Hey, Gasara! I hope you’re fine.
Hello, m'dear! Yes, I'm very well, thank you.
So, why don’t you start this interview presenting yourself to our friends here and telling us a bit about yourself?
Okey-dokey. Hey there, everyone! My name is Laura, I'm 28 and I'm from the UK. I've lived in the same village in Staffordshire since I was born and I cannot live without coffee, chocolate and cake.
Art and music are my biggest passions in life. I don't think there's anything more inspiring than great music but unfortunately I don't have a musical bone in my body. This makes me a sad bunny.
"This is the illustration where I think my style finally settled. With this I became really comfortable with how I was working and I suddenly knew what I wanted to achieve with my artwork. I adore the overall look of this piece and the whimsical and nonsensical imagery."
So, tell us: why did you choose the Manga/Anime style as your 'arting' style to begin with?
I've been watching anime and reading manga since I was about fourteen so being completely surrounded by that style for an extended period naturally influenced how I drew. I didn't actively decide that I wanted to emulate the manga/anime style but rather the influences crept in over time. And I’m very glad they did.
On the follow-up of this question, what is your story with Digital art, and why did you choose to work with this media? And when it comes to Traditional, do you work ever work with it, or you're exclusively a digital artist?
I actually used to be exclusively a traditional artist. For years after I finished school I only worked with acrylics and watercolour, primarily because I didn't have anything else to work with at the time. It was only when I was 21 that I was able to afford a computer capable of running software for digital art. I'd always admired the smoothness you could achieve with digital art and once I started experimenting with it I was hooked. That said all of my artwork always starts out as a traditional pencil sketch. For some reason I'm really not comfortable drawing with a tablet. I've never really got the hang of it and it kind of feels like I'm drawing with the wrong hand.
I haven't done any traditional art for years but funnily enough I did dig my watercolours and ink out a few days ago. I'm really interested in working with them again.
I really, really enjoyed the process of making this one. It went through a lot of changes from the original sketch all the way through to completion. I personally like the wandering path you can take when working on an illustration and this one in particular had a very interesting journey.
How was your journey in becoming who you are today, as an artist? Feel free to share any stories you might have, as well.
Oh, it's been a long journey! My earliest memories are of drawing and art has always been a very important part of my life. High school was probably the worst part of that journey though, both personally and artistically. My art teachers went out of their way to criticize my style for being too alternative and actively objected to the manga/anime influences that started working their way in. As a result I chose not to continue my art education beyond high school and effectively taught myself through trial and error and lots and lots of practice. I also started writing more than drawing and at that time I wanted to be a novelist rather than an artist. Strangely enough though that's when I started taking my artwork more seriously and started painting rather than doodling. Still, the artwork I created then was to illustrate the stories I was writing, not to stand alone. Again it was only really when I started creating digital art that my artistic nature came to the fore again. Since then I've been really lucky to have some fantastic experiences and opportunities, such as an exhibition at the Brewhouse Arts Centre and a feature in Neo, a UK magazine for Asian culture and media. deviantART has also been a huge part of that journey and the part that has most encouraged and inspired me.
What I've learnt through all those years and experiences is that art is something precious and it should be enjoyed. It can be fun and silly and I really enjoy that aspect of art. As much as I still want to improve and grow as an artist I'm also more than happy to scribble silly little pictures and enjoy the not-so-good art as well as the pieces I'm most proud of. If anything I might even enjoy them more!
It is said that digital art is “taking over the world”, per say, and it is indeed the medium used by most of the Manga/Anime artists nowadays. Many say it’s even easier to work with it than with traditional tools. Do you agree with that statement or not, and why?
I think that it's fair to say that digital art is taking over, certainly in the anime and manga industry. I can understand why this has happened but I have to say that I think it's a terrible shame. Traditional methods such as hand drawn cel animation are being lost and it's just very sad.
In terms of the tools I wouldn't say that one is easier than the other. It's like anything in life, if you learn something and practice then eventually it will become easy. If you don't put that effort in then you're probably going to find it more difficult. I know that when I made the transition from traditional to digital art I didn't really know what I was doing and something that would take me a couple of hours to watercolour would take me days on the computer. It was only after working with digital art for a period of time that I became more comfortable with it. I would imagine the opposite to be true too. I think it's just a matter of personal opinion and what the artist is familiar and comfortable with.
"This is another illustration I adore for the imagery involved. I love the idea of strange, open places with train tracks to nowhere and signs that don't make sense."
Tell us: Traditional versus Digital: What are the advantages and disadvantages you see on each of them, and what is your favourite?
I honestly think that some of the advantages of digital art are really also disadvantages. While being able to undo steps, rearrange layers and add filters means that your work can be more precise and more polished it does inadvertently create a reliance on those features. When creating traditional art you have to be more careful and think a little more about what you're doing and how to achieve the final result you want. I think it's very healthy, artistically speaking, to have those kinds of pressures and concerns. Also, I personally love that with traditional art you have something tangible at the end of it.
Digital art is convenient, practical in some senses, and tidy. There's so much scope for both creation and utilizing the final product. It's opened up a whole new world of creativity and that's a wonderful thing.
And picking a favourite? I don't think I can do that. I love both forms of art equally. What I will say though is that while my favourite pieces are the ones I created digitally I always enjoyed the process of creating art traditionally more. There's something really special about finding a bit of peace and quiet and painting the day away.
So, on the subject 'tools of the trade' . Which is your program of choice to do art, and why? Have you ever tried working with other programs besides this one, and if so, what's your opinion on them?
I use Paint Tool Sai and I absolutely adore it. I actually like the fact that it doesn't have any bells and whistles, that it's just a straight up drawing software. I did use Gimp initially for my illustrations and while I enjoyed that at the time I don't think I'd go back to it now. I've tried Photoshop once or twice but I really prefer the simplicity of working in Sai.
"I love this one for Ryu's expression. It's more or less neutral but I think there's also a lot of depth there if you look for it. In some ways he looks calm and content; in others he looks a little creepy and slightly unhinged. I like that there's some mystery in that, even for me."
We'd like to know: how, and when have you found deviantART for the first time? It was @bobthescaryman who first introduced me to deviantART. We were friends over on Livejournal and she kept telling me that I had to come over here and try it out. I eventually signed up in 2007 but I didn't really understand the processes and features so I didn't use my account at all. It lay dormant for about two years until I finally came back and figured things out. And I've never looked back. On the topic of influences, what is the importance deviantART had to your art, since you joined this site as a member?
I don't think I can downplay the importance of deviantART and the influence it's had. Before I was part of this community my artwork was seen by probably just a handful of people, most of whom were family. I didn't personally know any other artists and there weren't any artistic influences in my everyday life. deviantART opened up this whole new world for me and provided me with a place to share my work, a place to talk about art, a place to be inspired and a place to grow. You can't help but be inspired by the artwork and the people you find here and it makes you want to improve and grow and continue. It's definitely nurtured my passion and focused me.
"The Lute and the Horn is a piece very close to my heart. It's a very personal illustration and for that reason it's hard to put into words why it means so much. It just evokes a very special feeling."
As we can see, you have already gotten 5 Daily Deviations. You know, for the people who never had one, and also for those who already have one (or more), it is always interesting to know about how others feel when getting this prestigious feature. So, how was it for you? Did that help or motivate you in any way?
This is a subject I've discussed with various people at length in the past. I find it really interesting to read about how other people view Daily Deviations, what they mean to the people who receive them, give them, suggest them and strive for them. There's always such a mixed response. For me though they will always be special. Really, really special.
My first Daily Deviation came completely out of the blue when I was pretty new to dA and more or less completely unknown. It was such a surprise and such an honour and I just didn't know what to do with myself when I heard. I've heard some people who have received a number of DDs say that after a while they don't really mean anything but that's never been the case for me. I've never taken them for granted and my second, third, fourth and fifth were all received with the same overwhelming shock, honour and pride as the first.
Actually, I feel like it's given me a sense of responsibility in terms of how I use deviantART. Because I've had that kind of exposure and gained watchers because of it I feel like I have a duty to the community. This is why I try to do as much for other people as possible, such as providing resources and tutorials, sharing and featuring artwork as well as anything else I can do to help and support for other artists. It's my way of saying thank you.
"I love the colours and lighting in this. The whole image has a very even colour tone which I really like."
Now on the creativity field… What inspires you to create, and where do you get ideas from? Also, I'd like you to tell us a bit about 'external motivations'. Friends, family, etc., do they motivate you in any way, artistically speaking?
I always find this quite difficult to put into words but I am most inspired and motivated by feelings. I find myself being most creative when there's a certain atmosphere, something that evokes certain emotions. For example, I love autumn. When the skies are grey and the leaves are orange and the rain is falling, it's perfect. On that kind of day I'll put on some music that fits the mood, maybe something melancholy or something with strings, and I'll just want to create. I don't know if that makes any sense at all but that's what happens!
My artistic influences come from a range of places. I love British medieval history and that's always been a huge part of my creative work, be it art or writing. I also love the idea and imagery of tarot as well as gothic visuals. I wouldn't go so far as to say my work is surreal but I do love adding things that don't quite make sense, things such as stars hanging from nowhere and signs that have no relevance. Quirky and whimsical. I find myself posing characters and framing scenes as if they were an illustration on a tarot card or part of a medieval tapestry. I really like that kind of look.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview I absolutely love music and that's always been both an inspiration and an influence. It might be that the tone of a song creates an atmosphere for a piece of artwork or that its themes or lyrics influence a visual element. If you look through my gallery you'll notice a lot of my pieces are named after song titles.
I don't think that I'd say friends and family motivate me but they certainly do encourage me. The support of my family has been absolutely unwavering throughout the years and it's something I've always been very grateful for. They're amazing and I don't know where I'd be without their love and support. I love you, family!
This is one of the few pieces of mine where the setting and adornments are pretty normal so it stands out to me for that reason. My favourite thing about it through is that even though the main characters are in a public place, with other people milling around, their interaction still seems quite intimate. I just think it has a very nice feeling. I also love these guys to pieces and drawing them was an absolute pleasure.
As I couldn't leave out of this interview, now it's time to ask about… Artists who influenced and inspired you! We all have them. On and off dA, tell us about them! Oh, goodness, there are so many! On dA there are people like goku-no-baka,Radittz, Ponchounette, VanRah and auroreblackcat who I really admire. I think these are the guys I look up to most because of their ability to write and illustrate amazing stories and that's something I hope to achieve with my own comic projects.
Outside of dA I have to go with some of the classics like Van Gogh, Mucha and L.S. Lowry. In terms of contemporary art I absolutely love Mike Mignola, David Aja and the Japanese artist YORKE.
As we cannot help but wonder, have you ever tried out working with different art styles other than Manga/Anime?
Not really. I'm happy to let my art style develop naturally. I feel like it's a very personal thing and I've never felt comfortable with forcing myself to draw a particular way. I've certainly been influenced by Western comics over the years and perhaps when I was younger there was a little bit of experimentation but I feel really happy with where I am in terms of style at the moment. I love the manga/anime style too much to want to do anything else.
"I'm so emotionally invested in Masa and Munryeo’s story that every piece featuring them is very special but this one in particular stands out. It's a fairly simple image but I feel there's a lot of emotion in it. As with The Lute and the Horn it's a very personal piece."
So, we are almost ending this interview. Before so, I'd also like to ask: Have you ever considered doing art for a living, do you already make your living with it, or you intend to carry it on only as a hobby?
I am currently making a living out of artwork, actually. I mean, don't get me wrong, I certainly don't mean it in terms of a career but for the last few months I've been freelancing to pay the bills. It's been liberating. Before this I'd always had a typical day job working in retail but it was never something I enjoyed, it was necessary. I decided to take the plunge in August and quit my job to focus on my art. The experience has been amazing and I certainly hope to continue along these lines if I can.
As a finishing touch, we'd love to know what sort of art-related projects you are currently involved in?
I've just put together my first art book which is currently available for preorder. As well as that I'm working on a series of smaller books containing information about my comics, exclusive artwork, tutorials and other bits and pieces.
I'm also currently updating my website to include a complete database for all of my comics and old stories. There'll be character profiles, geographical and political information about my fictional countries and worlds. There's a lot of information to go into that so it'll be an ongoing project but when it's done it should hopefully be a pretty detailed resource both for myself and the followers of my stories.
Ok, that's it! now, tell us something random about yourself!
Despite the fact that I’m only 28 my hair's already going grey. And despite the fact that my hair’s already going grey I still only look about 16!
I would also just like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much,Gwendolyn12! And thank you to all of you reading this too. Love you!