Thursday, August 23, 2007

Artist Profile: Ryan Mauskopf

Ryan Mauskopf known as RYE-BREAD to those who frequent his deviantART gallery is a young man with lots of potential. Hailing from New York City with plans to attend the School of Visual Arts in the fall, this 18 year old has work that seems influenced by graphic art, with some clean looking look work and great attention to detail. He was also recently featured in the latest Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga compilation and is currently working on a project for them.

Could you give a brief bio about yourself and anything else that may be interesting?

I'm a tiny person, short and skinny. I love muffins and tea and I wish breakfast could be every meal of the day. New York City is honestly the greatest city on earth, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I think long hair on guys is really sexy. I also think guys are really sexy ^_^

How long have you been drawing?

Pretty much since my days in the womb, I vaguely remember doodling on my mom's belly.

What are your reasons for pursuing art as a career?

I love to tell stories. The artistic field is one of the few creative fields that offer the opportunity to instill chilling awe and breathtaking beauty in its admirers, and I think it's appreciation like that which keeps my pencil moving.

Who are your main influences?

I suppose I should list them because there are so many:

1. Hayao Miyazaki: His films are legendary, and their whimsical charm is unparalleled in the animation world.

2. Shirow Masamune: What can I say, I love anything cyberpunk. However, Shirow Masamune took it all to the next level by not only including breathtakingly detailed artwork and realistic characters, but also technically complicated storylines that manage to analyze the very meaning of human existence itself. That’s pretty impressive for a comic book, huh?

3. Monkey Punch: Wow. He's probably clinically insane, which is what makes his fluid ink lines flow and his stories rush towards their dark and witty destinations. I'll read or watch anything that's got Lupin in the title.

4. The online artistic community is particularly inspiring. sThe young creativity out there today is so impressive that the old Masters would be put to shame.

How would you describe your own style?

That's really quite difficult, because I have so many. I think a style is something that should be malleable: If you can bend it and shape it and condition it to fit the mood of your drawing, the emotional impact of your work will be equally as prominent as your visuals. The spectrum of my artistic signature will stray from photorealism to stylized realism to cute and cuddly, so at this point it's difficult to define. I will say, though, that despite the many facets of my style are influenced by contemporary Japanese anime and manga artists.

Can you describe your technical approach to creating a picture?

I work completely digitally. I use a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet on a 24-inch iMac to create my art. The key to drawing, I've always said, is to work in iterations. Even if you have a grandiose vision it's important to start simple and keep refining the drawing until you're satisfied. I'll start with a simple sketch in Photoshop at an extremely low opacity and larger brush so as force myself not to concentrate on the details. Then, I simply keep drawing revisions on newer layers with exponentially higher opacities and larger brushes, adding more nuances and details and adjustments until I'm finally satisfied. Then, I delete the lower layers on which I've drawn the previous versions, leaving only the final drawing. And this is only the sketching phase *haha*. The final drawing stages come when I import my sketch into Painter and use realistically-styled mediums to finalize the piece. I take advantage of zooming in a lot and working impossibly small because it's detailing like that which can only be done on a computer.

What programs do you primarily use?

I use Photoshop CS3 for sketching and texture work. Then, for linework and anything that's going to be seen in the final image, I use vCorel Painter X. I'll often work with Maya 8 for complicated 3D work such as cars and backgrounds and machinery and robots. I love robots. I render my 3D models with a vector renderer to define the preliminary linework and then trace over it with a charcoal brush in Painter to give it a hand-drawn look. The process is very time-consuming but it's accurate and can end up looking damn good.

What traditional media do you like to work with?

I don't usually work this way, but when I do it's just a simple pencil. I love how easy it is to get line variations, and there so many nuances in the way you can handle a pencil that using one can be such an exhilarating artistic pleasure.

Describe your work environment.

Here's a photo:

1) 24-inch Apple iMac
2) Wacom Intuos 2 9x12 Tablet
3) Epson Perfection 4180 Photo Scanner
4) iPod Video (White, 30Gig)
5) iPod Nano (Blue, 4Gig)
6) TV Shows, Movies, & Anime DVD's
7) Artbooks, Manga, & Storyboard Books
8) HP OfficeJet 5610xi Copier/Faxer/Scanner/Printer
9) Crappy Verizon Phone
10) 3 Years of NewType Magazine Issues
11) Anime/Classical/Soundtrack CD's

And, of course, there's music. I couldn't ever draw anything without my oddly mismatched tastes in Classical, Jazz, Alternative Rock, Old-School Pop, Indie, and Hilary Duff.

Anytime you're facing an art block, how do you get yourself drawing again?

Watch a movie or look at an art book. Inspiration is the best thing to pull you out of a block.

Do you think there's a divide between those who do digital art and those who work primarily with traditional media?

Unfortunately, yes. I know a lot of traditional artists who frown upon digital creation because they believe that the computer somehow draws for you. This, obviously, is not true, and the large communities of those who scorn the computer are usually those who have not yet tried working on them. The truth is the computer is simply an extension of your abilities, equally as much as a brush and paint are. I say if something allows you to accomplish something faster and better (but not necessarily with more ease), why not embrace it? If the nay-saying traditional artists had their way, we'd still be drawing on cave walls by the firelight.

What are your future aspirations?

I'd love to be a comic book artist, as it's one of those rare professions in the art world that allow you complete creative freedom. This could change, though, because there are so many opportunities for artists out there that something amazing just may come up out of the blue. Who knows? I will say, though, that I'd never like to be an art teacher, for two reasons: 1) because I find more satisfaction in giving my art to the world rather than in wasting time explaining how it was created, and 2) because I can't deal with gaggles of hyper children. Trust me, I've tried in the past and it's just torture. I give kudos to those who do, though, because they're true warriors.

Could you talk more about your participation in the Tokyopop Rising Stars 7 book?

Anyway, there's really not much to say about my participation in RSoM other than how sick (literally, I became ill) it made me to work on something so ambitious in such a short period of time. Because of procrastination, I really only had three weeks to work on the story from start to finish, and thusly I barely slept. I wrote my script, storyboarded each page, and then drew each panel in Photoshop with heavy integration with Maya for all the 3D elements I had to incorporate into the story. That meant tracing over panel after panel of vector-rendered robots, helmets, guns, and backgrounds in excruciating detail. It was all worth it, though, even if I did work myself to sickness. I'm so glad I got voted into the RSoM book by fans, because if it weren't for them my work would have been all for nothing really. I owe a lot to them, because RSoM has opened a lot of doors for me, especially with TOKYOPOP, and hopefully my upcoming projects will hit the store shelves sometime later this year. :]

What interests do you have besides drawing?

I love making music. As unusual as it may sound, I'm an accomplished Mallet Percussionist (a xylophonist, in laymen's terms) and I'm just now beginning my transition into the world of the piano. You can watch one of my short performances here. It's just something I'm really passionate about, and there's a real kind of satisfaction I get from making music, much like the kind of thrill one gets from making art.

Give a list of your 5 top favorite bands.
Muse, Lemon Jelly, Sigur Ros, The Click Five (their old stuff), and The Seatbelts. Also, I know he's not a band, but anything by George Gershwin is pretty kickass too.

If you could meet anyone real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

President Bush. I'd really like to kick him in the shin.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

Be inspired. Always keep your eyes open and your stylus moving. :]

To see more work by Ryan visit his deviantART gallery.

You can also email him at mousekopf[at]

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Artist Profile: Rachel E. Morris

Rachel E. Morris known as subeo to those more familiar with her deviantART gallery, is a recent graduate from the Pratt Institue with an awesome illustrative style. Especially her storybook pieces, that look like they come straight out of a classic children’s book. Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, she currently lives in New York City with her boyfriend of 4 years and 2 cats. In the mean time, the 22 year old artist is working on a flash video game while working on other side projects that come her way.

How long have you been drawing?

Pretty much ever since I can remember, my parents still have some pretty hilarious drawings I made when I was a little kid. I never really took any classes, aside from required high school art classes and a summer camp or two until I got to college, but I was always, always drawing.

What made you interested in becoming an artist?

Honestly, I picked it as a career path because I didn't really know what else to do. I was such a slacker in high school that the only colleges I felt I could get into were art colleges, as drawing always came pretty naturally to me, so I guess I just figured I might as well. Of course, once I got there it became more of a passion, but even now I worry about it losing its appeal for me someday now that I have to do it for a living and not just for fun.

Who are your main influences?

I'm influenced by a huge amount of things, but if I had to pick a few I'd say Egon Schiele, Winsor McCay, Hokusai, Hiroshige (lots of ukiyo-e artists), illuminated manuscripts, Albrecht Durer, Willy Pogany… it goes on. Mostly master artists, I'm not as good at keeping up with what's going on now as I probably should be.

How would you describe your style?

I'm not very good at this kind of thing, but I'd probably say it's a blend of western and eastern aesthetics, emphasizing line and color and the human figure. I've had more than one person tell me my work is complex and simple at the same time, a contradiction I think applies to lots of things in my life.

How do you get ideas for your artwork? Do you ever start with a message that you're trying to get across to the audience?

As an illustrator most of my work is assigned to me, so a lot of the time the basic idea is already there. Usually, I am not trying to get a message across so much as tell a story, even when I draw for myself, though I guess you could argue they're the same thing. When I'm coming up with my own ideas, I get a lot of influence from the lives of myself and people around me, as well as the culture around me (books, movies, etc.).

Can you describe your technical approach to creating a picture?

I think it's pretty standard - I start with thumbnails, move up to sketches of details (I usually end up using myself or my boyfriend as a reference)...sometimes I'll scan these in and create a composite sketch in Photoshop, which I enlarge and print out. I'll use this as a guide for the finish - I pretty much always do linework with traditional media and colors with digital.

What's your work environment like? Are you the kind of person that has papers everywhere? Or do you need to have a clear open space?

I love having everything organized, but it never stays organized for long. I think I work better when I have a clear open space but I also think art supplies are probably the hardest thing on earth to keep neat and tidy.

What traditional media do you most often use?

Drawing, as opposed to painting, has always been my forte. Depending on the look I'm going for, I'll draw with a pencil, dip-pen, brush, technical pen, or ball-point pen. I'm trying to get more into watercolors lately though. I don't like to limit myself and I'd like to branch out a bit more and use some of the other supplies cluttering up my studio - it's just that you can't beat pen and paper for ease of use and simplicity, and it allows me to work extremely fast.

What programs do you primarily use for your artwork?

It's pretty much all Photoshop with me. I color most of my stuff digitally and Photoshop is the only way to go. It's not the industry standard for nothing! I just wish it weren't so expensive.

You recently worked on project that involved an interactive mural for the Adobe CS3 launch. Could you tell us more about that experience?

I didn't do anything creative with that job, it was my first real job after all, and it was fun. It's not really what I "do", if you know what I mean - I'm trained to draw and color, but this was a lot of computer work. I mean, I know how to do that sort of thing, but I was out of my element. Still, I like being able to do so many different kinds of things, I think it keeps me from getting bored and it certainly opens up a lot more job opportunities for me. The Adobe job was fun to watch evolve, but like I said, all I did was convert .png sequences into .fla files...necessary, but not really worth talking about.

Can you tell us about any other projects you're working on and anything that we can look forward to hearing about?

Right now I'm working on backgrounds for a flash game at Pop & Company, which is a lot of fun. I may be working with Nickelodeon as a freelance illustrator, just for marketing or DVD covers and stuff for Avatar, if they like the sketches I have to turn into them sometime this month. That's kind of completely ape someone else's style. Not really my thing, but I'm still at the point where I need all the work I can get to survive.

What are thoughts on the future of the art and animation industry?

I don't really follow fine art as much as I probably should - or graphic arts, for that matter. I'm excited that art seems to be borrowing so much from a comic-book aesthetic these days, not least because it suits my style, but I feel like a great deal of the anime-influenced stuff is just painfully derivative. I also think that there's a little bit too much digital going on - it can be fantastic when used properly, and definitely makes things like animation much more accessible for your average broke artist, but it's still overused.

What are your future aspirations? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

My dream job would probably be as a concept artist for a video game company. I am obsessed with video games and I love sketching more than creating finished pieces. I also love telling stories and am a big fan of escapism. I'd like to be able to work freelance in 5 years - right now I'm a little too intimidated by not having a steady paycheck to do that, but it's always the dream.

Do you have any other interests besides drawing?

Oh, lots. Books, video games, photography, languages, travel, nature, politics, music, technology, pretty much everything interests me in one way or another.

Any advice for other aspiring artists?

Don't draw from photographs unless you can help it, draw from life; don't worry about your "style", just draw as best as you can and it can't not develop; try and push yourself outside your comfort zone as often as you can; and always learn the traditional tools before you learn the digital ones - if you can't draw it with a pen, don't bother trying to draw it with a wacom.

Any other comments or things you'd like to address?

Nothing except maybe thanks for interviewing me!

To see more works by Rachel you can visit these links:
- Main portfolio page - deviantART site

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

News: R.I.P. Mike Wieringo

As some of you may now know, Newsrama reported that comic book artist, Mike Wieringo passed away at his North Carolina home yesterday of an apparent heart attack at age 44. He gained critical attention working on DC Comics’ The Flash and later went on to produce other works such as Sensational Spider-Man and the Adventures of Superman. He was a source of inspiration to others and will be missed by many.

Click Here to read the full news story…

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Artist Profile: Der-shing Helmer

Der-shing Helmer
, known to many as Alexds1 is a recent graduate of UC Berkley who currently resides in the Bay Area. Though she studied biology, specializing in the systematics of reptiles and amphibians, there’s no doubt in mind that deep down inside Der-shing is comic book artist at heart. Her work has a unique flavor and a style that’s all her own, chock full of vibrant in your face poses. At the moment, this 22 year-old biologist is working on two projects: A cutesy story about cats called Snowball in Hell and a Sci-fi/Fantasy epic. Here’s hoping she’ll get published someday so we can all buy her wonderful work.

How long have you been drawing?

I’ve been drawing since elementary school. Once harder school started I realized I could zone out in class by doodling, so I got in a lot of practice all those years!

What was it that made you want to pursue art, even as a hobby?

Spite! Haha, there was this girl in my 3rd grade class that drew dogs really well, and it pissed me off because she'd show them off all over the place. So I tried drawing to get her to shut up... happy ending, I had an art class with her again in 7th grade and I was
better. Inspiring story, isn't it?

Who are your main influences?

When I first started drawing the only art style I had readily available was Sunday cartoons in the newspaper, since I wasn't allowed to watch much TV. Later I got into anime and it was pretty much downhill from there until I graduated from high school. I've been working really hard over the last few years to break away from the anime influence, mostly by looking at other art on the internet and slowly assimilating the bits I liked into my own style. So to answer the question, nobody in particular, the artists most inspiring to me at the moment are Johane Matte and Aysha Shehim.

How would you describe your own style?

Cartoony. I love drawing wild expressions and dynamic poses, I have a unnatural drive to make everything as eye-catching as possible!

How do you come up with ideas for your comics and artwork?

My original works and comics are all taken from my life or interests one way or another. Its fun to take a random boring subject I'm interested in, like fermentation or ecological succession, and morph it into something that a layperson would (potentially) enjoy.

Can you describe your technical approach to creating a picture?

Sure... For a nice quality picture, I start off with a colored pencil sketch, because it looks cooler. Then I go over with regular pencil and transfer it to nicer paper if necessary for inking with Microns/ Pitt pens. Next, follows up with scanning into the computer for corrections and colors. Up until recently all my colors were done with a mouse, something that people don't necessarily expect. Lately though I've been trying out digital inking and coloring with a tablet, which is progressing slowly.

What programs do you often use?

I can't live without Photoshop anymore, thankfully my friend ganked a copy of CS2 for me. C:

What traditional media do you like to work with?

Definitely need my mechanical pencil, I've trained myself to achieve a lot with it including shading effects, but outside that I dabble with acrylics here and there, since they're so forgiving. It’s been invaluable to physically paint, it puts a new perspective on digital painting, at least for me.

How's your work environment?

Messy! I don't use a lot of fancy equipment, just my desk with a bunch of junk on it. For a "lightbox" I've got a piece of plexiglass and a lamp that I invert *haha* and of course a bevy of pencils and pens, my weirdo triangular ruler and a brush to get all the eraser shavings on the carpet where they belong. Pretty normal I guess.

What are your future aspirations?

Of course I'd like to take my art somewhere, the goal is to one day get published for real instead of making minis on my free time, but who knows? In the meantime I'm focusing on getting my masters, and possibly teaching biology one day.

Well you’re very talented, so what's your reason for not primarily pursuing anything art related as a career?

Thanks, as much as I love art, I start feeling claustrophobic as soon as I have to do something that someone else tells me to do. Doing art as a side project on my free time is so much nicer, and learning it on my own is both rewarding and satisfying. And, honestly, art as a career seems really cutthroat, and I like being able to fall back on my 'real' education (however boring).

What interests do you have besides drawing?

Various and sundry... I read a bunch of junk; I love herping (catching reptiles and amphibians), hiking and backpacking, that sort of stuff. Most of the time, I'm really boring.

Give a list of your 5 top favorite books.

Ooh, that’s hard. In no particular order:

- Into the Brazilian Wilderness by Teddy Roosevelt
- Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin (lets pretend it’s one big book)
- Enough Rope by Lawrence Block
- The Wastelands by Stephen King
- Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

If you could meet anyone real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Sherlock Holmes! Because he kicks major ass, I should probably say something more profound but I can't think of anything...

If you could go back in time and change something in your life, what would it be?

I'd have eaten more vegetables. But seriously, I'd have studied harder in college. It makes the future a lot smoother.

Do you have any general advice for people out there?

Be happy? How general are we talking about? *Haha*, but art wise, draw everything. Really, just sit down and draw random things, draw people walking around, draw
dog poop, whatever... don't stop sketching and eventually you'll get to the point where people will want to give you an Internet interview.

Any other comments or things you'd like to address?

Yes. Embrace criticism, both in your real life and in regards to art. Realizing how crappy you are at everything is, in my humble opinion, the first step in becoming the best you can be. Sure it sucks at first but after a while it’s sort of enjoyable to hone in on and zap away your problem areas, if you don't claw your face off first… Good luck with that!

To see more work by Der-shing you can visit these sites:

alexds1@deviantARTdeviantART site – Sketch comic and Sketch Journal

You can also email her at alexds1[at]

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wishlist: Bliss Express

There are plenty of wonderful artbooks out there, too many to count and not enough money to buy them all. However, currently on the Rococo Flow wish list is the book Bliss Express: Illustrating Happiness released by Guu Press earlier this year. Featuring artists such as Bengal, Emma Sky, Rain, Joysuke Wong, and Marcos Chin, it’s surely a must have for the art enthusiast.

21 of today’s most striking pop artists explore the idea of happiness. From Japan and Korea to China, France and North America, they evoke fashion, rock ’n’ roll, nature, graffiti, movies, money, sex and Sunday morning cartoons in tackling a universal question.

Bringing together vignettes, snatches of conversation, artist biographies and over 280 images, Bliss Express paints the normalities and absurdities of modern life. It is a reel of snapshots of the artists’ visions and obsessions—their unhinged, funny, heartbreaking journey to that elusive inner state of grace.

With essays by Mark Kingwell, philosopher and bestselling author of Better Living: In Pursuit of Happiness from Plato to Prozac, and by Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, founders and editors of Giant Robot Magazine. (Source)

Plus, for $26.37 (and free shipping!) on, that may not be too much for some of you.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Artist Profile: licchan

Licchan is one of those few artists whose works have the ability to make people laugh out loud. When looking at the majority of her pieces, there is always some connection with the audience. So much so, that you can easily feel sad, frustrated, and happy right along with the characters. Licchan, who’s from Chicago, Illinois, has been drawing her whole life, triggered by the desire to create stories and finding the best ways to tell them. She currently attends The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is pursuing a degree in Film, Video and New Media.

Rococo Flow: Who would you consider your influences?

licchan: MANY! Mostly other artists, oh man, I don’t even know where to start. I guess actually my very first influences was Miyazaki, Disney and Pokémon. More recently though, Kazuya Minekura, Josh Middleton, Daniel Ross, Sumomo Yumeka and my best friend fresh4u on dA.

Rococo Flow: How would you describe your own style?

licchan: That’s a good question. I guess maybe, comic book-ish with a hint of anime? (Which I sometimes wish I didn’t have). I guess my style is kind of cliché and boring, kind of static. (I wish I could draw more dynamic things). I focus a lot on people and expressions.

Rococo Flow: How come you wish you didn't have the anime?

licchan: I suppose I hate the connotation it has now. Recently anime is getting a bad reputation in America and I’d really rather not be associated with that. I would just flat out PREFER a more realistic style.

Rococo Flow: Since you go to an art school, do you ever find students judged against if their artwork shows any bit of anime or manga style? I'm just wondering because even in my dinky high school art class, the teacher was really against anyone who drew like that.

licchan: YES. Very much so and just anime style, comic book style in general is high looked down upon in my school. I have so many stories. Want to hear one? *laughs*

Rococo Flow: Sure. =]

licchan: Well in a nutshell, I had this drawing of one of my characters as a finished project for a class. The teacher had always considered my style “comic book-ish” and “graphic design-y”, which she DIDN’T like. The drawing I did, had a lot of graphic design elements, (it was even done on the computer). The teacher was going around and critiquing everyone’s finished work, however when she got to mine, she stopped, looked at it and basically said: “This isn’t art, I can’t critique this” and walked away. So yes, those styles get judged very harshly at my school sometimes.

Rococo Flow: Oh my gosh. Wow.

licchan: I did have one teacher that liked comics, so that was a nice change, but as a whole, students and teachers dislike it.

Rococo Flow: It doesn't sound too different from the art schools of the past. They push what they believe to be 'art'. So I'm guessing that they sort of push the 'fine arts' as opposed to schools like SCAD where you can learn sequential art?

licchan: Yeah, they do. Although SAIC does have an animation program, which I’m in right now. They also have a couple of comic book classes popping up. We’re hoping to get more.

Rococo Flow: Sound good. How do you get ideas for your artwork? Are you ever trying to convey a message or standpoint?

licchan: My ideas come mostly from the characters and stories I make up – just scenes and quick things that run through my head. Music helps that a lot and usually I’m just trying to convey a mood, an emotion or some part of a storyline.

Rococo Flow: Can you describe your technical approach to creating a picture?

licchan: Ah well most of my drawings are just pencil doodles, nothing fancy. I just get a really quick glimpse of something in my mind and jot it down as a sketch. Then sometimes it turns out to be something more, which is always cool! *Haha*. I’ll just scan the sketch in and slap some colour on. When I’m trying to draw something more planned though, I tend to use references. So I’ll work off a photo usually, do a sketch in Open Canvas, and then go over the sketch with clean lines. Then I’ll either toss it into Photoshop to slap some flat colour on or I’ll colour it more realistically in Open Canvas.

Rococo Flow: What's your work environment like? Messy? Clean?

licchan: Eh, well I work in my room, usually on the computer. My computer desktop is usually not messy, but the rest of my room and other surfaces are, so when I work traditionally I'm more in the mess.

Rococo Flow: Hehe, well if you ever find yourself suffering from art block, how do you work through it?

licchan: I DON’T. *Haha*. Seriously, I'm in an art block right now and have been for months. This is the longest, worst art block I think I have ever had. I don’t really know how I worked out of art blocks before this. I guess one day I just forced myself to draw again. I think I drew stuff that I was familiar with (i.e. characters I draw a lot, simple poses) until I got into the swing of things again. I’ve got to try that right now and get back into it.*laughs*

Rococo Flow: Speaking of characters you draw a lot, care to talk about your character Gavan?

licchan: Umm, what do you want to know?!

Rococo Flow: How did you come up with him? What’s his background? Is he part of a story you have going?

licchan: Well I came up with him because my friend fresh4u and I decided we wanted to kind of make a story together. She came up with Caine and I came up with Gavan. I don’t know how I came up with him really. I think I really just wanted to make a character very different than any I’d had before. His background is very long and involved and intertwined with Caine’s, but in a tiny, tiny nutshell he was forced into the CIA and has been working there his whole life and Caine is his partner.

Rococo Flow: Do you guys plan to ever release a comic or something involving this story?

licchan: Oh, I would love to! But that’s quite a while away from happening, especially because we're still creating parts of the story now. I do want to do a few comic shorts in the near future though!

Rococo Flow: That would be awesome. Well you mentioned that you use Photoshop and Open Canvas. Are there any other programs you use?

licchan: Oekaki is fun and also paintchat and MS Paint! (Okay, no). I use Open Canvas the most often, followed closely by Photoshop. I use Painter 6 for inking sometimes. I love the ink tools in that program.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any favorite traditional media?

licchan: Pencil, coloured pencils, and sometimes marker. I love inks but I’m not good at them. I pretty much hate every other media.

Rococo Flow: So you're studying animation. Do you have any thoughts on the animation industry today?

licchan: It needs to get more 2D and less 3D, in America anyway. Although I do love Pixar, I must admit.

Rococo Flow: I don't think they've explored all the avenues and things that are possible with it.

licchan: Yeah, we need to learn from other countries what its capable of, like France, Korea, and Japan, even Russia! They have some amazing 2D animated work.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any future goals?

licchan: I don’t have many. All my goals are pretty…out there. Too far for me to ever reach, so I try not to think about them. My main goal is just to be happy. My unreachable goals would be to make a series out of the Gavan and Caine stories, a comic book or an animated, possibly live action movie. I would also like to create movies out of my other stories and be an animation/movie director.

Rococo Flow: I think that's the least most of us can ever hope for =]. Do you have any other interests besides drawing?

licchan: I love computers, video games, music, the internet…I also love driving! Oh and movies. I love movies.

Rococo Flow: If you could meet anyone real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

licchan: George Washington. You can’t go wrong with Washington. He has a pocket full of horses and saves the children (but not the British children). It would be a sweet deal to meet an amazing leader like him, though Lincoln was pretty badass too.

Rococo Flow: What one food could you not live without?

licchan: UM... POPTARTS I just ate some as a matter of fact.

Rococo Flow: Haha. How about music? Is there any particular band or genre, etc. that you listen to when working on something?

licchan: I literally listen to EVERYTHING. I love all genres, tons of bands. The band/genre I listen to while drawing just depends on the mood I’m in at the time, really.

Rococo Flow: Who are you particularly fond of at the moment?

licchan: Augh, that’s so hard. I’ve kind of been in a soft rock mood lately, not sure what particular band I’ve been listening too, though. As a whole, a few of my top all time favorites are Muse, The Rasmus, and Jump Little Children.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

licchan: Love what you do and have fun doing it. That’s the most important thing~ <3>

To see more work by licchan you can visit the following links:
- deviantART gallery - Sketch journal

You can also email her at watarurules[at]

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Artist Profile: Carolyn Gan

Carolyn Gan who goes by the alias Wredwrat online, is a 22 year old artist who is originally from Malaysia, but has been residing in Perth, Western Australia for the last 12 years. In 2004, she graduated from Curtin University with a BA in Multimedia Design and has since been working on perfecting her craft in both illustration and comics. Looking at her work, it’s hard to believe that she’s mostly self taught and has only seriously pursued art since graduating. Many of her pieces seem to perfectly grasp moments in time and make you wonder of the story behind the characters. In 2007 Carolyn and her creative partner Amei were the Grand Prize winners of the Comikaze24, an Australian 24 hour comic challenge with their entry "Home is where she is". When not busy with comics, Carolyn has 6 pets rats named Bubbles, Bearbear, Milton, Dunlop, Caesar, and Norris whom she takes of at home.

How long have you been drawing?

I started drawing when I was in primary school, but only started taking it more seriously after I finished uni in 2004. My first foray into digital painting was 2002.

How did you get interested in art?

I moved schools a lot when I was young, and drawing was a hobby which I could enjoy by myself so things just kept going from there. The internet made my drive greater, as I could share my work with like-minded people and get exposed to other styles of art and to artists of all calibres. Meeting other artists and mentors during my high school years made me discover this is what I wanted to be.

Who are your influences?

There are very many artists out there whom I love, here are my mainstays:

For sequential work, Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy is my biggest influence for storytelling and mood. Also, French artist Claire Wendling's comics, and Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal).

For illustrations, my biggest loves are Katsuya Terada with his painterly style and deviant subject matter; and Range Murata's perfect rendering skills and retro styled designs. Lately I've also discovered Kazuma Kaneko, and I feel that we shall definitely have a close and long-lasting relationship as well *haha*.

My other favourite artists are:
(Western): The Black Frog, Jason Chan, Jo Chen, Anry, Arnold Tsang, Jon Foster, James Gurney, Scott Gustafson, Norman Rockwell, Shaun Tan

(Eastern): Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Imperial Boy, Aki Shimizu, Akihiro Yamada, Kuroboshi Kouhaku, Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, Tsuyoshi Nagano, Oga Kazuo

(Classical): Caravaggio, Bougeureau, Renoir, Monet, Joseph Clement Coll.

How would you describe your style?

It’s still developing like a patchwork quilt, a collective of all the styles I love that are spread across all genres. But at a glance I guess it's very heavy and rigid.

How do you get ideas for your drawings/paintings?

I get most of my ideas from leafing through my collection of artbooks and reference books. I also go through the works of my favourite artists to see what sort of stuff makes them tick, and I get ideas that way. I'm fond of pictures that tell a small story in itself, especially slice-of-life scenes. So movies really help a lot too, my favourite kinds are westerns, fantasy, war, and historical themes.

What programs do you primarily use for your artwork?

For comics - Mangastudio EX
For paintings - Painter IX and Photoshop 6. I use a 6x8 Wacom Intuos 2 tablet.

Can you describe your general approach to creating a picture?

I start off by looking for reference material to build up on the basic idea I have. I google up pictures or go through books. Once I've collected enough of what I'm looking for, I fill the canvas with the base colour I want to work with, and then start blacking in the basic composition and figures in silhouettes. I work this way because it's easier for me to see in form than in lines. Then I figure out my light source and work out the shadows. After that it is just adding more colours and fleshing out the details. I use the same silhouette technique for some panels in my comics as well, particularly the biggest/most important panels.

Could you talk a bit about some of your past, current, and future comic projects?

The first comic project I started is my Kino No Tabi fancomic from last year. It's essentially a survival story, one person versus the elements, that kind of thing. So far I'm 34 pages into it and it's still ongoing. I tend to come back and make pages for it when I'm feeling in the mood. I started it as practice after the style of Mignola and I was enjoying it a lot so I kept going. The only problem is I don't know how I'm going to end it, so it seems I'm still rambling on forever…

Other comics I've made are just short ones that range from 2 to 8 pagers, some being fanwork and some original. I have also participated in the Australian 24-hour comic challenge for a couple of years, with both times working in a two-man team with my fellow artist Amei. Our entry this year can be found here.At the moment I am working on another fancomic, this time in the vein of romantic highschool love. I find it exciting dabbling in different genres as I'm still deciding what I like best. Future comic projects I have planned are more original work involving post-apocalyptic war and steampunk themes.

What are your thoughts on the comic industry right now? There's been a surge of Eastern influences, while you still have the traditional superheroes with capes.

Hmm I'm probably not too in tune with what's out there, but I think more attention is being paid to indy comics these days, there are very many varied styles out there which have gained acceptance in mainstream circles. Manga has always been popular, but I didn't realise how much until I visited my local comics shop yesterday. There's so much more imported manga these days that it's taking up more shelf space than the traditional western superhero work! What I'd love to see is more European comics being translated and made available too. :D

What are your future aspirations?

My long term goal is to get better and faster at what I'm doing and hopefully be able to make a better living out of it. I'd like to get in the field of concept design, as I find I rather enjoy working out details and designing things that are part of a bigger whole. I would also keep drawing comics.

Do you have any other interests besides drawing?

Obsessively collecting books which I only have time to quickly flip through.

Any advice for other aspiring artists?

Keep working hard and be observant of all things around you. Stay focused, give everything a go, and try something new in each picture you draw.

Visit the following sites to see more work by Carolyn: – deviantART gallery - Online portfolio

You can also email Carolyn at studio.wrat[at]

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Artist Profile: Joanna Estep

I considered myself extremely lucky when Joanna Estep agreed to interview for Rococo Flow. The fact that she isn’t too fond of interviews and gave me a sneak peak of Roadsong 3 makes me even more grateful. Best known as the artist and co-creator for the Tokyopop series Roadsong, she is also the co-founder of Milktooth Press. On top of that, she also wrote the textbook Timing: Expressions of Time in Sequential Art and Design, which received the Charles Logan Smith Award for excellence in design. Now for the reason why I love her work: Joanna has such a great combination of style and color. Not to mention, her ink work is to die for. Born on February 18, 1981, Joanna is from Dayton, Ohio and got her start in comics by drawing short stories for various anthologies. When she’s not working on a project, she’s simply a girl who loves movies, writing, role-playing, camping, and going for drives.

Rococo Flow: So how long have you been drawing? Did you go to an art school?

Joanna: Well, I'm pretty sure that I decided to be an artist, back when I was in elementary school. You know, that whole "Mommy I'm going be an artist when I grow up!" sort of thing. It wasn't until much later, (high school) that I figured out exactly what sort of artist I wanted to be. When the comics bug bit, it bit hard and a lot of my friends were drawing comics too, so we all encouraged each other. I did indeed go to art school (Ohio University), though I decided I needed a practical plan B, if comics didn't pan out as a valid career option. So I majored in graphic design, which I now understand to have been the right choice for me.

Rococo Flow: Why is that? Did the things you learned in graphic design help with the comic layouts and such?

Joanna: It helped in several different ways, I think. The most obvious being that I learned to work with a lot of different design software, and also about the printing process, and how to get the best output for what you're printing; color, black and white, or otherwise. That's helped a lot, because most of the comics I draw end up in print.

Layouts are another big thing. You have to have an eye for that stuff, and it can take a long time to develop that "eye". I'd say that the number one way to tell an experienced comic artist from an inexperienced one is to look at the layouts, and they way they design their page. It can take a very long time, to cultivate good instincts for that, and design school definitely helped me with that.

Rococo Flow: So as you've learned and become better at your craft, who have been your influences?

Joanna: Good question! I always struggle with this one. I think I have more artists/comickers who inspire me, rather than influence me. Some of the first comics I read were things like Jeff Smith's
Bone or Moto Hagio's A,A or Elfquest, even.

As for the more direct influences, I grew up being friends and acquaintances with a lot of other comic artists. I went to high school with the artists Traci Spencer, Robin Edwards, and also Leia Weathington. (All three of whom now make web comics of growing renown.) I was also distantly acquainted with the creative collective Estrigious, and consequently drew a great deal of influence from them as well.

Nowadays, I'm hugely influenced by my peers at Tokyopop, and Insight Studios Group. Mark Wheatley, (Head honcho of Insight) has been a huge help and inspiration to me. He's like my comics dad.

Rococo Flow: How would describe your own style?

Joanna: Hmmm, now there's another tough one. I like to draw in a lot of different styles, actually. People tell me that my stuff is recognizable no matter what I'm doing, but I sometimes worry that I'm too experimental for my own good. Most of the comics I've drawn so far have been pretty light-hearted, so when I'm comicking I draw with a style that I hope comes across as humorous, expressive, and full of movement. (It’s to the point where I often get asked if I work in animation.)

However, I not-so-secretly hope to draw darker stories someday, so a lot of the sketching and illustration I do on my own time comes across as grim and heavy-handed, and with copious amounts of India ink.

That's probably not the answer you were looking for, but it’s pretty hard to classify myself.

Rococo Flow: That’s quite alright. I thought it would be hard for most people, however I wanted to give artists a chance to classify themselves. So when working on a story or any artwork, how do you get ideas?

Joanna: Lately, I feel like the question should be: "How do I not get ideas?" Loads of things inspire me, and I sort of end up with this mental checklist of things I'd like to draw and/or write. I try to get to them all in a timely fashion, but sometimes it's all work and no play, so I have to let some ideas go.

But if I'm aiming to start a more serious project, I'll just think to myself: "Hmmm, what are some things I like to draw, and how can I write them all into a story together?" Things always seem to just snowball, from there. When I'm doing a big comic project, it's always a safe bet to include things that I enjoy drawing, because I'll have to draw them over and over and over...

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

Joanna: I throw some ink on a page and scribble it around!!... Okay not really, thought it feels like that some days. If it's comics, I generally start by sketching a rough layout at print size. Then I scan the layout into my computer and resize it to match the larger board that I'll be drawing on. After that, I use my lightbox to trace the layout onto the board, and to tighten up the pencils as I go. It feels tedious sometimes, but I find that it preserves the gesture and energy of my initial layouts. If it's not a comic then anything goes. Sometimes I do the resize-and-trace method, sometimes not. It depends on the illustration.

Rococo Flow: What programs do you primarily use for your comics and your illustration work?

Joanna: Eh, these days it's mostly Photoshop. I used to use InDesign for lettering and book layout, but it's since become easy to do those things in Photoshop too.

Rococo Flow: True, Photoshop has sort of become an industry standard. When it comes to traditional media, what's your favorite? (I'm particularly fond of your ink work).

Joanna: Ink, ink, ink, ink, and more ink. I love to sling ink around, and I buy lots of different inking tools just to try them out. I don’t know, I think that stark black and white images and confident brush strokes are just exceptionally beautiful. I know some artists ink digitally, but I love the hands-on stuff.

Rococo Flow: So is inking your favorite part of the creating process?

Joanna: I think so. For me, the two most exciting moments in making comics, is when I finish a layout, or finish inking a page. Those are the times when I can see/imagine what the page is going to look like when it's complete, so yeah, I guess you could say it's my favorite part.

Rococo Flow: What's your least favorite part then?

Joanna: Scanning stuff in and tracing layouts back onto the board. I do it a lot and it gets pretty tedious. I'm not crazy about penciling, either. I don't usually like the way my pencils look.

Rococo Flow: I thought it was the reverse for most people. That they wish their inks looked as good as their pencils.

Joanna: Really? I haven't heard that one in a long time.

Rococo Flow: Hmm, maybe it's just me, but then again, I would think it depends on the kind of work you do. I've seen some people who paint straight onto a sketch, but that's illustration. For comics you need to be able to ink (or have someone do it for you).

Joanna: Not always! Inking is not really a requirement to make sequential art. Some artists paint. Some just color on their pencils. Some just pencil and don't even bother with inks. Inking is common, but it's not the only way to make good comics.

Rococo Flow: True, I see your point. In regards to comics then, how'd you get involved with working for Tokyopop?

Joanna: There's sort of a long and winding answer to that one, actually. I was in the habit of taking my portfolio to comic conventions so that I could get feedback and advice from the working professionals. At the time, I was getting interested in self-publishing, but I happened to meet Mark Wheatley of Insight Studios and he seemed to really like my work. He put me in touch with Allan Gross (writer of Roadsong) and we started a comic that we initially intended to publish in Triathlete Magazine. That project soon fell through, but Al had a few contacts at Tokyopop and he was able to get us a gig making manga. The rest is history.

Rococo Flow: How does the creative process work for the graphic novel Roadsong, since you work with a writer?

Joanna: It's pretty simple, really, and it involves a lot of trading around of the script. Al and I usually discuss the general concepts and direction of the story before or during the writing of the script. Then when it's written he'll send it to me, and to our editor. I used to offer more feedback to the script at this point, but our editor is pretty trustworthy, and she usually says everything that I want to say, anyway.

In any case, when we've settled on a script, I make the page layouts for the book, and send those off to be edited, too. After that, I'm free to draw! And it isn't until the artwork for the book is finished that Al goes back to include what he calls the "lettering script". That's when he tweaks and modifies the dialogue to (hopefully) better suit the art.

Rococo Flow: It sounds like you're a very busy person. What's your work environment like? Can you describe the life of a comic book artist? Especially for those who seriously want to get into the business.

Joanna: You know, I always wonder if people have this image of comic artists as having this exciting and glamorous lifestyle. I mean, it's really just me sitting around in my pajamas all day, chained to the art desk. Very boring…Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration, but it's not too far from the truth. I have a cozy office that I use for art-making and storing reference material and supplies. Sometimes I like a change of scenery though, so I'll go draw at a coffee shop, or a friend's house. I live right by webcomic artist Traci Spencer, so the two of us work on comics together a lot.

Rococo Flow: Well you seem to like it well enough. Do you have any other projects in the works? Maybe one in which you work as both writer and artist?

Joanna: I do indeed! I'm on the verge of selling a proposal for a new story, and I'm very excited to be able to write again! I don't want to say too much about it at this point, but it's an "Oliver Twist" meets "Multiplicity" sort of story. (I laugh every time I say that, but it's pretty true.) I look forward to starting work on it in earnest.

Rococo Flow:
Sounds exciting can’t wait.

Joanna: It's a long ways off, yet. I'm still working on Roadsong 3. :-)

Rococo Flow:
I guess people will just have to be patient then. I also wanted to know about your thoughts on the comic industry? With the boom of manga and Eastern influenced comics, there seems to be a lot more females who are being recognized in the industry.

Joanna: Ergh, I hardly feel like an expert on the state of the industry. There are a lot of things I like, but there's still a lot to complain about, too. So rather than open that particular can of worms, I might just say that I'm mostly glad for the recent surge in the production of western manga, and manga influenced comics. There are a lot of girls who like to draw manga, and are really excellent at it too. I'm glad that this recent trend has allowed them the chance to share their work with a wider audience.

Rococo Flow: So what are your own goals for the future?

Joanna: Hah. When I was last asked about my hopes and dreams, I replied by saying "financial stability." It's still pretty true. I love making comics, and it's great to have a career in the industry, but it can take awhile to get to the point where you're living comfortably on it. I still take second jobs, sometimes.

Rococo Flow: I see, I guess the thought of a glamorous life that other people think of, are thoughts of automatically getting a hit cartoon/anime made just because you work on a project. However, I like to believe that the industry is still growing and it'll become a lot better for many artists like you.

Joanna: I certainly hope so. I'm part of this recent boom of graphic novels over single-issue comics, so I feel like I'm just one of many guinea pigs, in this whole endeavor. I think things will even out eventually, but things are still a little rocky. It can be hard to hold onto an audience for a graphic novel series, when you can only produce one book a year. Speaking from experience, I wonder if maybe creators who are drawing entire books at a time are more likely to suffer from exhaustion and burnout, too. As for cartoons and anime though? Just love your comic for what it is. I dislike it when comics are treated as stepping stones to TV and movies. Comics are fantastic, all on their own!

Rococo Flow: Your comment about burnout is interesting because I think some people fail to realize that most times 'OEL manga' or whatever they want to call it is usually done by one person when it comes to the art. While a lot of Japanese creators have a lot of assistants who can help with the other stuff.

Joanna: Right. The American comics industry doesn't easily lend itself to that sort of thing. At the moment it's just me, myself, and I. But that isn't to say that American comic artists can't or don't have assistants. Some of my friends do, and I'm also thinking of looking for an assistant if I get into a situation where I'm drawing more than one book at once.

Rococo Flow: Sounds, like it would at least lessen some of the burden. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Joanna: Certainly. Make a lot of comics! Some of the most talented artists I know obsessively draw and make comics all the time, because they love it so much. No one can teach you more than you can teach yourself. When you've got that part down, I suggest taking your portfolio to comic conventions, and getting further advice from professionals. If you want to work in comics, networking with others in the industry is just as important as the drawing of said comics.

So go! Be free! Make art! Make friends!...or move to Ohio and become my assistant. ;-)

Rococo Flow: *laughs* Fun Question: If you could be any character from a video game, movie, or novel, etc. who would it be?

Joanna: Oh my god. Too hard, there are just so many choices... However, off the top of my head, I think I might like to be San, from Princess Mononoke or maybe Mowgli, from the jungle book? It's sort of a strange and irrational fantasy of mine to be a raised-by-wolves naked jungle girl. It probably wouldn't be much fun in practice, but I like to daydream about it.

Rococo Flow: I think I've asked that question in most of the interviews, but I always get interesting answers. (I can't help it!) Mowgli is awesome (at least in the Disney version).

Hee! I just love jungles and forests. It'd be so neat to live in the middle of one, but probably very dangerous. I'd likely get eaten.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* I think those are all the questions I've got. Do you have any other comments or things you'd like to address?

Joanna: Mm, not that I can think of at the moment. That was a pretty exhaustive interview.

Rococo Flow: Thank you!! I really appreciate your time.

Joanna: No problem. Don't be a stranger!

To see more work by Joanna visit these links:
- Main website - Her blog - Milktooth Press

Roadsong 1
Roadsong 2

Newsarama articles on timing:
Timing 1
Timing 2
Timing 3

You can also email Joanna at

Click Here to Read Full Article...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Artist Profile: Brinson Marie Thieme

When asked to give a brief summary about herself, Brinson Marie Thieme, better known as Sairobi thinks of herself as “fairly boring”. “I’ve never climbed any mountains, I don’t know ju-jitsu, and I certainly don’t have any magical powers. (Yet).” She says. However, this artist 24 year-old artist who is originally from Sarasota, Fl definitely has some skills. Currently residing in Van Nuys, CA with her sister and three cats, she looks for jobs during the day and finds time to draw at night. Take a glance at any of her works, with characters adorned in mesmerizing outfits and soon you’ll be begging to see more. She received her BA from the University of South Florida in 2004, along with a MFA in Sequential Art from SCAD in 2006. Her eye for perfectly matching character and costume designs, will easily take you to another world.

How long have you been drawing?

Like most artists, I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. But I wasn't really serious about it until I was around eighteen.

What was it that got you interested?

This is going to sound so ridiculous but … Final Fantasy VII. It came out when I was thirteen or fourteen and I was so determined to work on my drawing after watching the cinematics in it.

Who are your influences?

Hiroaki Samura, Pierre Alary, Mike Mignola, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Alphonse Mucha – all the usual suspects.

How would you describe your own style?

Oh man! That's hard. At the moment, I'm sort of experiencing an existential style crisis. I can't really decide if I want to be a digital painter a la all those great artists at, or draw silly little cartoons.

How do you get ideas for your drawings and paintings?

Reading, mostly. Sometimes I just want to illustrate a scene from a story. Most of the time, though, the ideas are tangential to the content – I'll be reading Greek mythology, and think "Satyrs, huh? wonder what they would look like in modern clothes. Hmmm."

Can you describe your general approach to creating a picture?

I start with the face. I've been told this is a cardinal sin in most art classrooms– OH WELL. I need a face because I want to know what the dominant emotion is for my picture. Once I have one I can start thinking about things like how the color scheme and body language relates to the feeling I'm trying to create. From there I work outward, as my understanding of proportions is all based upon relationships to the face. It's very organic.

Are there any messages that you try convey with your pictures?

I just want to entertain people. I want my pictures to contain narratives and lively characters people are interested in … but beyond that, I really don't attempt to convey any big ideas. I'll be the first to admit it: My work is pretty shallow.

What's your work environment like?

Messy like the dickens. For a big project, my work area (which can be my drafting desk, bed, or computer) begins to resemble a nest. My tools and my iPod are usually at the center, then layers of printed references and junk sketches and books are scattered about in a three-foot radius.

Anytime you feel like you're in a funk, what gets you motivated to start drawing again?

Usually experiencing something very visual helps give me a kick in the butt, whether it's a new movie or just a particularly well-done comic.

What programs do you primarily use for your artwork?

Photoshop 7.

What's your favorite traditional media?

Graphite. I am utterly addicted to pencils. And I just discovered powdered graphite! It's fantastic.

What are your future aspirations?

In an ideal world -- a world of peace, love and unicorns! -- I will be a successful conceptual designer for a major video game studio. But I'll settle for drawing every day and receiving enough compensation for that to pay my bills.

Any advice for other aspiring artists?

Don't go to art school because you want a job. Go because you want an education.

If you could be any character from a video game, movie, novel, etc. who would it be?

Stephen Maturin from the Master and Commander series. That would make me: A doctor and a spy and an amateur biologist, not to mention handy with pistols. I would be a true nineteenth century badass.

What's the one thing you could not live without?

Fountain Coca-Cola. McDonald's is running a promotion where you can get a 64 oz. drink for 75 cents. I've never been happier.

Any other comments or things you'd like to address?

I'm good, thanks. :)

To see more work by Brinson, you can visit these links:

http://sairobi.deviantart.comdeviantART gallery – Portfolio site – Online journal

You can also send emails to Brinson at

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Artist Profile: Kristina Gehrmann

I remember when I first stumbled across the gallery of Kristina Gehrmann. After taking a women’s art history course over the summer, I had a newfound appreciation for the classics. Upon seeing Kristina’s work, I was awestruck by the lighting and composition she managed to pull off in her pieces. Known as Maidith online, Kristina was born in Leverkusen, Germany on May 12, 1989. She currently resides in Meerbusch, Germany and is getting ready to take her A-level exams in 2008. Her artwork is reminiscent of the great Baroque painters such as Rembrandt and Artemisia Gentileschi. Kristina shows great understanding of different techniques and style and certainly has the potential to become one of the great ‘classic’ painters of our time.

How long have you been drawing?

I’ve been doodling since I could hold a pencil and simply love doing it. Since then, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different media and I’m still looking for my favorite kind. Though right now, I currently work mainly with my graphics tablet and oil paint. I’ve been doing digital art since 2002.

How did you get interested in art?

I have no idea what exactly got me into art. It was just something fun to do, but also a challenge from the very beginning. I remember trying to copy Disney images closely when I was about 6 years old. I wanted them to look "right", which didn't always work out but I kept drawing anyway. Pictures in general often made me want to be able to draw like the pictures I saw too. When I was very young, I saw an old master painting in a museum, I can't remember how it looked like, but it left me extremely impressed. In general, I could say: I always wanted to be able to draw or paint - pictures proved to me what was possible, so I just had to keep trying. I'm working to improve my techniques and drawing abilities in order to to achieve what I want with a certain work.

Who are your influences?

I would have to say, the paintings of the old masters. They always impress me when I see them in museums. I love how they tell stories or manage to get the character of a person across to the viewer. I also admire their ability to express religious sentiments. Influences for certain pictures can be all kinds of things, such as poems, songs, even a number, or the atmosphere of a European town. The painters who have influenced me would be J.M. William Turner whose paintings I adore and Eugène Delacroix, as well as the Baroque painters.

How would you describe your style?

I'm still looking for one. It’s hard to tell :). But so far, I'd say: Baroque, it’s sometimes colorful and shiny and sometimes dark-ish. I'm still experimenting with everything.

Can you describe your general approach to creating a picture?

I try to imagine the picture first. The better I know in advance what I want to paint, the less frustrating it will be trying to get everything "right". Color and composition are the most important things, so that's what I think about first - they'll determine the mood of the entire piece. Then, when I know what I want, I look for references. One can't get everything to look very convincing when drawing from imagination, especially if you go for realism. If I want to paint figures, I take photos of myself or a friend, and make a line drawing from those. (Sometimes, it also happens that I doodle along and suddenly a picture evolves, and the figure looks promising but not quite right - in that case I have to look for a reference too). I always paint on a colored background. On top of the line drawing, I block in the final colors with all light and shadow, until the picture is - very roughly - already there. Everything else is merely detailing, refining and correcting mistakes.

What programs do you primarily use for you art?

I use Photoshop 7 mostly, sometimes also Painter IX. But my Aiptek HyperPen 12000U graphics tablet is most important to me.

What's your favorite traditional media?

It's oil, I think. I love the smell of oil paints, and the rich, thick texture. I'm also working more with watercolors and colored inks. They can be hard to control but such beautiful colors are possible with transparent layers. The paintings can have a very nice glow.

What are your future aspirations?

I want to be an illustrator for fairy tale books, like Kinuko Y. Craft (who is also one of my idols) or a portrait painter. I'm working on my oil painting skills so I can become good enough for that. I also would love to be an instructor at a traditional art academy (one that focuses on drawing and painting realistically), teaching people who love painting and truly want to learn.

Your work shows that you have a lot of skill in traditional painting. How do you feel about the apparent divide between digital art and those done with traditional media?

Traditional media
works are best seen in person, like when they hang in a gallery - on the Internet, they always look different. Digital art, on the contrary, is made on the computer and viewed well online (though it is possible to make really, really good prints from digital paintings). But then again, digital art can also include other areas, not just painting. For instance, photo manipulations, fractals or 3D art which is like sculpting. This is a completely new medium and maybe, some fifty years from now on, we will have books about the history of digital art, just like there are books about the history of watercolor. Who knows? :)

Any advice for other aspiring artists?

Always challenge yourself. It'll help you to become better at what you love to do. Paint what you truly love to paint and copy the artworks you admire, not to imitate the artist but to learn about their technique. Don't worry about your own unique style, it will come, you can't avoid it. Also try to draw a lot from nature, figure drawing classes work wonders. Most of all, paint, sketch and doodle all day long, or at least as often as you can.

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?

Uh oh, good question. I'd probably want to meet all the great artists I admire, and watch them paint, and ask them lots of questions. But if I have to pick one, it'd be Michelangelo. I’m sure, he would be very interesting to talk to, not just because of his artwork but also his era of time, the people he knew, and general gossip :).

Any other comments or things you'd like to address?

Just an advice I can give to all artists out there: Do what you love and push yourself to become good at it. I'm also looking forward to what the future will bring for the art world, especially when it comes to digital painting. We will see =).

To see more works by Kristina you can visit her online galleries at: - Homepage
http://maidith.deviantart.comdeviantART account

You can also email Kristina at kristina[at]

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