Friday, May 1, 2009

Artist Corner: Cari Corene

After a not so brief vacation, your art channel feature “The Artists Corner” returns with a brand new interview for you to enjoy. This Friday we have a very energetic bundle of creativity on my virtual chair. Please welcome the immensely talkative and fun Cari Corene [DA/LJ blog] , who is going to document all her secrets and opinions about art, fantasy and comics. Sit back and hold tight, because it’s going to be rollercoaster ride.

Harry Markov: Hello and thank you for accepting my invitation. It is a real pleasure having you here in my virtual chair. Let’s start with the simple and basic questions. What was your first encounter with art and how did you decide you would become an artist?

Cari Corene: My first encounter with art made me decide to NEVER be an artist. XD I distinctly recall it being a kindergarten assignment ... we would get these sheets, one for each letter of the alphabet. One would write the letter over and over and over again, and then the sheet had an animal on it whose name started with the letter and one would color it. Well .... I never had the patience for that coloring yuck. Other children did, they would color theirs beautifully, and the best were posted on a bulletin board ... From a young age, I've just had a very sophisticated sense of what is and isn't stupid. ANYWAY, Page F came. By this time, I had suffered much ridicule due to my badly colored animals [you see, coloring animals fell under my category of "stupid"]. This page came with a frog. I colored that frog RAINBOW PINK, MAGENTA, AND ORANGE, and then I colored the rest of my worksheet and my letters similarly wild colors. That worksheet made the billboard.

After that, I decided I never wanted to draw or color again. [famous last words.]

A few years later, I discovered my calling in life - drawing doggies with wings. [The long version of this is actually that my family and I moved from Alaska to WA state, I had no friends, I read piles and PILES of books, which eventually ignited a very small creative spark which prompted me to draw. I eventually made friends who were intensely into drawing cat princesses, my creative spark was further fueled by this.]

It wasn't until junior year of high school [age 16ish] that I spontaneously quit sports, quit math, quit choir, and proceeded to do nothing but art in an effort to prepare myself for a bachelor's degree in art. [Previously I had thought of doing nothing but being a pilot like my father and sister.]

HM: Another tradition with the “Artist Corner” is to say something about yourself. Who is blix-it and why did you chose this interesting sounding username for your DA profile?

CC: 'blix' is a misspelling of the German word "blitz" ... at age 13 or so, spelling correctly fell under my category of "stupid". It still does.

the "-it" at the end of my name refers to cheese-its, the best snack ever ... I was eating some at the time I created my deviantart account.

Beyond that, blix isn't a character of mine. Blix, and variations on blix, have always been what I've used online to refer to myself.

HM: Who are the artists that inspired and influenced you the most?

CC: When I was very young, I was oblivious to other artists. Reading is what I was most interested in. Around age 9, I started getting into some heavy reading material. Jack London was my favorite. [But now children are being raised on Twighlight..... ah .... I can only hope children enjoy reading after such an introduction and proceed onward to written words of true worth] I also liked Walt Morrey and Phillip Pullman.

My mother was a teacher, she owned a lot of picture books. I remember them very clearly as well. My favorite authors/illustrators were Paul Goble, the San Souci brothers, and Stan and Jan Berenstein.

Later, age 13ish, one of my friends started buying Sailor Moon comics .... I borrowed them from her, and you can somewhat imagine what happened from there. At the same time, my family finally got a second hand computer which exposed me to the internet and so many incredible internet artists. I also started listening to music on the radio about that time. [Those were the premier years of Ms. Spears and the boy bands.]

HM: Your work is diverse and ranges from fantasy, portraits, to posters and usually surrealistic. How do you feed such an active imagination and where does your inspiration come from?

CC: Most of my inspiration comes from nature. For as much time as I spend at my computer, I do go out every day. Now that I'm somewhat older [22], I can look back and see how my childhood has shaped my current self. I've spent so much time outside in solitary pursuits, that even now, living the city life, I still get my inspiration from going outside and looking at stuff. I'll be wandering around, thinking of what I might like to draw ... my inspiration for Toilet Genie [discussed later] first came from a wandering through desert hills as I pondered things I want to draw. The thought, very clear and concise, crossed my mind: "I want to draw a toilet." Almost exactly a year later, the story has morphed into a genie in a toilet.

Inspiration for art and solitude / physical exercise may seem sort of unrelated, but for me, they're very related. Also, simply going outside and seeing things is the source of all color inspiration. People often remark on my coloring. I cannot say how I do it. I think I've just seen so much nature that it now comes naturally. Since I was very young, I've practiced taking pictures with my mind. It was something my father told me to do when I kept asking for a camera. A filled memory is all kinds of inspiration.

HM: What attracts you to the out-of-the-ordinary and that doesn’t necessarily include fantasy? Different people find something entirely unique for themselves and I always like hearing a new answer on the subject.

CC: I think maybe ... my main interest in story telling is ... writing about learning to live with living. I like out of the ordinary characters because a normal situation that occurs in a normal person's life can also be incredibly out of the ordinary if the character his or herself is out of the ordinary. Using Toilet Genie as an example again, since it's on my mind [erg. I need to draw another page for it right now! XD] there is a basic problem that we all encounter. We tie ourselves up, put ourselves in our own little prisons, too afraid to change for the better or let go of lost things. It keeps us from moving forward. I am a normal person ... sometimes I feel my troubles have put me in a solitary little place while visibly leading a normal life. Vidu though [the genie in the toilet], his same struggle has found him finally tied forever to a toilet, unable to move forward even if he really wanted to.

I like to put a physical symbol on concepts and ideas. Maybe it is easier to express a feeling that way.

HM: What I noticed right away was that you are an aspiring comic book artist/writer. With massive Internet access isn’t it harder than usual to break though and what has been your experience so far?

CC: I kind of think the massive internet access is the ultimate best thing to ever happen to comics. 8D Better even than the printing press. Speaking from the inside of America's badly going economy, not really knowing how comics are doing in the rest of the world, I think the internet makes producing a comic twice as easy. Publishers here are taking fewer and fewer submissions. Some publishers [er, certain manga publishers] will print the first volume of a series and quit, never finishing it .... yet other publishers will hire overseas artists who will work for far less money per page than an American would [to be fair, in the countries of origin that some of these artists are from, the dollar goes infinitely farther than it does in America.] It used to be easier to self print one's comics and distribute them, as well, but Diamond is the only comics distributor left in America. They now require any comic they distribute to have a rather large print run. [large for a just begun strip, I think, anyway...]

If in print was the only way to produce a comic, I'd pretty much stop trying.


Not that webcomics will immediately pay one's living expenses, but that isn't my personal goal. I just want to draw a comic and have a readership! Honest, webcomics are a better fit for me than print comics. I can be much much closer to the people who like my comics. My comics often have kind of a nitch audience anyway, so the internet puts my comic in front of a bigger audience to find those with nitch interests.

Also, I know it's possible to make a living at webcomics, but I'm not the person to interview for that. Go see what the creators of Sheldon and PVP have to say on it.

HM: You are I think the first to be both the intellectual creator of both story and art. I am talking about your little project on your LJ blog “The Toilet Genie”. What comes easier the art or the plot behind it?

CC: Dunno if you've seen, but that project has moved from concept art on my blog to finished pages on my deviantart. Soon I hope, it will move to my own website. 8D

The characters come easiest, then the art, and then the story is hardest for me. For always, as long as I can remember, characters have lived in my head. It isn't even a big effort for me to create them, in fact, it is such a small effort that I worry they're badly done sometimes. But I can't change them! O_O; It isn't even that I don't want to, it's just that once the character has emerged, they're practically their own little person. They exist separately from any plot I might put them in. Drawing them is only slightly less easy than thinking of them, since drawing takes slight amounts of work. But their stories ............. my stories are the most intimate part of my craft. I draw comics because I want to tell those stories. I'm not a writer. I'm not an illustrator. I've tried both, they both felt painfully incomplete in my hands. I am definitely a comic artist, and a comic is nearly worthless without a good story.

My difficulty with writing is that my stories are born from whatever hard thing is currently shaping my life. To write the story, I have to first figure out what I personally want to say about that hard thing that troubles me so deeply. To that end, it does take me literally years to form the best stories that I can.

The characters will shape that message, as they also are created from that hard thing. They give a voice [or a symbol] to things I can't say for myself, or things I can't say directly to someone. Yet, these are things I can't NOT say.

HM: Also even though it’s more or less personal, can you explain what this peculiar project is about and what plans you have for it?

CC: As you can maybe tell by now, what Toilet Genie is about is definitely on the More Personal side of that spectrum. XD It's one of several stories that I collectively call "Door". The Door stories are all about change and moving forward. Toilet Genie is particularly about loving someone so much, you build yourself a little prison from which you can't move forward anymore. I wish I had more of it done, because then I could talk more on it! But I don't. 8D better work on it more. ><>___>;

HM: What is your personal favorite: traditional or digital? As an additional question I guess I will poke around the usual debate what is better. What do you think?

CC: Traditional is my favorite. Watercolor is the most beautiful thing ever created by man. It is it's own person, even... when I paint with it, I feel it does only what it wants. I end up with beautiful accidents! Or sometimes... horrible accidents. ;__; But when it and I work together, the result is like nothing I could make on a computer. ......... However, that isn't realistic for work with deadlines. So I use Photoshop more. Photoshop and I have an uke/seme relationship in which it gives me exactly what I want when I want it in perfect detail at all times.

As for which is better ... uh... all I can say is that I think the media should be allowed to be exactly what it is. In my own learning, I could never accomplish with watercolor what I do in Photoshop and I could never accomplish in Photoshop what I do in watercolor. If I want something to be liquid, gestural, beautifully textured, and spectacularly accidental, I'll NOT color it in Photoshop. Conversely, God help me if I ever need to render scientific level detail and clarity with watercolor.

HM: I have been wondering this for quite awhile, but never got around to asking artists, regarding their characters. As a writer, I get my original characters in full outfit with their own story, abilities, looks and personality. So what’s the case with an artist? Do you also receive the full package or just the visual?

CC: I guess I've already sort of answered this. XD Their personality is what comes first. Before even a name, I know at least topically who they are. And then later, a name will simply stick to them. From there, I begin doodling stupid pictures of them. [for instance ... my latest toilet genie drawing that wasn't a page was a picture of the two main characters pretending to be Wallace and Gromit.] As I draw them, their faces become easier for me to reproduce quickly. Ultimately, the deepest aspects of my characters develop slowly and in tandem with the story I've decided to tell them in.

Notice: "story I've decided to tell them in." ... I guess I don't think of it as THEIR story.... maybe because even the characters who appear to be side characters in a given plot could potentially have a plot of their own.

Some of my favorite characters that I've created haven't got a story in which they are the main character. Rather, they come and go throughout so many different stories and have so many different faces to their personality, it would be impossible to show their entire self within the continuity of one plot without making that one plot the size of a World History book.

HM: You have entered a lot of contests for posters and other art. How has your skill carried you through so far? Most people find contests usually too grueling for the nerves and that tension and competition can crush you. Is that so with art contests?

CC: I don't really think I've entered that many contests. XD haha... but maybe I've entered a fair few of them. Before age 16 or so when I dedicated myself to just doing art, I played loads of sports. My entire FAMILY is into sports, they all seem to compete. I've been surrounded by people who "play to win" since always. Thankfully they also value learning in losing, and so do I ... but anyway, it was really natural that I should see an opportunity I was interested in, pour all my effort into it, and have enough courage to have my ass kicked and then return to try again next contest. It took me 4 times to finally make it into Rising Stars of Manga and it was so worth it! O_O

I think being competitive will make a person grow in whatever discipline they're competing in. Just drawing by yourself, in your room or wherever, will only get a person so far ... after so much practice practice practice one may plateau and find it hard to improve ... at that point, the opinions of an audience may push one forward to the next level.

There's also a lot of self confidence to be gained from competition. If only to know that you failed but you're still trying. I have a lot of pride in knowing the hardships I've been through, not just in art, and knowing that I'm still here.

HM: With so much activity have you managed to land some contracts or commissions?

CC: Yes, I've worked contracts and commissions. Humorously, I don't like them ... I guess I thought I would, or something. I've toned for Tokyopop, which was fun, and I've done several small coloring projects for a variety of other people and publishers. The more I work as a contractor though, the more I utterly hate it. I have too much passion for my own ideas and stories. I'm seeing more and more that the contract work is a valuable experience, yes ... working with better artists has taught me a lot too. But it's kind of a dead end job...... the only benefit to it is immediate money.

A variety of factors recently have pushed me to it, but I think I've just about decided to put contract work on hold, if only briefly, and fully dedicate all of my effort to something that is truly mine ~ Toilet Genie.

HM: I also have to wonder what your current projects are. What can we expect?

CC: Really just Toilet Genie. And assorted other illustrations. I've been actively turning down work for hire in an effort to make way for my own project. It takes some courage for me to do this. ;__; But I really believe in this project and its time for me stop putting it off. It will easily be more rewarding to my humanity than contract work and I understand enough about small business and commercial art to manage a bit of revenue in the foreseeable future.

So er... you can expect me to continue quitting cool job prospects in preference to doodling comics alone in my room and posting them for free online. 8D

1 comment:

blix said...

HA. XD I guess I should admit after the fact that my ultimate goal was to be the Too Long; Didn't Read interview.

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