What’s it like to be an artist? Hear what these established illustrators have to say! [STGCC]

Visitors and guests from around the region traversed down to Singapore Toy Games and Comic Convention 2017 (STGCC) for its 10-year anniversary. My favourite area in the whole convention was the Artist Galore zone, where many talented artists and invited guests gathered to share their work with fans and geek culture alike. Returning again is Marvel comic book artist, Adi Granov and David Mack, joining the line up of artists include artist and writer Arthur Adams, comic book illustrator Joyce Chin, Mirka Andolfo, and Disney’s James C. Mulligan. We also have our very own 6 Eisner Award Nominee Sonny Liew signing books as well as greeting fans at the convention.

Later in the day we got a chance to speak to Mirka Andolfo, of which is her first time in asia, Japanese illustrator and founder of the fashion label HYPERCORE and Comic book illustrator David Mack to find out about their lives as artists and being a creator.


1. Who is Mirka Andolfo?  
I’m from Italy and I’m a comic book artist. I work on DC comics, and worked on series like DC Bombshells and JLA Killerfrosts. I’m currently working on the Teen Titans  tie-in with the Metals event. I’m also currently working on the next issue of Harley Quinn, and I hope to work on other comics!

2. That’s a lot of things to juggle at the same time, isn’t it ? 
Yeah! Back in Italy I’m also working on my own series, so I’m very busy.

3. How do you manage your time while working on so many things ?
I don’t have much of a social life (laughs), first of all, back in Italy, I’m always in my studio from morning till night.

4. How would you describe your daily routine?  
I wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning and work till lunch time which is usually about 12 and I’ll start work again at 2 o clock. I’d head home at 6 but sometimes when there are hard deadlines I’ll continue to work from home till late at night.

5. What was the most challenging job you’ve faced? 
Hmmm I don’t know, every new work is hard work and more difficult from the previous one. It was very hard to work on Teen Titans though, because there were certain key characters that were important  and difficult to draw, like Batman.

6. How do you  recharge your creative batteries?
I like to watch movies, read comics and also draw! Because I like to draw! When I don’t work I still draw, it’s my favourite! Oh and also i like video games.

7.How would you advise others to accept rejection?
I think rejections usually are good! Especially at the beginning because it makes you to grow up and it allows you to learn from your mistake more!

8. What advice would you give aspiring students or artists who want to one day be part of the industry ?
At the beginning I was very slow, and I think that being fast is important but it’s also important for you to be both fast and good! Not fast and not good, it’s hard but with time you can do it. At the beginning it was very hard, at the very beginning I was slow, but afterwards I was very fast but not so good, but with the time I understood that I need to be both and that it’s important to have a balance of both.


1. Would you introduce yourself to the readers ? 
I am Hisacy, I run a fashion store in Harajuku, Tokyo; the centre of kawaii and cool fashion. I do everything from running the store as well as designing the shirts.

2. How’d you first start out doing illustrations ?
When I was a child, I like drawing as a hobby, I did fan art for Dragonball, and I’ve never considered it a career, I never thought I’d do it as a career as well. When I was 20 years old, when I was walking around Harajuku, I saw a man drawing post cards as part of a performance and that was how he was making a living. I felt very inspired after seeing that and I thought that maybe I’d try that out for myself and take it out to the streets.

3. What’s your favourite medium to work with ?
I use different kinds of mediums according to the type of artwork it is, sometimes I start with paper or I do it entirely digitally. I also do free painting like one recently at Starbucks; I like Starbucks because it is a non-smoking  cafe, and I like clean air (laughs).

4. How would you say that the culture in Harajuku has changed the way you work and inspired you ?
In general, Japanese people tend to follow trends as they come, however in Harajuku it’s different, you have different kinds of people making different kinds of things and the people who go to Harajuku likes different kinds of things. It’s a very free town, a free place; I want a place that would allow me to make what i want, at a place where I’m happiest doing so, and i feel that Harajuku is the place that allows me to feel this way as well as my working style.

5. When or what made you decide to start your own fashion label, from illustrations ? 
I mentioned earlier about starting out drawing post cards on the streets, but it was also because of that that I started getting offers from people, companies and bands to design shirts as well as CD jacket. Eventually I realised that there was a trend of people requesting for tshirt designs, and so I thought, instead of drawing what has been asked of me, why not start my own brand so that I can draw whatever I want.

6.What were the challenges you face as an illustrator and how did you get over it?
The biggest challenge I face is creating something that’s truly me, not something that came from somewhere else, to create something that no one else has made. I take a shower (laughs). Whenever I get into any mental block or art block, I take a shower. Like the first thing I did today when we arrived, was to take a shower (laughs).

7.What advice would you give to anyone who wants be an illustrator?
I don’t consider myself a very good illustrator. I think I’m rather slow at drawing but I love it, it’s lots of fun! If anyone wants to be an illustrator or start their own brand, don’t be too concerned with technique – the heart is more important; if you want to do it, go ahead and do it!


1. What’s your background?
As far as formal education I have a BFA in Graphic Design, with a concentration on Literature. I attended a University for five years. Graphic Design entailed all the Design classes and all the Fine Arts Classes. And it was taught as an integration on type & image. So I thought that would help inform me on a sensitivity for words & imagery for my comic book work.

2. How did you get started in graphic novels?
I made my first one in high school that I included in a scholarship application. My first year in college I took many small comic book jobs. And then I created my own creator-owned comic called Kabuki while in university. I made Kabuki as my Senior Thesis in Literature. It was being published while I was in college, and used it for many classes at University. I kept doing Kabuki for many years. Based on my writing in Kabuki, I was offered to start at Marvel as the writer on Daredevil.

3. How do you plan your panels in such an intricate way that it entices the reader?
I put a lot of thought and effort into the panel layout. I try to consider the best way to communicate the story through panels. Often this leads to new ways of using panels for that particular story, or the specific arc of those characters and scenes.

4. How did you find your style?
I try to consider what is the most useful way to communicate each particular story. As a writer, I try to ask myself the most powerful way to present this story, and I ask those questions of myself visually as well. So that gives me the liberty to develop a unique look for each story. Often the styles, media, colors, rhythm may change from scene to scene or panel to panel based on the arc of the stories and characters to underscore their emotional & psychological content.

5. What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
I like making things. I like telling stories. It feels good to make a story real. And it is a bonus to hear how readers connect to it and respond to it. But the making of it is the most satisfying. And then also having made it feels good sometimes too.

6. How do you see the comics industry to be like in the next 5 years?
I hope it becomes increasingly diverse in terms of people realising that there are all kinds of stories and characters that can be told. And I hope it continues to attract a variety of readers and creators who all bring new and positive and innovative sensibilities to the medium.

7. What advice would you give aspiring students or artists who want to one day be part of the industry?
Do it.  Start now. Start it. Complete it. Show it to people. Many people don’t do one or all of those things. Imagine the book that you wish existed, that does not yet exist. And now make that. It’s that direct. Do that.

Don’t be so precious about your early work, that it stops you from creating. Make peace with the fact that you have hundreds of horrible pages in your system that you have to get out of your system before your true voice shows up. Get busy getting all those Research and Development pages out of your system right now.

Nothing teaches you how to make a comic book except actually MAKING the comic book. So just make it. And then you will know how better to make your next one.

And enjoy it. Enjoy the work. Enjoy the discipline. Enjoy the struggle of finding your true voices. And enjoy creating an idea and making it real as a book.

by Terence Lim