Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Artist Profile: Agnieszka Futa

Bold and intriguing are a few of the words one could use to describe the work of Agnieszka Futa. Known by some as sawayaka, this 20 year old hails from Lublin, Poland and is a graduate of the Secondary of Fine Arts In Lublin. Though she specialized in artistic fabrics (like batiks) and weaving, she prefers working with digital art. When she’s not drawing she enjoys hanging out with friends, drinking, head-banging, and annoying her cat. Her illustrations were recently featured in purpleSKY magazine and for those of you who love her work she’s currently open for commissions.

How long have you been doing art and what got you interested?

I've been drawing and creating stuff ever since I remember, it has always been a natural aspect of my life. I don't think there's a particular thing that could have spurred an interest in art in me, I guess I simply inherited it from my mother - she's also an art school graduate.

Can you name some of your influences and what is it about their work that inspires you?

First and foremost - Japanese woodblock prints. I like the fact that ukiyo-e artists never tried to convey a sense of illusion in their works, they simply wanted to create something aesthetically pleasing (and in some cases - something with an actual message that would be easier to get across with a limited amount of means of expression). The Japanese have a great sense of color, shape and composition and that's definitely something I look up to. As I mentioned earlier, minimalism also gets to me, I don't like to spend hours trying to create an illusion of reality (like I had to during my despised painting classes), I'd rather focus on general expression and mood of my pieces.

My favourite ukiyo-e artist would be Utagawa Kuniyoshi, not only because of his admirable skills - his sometimes brutal and macabre images have a certain appeal to me too. While we're at that 'brutal and macabre' theme, I have to add a few more influences to my list - and that would be film and music. I love things like short, absurd movies (like David Lynch's 'The Alphabet' for instance) or music videos whose creators aren't afraid of taking it to the next level (like Floria Sigismondi). As for the music, I'm leaning toward heavier stuff - not necessarily visceral (I'm certainly not a true metalhead), but definitely it has to be vivid and give me energy.

Your work seems to contain various graphic design and print elements, how would you describe your own style?

Well, it definitely has some elements of underground manga in it (I'm thinking about artists like Furuya Minoru or Matsumoto Taiyou). A bit insane yet stylized. I put my main focus on colors as I think it's the most important part of every piece of art (unless it's black and white of course) - flat, vivid colors and thought out color schemes (honestly, I can spend a lot of time on it) would be the most noticeable characteristics of my style. The rest lies in my subconscious-ness and thus I cannot describe it ;D

How do you get ideas for your artwork? Are you ever trying to convey anything in particular?

I SEE THINGS *laughs*. I basically draw what I see when I close my eyes while I'm tired or drunk or both. Sometimes images come to my mind when I listen to the music, sometimes I base them on a dream that I had. I don't think I'm trying to convey anything, perhaps I do, but as I said, it revolves around my subconscious-ness - I can't really verbalize it. My works are probably my emotional states transferred to pictures.

Can you describe your process to creating a picture?

1. First, I get the idea (see above :]).
2. I plug in my magnificent tablet.
3. I openCorel Painter X.
4. I make a general sketch.
5. I draw a finished line art over it (with a 'pen' brush).
6. I save it in .psd format and open it in Photoshop.
7. And this is where the fun begins - I can spend hours coming up with various color schemes, effects and whatnot. I can't really describe that part as I simply try out as many things as possible until I'm satisfied (and sometimes I'm not and I just stop working on the picture to spare myself some frustration).

What type of environment do you work in?

Uhh, in my room (green walls, lots of cds, skulls, usually some beer cans and a full ashtray, some books, random things) in front of my monitor, sitting comfortably in my armchair :3

Is there any particular music you listen to while you're working?

Nothing in particular, whatever I feel like listening at the moment.

What programs and traditional media do you typical use?

Corel Painter X and Adobe Photoshop 7. I used to draw the lineart with ink and then scan it and add colors in Photoshop, but ever since I got a tablet I don't do it anymore.

Are there any projects you're working on or any you hope to work on in the future?

Well, I finished working on a commission for the purpleSKY magazine some time ago and right now I'm just simply taking commissions from random people or draw for myself. Nothing I'd call a 'project' though. I don't have any particular plans either.

Do you have any thoughts on the art industry?

Not really. It's like everything else in the world, some good points, and some bad points.

Do you have any experiences working with any other artists? If not, are there in particular you would love to work with?

Kind of yes, I did a collaboration piece with Inechi which you can view here. It was a really fun experience and we're looking forward doing something like this again (I mean, when I'll stop being lazy/busy :D).

Out of all your pictures, is there any that means the most to you?

Perhaps it would be 'Welcome home, brother' (pictured to the right) but I'd rather not get into details, it's a quite weird story actually. Anyway, all of my babies mean a lot to me, so it really is a tough choice…

What are your future goals and aspirations?

I would LOVE to be a respected free-lance illustrator and earn enough to make a decent living. Right now I'm just starting (having graduated recently and everything), but most of all I'd like to work around music-oriented things (like t-shirt designs, CD jackets, posters, things like that). I was lucky that my first bigger commission was from a music magazine, so I guess it was a good start.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests besides drawing?

Criminal psychology, movies, weird manga, music, beer, concerts. I used to be into photography and painting but that was a looong time ago, while I was still attending school. Now I'm cured. :D

If you were not an artist, is there anything else you could see yourself doing?

I wanted to be a psychologist a few years ago. But then I came to a conclusion that human minds are boring and repetitive (no matter how much you might believe the contrary, it's the truth) when it comes to their deepest, the most primal aspect of personality. I decided I don't want to spend the rest of my life analyzing it for money. I'd rather have some more fun than that. So yeah, If I wasn't an artist, I'd become a roadie or something.

If you had a time machine, what time period would you go back to and why?

The nineties, just because everything seemed more real then, I can't find a good explanation for it though. It's just the way I feel.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Uhhh... Not really. I don't quote people. I'm able to produce weird sentences by myself.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring artists?

If you have an overly technical approach to your works, you'll fail as a human being :D. Just have fun and that's all. If you put your vital energy in your art instead of cold calculating, people will notice it and appreciate it more. And it will sell better! XD

Visit the following links to see more works by Agnes:

http://dizect.com/ - Main portfolio
http://sawayaka.deviantart.com/ - deviantART account

You can also contact her at afuta[at]o2.pl

Click Here to Read Full Article...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Artist Profile: Natalia Alexeeva

If you couldn’t tell from looking at her art Natalia Constantinovna Alexeeva is all kinds of awesome. (Yes, we found it imperative to use her entire name). Especially since she shares an undying love for all things Kingdom Hearts and gave us links to all kinds of funky music. Those of you who’ve passed by her deviantART gallery know her as chinup, and know first hand, just how groovy her stuff is and on top of that, she does all her work traditionally. A recent graduate of the University of San Diego, this 22 year old Moscow-born artist now resides in Southern California while doing web design work.

Rococo Flow
: Care to give us some background about yourself?

Natalia: I was born in Russia, left the country with my mom when I was 12, and have lived all over the place ever since then. Most of my family is back in Moscow still but I visit them as often as I can. I grew up sort of nomadic, I suppose. We lived in Italy for a little while and I used to get by pretty all right in Italian and German, but now I've forgotten them both! I came to permanently live in Southern California when I was about to enter high school, which was nice because California is such a beautiful place. I stayed here for university and would have moved to Vancouver for grad school, but I was low on money and decided to stay in San Diego for a while longer. I just landed a very good job very near my home here.

Rococo Flow: Is it an art related job?

Natalia: Yes! Or rather, it is design-related. Design is art, right? I do webdesign when I don't work traditionally. Webdesign is something I've been doing since high school, so it's been a natural way for me to get money. I freelanced a bit before now.

Rococo Flow: So how long have you been drawing and doing things that were art related? Why did you want to become an artist?

Natalia: Hmm, I think it all started with color. I am fascinated with colors and the way they match up and resonate in different ways. I think I was able to grasp how cool that was even when I was younger. I've always been a right-brain oriented person, *ahaha*. I used to draw a lot when I was in my teens, but my not-so-secret secret is I can't draw at all!

Rococo Flow: *laughs* Why do you say that? The pieces you come up with are really fantastical. Who are your influences?

Natalia: Ah, every time I draw something it's like starting from scratch, I don't feel any real experience backing up my hand. It's all completely intuitive. It's the same with design, that intuitive approach. I have to look at technically strong artists' work sometimes and try to figure out what they did right and what I'm doing wrong. Of course I tend to go with my first impulse anyway since I like things that are rough around the edges.

Japanese ukiyo-e prints are my greatest inspiration. I love the way they're simultaneously rough and delicate, and they have such a cool history! I love artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. I believe those artists have had a large influence on Takashi Murakami and the Superflat movement, and on contemporary artists like Yoshitomo Nara. And of course I adore Giant Robot and its own artists, whom Murakami and others influenced in turn. Like, Kozyndan, for instance. I have been known to liberally rip off Jeana Sohn, too. Jeana Sohn is amazing.

Er, I mean BORROW from… be INSIPIRED by…*Ahah*.

THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER! *Haha* Seriously, I get a lot I get a lot of inspiration from people like the Giant Robot folks.

Rococo Flow: How would you describe your own style?

Natalia: Oh, that's tough for me to say, I guess whimsical? Playful? I use a lot of color and drips and splashes. I did some mock children’s book illustrations for a senior project in college, they weren't exactly Rembrandt, obviously, but I felt I'd found my element.

Rococo Flow: A lot of your work could be seen as surreal. How do you get ideas for your drawings and paintings?

Natalia: I tend to go with a single image that I see somewhere that strikes me for whatever reason, buildings catching the sun for instance, and then I try to recreate that feeling. Or else I'll see an illustration or a piece of art and think, “wow, amazing, I want to figure out how that was done”. So I try and do it. Of course my own style sort of transforms anything I put down on paper or canvas to something unexpected. That's the being intuitive part.

Rococo Flow: Are you ever trying to convey a message in your pieces?

Natalia: Mostly just moods. The feeling of wanting to run outside, barefoot in the grass or more sinister things, if I'm so inclined. Sometimes I'll just doodle something that looks pretty good and subsequently paint it, and then someone else will come to me with a little story about what the picture means, and I won't correct them.

Rococo Flow: Do you use any programs for your artwork or is it all traditional media?

Natalia: It's all traditional, that I recall. Though I do I photograph my paintings using a terrible, terrible ancient camera, so I have to use Photoshop to tweak colors back to their original look here and there.

Rococo Flow: What's your general approach to creating a picture?

Natalia: 1) Look for a paint-able surface. (My preference is canvas or wood board, though I sometimes desecrate book covers and other things that are flat).
2) Choose colors to work with. (Usually I sketch out the whole deal and match the swatches. Also, this usually all this goes awry and I end up with something different).
3) Sketch out areas onto the canvas/board/etc. with fingers, pencils, anything handy. (By this time I am sort of caught in the moment, *ahaha*).
4) WILL the piece to be good with my MIND (occasionally effective).

Natalia: The problem with traditional art is that it costs money every time so you can’t waste materials. Oh and let's not forget: Step 0 is prepping the canvas and step 5 is putting on finishing touches, usually with materials like marker that would otherwise run under spray paint or water.

Rococo Flow: Is there any particular media that you use most often?

Natalia: Acrylics, spray paint, fine-point marker on canvas or wood board. I've tested out some of trickier stuff in the past, like paper-machétexturing or applique, but those shorten the life of a painting since paper doesn't hold up very well to much of anything.

Rococo Flow: What's your favorite?


Rococo Flow: *laughs*

Natalia: Um, acrylics. They're smooooooooooooooooth. Oh and wood board! It is a pain to prep, but the natural swirl of the grain is so beautiful.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* It never really hit me until a year or so ago that one didn't need to use 'traditional' canvases in order to get good results. The wood boards are definitely pretty. Do you have any projects that are in the works?

Natalia: I am currently a little obsessed with Russian folk tale illustrations, especially Ivan Bilibin's work. I'm doing a painting right now of the three fairy-tale knight-brothers that Bilibin's so famous for illustrating. His work is really magnificent and inspiring.

Rococo Flow: Oh that sounds interesting. Do you hang your works in a gallery anywhere or is it possible for people to purchase your works some other way?

Natalia: I've currently got a couple of pieces up near the Arts Center in Escondido, those are for sale and I'm always open to online commissions.

Rococo Flow: Awesome. Do you have any thoughts on the art industry today?

Natalia: Hmm, I don’t know, the art industry today's got a lot to give, so grab what you can? QUICKLY? On a more serious note, I feel that the overlap of "design" and "art" has brought a lot of opportunity for exploration. It's not all urinals in museums anymore.

Rococo Flow: *haha*

Natalia: It's all right for good art to be beautiful to look at. Of course, art history being in a sort of lawless and Armageddon-like state at all times, you'd have no problem finding 50 people who disagree with my last statement, *ahaha*.

Rococo Flow: True. Art is such a subjective thing at times, yet we try really hard to make it objective. I guess to even the playing field.

Natalia: No one who has any real sense can just TELL YOU what is real MODERN ART anymore it's completely subjective to the MILIEU or whatever that's called. Basically I like that magazines like Giant Robot and Beautiful Decay have established their own milieu and criteria. It feels very much like standing up to THE MAN, as with all new art movements :-) *ahaha* I am sounding very dumb right now.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* No you're not. When someone mentions standing up to the man, I always think of the Impressionist movement. They may have been laughed at back then, but look how respected they are now, after many years… so you never know :-). I suppose it's all up to perspective.

Natalia: ....And many years after today, after all of us are properly rich and famous, I don't even want to KNOW what the milieu will be laughing at. Probably dead cats in museums or has that already been done? Anyway, it's good enough for me that modern information technologies, digital media, etc. have given recognition to so many truly talented and skilled artists.

Rococo Flow: Agreed, so what are you future aspirations?

Natalia: Well, for now I am going to work in the webdesign field, since it is such lucrative field all things considered. I find interactive design is just as exciting as art for art's sake. There is such potential in programs like Flash where art becomes interactive! But I'll keep painting in the meanwhile. I find traditional art, especially traditional media in this day and age, isn't something I can just abandon. People work in Painter and forget the way real paint FEELS. It's a messier experience, of course, but the mess is 100% organic and therefore good for you.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any interests besides painting?

Natalia: I love pop music a little too much. I write for a website called aurgasm.us (RF: Music fans should definitely check it out!!). Of course there's manga and anime, without which I wouldn't have ended up befriending such amazing people as Chira and her friend Muun (they do Salad Days). I'm a little less interested in anime these days, but I still work with the Karaoke Kaizokudan at West-coast cons. We run the Karaoke rooms. :-). I play videogames too, everything from Battlefront to Flight sims to Square-Enix RPG's. I also read a lot of books. I like old stuff and historical fiction. I am only now discovering Georgette Heyer.

Rococo Flow: Oh… do you play Kingdom Hearts?

Natalia: Yeah. This time last year all I could talk about was Kingdom Hearts. I printed and sold some tee shirts that said stuff like “GET UP ON THE HYDRA'S BACK!” and I made one with a picture of Demyx's sitar strapped across on the back. It was good times.

Rococo Flow: Oh man a t-shirt would be cool…. so if you could meet anyone, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Natalia: Uhh, I am terrible at these questions. Pushkin, probably, because he's be such an unpredictable conversationalist, maybe he could tell me what "The Bronze Horseman" really meant, if it was really about Peter the Great and stuff.

Rococo Flow: This next question, I probably should have asked earlier since the topic came up, but what type of music do you enjoy listening to?

Natalia: I have so many bands I like it's a little ridiculous, but then music is OK to be crazy about so long as it is good. Ohoho! Off the top of my head I'll name the New Pornographers, Of Montreal, Destroyer, Ojos de Brujo, Maximo Park, Go!Go!7188, and Jens Lekman. I've also recently discovered Detektivbyran, whose music sounds a lot like Yann Tiersen's Amelie soundtrack, BUT BETTER. I listen to a lot of baroque pop, which is like pop but with orchestras and interesting instrumental arrangements and things. Think The Decemberists. BUT THEN OF COURSE WE KNOW SEAL'S "KISS FROM A ROSE" IS LIKE THE GREATEST SONG EVER.

Rococo Flow: Hahaha… definitely all awesome choices. Do you have any advice for any other aspiring artists?

Natalia: Ah, I suppose something like this: be ready to be modest, and be ready to stand proudly by your work. Produce as much work as you can and be HUNGRY for inspiration and for the creative process. Hm, I don't know if "modest" is even the right word for it. "Professional", perhaps because "be modest" isn't good advice, but "be serious about your work" certainly is.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any other comments or things you'd like to address?

Natalia: "Thanks a bunch" is all I got!

To see more work by Natalia visit the following links:

tiger-tiger.org – portfolio of recent works
chinup@deviantART – DA account
motorbike@livejournal – Livejournal

You can also contact Natalia at nativegirl[at]gmail.com

Click Here to Read Full Article...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

News: Le Grand Grimoire Visuel

Well here's something to definitely get excited about: An artbook featuring some of youngest hot talent out there now. We had the honor of featuring one of the ladies, lawnmowerpants, as our very first interview!!

So be sure to check out their site and here's the advertisement straight from the artists themselves:

Le Grand Grimoire Visuel

A full color art book featuring over sixty brand new illustrations from female illustrators and comic artists from around the world!

13 of the hottest young artists from around the globe have gathered together to present this full color art book filled with their own unique renditions of classical mythological monsters and demons.

Over 80 pages in length, hardcover and case bound, Le Grand Grimoire presents all new never before seen artwork from some of the most talented female artists on the scene today!

Headed by comic artist C.Lijewski [RE:Play, Next Exit] and featuring cover art by Eisner-nominated artist Becky Cloonan [Demo, American Virgin] Le Grande Grimoire features original illustrations from:

As a special bonus, the first 200 orders will receive a limited edition dust jacket! For $35 (US dollars, S&H included) you can reserve your copy today at:


In anticipation of Le Grand Grimoire visuel (shipping January 2008), members will be promoting the artbook by selling limited edition postcards, giving you a sneak peek of what's to come. Check back here for updated schedules of where you can pick up these postcards and talk to some of the artists behind this very special project!

Our current schedule:
Yaoi-con- October 26-28th, San Fransisco, CA
Artists in attendance: Dee (artist alley)

Nekocon- November 2-4th, Hampton, VA
Artists in attendance: C.Lijewski (dealer's room)

Click Here to Read Full Article...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review: Style School Vol. 1

Hello Rococo Flow Readers!!

So wow… there are definitely some apologies deserved here. It’s been over a month since the last update and even that wasn’t much. Things have been inexplicably busy, busy, busy. However, Rococo Flow would like to apologize to the artists who have been waiting ever so patiently to see their interviews published, and to the many others who are still waiting to hear back from us. Not to mention, the readers who’ve been waiting to see some new stuff.

As always, thank you to those who’ve sent e-mails of encouragement and sent recommendations our way. We’ll do our best to feature the variety of artists out there.

Rococo Flow is NOT FINISHED yet and we’re not giving up at all. There may be period of stand still but this is just the beginning!!!

We would also love to give a great big shout out to ebeelove for creating a syndicated feed for the site. This should be handy for those of you with livejournals who want to read the site from your friend page. It can be accessed here.

Last but not least here’s a book review to tide you over, done by the wonderful ~Sophia.

Review: Style School v. 1

In the last decade, the popularity of manga, anime and Japanese pop culture has, for better or worse, increased exponentially. Along with the introduction of new artists and art forms came the inevitable market frenzy to capitalize on it. “How to Draw Manga” books have taken over the art shelves in bookstores around the country. While it is good practice to consult an instructional book when you wish to learn something, the plethora of books by people who have never before drawn in the anime-manga style can simply makes one’s eyes bleed. Luckily there are some decent instructional books out there and have found one worthy of attention!

Style School (vol. 1) is an instructional illustration book straight from the source of the anime-manga world: Japan. Published by Dark Horse this fall, it is a paperback with 144 glossy color pages and the following synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com:

Japan's leading manga illustration instructional guide (titled SS Magazine in Japan) comes to America! Learn the techniques of Japan's top manga and anime artists in Style School, showing step-by-step methods to help today's up-and-coming illustrators master the use of pen, brush, paint, marker, screen tones, computer modeling and other tricks of the trade. Gain insight into the weapons of choice of today's top creators, especially those brands and tools that are so hard to find outside Japan. See for the first time the eye-popping art of tomorrow's manga and anime stars, page after gorgeous page of spectacular visual imagination. And find out how to submit your work to be considered for publication in upcoming issues of SS Magazine in Japan! (Source)

Don’t let the stereotypical big eyed girl-boy and cutesy robot cover fool you, the first couple of pages of the book are taken by 6 two page spreads, each with their own distinct style. Style School focuses on coloring illustrations broken down into the following sections:

• Style School How-To : Color
• Sky School
• Special Stage: Color
• Style School How-To: Black & White
• Sea School
• Special Stage: Black & White
• After School

The first instructional section, Style School How-To, is all about color. The different mediums covered in this section are markers, colored inks, watercolors, acrylics, 2D & 3D software, and a comparison of different coloring materials. The second instructional section is all about black & white. The techniques included creating using technical pen and screentones.

The instructional pieces have a good balance between images and text. They include the basic instructions along with tips and comments from the artist. The comprehensive instructions help newbies experiment with different mediums even if they don’t have any previous experience with it, but at the same time, the variety of techniques and artists features provide even experienced artists with a new perspectives and techniques.

One great example is instructional piece by Imperial Boy. The finished piece looks completely 2D, but a glimpse into Imperial Boy’s creation process reveals that he actually uses 3D modeling to build up the environment of his works. The experimentation section is especially detailed in that it not only provides an example of how a certain medium would look like but also a picture of the exact tool and brand that was used. My main critique is that the websites of the featured artists are nowhere to be found in the book. This is especially annoying since the majority of the artists are not English speakers and are not easily found on websites like Deviantart.

Sky School and Sea School include submissions from the general public in color and black & white respectively. The quality of the art ranges from those by the artists whose art is featured in the instruction section to those by 14 year olds who don’t have the skills to match what they see in their mind. Fortunately, the editors have made sure to size each image accordingly so that the more interesting ones are bigger.

The Special Stages of the book include art by featured artists. The art in this section vary more greatly in style and include short comics and combinations of text and art. The After School section is, not surprisingly, one long commercial for Dark Horse for their upcoming publications.

Overall I would suggest everyone to take a look at this book. The wide variety of artistic styles and mediums featured provides a great way for an artist to experiment and expand.
The book itself, is also a great piece of eye candy and with a list price of just $14.95, you’d only need to give up your Starbucks coffee for three days. Amazon also offers a couple of used copies for less than $10.


Style School at Amazon
Style School at Dark Horse

Click Here to Read Full Article...