Ash Szymanik

Ash Szymanik

Hi, I’m Ash! I’m a queer Los Angeles based artist who makes all sorts of neat stuff. I have a BFA in Traditional Animation from Pratt Institute, and work as a designer, illustrator, and comics artist/writer.

My art is defined by animal characters, moody colors, and a bit of dark humor. I’m drawn to slice-of-life stories with LGBTQ+ themes and am committed to making art about both the struggles and joys of LGBTQ+ youth.

What is your favorite food?

Anything that is a pasta or a dumpling. Just as long as it doesn’t have mushrooms in it.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love collecting manga/comics, watching movies, discovering little-known indie video games, and cooking.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ASH

Art Process:

I’m a digital artist who does most of their work in Procreate! However, I have a little journal/sketchbook where I scribble down my ideas and doodles of concepts. If I’m experiencing art block, I like to skim through it and mine for ideas!

When I illustrate, I tend to make a very rough sketch to map out the drawing, and once the sketch is legible enough for me, I start inking. I try not to be too perfectionist when doing the lineart, especially since I love a bit of a wobbly line and texture. Then I start coloring. I love picking colors and settling on a palette. After editing, I’m all done!


Andi Watson

Andi Watson

I was born and raised in Kippax, a small town in Yorkshire, England. I spent half my life playing outdoors with my brother and friends and the other half reading, drawing and watching TV. Despite being in awe of the power of stories I was intent on being a car mechanic. Eventually I realised I had no interest in cars and even less talent for fixing things and went to art school in Liverpool. I rediscovered comics, made one of my own, graduated and continue to make more.

I’m still in awe of the power of stories and the satisfaction and challenge of telling my own through words and pictures. I live in Worcester with my wife and daughter.

What is your favorite food?

I like Brussel sprouts and broccoli but shiver in horror at courgettes. Brrrr….courgettes.

Specialties:

Published books:

  • Kerry and the Knight of the Forest (graphic novel)  Random House Graphic, 2020

And many others… click here for a complete bibliography.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ANDI

Location:

Mediums:

Art Process:

Everything starts with a pencil and paper, whether it’s noting down story ideas or thumbnailing images. I think with a pencil and problem solve on paper. No Moleskine notebooks for me, I use the back of old print outs and bills. Whatever’s to hand and I’m not precious about.

Once I have an idea I’m happy with I’ll move to pencil on paper. When I’m satisfied with the sketch I’ll use pen, brush, ink to complete the art. I try to balance a liveliness of line with control and clarity. Then I’ll scan it in and use Photoshop to tweak and colour.

Available for School Visits:

When I do school visits, I collaborate with the children to create an improvised comic story from their suggestions.

Visit Andi at:

Awards and honors:

Eisner, Best Graphic Album Reprint nomination 2000: Geisha

Eisner, Best Limited Series nomination 2001: Breakfast After Noon

Harvey, Best New Series nomination 2004: Love Fights

Eisner, Best Publication for Kids nomination 2009: Princess At Midnight

British Comics Awards, Young People’s Comic Awards nomination 2012. Gum Girl: Catastrophe Calling


Duachaka Her

Duachaka Her

Duachaka Her is a Hmong-American cartoonist and illustrator from Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a BFA in Entertainment Design and concentration in Comics and Sequential Art. She creates graphic novels, illustrates picture books, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators organization.

Hmong-American children's book and graphic novel creator Duachaka Her at her home in Wisconsin

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s slow-cooked pork and mustard greens. It’s simple, savory, and just melts in your mouth with each bite! Definitely one of my favorite comfort foods!

What do you love to do for fun?

Read my stack of unfinished books, watch movies, and spend time with family.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DUACHAKA

Art Process:

My process usually starts out with me doing research, reading, or getting inspiration. From there, I do rough sketches in a sketchbook and test out various ideas and compositions. The chosen sketch gets penciled and inked traditionally on paper. I start out with a rough sketch of the entire drawing on paper and then start refining the pencils. After that, I go over the drawing with India ink and brush. Once the ink is completely dried, I erase all the pencil work and scan the piece. I’ll retouch and edit the scanned artwork in Adobe Photoshop and then do my colors digitally.

Awards and honors:

2019 SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Conference Art Show – Honorable Mention

2018 International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival Poster Contest – Grand Prize Winner

Location:

Visit Duachaka at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes. My visits usually consist of me doing a reading of my book and/or a presentation about my life as an artist and my art-making process followed by Q&A.


David Pierce

David Pierce

Dave Pierce is an Author/Illustrator from the Northwest.

He re-discovered his passion for telling stories when he taught reading alongside his wife in the same Elementary classroom. Shortly after, he gained his certification to teach Art (K-12) and dove into the kidlit world via SCBWI. He is motivated by the “Ah-Hah!” moments that come when children read and stories that invite us to explore our place in the world.

He graduated from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Illustration, and studied Character Design and Digital Painting through The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling.

What do you love to do for fun?

Snowboard, Soccer, Hike, Music, Board and Video Games, and lots more. I probably have too many interests, but each one is so fun.

Favorite travel spots:

I’ve done a lot of travelling around Europe, but I have to say that Austria is my favorite. Go to Salzburg in the late spring and head into the mountains. Tell me you won’t have the Sound of Music running through your head!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVID

Art Process:

I try and leverage both digital and traditional media in my workflow.

One of the best things about working digitally is you can always undo things and make sweeping adjustments to composition by transforming and moving. This makes it a powerful tool early on when the ideas are just sketches. (Just don’t forget to click Save!)

As good as digital tools are, there’s something so *tangible* about creating traditionally. The feels and smells are wonderful, and I’ll get happy accidents that can inspire. Plus, you can work outside on a sunny day! (A rare treat in Washington State.)

I’ll usually make thumbnail ideas by pencil and scan them into the computer. Once in digital form, I’ll move its chunks around until I’m excited about it. From here I have a choice to continue digitally or print out the art for transfer via a light table. This works great for moving forward with Ink and Watercolor.

Sometimes I’ll stay traditional if it’s graphite or dry media, or go all-digital if it’s going to be something that demands more control. The important thing is knowing your tools and which approach will be most useful.

Location:

Visit David at:

Available for School Visits:

I enjoy doing visits in the classroom setting. This allows for hands-on learning with the students and making something collaborative together. My goal is to inspire the next generation of creatives, and to encourage anyone to try drawing and storytelling, whether they consider themselves an artist or not.


Black Sands Entertainment

Black Sands Entertainment

Black Sands Entertainment is a production studio established in 2016 to develop comics and animated series aimed at African-American families. Their successful series The Seven Kingdoms, Sons of Nibiru, Cosmic Girls, and Mori’s Family Adventures have sold over 25,000 copies direct to consumers and generated $500K in revenue in less than 3 years.

Published books:

Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #1, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #2, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #3, Black Sands Entertainment
Sons of Nibiru, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Advantures – South Africa, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands Ultimate Edition, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Adventures – Rio, Black Sands Entertainment
Brazilian Culture Exchange, Black Sands Entertainment
World Traveling Coloring Book, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #4, Black Sands Entertainment
Cosmic Girls, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #5, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the First Pharaoh, Black Sands Entertainment


Victoria Rivero

Victoria Rivero

Hi, I’m a Chilean Illustrator, Mangaka and Art Professor.  I moved to Austin, TX, at the end of 2017 thanks to the visa EB1- Extraordinary Ability in the Arts.  After several years working for different agencies, universities and editorials in Chile, now I’m following my “American Dream”.

All my work employs a preciousness style totally focused on the female figure, mostly, made with traditional techniques. I specially enjoy working with watercolors, acrylics, gouache, color pencils and copic markers.

The delicate style and the subtle, suggestive and onirics concept of my work has earned me national and international recognition and awards; and has let me exhibited my art in countries such as Spain, France, USA and Japan.

What do you love to do for fun?

I’m a doll collector (BJDs, Pullips and Blythes) and I really enjoy sewing new dresses for my dolls and take them out for some photo sessions.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I get inspired by flower and color, but mostly by the way I feel. Illustration for me is the way I use for understand me and express myself.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT VICTORIA

Art Process:

Depending on what I want to achieve with a piece, I can work by Instinct or Methodically. I’m especially very methodic when I have to work in team or with a client. In that case, I like to collect references and made several sketches with optional palettes. After the correction and sketch selection, I start working on the final piece. However, when it comes to my personal artwork, I’m very emotional, leaving me leads by the feeling at the moment, especially with the colors and technique.

Published books:

Feeling Pink. Visuales Editorial. CoAuthor, 2015.
Visuales Editorial. CoAuthor, 2013.
When the Snow Fall. Independent Edition, 2011.
Under Spring Afternoon. Independent Edition, 2010.
Norma Editorial. CoAuthor, 2008.
Independent Edition. Co-Author, 2008.
Cute! Pop! Love!. (trilogy) Independent Edition. Co-Author, 2003- 2004- 2005.

Awards and honours:

2005: Contest for official poster of Salón del Manga de Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
2008: Winner of the second edition Noma Editorial Manga Contest, Spain.
2011: Daily deviations award for the illustration “Green Eyes.
2013: Daily deviations award for the illustration “Touya.
2014: Daily deviations award for the illustration “Blind.
2015: Winner of the grant funds from “ProChile” (Chile’s Government) for the Artistic Project “PInk!”.
2017: EB-1 Visa (E11): “Alien with Extraordinary Habilities in the Arts” (EE.UU Government).


Shannon Slaughter

Shannon Slaughter

Shannon Slaughter’s artist’s name is Jazine (JazineDraws). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. At the time of graduating, she specialized in oil paintings, but she later transitioned to digital mediums, where she is self-taught. Her style is inspired by fantasy, portraiture, semi-realism, and Japanese pop culture.

She currently works as an elementary school special education teacher.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman. I loved the dog’s hat and I wanted to make one of my own as a kid, but I never did.  Maybe it is not too late though?

What is your favorite food?

I love mashed potatoes. I know they are not the healthiest thing to eat, but if it is offered to me, I won’t turn it down. My mom told me that one day I will turn into a potato.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHANNON

Art Process:

For illustrations, I begin with several pencil sketches in my sketchbook or on Bristol paper. I may use Copic markers for shading. I will then scan the chosen sketch into the computer and open it in Clipstudio Paint.

I first create a grayscale draft that includes shadows and highlights. I choose a combination of digital watercolor and digital oil paint as my mediums. Once I am satisfied with the grayscale draft, I will use a combination of gradient maps, tweaking of layer attributes and overlaying layers of color at a low opacity to add color to my painting. Throughout the process, I am thinking of which colors can best convey the feeling I want for the final picture. I use the graphics editor Krita to assist in any additional color corrections.


Corrie Young

Corrie Young

Cor is an illustrator, visual development artist for animation, and your resident facts-about-bears supplier and rocket enthusiast!

Cor’s passion lies in creating media for children to entertain and educate. Children’s media helped her think of the world in new ways and sparked ideas in her head she wouldn’t have had otherwise. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design animation program in 2015.

What was your favorite book as a child?

“The Mermaid’s Ball” by Bea Sloboder

What do you love to do for fun?

Figure skating, learning about aviation science and aircraft, watching anime, belting showtunes

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT CORRIE

Art Process:

I work almost exclusively in Adobe Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq. If necessary, I start out by seeking out reference or mood imagery, either online or by taking my own reference pictures. I start with a sketch in a light color, to get the feel for the composition or the character’s body language and expression. I refine a couple of details that might get lost, then I jump straight to color. I usually lay down flat colors with a large digital brush so I get an idea of the big picture, then go back and work on details, rather than focusing on one area at a time.

Location:

Visit Corrie at:

Available for School Visits:

I have presented at schools before on behalf of my alma mater. I love to present to students about drawing animals, specifically bears! For bear drawing, I teach the basics of how to study animal movement, how to find references, and then how to use shapes to incorporate character and expression.


Kaia Tseng

Kaia Tseng

Born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Cupertino, California, Kaia Tseng is a Taiwanese-American illustrator, designer, and entrepreneur. Kaia has been drawing ever since she learned how to pick up a crayon, and has always loved bringing ideas to life in the form of art. By age 15, she began selling her artwork and handicrafts at local conventions. She made her lifelong hobby into her profession at age 24, with the launch of her brand, Kaiami, with the goal of designing products that make people smile and brighten up their day.

Her artwork uses dreamy colors and brings a touch of the fantastical to ordinary moments. In addition to designing for her own brand, Kaia has also produced art for books, games, fashion brands, and galleries.

What is your favorite food?

Carrots have been my favorite food since I was a kid! I have eaten them to the point where my skin turned orange. I also generally like Asian noodle soups (Taiwanese beef noodle and tonkotsu ramen are among my favorites).

What do you love to do for fun?

I love to hold tea parties! I love to get dressed up and drink delicious tea and eat small desserts, but casual tea parties where I can get together and catch up with friends are great too. Aside from that, I’m also a big fan of birdwatching and reading comics.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT KAIA

Art Process:

I thumbnail my ideas in a sketchbook before starting, and usually the sketch will be done with pencil and paper before moving to the lining phase. I sometimes line using a lightbox on top of my sketches, or scan and line digitally. Nowadays, I do most coloring digitally, but I started out using traditional mediums so I am comfortable with markers and colored pencils as well.

Location:

Visit Kaia at:


Serena Phu

Serena Phu

Serena sometimes introduces herself as Ren, and mostly presents herself online as phoodledoodles. She is an artist with a focus on painting and illustration, and describes her work as “a precarious balance of cutesy-lovely-pretty, and ominous tension.”

She received her BFA from the Hartford Art School in May 2019. She has had several gallery shows and has attended anime and pop culture conventions as an artist since fall 2015.

What is your favorite food?

I have 2 separate answers for this. My favorite food for looking at is cake, especially modern cakes. I’m very much a fan of whipped cream texture, and looking at finely piped whipped cream dollops and swirls makes me elated.

My favorite food, according to my boyfriend, whom I had to ask for input on this, is good curry. I do enjoy sweet curries, like Japanese curry and Thai curry. In general, I like a lot of sweet-savory foods, and foods with a soft or even mushy texture.

Favorite travel spots:

I’ve been to Japan only one time, and it was my only time traveling internationally, but it was definitely a highlight for me. A lot of people want to travel there, and for good reason; when I was there, everything felt like a dream. It felt like regular mundane life, but easier and all-around nicer. I was mostly in the city, and public transit was straightforward despite any language barriers, food was easy to come by, and the shopping landscape was new and exciting. I would definitely recommend visiting Japan to see their city life, particularly Tokyo and everything it encompasses, and Osaka and the nearby Nara Park, where you can bow endlessly with very polite deer (or get chased by them when you have food, as I did). Another spot I’d recommend is the Zao Fox Village in Shiroishi, which is a far train ride from the major cities, but a good opportunity to experience the Shinkansen.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SERENA

Art Process:

My art process starts with the medium. I usually get an intrinsic sense of what medium I think suits a work best, based on what the subject matter is and whatever inkling of a composition I have in mind for it. My usual default is oil paint, as it is the most versatile and the most comfortable for me, as well as most fun. I like oil for the texture that it’s capable of, and when I work with it, I often try to incorporate large, brushy strokes and globby paint chunks if I can. If a piece requires a lighter or more delicate touch, I go for watercolor and/or gouache (unless it requires a dark background, in which case I go back to oil). I find water-based medium to be so dainty, and works very well to convey a feeling of sunniness or fragility.

From there, I figure out composition; I usually have an immediate sense of what kind of impact I want from a piece and what it ought to look like, so I’ll then do a few pencil sketches, take some reference photos I might need, and work out any wonky parts until I get exactly the vibe I envision. Once that’s ready to go, I’ll either redraw it or transfer it onto whatever surface I’m working on (watercolor paper, canvas, board, digital scan, etc.) and start to paint. Painting is a very straightforward, step-by-step process for me, although there are a few decisions that I leave out during the planning portion that I make while executing the final product; I feel that this keeps it from getting too stiff or overly structured.