Saturday, July 28, 2007

Artist Profile: Jayd Aït-Kaci

Jayd Aït-Kaci better known on the net as Chira-chira didn’t get serious about drawing until she was about 14. Yet, at 20 she’s become pretty popular on sites such as deviantArt and also runs a webcomic, Salad Days with her friend Alex Singer. She currently lives in Vancouver, BC and is planning on attending the University of British Columbia for their Japanese program. The highlight of her artwork includes the fantastic emotion and body language she puts into all the characters she draws.

Rococo Flow: What school do you go to? That is if you go to any particular art school or something of the sort.

Jayd: I'm not going to any schools at the moment. I was attending Vancouver Film School earlier in the year for their animation program, but I resigned after a couple of months. Fantastic school--nothing but good things to say about it, but it was way too intense for someone like me, as I wasn't too serious about following the road of an animator. I'm looking into attending University of British Columbia next, mainly for their Japanese program.

Rococo Flow: Care to give us a brief bio about anything you think may be interesting? Such as your name, how do you pronounce it? (Because I would hate to go around pronouncing it wrong).

Jayd: *laugh* Story all on its own. My family is a very diverse one (we're each born in a different place, it's insane). I was born in Austin, Texas but that just makes me an American by birth. I lived my childhood in Paris, France, and though we eventually migrated over to Canada there's been traveling to many places still.

As for my name, my father is Algerian (his native language being French) and my mother is Venezuelan (her language being Spanish), so they wanted a name that could be pronounced as similar as possible across languages. "Jayd" ended up being a funny spelling of "Jade" for that very purpose. My last name, Aït-Kaci, is a French butchering of an Algerian surname. I forgot what it meant precisely but it's pronounced Ah-eet-kah-see.

Rococo Flow: I guess taking French in school is paying off for me now.

Jayd: I've forgotten a lot of it! Truth is I know more Japanese than I know French right now. I haven't spoken it in years, I still have the accent though.

Rococo Flow: So what got you interested in taking Japanese? Especially since you're looking into that program?

Jayd: I've always been very fascinated by languages, but Japanese came mostly from my interest in anime and manga. I started catching on very early that there's a lot lost in translation when it comes to translating Japanese into English, so when a Japanese course became available to me in high school I immediately jumped on it (I even tried to get into it a year earlier than I could). I completely fell in love with the language and the culture beyond anime because of it. I hope to live in Japan for a few years one day.

Rococo Flow: That’s understandable. You're lucky too, since most people have to wait till college before they even have a chance to take any languages that aren't Spanish, French or German. That said, how long have you been drawing and how did you get interested in art?

Jayd: Well I've always been an artistic person, but truthfully I didn't want to have anything to do with art until I was fourteen. I was kind of in denial. I used to excel at math and sciences for a large portion of my life, until I made a subconscious switch to more humanitarian subjects (it caught me by surprise!). I also aspired to be a writer (again, fascination with languages) because everything else seemed like a better career path than making something of dumb “ah-nee-may” doodles in the margin of papers.

However, when I started discovering the internet and making friends online, I ended up letting out the dirty secret of my little sketches. My best friend at the time encouraged me heavily to develop it. Five years later I've come a long way and I accepted that I wouldn't be satisfied in telling stories in any other medium other than drawing. I don't kid myself in being an artist (I honestly don't think myself as one, it's just easy to tell people I am one), but telling stories through art is what I'd like. It turned out to be a much easier vehicle than writing.

Rococo Flow: So are you thinking of pursuing a career in creating comics or manga as some may call it?

Jayd: Absolutely. I did a small doujinshi two years ago (for Bleach) as my first experimentation in sequential art. While it drove me completely crazy with stress, it gave birth to a love for it. Not even a year later I started a collaborated web comic project with my brilliant friend Alex (aka Moonsheen online) as kind of training wheels for my goal.

Rococo Flow: Excellent, maybe it's just me but it seems like there aren't as many ongoing web comics as there used to be. Perhaps, it's because people have gone on to other things as they get older. You said you did a Bleach doujin, who are some of your influences?

Jayd: Too many to name, and from every corner. But a few: in art, people would be quick to label Kubotite (author of Bleach) as my main idol because there are similarities in my style and his, but honestly he's my idol when it comes to the comic setup itself and story pacing rather than his art. Although I love his stuff a lot too *laugh*. The one that I took most influence from is Kishimoto Masashi of Naruto fame, which is something I haven't told many people. I'm not really a fan of the manga, but his art is amazing. I took my anatomy and perspective cues largely from him.

Though, for the past year or so, Disney and western animation in general have been strongly developing my work. Right now I'm trying to understand the mechanics of environmental and background drawing, which has been my Achilles' heel for years (I love drawing people too much), and the person I'm looking to that the most is Akihiko Yoshida, character designer of Yasumi Matsuno games by Square-Enix.

Rococo Flow: So as it is now, how would you describe your own style?

Jayd: A blend of anime and western? I honestly don't think on it too much, other than it being really, really cartoony. I leave the interpretations of what my art looks like to the people who view it.

Rococo Flow: Could you describe your general approach to creating a picture?

Jayd: I start with a rough of the overall body language and line of action. When I actually start drawing, I start with the face--the eyes specifically. The eyes are the number one most expressive part you can draw, and while it also determines the emotion of the character, it also solidifies the size, shape, and perspective of the entire picture. After that I work into refining the head, hair, shoulders, etc. until I work down the body and then add clothes and finishing touches.

Rococo Flow: What's your favorite and least favorite part of the drawing process?

Jayd: My favorite is by far the face. I think it's clear in my drawings that I just really, really love making my characters expressive without words. My least favorite part... would probably have to be my own impatience *laugh*. I doodle a lot because my attention span doesn't last very long. It's fun for the first bit but it can quickly turn into a chore if it lasts too long. This is largely why I find backgrounds such a pain, because they're so last minute and an afterthought.

Rococo Flow: What tools/programs do you primarily use for your artwork?

Jayd: I work primarily digitally, since the undo button is my god. I use a Wacom 6x8 tablet with the program Painter for my illustration purposes (for coloring and prints and the like) and Deleter Comicworks for quick sketching or comic purposes. Traditional mediums I rarely go beyond the simple pencils and paper, though I'm looking to practice with markers lately.

Rococo Flow:
Do you think there's a divide between those who work primarily with a digital canvas as opposed to those who stick to just traditional media?

Jayd: Nah, I just think it's a matter of preference. The subject of the artwork determines the quality, not the medium. A good artist, I think, will make oneself as rounded and capable as possible to as many of the resources and tools she or he has access to, as well as style, so it really doesn't matter if it's digital or traditional.

Rococo Flow: Sounds good. Do you have any advice for any aspiring artists?

Jayd: Considering I'm still an aspiring artist myself this is a little difficult to answer! Well, best advice I can give is to be open and educate yourself. The more you know the more you can apply yourself to your work and grow. And practice. If I ever feel I need to stop practicing that means that someone needs to punch me because I'd be totally full of myself.

Rococo Flow: Fun question: If you could be any character from a cartoon, game, book, etc., who would you be?

Jayd: Fun? That's hard, man! But, I guess Sora from Kingdom Hearts. He gets to go around saving worlds, boogies down with Disney heroes and just beams sunshine all the while. He's living my childhood dream.

Rococo Flow: I LOVE the Kingdom Hearts series.

Jayd: It's so fantastic!

Rococo Flow: Actually, I absolutely love your “dancing Sora” pic, mainly because I don't see too many pictures of people dancing.

Jayd: I was surprised no one did a dancing Sora before me. He only shows how much he LOVES rocking out in the second game. Someday I plan to make a full colored sheet of him doing a Calvin & Hobbes thing, he deserves it.

Rococo Flow: That would be awesome.

Jayd: Great anatomy practice too ;-)

Rococo Flow: Are there any other comments you'd like to address?

Jayd: I've got nothing. This has been fabulous fun though.

To see more work by Jayd you can visit these links: – Main Portfolio site

Salad Days – Online web comic with Moonsheen.

http://chira-chira.deviantart.comdeviantART site – Main art blog

You can also email Jayd at


Anonymous said...

I've been friends with Chira for awhile now, and I'm really happy to see her receive attention for her fantastic work. It's interesting to read about her processes -- very inspiring stuff!


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