ASKtheARTIST Interview with Zombiesmile
<thefluffyshrimp> Welcome to ASKtheARTIST. My name is *thefluffyshrimp and today I have the great privilege to interview `Zombiesmile, a very talented illustrator and creator of many well-known works on deviantART.
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you for presenting us with this opportunity to interview you, Zombiesmile.
<Zombiesmile> Hi, thanks for having me! :3
* Zombiesmile is super excited, oh god! * -*;
<thefluffyshrimp> ~rankirubai asks "In what ways has Shaun helped your art and creativity improve? What kinds of insights on art, character design, storytelling, etc has he given you?"
<Zombiesmile> Before I met Shaun (`endling) I was pretty much on my own when it came to art, looking things up and reading tutorials etc. It's been really hard sometimes.
<Zombiesmile> Nowadays, he's the person I talk to all the time, discussing art and stories and games and such. it's really important to me to have another opinion on my work, especially from someone I admire.
<Zombiesmile> He's still my biggest inspiration in art... u///-//u keeps me working harder and such!
<Zombiesmile Sorry, I am slow, now the next question! * A*;;; um...
<thefluffyshrimp> ~r3nka asks "What are things you do to stay motivated/focused on your work?"
<Zombiesmile> The things that keep me motivated are generally other creative people. Watching others work makes me want to pick up a pencil myself. The idea of sharing and having people feel the same thing when looking at my work, is pretty awesome. When it comes to work related things, it's the knowledge that it is going to pay my bills too. XD
<thefluffyshrimp> ~bwahhahahaaa asks "What game are you playing currently?"
<Zombiesmile> ahaha, recently played games are: Dishonored (loooved it!) The Walking Dead (sadly a big buggy, so I lost my save files. :C) and completely sucked into Minecraft again recently.
<Zombiesmile> Sadly I don't have much time to play. u_u
<thefluffyshrimp> *zmote asks "I live in Switzerland. How is the market for visual artist in this region (Western Europe)? Is it easy to get by as an Illustrator/Concept Artist/etc.?"
<Zombiesmile> Hmm. well to be honest, at the moment I do more comic work than concept art or illustrations, so it's hard for me to say. The times I do get offers though, generally the interested people are from North America. Comic industry-wise, Germany is insanely small, so it's not a very reliable source of income for me. I always try to look towards America for work, to be honest.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~rankirubai asks "What made you decide to publish some of your art portfolio on this site?" and "Which of your original works are you currently updating regularly? Do you notice an overarching theme or pattern with all of them?"
<Zombiesmile> My sister ~pinumbra convinced me to join ages ago, and at first it was really just a fun place to hang out, since Germany's Manga/anime community was... well, not very big. I was very happy to find fellow fans, and uploaded silly fanart for fun. Over the years, I stopped drawing fanart and it became more and more my main online presence. Nowadays, I can't imagine a career without it...
<Zombiesmile> Updating regularly is always a problem when I have big projects in the making, such as Crash'n'Burn right now. I try to share as much as my publisher allows me, but it's limited. Comicking is a full time job, and sometimes I even don't get time off on weekends. The mini comics are probably the ones I update most, simply because they're simple and fast to make. I try anyways, but finding time is always the big problem. ; _ ;
<Zombiesmile> As for overarching patterns,... I dunno! I haven't had people tell me that I repeat themes too often, and I try to vary things up, especially because I get bored with my own work. :T sometimes I think my art has a bit of a split personality, since mini comics are so different from my usual comicky stuff. (which is a lot more serious, I think?)
<thefluffyshrimp> ~saito20 asks "How many hours a week on average do you paint/draw?" and ~Zansake asks "What's your work routine?"
<Zombiesmile> Oh god. hours a week? just a sec.
* Zombiesmile whips out calculator.
<Zombiesmile> On average... 56 hours a week.
<Zombiesmile> My work routine consists of answering messages and e-mails, doing paperwork and making calls in the morning, and then drawing after that's done. Sometimes after lunch, if I am lucky, earlier. <_>; being a freelancer takes a lot of self-discipline, so all the crappy annoying stuff I like to get out of the way first. After that, I try to draw until 6-7pm. sometimes I draw after dinner, and even if my rule is to only do personal work then, when there are deadlines I can end up drawing until 1-2am.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~rankirubai asks "Your character Ko-omote was inspired by your Gaia avatar. Any other inspirations for her personality or overall quirks?" and "What types of characters do you enjoy drawing or coming up with the most?"
<Zombiesmile> Haha, Ko is something like... a walking cliché, but I love drawing her because it's a very carefree sort of place she originated from. XD
<Zombiesmile> I used to roleplay with her on Gaia, and I loved playing villainous, mischievous characters. pretty much all the bad things you're not allowed to do, Ko made possible, so. yeah, fun!
<Zombiesmile> My favourite type of character...hmmm. Never thought about it that way, really. I guess I like drawing guys sliiiightly more than girls, mainly because I find it easier to do? other than that, I really love fantasy, even though a lot of my published stuff ends up being dramas for some odd reason. 6__9;;
<thefluffyshrimp> ~flybaby64 and ~r3nka asks "How did you choose your name and icon? What do they represent?"
<Zombiesmile> My Icon is my old Gaia avatar/character Ko-omote. :3 my username, well.. is a bit embarrassing I guess, but it's a thing from my old anime fangirl days when I was completely obsessed with a manga called Zombie Powder. I just never changed it because people got used to it I think!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Chiisao asks "What are your goals for 2013?"
<Zombiesmile> Goal for 2013: getting married. @_@ ................. artistically though: getting Crash'n'burn done, and being able to look at it and be happy. I have a tendency to really be ashamed of my work after releases for some reason. Also, I'd want people to like it of course. (which is why I am working hard on it atm.)
<thefluffyshrimp> *Shabello asks "Can you tell us how you broke out from drawing as a hobby into something you make a full-time living off?"
<Zombiesmile> Hmm, it has really been a gradual thing, so there was no real point in time where I went 'right, time to do this!' from one day to the next... When I was 12, I decided I wanted to be a comic artist. (read Yu Yu Hakusho the first time) After that, I always took drawing pretty seriously, and even in high school when classmates asked for free sketches, I told them they had to pay for them. Sadly, no one ever told me freelancing was an option, so I wasted some time trying to find out how to make this work without starving to death. Eventually, through DA again, I got the info I needed and began taking commissions while working part time. Some fellow artists on here were so kind to explain to me how freelancing works and I finally had a direction.
<Zombiesmile> Took me pretty long to be able to live off it, and went through some pretty horrible times too, but I would not have it any other way.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~saito20 asks "If you had to begin learning from zero again, what are the 3 things you'd focus on? And what are the 3 mistakes you would avoid?"
<Zombiesmile> Oof...that's a difficult one... Maybe focus on studying the fine art masters, colouring, and enjoying what I do. I'd try to avoid: trying to please everyone, not confronting my weaknesses and instead doing short cuts, not doing something because of fear of failure.
<thefluffyshrimp> *zmote asks "I struggle with converting my sketches into proper line-art. Sometimes it seems to me it's because of the software I use (Photoshop). What do you suggest in how to approach digital line art?"
<Zombiesmile> Personally I prefer Paint Tool Sai for lining, because I find the pen tool to feel a lot more natural and dynamic. But I also found that zooming in a lot when inking is pretty important. The sketch must be pretty clean for that of course, but the more I zoom in, the steadier my lines are. If you can't get Sai, perhaps browse some Photoshop ink brushes people offer here on DA? O: I haven't tried any yet, but I know there's a lot of resources around. Sometimes you just have to find one that feels the most comfy for you.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Demonfyre asks "How did you start out with your journey in art?"
<Zombiesmile> oh dear, that goes all the way back to..well.. when I was tiny. *- * My mother used to draw a lot, and my grandmother is a calligraphy master, and used to be a kimono maker. My granddad on my German family side used to paint with oil, as a hobby. I think even as a child I was always encouraged to draw, even if my dad was pretty unhappy when he heard I wanted to be a comic artist. (he was a banker. XD) I used to watch my mother draw portraits and wanted to be just as good, and in school art was my favourite subject. Because I was a very shy kid with no friends and very low self esteem, art was very important to me as a means of escape.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~hallowedthings asks "What made you start arting and who are your favourite artists/biggest influences?"
<Zombiesmile> aha, I guess my mother would be my earliest influence, since she got me into it as well. I remember watching Astro boy as a kid, and Gegege no Kitaro (Japanese ghost cartoon), but the first time I realized it was 'anime' was at age 12, when I read Yuyu Hakusho. My biggest influences are definitely: Yoshihiro Togashi (Yuyu Hakusho), Tite Kubo (not so much Bleach, but Zombie Powder and his early short stories), Kentaro Miura (Berserk). After that, Deviantart as a whole. There’s so many artists here that are amazing, that it would be impossible for me to list everyone who influenced me. I think since coming here, I improved a lot faster than I did by myself, reading only those few comics I had.
<Zombiesmile> I suppose Shaun stands out among them though, since he's helped me improve immensely since 2007.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Darennysmith asks "How many works are you currently working on?"
<Zombiesmile> Right now I am working on Crash 'n' Burn, volume 1 & 2. the first book is already drawn, the second one is being thumbnailed right now. C: I suppose Mini Comics are always sort of running along in the background.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~saito20 asks "What did you draw 90% of the time when you were a little child?"
<thefluffyshrimp> *zmote asks "How do you increase your visual library? Are there dailies you do, like reading books etc.? What would you suggest for a newcomer artist how to structure a day to become a better artist?"
<Zombiesmile> I actually have folders upon folders of references and DA and pixiv art that I like to flip through for inspiration. Even though I like reading and watching films, I rarely have time for that, sadly. I find it important to take breaks though, since even if you love art you can get oversaturated by it? it gets too much. In which case I like to go out. I am always surrounded by art, so I don't really think a daily routine is necessary unless you are having a bit of a block. (which happens to all of us, believe me...) For a newcomer, I'd just say: draw lots, regularly! And most importantly, have fun! Once you're comfy in the medium, you can go out and explore and learn and stuff! Art should never be a chore I think.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sheika-gamergirl asks "Zombie what would be your ultimate dream job? (even outside of art)"
<Zombiesmile> My ultimate dream job is to do what I am doing, except being paid better. hahaha.
<Zombiesmile> I think freelancing allows me enough freedom but also keeps things fresh because I get new job offers and projects to work on. Downside being payment and lack of security, so anything that improves on that would be ideal for me.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~SpikeTheFistMan asks "What are your thoughts of art college/university? Is it worth the money, or you can just learn most of the stuff from the internet anyway?"
<Zombiesmile> To be honest, as someone who has not gone to art school or university, I really don't think I am in a position to say whether or not it might have been useful or worth the money. I believe some people are disciplined and determined enough to get where they want to go without it, but others definitely say they need the structure and interaction with others to succeed...so in the end, I think it's up to the individual. I never had the money to go, but if I did, I probably would give it a shot.
<Zombiesmile> D; sorry.
<thefluffyshrimp> =TheDemonfyre asks "What would you suggest to the amateur artist looking to improve on their own artwork?"
<Zombiesmile> Hm, it really depends on where they're at, and what art they're making, but I think the most basic advice is to learn your basics, and tackle your weaknesses. I often see people who can't draw hands, so they make the character hide them behind their backs or such. Just practice the stuff you DON'T know, and eventually you can draw it easily and well. :> Don't be afraid of failure too. it's all about trial and error.
<thefluffyshrimp> *zmote asks “Where you ever at a point in your artistic career where you just wanted to quit, because you weren't improving even a little bit?"
<Zombiesmile> Oh yes, many times.
<Zombiesmile> There were about three times it was so bad, I was about to quit comics actually. funnily enough, each time I got a sudden unexpected little break. and I decided to be stubborn and keep going.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~r3nka asks "Were you apprehensive when you decided to pursue art straight out of high school? If yes, what did you do to overcome it?"
<Zombiesmile> one of them was Tokyopop's boss who asked me to be in an anthology. glad I didn't give up.
<Zombiesmile> Sort of, yeah. But I think determination and stubbornness ended up being stronger. one of my part time jobs thankfully was with a small publisher, so it allowed me to see what the industry was like from up close, and it gave me confidence and taught me a lot as well.
<Zombiesmile> Going to conventions was one of the things I did a lot then, and I saw people's reactions to my work (even if it was crappy back then) face to face, which reinforced the idea in my head that this was what I wanted to do and nothing else.
<thefluffyshrimp> *Girl-In-Disorder asks "I was wondering if any of the Crash'N'Burn characters, Scott, Tyler, Kimi, and Kyle are based on someone in your life? Like a friend, family member, someone you worked with etc."
<Zombiesmile> > O>; um... well some of them do have elements I see in friends and loved ones, yes. Mainly personalities and relationships. But it's all a bit mixed up and put together differently. it wasn't even intentional or planned, but people close to me do inspire me a lot.
<Zombiesmile> No one looks similar though, and Kimi's looks were a bit of an accident. When I created her, I had short, blonde-brown spiky crazy hair.
<Zombiesmile> oh,...! I guess the one thing that I stole was Kimi's name. my grandma's name is Kimi. :3 I just love the sound of it.
<thefluffyshrimp>~Ella-kayleigh asks "What's it been like being on Deviantart? Do you feel it's helped/improved your art?"
<Zombiesmile> DA has taught me a lot. It has pretty much everything I'd want as an artist, if you ask me. it has a large crowd that gives feedback, a lot of inspiration, information and resources like stock art and tools (brushes, textures, etc). It's pretty easy to communicate with people and exchange experiences, making learning better for someone like me who hasn't had the chance to learn at a university.
<Zombiesmile> I've gone through a lot of phases, but I certainly have always enjoyed being here. :>
<thefluffyshrimp> ~markusgrim03 asks "If you had the gift of giving life to your works what or who will you draw? (just one)"
<Zombiesmile> that...is so mean! only one?! aaah!
<Zombiesmile> Maybe Pinu. she's cute and fluffy and also fierce. She will defend me!...and she's easy to keep happy with muffins and milk. :'D
<thefluffyshrimp> *ScorchingSketches asks "Is this where you imagined your art to take you, or did you have different expectations?"
<Zombiesmile> A lot of what I imagined turned out to be very different in reality... I guess it's part of growing up, really. But nothing has disappointed me so far. it's all about moving forward and learning. Some things I daydreamed about as a kid/teen did end up happening though, but I still can't quite believe it. (meeting my idols at cons, marrying an amazing artist, reaching 1mil hits on DA. XD) I think people generally imagine artists to have a somewhat glamorous lifestyle though, and that is something very different from my expectations as a 14 year old.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~YourAverageQueenie asks "Do you still have drawings that you made from when you were a teenager?"
<Zombiesmile> Yes! I plan on redrawing one and uploading them side by side one day. I think a lot of people nowadays are too obsessed with the whole 'I have to be a genius at age 16, or I am a failuuuure' and I strongly disagree.
<thefluffyshrimp> *Girl-In-Disorder asks "I think you said you had siblings(sisters) I believe in one of your tumblr vlogs. I was wondering if they draw too or do they have completely different talents?"
<Zombiesmile> ah yes. C: My little sister (who is taller than me) is ~pinumbra and she draws as a hobby too. we used to draw together as kids and play with cut out dinosaurs we 'd draw ourselves.
<Zombiesmile> I have an older sister too, and she used to draw when we were in school as well, but gave it up. now she's in marketing and is a serious business woman! (she was more into fine arts and still is. comics are not her cup of tea.)
<thefluffyshrimp> ~saito20 asks "What's the thing in the creative process that you most enjoy? Like: designing a character, inventing their personalities, drawing a page…." and "What's the one thing in art that took you more work to figure out and get it right, and how did you do it? What are the things you're still struggling with when you make art?"
<Zombiesmile> hmm, my favourite part is sketching. I still do that on paper, and pencils are my favourite tools to this day. It's what I started with and could never give up. C: Coming from a rather traditional background, I love drawing bodies best. anatomy is something I always admired and examined closely.
<Zombiesmile> The one thing I still have a hard time with is colouring. It took me the longest to switch from pencils to colours, and I still struggle with it every time I draw/paint. There's been times I just want to tear my hair out, because I spent 40+ hours on a painting and it simply will not look the way I'd like.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Clairvoire asks "Have you ever thought about doing animation stuff before?"
<Zombiesmile> Yes, I have attempted a few tiny silly gif animations, but they are really very... uh... crude and simple. ´_ `; I really admire people who can do it well, but for now all I can do is make characters blink... So I guess it's somewhere on the stuff-I'd-like-to-learn-one-day list, but waaaay low priority because I suck for now. XD;
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Chowii asks "Miki, describe your art style with one word," and ~Ella-kayleigh asks "As a self taught artist, did you study the foundations such as anatomy and etc or did you just dive straight in and draw, draw, draw?"
<Zombiesmile> one word? "cantbedoneaaaaah" XD;
<Zombiesmile> I studied anatomy early on because I always found it interesting to know how muscles move a complex body and such. O: it was unintentional in a way though. at age 12 I certainly didn't know what it meant. For the rest, I did draw a lot. skipped homework a lot and just sat and drew for hours upon hours... even in class. (which you shouldn't do!) My old notebooks were full of drawings in every open space between notes. hahaha.
<thefluffyshrimp> *Lunabananana asks "How is your Crash and Burn comic coming along?" and ~Zansake asks "Do you have a mangum opus you're planning to complete in the future?"
<Zombiesmile> Like I mentioned before, Crash 'n'Burn volume 1 is drawn, and part 2 is being thumbnailed now. :3 (close to completing that stage)
<Zombiesmile> Hum. I used to have one, a huge fantasy epic I made up at age 15, but with the knowledge and skill I have now, I know it's a pretty crappy story. Haha. I guess I have a lot of shorter stories I want to tell, and I would love to cut that old story up and tell the good bits, but yeah. No big epic thing planned just yet.
<Zombiesmile>\o/ Thanks for the questions! <3