publisher wanted it, or if it would sell, or if it would be profitable, because I believed if I did it with enough skill and passion, people would see it and like it. My dad also had the entire collection of “The Sandman”, which I read a thousand times at varying degrees of understanding from ages 8 to 26. David Mack’s “Kabuki” was huge for me, too. There are a few other big ones whose names I won’t invoke because their current methods of self-expression are embarrassingly out-of-touch.
When I started collecting comics myself, I was hooked on X-Men, especially Chris Claremont’s work, and I also became obsessed with animation, music and film. I’m bound to fixate on any director, artist or musician that has a strong visual and written style. Off the top of my head, Ari Aster, Danny Boyle, Wes Andersen, Jordon Peele, David Lynch, Zack Snyder, Joel Schumacher, Hayao Miyazaki, I could go on and on. I’m one of those annoying people that will look at something that breaks convention and label it “better” on principle.
I think I take inspiration from everything. Literally everything. Music, sports, documentaries, video games, poetry, comics, novels, wrestling, animation, personal experiences, photography, gardening... everything is interesting. I’m entertained by dissecting every type of media and activity, I have an unending curiosity for people and how they act, and what they’re passionate about. People who create with a lot of passion, without the boundaries of convention, who don’t care if what their making is even coherent, make me really happy.
I’ll submit this interview and a minute later shout “Oh god! I didn’t mention -blank-! I can’t believe I didn’t say -blank- and -blank-!” I maintain my previous point, I’m a person of many interests, but I also try to respect people’s patience. I wrote that last sentence before this was four paragraphs long so now it’s the punchline.
What’s your hardware setup?
When I’m working digitally I’m using a Cintiq 22, a Huion Kamvas 24, and a Dell monitor. And a Dell computer, the internal contents of which terrify me. I don’t know the specs, but I know it wouldn’t win any fights.
What do you like best about Clip Studio Paint?
It’s clearly designed with comics in mind, something I can’t say for any other program I’ve used. The story and binding modes are lifesavers and the vector layers and line tools are, without exaggeration, wrist savers. Drawing in other programs was killing my joints because the stabilization wasn’t consistent, the fill and line tools weren’t flexible, and the process of working around obstacles to make comics was actually causing a lot of damage to my hands. In CSP I can fly through work that used to take me three times as long, and do it with self-care in mind. There’s always more than one way to complete a task, it’s very flexible software once you get the hang of it. And I’m still always discovering features and loving them and hating that I didn’t notice them sooner, like the story editor and Operation function.
How long does it take you to make a single illustration?
Totally depends, but for a full-fledged something, I’d say 15 to 20 hours. That goes for illustrative panels and spreads in my comics too. If it’s character art only, maybe 5-10 hours. Painting’s a whole other monster. Months, sometimes.
Would you consider Clip Studio Paint an industry tool?
I’m kind of an outsider here, but I’d say it should be a standard. If I’m able to do things better and faster and healthier in CSP than any other drawing software, it’s superior. Being self-employed means I’m responsible for my output 100% and CSP is the perfect tool for saving my sanity in that regard. If you’re using something else, you’re wasting time and energy in a thousand tiny ways.
Would you like to promote some recent project?
I write and illustrate the webcomic “Facing the Sun” on Webtoon Canvas. This is a very personal project, and it’s also my full-time job; It’s funded through Patreon by fans, and I’m incredibly grateful that I can do it for a living and on my own terms.
I’m also co-creating a new series with my partner Franc Dicoi tentatively called “Untitled Monster Project”, about a newly-turned vampire who’s taken in by a found family of werewolves, witches and more in a 1990s-inspired city setting. It’s something I’m extremely excited for, and we’re looking for funding for it currently.
Where can we follow your work?