Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thoughts on Finding Your Style and Voice in Comics

Inspired by Tek's suggestion in the comments from my last post, I'll give it a go and try to talk about my thoughts in finding your style and voice. I hear this is a concern for a lot of people when I talk to them about comics. I remember this was a huge concern for me back in the day but honestly, I don't really worry about it anymore. I've decided that you can't force style, style comes to you.

So like my last post, I will talk about what I learned in my own experience! I can't say this is the "how to" but this is how I found my "groove". And To tell you the truth, I'm always growing as an artist and my art will always change little by little. The more you draw, the different kinds of art you are exposed to, the life you lead, I believe will reflect in your own style. This is how I see it:

Like a stew, (HA! Me and my metaphors) you start out with the broth. Much like a decision you want to draw/write. You can practice anatomy, perspective, etc but this doesn't necessarily give you style. You have your base broth and key ingredients and then you add things you enjoy into the stew to give it the flavor!

I find it hard to advise about drawing specifically since I did not learn awesome perspective or perfect anatomy. In fact, I flunked out of art school. I am aware of my need to improve in these fields and it's constantly on my mind! My stew is backwards.


When I was in my teen years, I copied (yes, copied) my favorite characters and styles of artists I adored. I would read comics and notice certain things that I thought were awesome! I loved Jeff Smith's Bone and his use of spot blacks and the way he drew faces. I also read a lot of Adriane Tomine because I loved his melancholic faces. I studied forever of Craig Thompson and his beautiful dry brush line work. After trying to copy a few things I would try to draw something on my own using what I learned through my sketches. Certain things stick. It's a learning process. We are a lucky bunch that "studying" includes reading our favorite comics!

Add all these things into your stew as your inspirations and sooner or later you're going to get a something that is pretty darn unique. You like onions? toss in an onion! You like potatoes? Toss in some potatoes!

I think people get a little scared because they feel it's stealing a recipe when taking aspects of art from others. But I say, NO! NO! It's inspiration! It's one thing to copy a panel/character design and then use it as your own work, and another to incorporate techniques you love into your own drawing. It magically fuses with your own style. You're using it as a tool to learn. I know a lot of people who learned to draw from copying their favorite comics. If there is something you think is awesome, study it, learn how they did it, try it with your own art. FUN IN A BAG!

Also, drawing everyday (even the slightest bit) helps a lot. Doing EmiTown everyday vastly improved my art. Compare my first EmiTown pages from mid 2009 to a year later in 2010. Not only do I feel I have improved with drawing, but layout as well. Everyday, I had to think about layout and flow; the best way for me to draw out a whole day efficiently using only one page. By doing it everyday, it helps for that kind of thinking to come more naturally.
A page from 2009

A year later in 2010

The beginning can be tough. Like you are lost in the dark. But the more you expose yourself to the dark, the more your eyes will begin to adjust and see shapes. I think if you keep drawing and studying your idols, a "style" will emerge naturally.

I also want to stress that to me, personally ( I don't know if everyone would agree) "style" isn't drawing the same every time. "Style" is that voice or essence in your art that is recognizable to everyone that it's you whether you draw circle heads, manga, or superheros. Heck, I've had some people complain about having a lack of style and I can totally see it!

Bottom line, study and practice! It comes naturally because it is you. I would think it's hard to avoid as long as you're drawing from your heart!

As for writing, I'm not sure if anything I have already said applies to that. I write how I think and talk and I know that won't fly for everything! I have a lot left to learn with drawing and writing and that's exciting to me. Try new things! Always be flexible to new ideas! It's darn tootin' fun, I tells ya. And the coolest thing about art? There is no way to know EVERYTHING! Because art itself is continuing to grow and expand.

Ok then,

xoxo <--(you think if I do this enough, I can be like Gossip Girl?)

- emibot

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Starting in Comics (Emi tries to advise)

I've received several emails from folks asking for advice in regards to getting started in comics. I don't know how much I can help. Especially since I feel I myself just started. I will share what I have learned so far from experience, peers, and through my internships.

1) As Brett Warnock(Top Shelf) had once told me: "Produce, produce, PRODUCE!"
Now, I don't want to hear anyone complain about time. Believe me, I know a thing or two about a lack of time. I'm holding a 40hr a week day job (which has nothing to do with art!). If it's something you love, you make time for it! I do a lot of doodling and thumbs at my desk at work. My mind is constantly in comic mode. I think that's the first sign that comics is life!

2) More on Produce Produce Produce
Make mini comics, print them, distribute them to your favorite artists! Make a blog! The more you share the more people will be able to know about who you are and what you do! And don't feel like a "whore" because you're running around talking about your own stuff. You have to learn to market yourself in this biz. Things mainly get around by your own efforts and word of mouth. If people love comics, they'll love to receive whatever it is you're offering. So if you're not a social butterfly, try and step out of that safety box and throw yourself out there!

3) Socialize!
Get to know others in your field! You'll learn quickly that comics is an industry where everyone is very supportive of each other. I rarely felt any sort of ill competitiveness in the comics world. It's a small industry compared to others and you'll become aware that everyone knows each other in some sixth degree or other. To socialize:

a) Attend comic events such as signings, release parties, conventions, etc! Make friends, share your minis! The comic world is like a wonderful funderful family!

b) Join social networks online! Forums, Twitter, and Facebook are some examples. If you can't make it to cons, these online sites are great places to make friends too.

c) If you are lucky to live in the area of a comic publisher or studio collective, see if there are any internships available! I personally interned for Top Shelf Productions(publisher of Blankets, Essex County, Jeffrey Brown etc) and Periscope Studio(collective of comic artists/writers including Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber, Colleen Coover etc) here in Portland.

d) See if there are any Drink & Draws/sketch groups in your neighborhood!

3b) A Note on Socializing
Say what you will on what I'm about to state but I PERSONALLY learned that you shouldn't fawn and be all fan-girl/boy over your idols. I've been taught that if you want to be treated like a creator in the industry you should act like one, not a crazy fan. Your idols are still mentors/inspirations but at the same time they are your peers in the comic world! I'm not saying you can't be excited and compliment them, I just mean tone down the "OMG OMG OMG YOU ARE _____ ______! I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR BOOK ____ _____ CAN I TOUCH YOU?"

4) Be Nice!
Yeah? Yeah? Does that sound silly? Well, from what I heard from folks, it helps immensely if you are a person who is friendly and easy to work with. Even if you could draw the most inticrite Zeus riding a Cerebus striking Magneto with a lightening bolt, if you are a jerk, not many people will want anything from you. But if you ask me, that's a simple rule from the playground. If you don't play nice, no one will play with you no matter what cool kicks(sneakers) you wear.

6) Never Give Up!
Learn from your failures and learn to focus on even the smallest of successes. Don't fear to try new things and keep on truckin! If you get shot down, or do not hear continuous praises, don't lose hope! If anything, that should fuel you to work harder! Uh oh, watch out, golf metaphor coming-- Not everyone hits a hole-in-one on their first swing! Sometimes you might get the ball in the rough or in the sand. Doesn't mean at all that the game is over. Try a different club, check the wind, practice your swing. Don't blame the caddie for bad advice...or because someone coughed at the tee. or...I think I'm losing my metaphor.


7) Draw With Your Heart!
That sounds cheesy I know, but people can recognize when someone draws/writes from their heart and it stands out so much more!

I can't stress enough how lucky we are to be in the age of the Internet. It's so easy to connect with other creators all over the world and share your own work in minutes! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! For serious.

That's all for now I think.


and I leave you with a downer comic:


- emibot

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Birthed My Blog Today

I made this blog just so I can write about updates, inspirations, and things going on in life. Not everything can be crammed into a one page comic a day. Plus, I want to have a regular ol' blog where I can put whatever I want in it!

So for starters I want to talk about my awesome sketch group!

First there is Angie Wang whom I have known for many years from an online forum. I realized one day that she lived in Portland too! We got together and began infrequent sketch groups. Check her stuff out! She has some awesome big projects coming and I have no doubt this girl is gonna be a name to know!


Second is the wonderful Natalie Nourigat! Whom some call Tally but professionally I think she wants to be known as Natalie. She does amazing comics and her skills have been growing out of control! I was introduced to her by Jeff Parker last year at the Cosmic Monkey After Party (Stumptown Comics Fest weekend) because we both were interns at Periscope Studio (Not at the same time!). We were insta-friends! She is one to watch! She's full of awesome!

Tally Art
Between Gears

And here's an old something I never posted: