When I first got really serious about art (about two or three years ago), I was starting to phase out of reading manga. Don't get me wrong, I still read it, but I became a lot more selective in my tastes. At that time, I was living with three other girls- two Ashleys and a Hannah. All three of us were art students and nerds, so we shared a lot of interests.
Ashley 1 had a love of all things cute. My tastes were not so saccharine at the time, but she introduced me to the world of lolita, which has had an effect on my art.
Ashley 2 was really gifted but self degrading. Hearing her debase her work made me seriously question the sort of crap I was churning out and thought 'good'. Although she had little reason to be dissatisfied, her influence caused a lot of self reflection and made me turn my artistic life around. When I stumbled onto conceptart.org, I was receptive to the advice they gave artists similiar to myself, and avidly devoured the recommended art books. If it were not for conceptart.org, I would never have been introduced to Glen Vilppu, who's anatomy book forms the core of my ideology regarding how the human body is drawn. During that time, I was also intoduced to Bridgeman, Hogarth, and Loomis. While their books were not as influential in my life, I have taken a lot of Loomis's lessons on perspective into my current comic work.
My comic influences at that time were Kiyohiko Azuma (Azu Manga Daioh, but more importantly, Yotsubato! which continues to influence me), Chica Umino (Honey and Clover, and character design for East of Eden), Mitsuru Adachi (Cross Game), and Rumiko Takahashi. I think this is pretty evident in my work at that time, and is still probably pretty evident. I was shortly introduced to Naoki Urasawa's work (20th Century Boys, Monster, Pluto), which continue to inspire me greatly, and then to Inio Asano (Oyasumi Pun Pun, Solanin, What a Wonderful World). My father was diagnosed with cancer around this time, and a lot of my artistic attentions were diverted to family crisis. I wish I could say that he recovered, but sadly, he did not, and to keep myself from depression, I flung myself into comics and art. I used my elective to take printmaking classes (I was a Hypermedia or Digital Graphics major), continued to stretch my artistic wings, and met a film major who taught me a great deal about script writing.
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Azuma's work combines an appealing mixture of simple character work with detailed backgrounds and objects.
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Umino's work has a beautiful dreamy quality and subtle hide-and-seek linework. The story itself was particularly inspiring- slice of life artschool romance.
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Adachi's style is very cartoony and lively. The eyes are large and easily convey expression, and like Azuma's style, the character designs are simple yet recognizeable.
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Takahashi's style is very similiar to Adachi's style, and is very dynamic and playful.
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Urasawa's style is still fairly simple, but much more detailed than any of the previous artists. There is a lot of detail put into clothing and backgrounds, and all characters are extremely distinct. Urasawa is not afraid to make a character unappealing or 'uncute', unlike many manga artists, and his work is free of many of the negative tropes that seem to plague most manga. His backgrounds are beautiful as a rule, and he has excellent use of spot black placement. His expressions are very easy to read and his characters are sympathetic.
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I had trouble finding an image that perfectly encapsulated why I love Solanin and Inio Asano's work in general so much. I will probably have trouble writing about it without sounding like a fangirl. I highly recommend his work, even if you don't like manga. The art is beautiful, the characters are distinct, the emotion is easily read, the backgrounds are appealing (although possibly phototraced, I can't really be sure), the clothes are well rendered, the story is amazing. I love how Asano draws lips, they are so thick and rubbery and feel REAL.
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Howl's is my favorite Hayao Miyazaki directed Ghibli movie. I seem to be attracted to simple character designs with ornate, lush backgrounds. I have several Studio Ghibli artbooks, which are always a source of inspiration. I really love how Ghibli characters' emote using not only their faces, but their hair and their gesture.
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Again with the simple character designs, beautiful backgrounds. Satoshi Kon's movies have a wide variety of characters, from very cute girls to drag queens who are traditionally quite unattractive (but have great hearts). The character acting is easy to read, entertaining, and full of life, and the expressions are amazing.
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On the other side of Ghibli, Isao Takahata forgoes the fantastic spectacle that attracts Hayao Miyazaki, and focuses on the beauty that is everyday life, a sentiment that I find extremely appealing and desire to apply to my own work.
Shortly after my father passed, I resolved to apply to SCAD's Sequential Art Department. It had been a dream of mine since middleschool to attend SCAD, but had been way out of my league, skill and money-wise. My mother was really supportive of my goal, and together we planned a trip to Savannah, to tour the campus. I brought with me my undergrad portfolio, a children's book I'd worked on, and the first few pages of Ready Set Go.
My trip to Savannah went really well, and I returned home encouraged, and began seriously working on my webcomic, using it as half of my undergrad senior project. At this time, I started really getting into the work of Satoshi Kon (Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers), and started reading Starting Point, a collection of essays and timelines by and about Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli had been a huge influence on my work, particularly in the way the work made me feel, and I really loved the slice-of-life-yet-fantastic work of Isao Takahata. I also started delving into American indie comics, Craig Thompson's Blankets and Alison_Bechdel's Fun Home, although to be honest, autobio is my least favorite comic genre.
Entering SCAD as a grad student was quite a shock. I had thought that I was fairly proficient as an artist and as a storyteller, and I was in for a rude awakening. This is for the best, however, as I've done a lot of growing in the short year I've been at SCAD. My work has become more influenced by American work, particularly Disney artists such as Glen Keane, Milt Kahl, Fred Moore, Mary Blair, Walt Stanchfield, and Don Bluth (I love how Bluth animates his run cycles, particularly in Dragon's Lair). Walt Stanchfield's Drawn to Life is basically a bible for many animators and comic artists. The friends I've made while here have been very influential on my work and work ethic as well. Pickles does a weekly webcomic, Distillum in addition to her regular courseload, and Heidi has beautiful beautiful artwork, from pencils to inks to color. Because of them, I have been able to table at two cons I would never have thought to table at (Heroescon and Otakon), and have made plans to table at several other cons in the future.
The internet has been a huge source of inspiration for me as well. Webcomics were the gateway drug into comics and art for me, beginning with Sluggy Freelance way back in eighth grade. Webcomics showed me that you do not have to be a professional to create comics, and you do not have to wait to be discovered to begin publishing and building a fanbase. My tastes have changed over the years, but here is a list of comics that I still draw inspiration from:
And several others that escape my memory right now (my Google Reader account is attached to a different name, which would require me to log out of this post).
Social networking sites such as Twitter have allowed me to develop friendships with several artists I would not otherwise have met, such as Eric Lide StationSquareComic, and Chuck Bourbon Brightest, because let's face it, I'm horrifically shy. I've discovered so many interesting blogs and fantastic artists through services like Twitter and the mentions of other artists that I follow.