This weeks "Artist Corner" proudly presents another French artist, who draws inspiration from and expresses herself with the widely popular anime manga genre. I was left spellbound by her traditional pieces and intrigued by her digital work, so I had to take her interview as soon as possible. So here goes; here is Maeva... *cheers*
Harry Markov: Hello and welcome to my virtual chair. I hope you have a good time. So once again thank you for accepting my invitation. I don’t recall talking to a manga and comic book artist before, so it is a pleasure, but before we go explore the world of art, let’s start with the mandatory ice breaker. What was your first encounter with art for you to make the decision to become an artist?
Maeva: I don’t recall I ever asked the question myself. I came to it naturally. When I was young, I watched cartoons on tv, and I reproduced all I saw there. I’ve always loved it and the desire to make a living of it came to me very early.
HM: Will you be as kind as to share a bit about yourself? Who is Maevachan and what meaning does this handle carry, when you created your DA profile?
M: For the pseudo (maevachan), my first account on DA was composed of my first and my last name, but I don’t liked to use my last name and I always sign my drawings with my first name. “Maeva” was already used by someone else, and at the time, a friend of mine used to call me “Maeva-chan” all the time, and so I chose to use it as my pseudo.
HM: I rummaged through your website and found out that you have managed to publish two volumes of original comic book material in your country France. Can you tell about your comic book?
M: These are one-shots. The first one “Les Elfes de Miloria” was published in 2007, and the second one “Fleurs de fées” will be out in april 2nd of this very year. Both stories were written by my friend Ylric. I did the drawings and the color of the first comic and the drawings only for the second one (lack of time, I have a part time job in the same time ). I know I still have a bunch of things to practice on my artworks, a ton of things to learn but I’m so glad I was able to publish these 2 stories.
HM: Even though you have two publications I have to wonder how art fits in your life. Do you have a day job or manage as a freelance artist and independent comic book artist?
M: I can’t live correctly with my art and comic so yes, I have a part time job too. Being a freelance artist is a wonderful experience but sometimes it can be really hard. You always have to work on future comic projects and find a publisher who have faith in your work. So when you have no comic contract for some months, you need to have another job that pays your bills!
HM: Who are the artists that shaped your work and made your artwork what it is today?
M: A lot of japanese illustrators like Nobuteru Yuki (Lodoss, Escaflowne …) and Inomata Mutsumi (she is working on some design on the “Tales of” game serie) when I was younger. Now my personal art goddess is Ayami Kojima ~ She is the character designer of the “Castlevania” games published by Konami. I just love her style, gothic, horrific, bloody and graceful in the same time. She is doing lots of illustrations for various magazines too. I also like Eiichiro Oda who draw One piece, for the way he puts his comic on page, it’s so creative and dynamic, a real genius. Well… There are plenty of authors I like, and a long list would be painful to write ^^
HM: It is completely obvious to me that there is a strong Japanese influenced vibe in what you do. How did it happen? How were you hooked to try this direction in art and adopt it as your own?
M: I never asked myself the question. As I already said it earlier, when I was a child, I spent a lot time watching japanese anime on my tv. We had a really popular tv show in France at the time and I discovered a ton of different cartoons. I was so happy to make fanarts, creating my own characters and all. I found in this “japanese style” a way to feel and express myself I never found in another style. For the rest, you draw again and again and again, you practice a lot, you learn new things, you find new authors you really like and finally, after many years, you come to develop your own personal artstyle. It’s all about hard work and passion !
HM: This may be a trade secret, but I will ask nonetheless. To me manga and anime look easy enough to be used to practice as a rookie artist. Of course the simplest things sometimes are hardest. What is the one thing a person should know about manga and anime art?
M: Well… Manga may look simpler than other styles, but as with every style, you have to work hard on it, understanding proportions, etc… I never chose this style for its so-called “simplicity”. Well, the only advice I can give is : WORK HARD !!! ; )
HM: The only connection between all the artists I interview is their love for the fantastical and magical. What is fantasy for you and with what did it attract you?
M: Fantasy for me is related to all the magical creatures, of course. And if I had to pick the creatures I like most, it would be vampires. I love dark atmosphere, horny characters and organic deformations when I can add them on my artworks… and melancholy. I’m really emotional, maybe a bit tortured too in my poor little head, and these kind of dark subjects are those I really like to work on. I also like Elves, because they are graceful creatures. And Dragons. God, I love them but strangely, it’s rare for me to draw them. I know I need to practice a lot with those creatures.
HM: Where do you search for ideas for new projects? For that matter what other art forms inspire your work: literature, music, dance, etc?
M: Music first. I can’t draw without music. It helps me concentrate and have a special “feeling” with the picture I’m drawing or painting. I’m usually listening original soundtracks from movies, video games and anime. I also like to watch a lot of movies. I think they help me to understand how to create a good composition on my artworks in general and more specifically, on my comic books.
HM: After seeing your gallery I come to the conclusion that you jump from digital to traditional art for different projects. Which one is easier to do?
M: I like both and my skills are totally different depending on what materials I use. I think I will answer watercolors because I’ve been practicing it for many years now and it’s the best way to put my feelings in my pictures. I’m not sure I’m really clear here, but I always try to infuse each and every artwork I draw with a special feeling, and it seems people feel this best when I use my watercolors.
HM: In the same line of thought countless people have argued which one is better, digital or traditional. What do you think? Is either of them superior?
M: I think it’s pointless fighting about which is better, the only good way to color is the way you like. Personally I’m a watercolor artist from the start. I wasn’t very attracted by painting digital pictures. But finally I tried and I found a lot of nice ways to color my art with my computer. Now I’m really happy because I’m able to work with 2 different methods.
HM: You are a part of a comic book team and are in charge of art. How does it feel to be working in a team and having to take into account the opinions of others? How does the writer, colorist, artist and all the other work together? Can you share some experience?
M: Well first you need to know that Ylric (the writter of my comic’s stories) is a good and old friend of mine. We like the same things (anime, games etc…) so we have many references in common. It was simple to work together on our comic project. He is the one who starts the project, he thinks about a world, a plot, about the characters too and he lets me know. If I have some ideas I tell him. After, he has to work on the main story, and to put all of this in 46 pages (European comic format). I can work on the pages only when he is done with them (and when the publisher agrees, of course). For “Fleur de fées”, I had to work with a colorist too, so, fist, I explained to her how I saw the colors on my pages. I tried to let her do her job as freely as possible. I gave her indications and tones I wanted her to put here and there but if she had a better idea, I was totally opened to what she had to say. I think it was a great experience for both of us. In the end, my art and her colors worked really well together !
HM: To continue my thoughts, I am curious about forming the sheets and boxes in a page. To a reader putting a story in drawn boxes is the easiest thing in the world. I once thought so too, but you have had experience with it. What’s the science behind successful portrayal of the story in boxes?
M: I’m not sure. I never thought it was hard to do. I mean, when I read Ylric’s stories, I see each case in my head and the way I will draw them. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a lot of manga but the construction of a page comes naturally to me. And thanks to Ylric, I’m free to build the pages the way I want. He only tells me what’s inside each page (+ dialogues) and after, the organization is all mine. The main thing is that you need to cut your sequences and images in a logical way and make good transitions between them, so the reader won’t be lost.
HM: I also have to wonder what your current projects are. What can we expect?
M: I hope I will be able to work on a new comic project soon and I would love to publish an artbook too (to tell you the truth, I have more the spirit of an illustrator than a comic artist). I would love to work as a video games designer too but, let’s face it, this part is going to be the most difficult to accomplish!
And with these final hopeful words another installment of "Artist Corner" ends. Stay tuned for next edition...