There is a real freedom in being able to draw what’s in your head. It made going through high school a lot easier. In those days, anime was an accessible source of sci-fi and fantasy concepts, with enough drama and humor to appeal to my teenage sensibilities. Anime was also a window into Japanese culture and eastern religious values, which was a relief from daytime television. My friends and I used to treat being anime artists a bit like a sport. We would draw in big groups after school while we watched our favourite shows. Those were the best days of my youth.
I was born in Hawaii, moved to New Zealand when I was 14, and have been here ever since. I have no singular cultural background, which has left my aesthetic an eclectic urban mix. Though I’ve always been a bit shy of how saccharine my style is, so long as I was good at it, my family were happy to accept my art as a professional venture.
I take drawing anime very seriously, which has convinced a number of people in the anime fandom to think what I do is ‘authentic’ enough to pass as the real thing. But what is anime anyway? Do you care? I liked the ‘big eyes, small mouth’ definition. I think of it as Japan’s take on illustration. The name ‘anime’ is just short for ‘animation’. If you ask me, a better question is ‘What do you use anime for?’. I would say it’s a style built around making art with maximum appeal with minimal effort.
I’ve drawn something new just about every day since I was about seven years old, which I think is responsible for any talent I was perceived as having. I also have an extensive library that I used to learn the technical end of how to draw and write, and I love doing online tutorials through YouTube and Deviantart.
The hardest part of being an artist for me hasn’t been the learning to draw, but the balance of that with the rest of life. Working professionally as an artist is sedentary, hard on the back and stressful when work runs thin or I’m struggling with a deadline. The marketing you have to do for yourself as an independent artist blind-sided me, but I get better at managing the business side with help from family, friends and lots of practice.
I work with my husband from home, doing all sorts of creative projects. Most of my inspiration comes from my love of designing new characters for short comic stories. Our current projects are the fourth instalment of our dating-sim and point and click adventure Puppy Love, and a fantasy adventure graphic novel called Galleon.
It’s my goal to encourage everyone to draw to their heart’s content. It’s a great outlet for self-expression and a fantastic tool to help understand the worlds inside your head. There are lots of tools to experiment with and I recommend trying them all. I use Photoshop CS2, Paint Tool SAI, and a Cintiq when I work professionally, but I also keep a rolling suitcase of traditional materials including watercolours, colour pencils, graphic markers, and chalk when I’m out and about doing art dates with friends.
Nowadays, drawing anime is my best skill. There is a big demand for the style, so work isn’t hard to come by, but the real goal for me is to keep using it to make friends.