When The Empress and the Comic came out in Scape e-zine at the beginning of this year, an unexpected bonus was the illustration that went with it. Stephanie Martin’s chibi-esque drawing was so cute I had to get in touch with her. As it turns out, Stephanie’s a fellow anime/manga fan, and she’s been kind enough to agree to an interview!
beverage of choice: Root beer, especially stuff at restaurants that’s house made.
blood type: I think it’s AB.
special ability: Being able to pick up anything creative and excel at it.
weak point: My own self confidence. I am my own worst critic, and I tend to be pretty mean.
favorite anime: Hands down now and forever it’s Yuyu Hakusho.
favorite manga: A single book story by Matsuri Hino (better known for Vampire Knights) called Wanted. It has an adorable story, but either it never took off or she just never continued it because it’s only one volume.
favorite book: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare.
favorite video game: Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
favorite pairing: I love Amy and Rory from Doctor Who, they’re pretty adorable <3
1. How long have you been drawing? Have you had formal art training?
I’ve been drawing since I was itty bitty. My dad used to be a painter, and I grew up around him teaching me things about art. I knew color theory before I knew how to count to 100. However, I didn’t really get into drawing a lot until I was 13 and started getting into anime. I had watched Sailor Moon when I was younger, but Digimon was what really got me going into drawing, as well as my best friend at the time. She saw I had great potential and pushed me to draw more often. I took art classes in high school and impressed my teacher to the point that my senior year he actually just gave me a “finished projects” number and let me make anything I wanted, giving me his whole supply closet to pull from.
I tried going to college for art, but there was something about these largely-populated art classes that killed my love of what I did. I fought my professor because she graded things on an A-B-C-D-F scale, and I don’t think you can grade art like that, especially on your own. So I ended up quitting the first college to go to an art-specific college, but even there I felt like it killed my joy because of the simplicity of the beginning classes I was forced to take that were boring and dry. That’s the closest I’ve ever had to formal training, the rest is just years and years of practice.
2. What style or artists have influenced you most?
When I was first starting out, anime was the biggest influence. I started with Digimon, slowly moving into more realistic styles depending on my anime of choice at the time. As I got older I began to see anatomy a lot easier, and began using human references in my anime style. I also would take bits of things I liked from fellow artists I grew around and would use that to influence my own style.
3. What are your weapons of choice when you draw?
I used to paint a lot with acrylic paints on canvas, and while I still do that, I more often now end with a digital finished product. I usually start with pencil on paper, getting down the general pose and things because I trust my hand on paper more than I do in a computer program, and then I transfer it to a computer where I do inking and coloring in Adobe Photoshop. I really want to break back into traditional art and get some Copic markers, but that stuff is EXPENSIVE!! @.@;;
4. You’ve done two illustrations for Scape e-zine (The Letters from the Monster Show and The Empress and the Comic). Is this your first published work?
I suppose not technically. In Fruits Basket manga Volume 11, they put one of my pictures in the back where they put fan art I’ve also sold several paintings, but other than that this is the first time I’ve done illustrations for something like this.
5. How were you assigned Monster Show and Empress?
It actually all started because Scapezine’s Assistant Editor, Morgan Dempsey, is a really good friend of mine. We used to play World of Warcraft together and we’ve met in person a few times at a convention in Seattle. She emailed me one day saying they were short an illustration and she wanted to suggest me for it and basically shoved me at Peta Freestone lol. After I did the art for Monster Show, Peta was checking over my DeviantArt page and got a good feel for my style and knew that Empress would be right up my alley.
6. Your drawings for Monster Show and Empress are very different. How did you decide upon the styles you chose for those two illustrations?
With Monster Show, it’s a very dark and sad story that I almost wish I had a different style for. As I read the story, a picture came in my head of what this girl’s room must look like as she sat there reminiscing about this boy. So I started to include things she was mentioning, like the drawing he did of her in the notebook, all his old journals, the photo and album, and also making some hidden references to the ending.
With Empress, it was a similar thing in that as I read I got this visual in my head. I saw these two China dolls, one beautiful and perfect, the other cracked and unwanted, but they held hands anyway and shone light for all the world to see. I knew that was the illustration I wanted to represent, so I went out of my usual anime style and did something almost chibi-like dolls. It took some tries to get them right, fixing the faces, trying to ignore the odd proportions of things, but I love the way they came out.
7. Is most of your visual art originally inspired? Fan art? Commissioned? Friend request?
Most of the things I do are usually prompted in some way. Either a friend requests them or I want to draw a surprise for someone I know. I actually sketch without much prompt other than wanting to draw something more often than anything, and rarely share those anywhere.
8. Your deviantART name is KitsuneKari02. Is there significance to the fox reference? (Note: Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox.)
The biggest reason behind the fox reference is because of Yuyu Hakusho. My favorite character was Kurama, who’s a fox spirit trapped in a human body. I got into foxes then, and this was also at the peak of my love for anime and Japanese culture. I used the internet to learn more about things like fox spirit legends, and when it came to thinking up a name for myself on DeviantArt, I decided to go with that. Since then I still love foxes, they’re my favorite animal, and I still love the stories of fox spirits, so I’ve never really gotten rid of it.
9. If you could have any fictional character come live with you, who would it be and why?
I’d totally want Sumomo from Chobits to live with me, because I imagine a cute and adorable little robot girl would motivate me to actually be responsible and keep up with my artistic promises, and something that sweet being my personal cheerleader couldn’t hurt either.
10. I noticed on your deviantART site that you’re a cosplayer. Do you make your own costumes? Design for others?
I’ve done a few designs for friends when they’ve asked, mostly steampunk stuff. I was getting into cosplay when I was going to an anime convention in Denver, CO. Most of my costumes I did myself with the help of friends and some premade clothes from Good Will. I haven’t cosplayed recently, mostly due to lack of funds and lack of self confidence in my looks, but I would like to try my hand at it again someday.
11. What would you do if you won the lottery?
I guess if we take out the obvious answers, I’d put some of it towards culinary school. While I love drawing and painting and all that, food is like this amazing other type of artistic expression that can also be eaten, so it’s the best of both worlds. I’ve really gotten into cooking and baking in the last few years, and I’ve considered going to school but the thought of having to owe more college funds debt and all that just scares me, so I haven’t really delved into it.
Also, I’d probably buy every color of Copic markers that are in existence lol.