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!


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.


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


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:


Shauna J. Grant

Shauna J. Grant

Shauna J. Grant is a cartoonist and illustrator with the magical power to create cuteness. Born and raised in NYC during the boom of Japanese anime and manga, her artwork is heavily influenced by shoujo and magical girls, with a mix of Western cartoon flare. Adding diversity into the comic world is her biggest goal and she’s on a mission to create stories starring Black girls as the adorable heroines of their own tales.

She’s most proud of being part of Black Comix Returns, curated by John Jennings and Damian Duffy, and Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Sheena Howard. She’s currently signed onto two graphic novels to be published by First Second.

What do you love to do for fun?

For fun I love reading romance books! It feels like the dorkiest thing ever but I love seeing two characters butting heads as they get used to each other’s differences, and discovering a mutual love and respect for each other.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

It’s easy for me to say (and, well, I often do say) that Sailor Moon is my biggest inspiration! Watching it as a child made me want to create characters and stories of my own and even now, having reached my thirties, I still get swoony when I see anything Sailor Moon-related. There wasn’t a lot of media geared towards girls that felt so empowering while also recognizing the strength in femininity and relationships. Sailor Moon was clumsy, struggled with school, and preferred to just eat, sleep, and play games all day… but when duty called, she was always there to save the day.

Even more importantly than Sailor Moon, I must say my mother is a true inspiration. She has always been my biggest cheerleader from day one. She was a single mother who raised me on the tough streets of the Bronx and made sure I knew what love was and always put me in places that would foster my growth. Mother-daughter relationships can be very intricate, even when full of love, and it’s something that I’m interested in writing about in my stories as well.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHAUNA

Art Process:

I start my art process with lots and lots of doodles to get my ideas down. They tend to be very loose as I’m just trying to get down the feel of the piece. What emotion am I focused on? What composition best suits it?

From here, I’ll tighten up my doodles and start my penciling process. Either I’ll draw right on top of the doodle, cleaning up areas as I go, or I’ll put a new layer on top and redraw everything neater with the doodle being used as reference. Once I’m satisfied, I’ll ink the image on a new layer and from there I give the illustration a quick coloring to see what colors will work before I decide on a palette.

I tend to do best with pastel colors and go for a whimsical, dreamy, and eye-catching color scheme. I try to keep things as simple as possible with my coloring, with a little bit of airbrushed shading, some crisp shaded areas, and lots of highlights to make the colors pop. Once finished, I’ll color the lineart so the whole piece looks delicious like candy!

Mediums:

Specialties:

Location:

Visit Shauna J. Grant at:

Available for School Visits:

I’ve done school visits in the past where I show off my illustrations (on projectors) and read through my comics with the kids. I use these moments to encourage a love for creating art, being yourself, and feeling no shame for liking something that’s not stereotypically masculine. With older kids I go more in depth over the art process and pursuing art as a career.

Forthcoming books:

Untitled Memoir, First Second (TBA)

Published books:

Natural, Alien, Virginity, Backstage – Dirty Diamonds issues #6- #9, 2015-2018
My Cute Girl! – Can I Pet Your Werewolf, Kel McDonald, 2017
Our Story – Secret Loves of Geeks, Dark Horse, 2018

Awards and honors:

Top 20 Up and Coming Black Artists, Comics Alliance, 2016
Best artist, the Glyph Awards, 2018


Matt Loux

Matt Loux

Matthew Loux is the author and artist of the graphic novels The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (published by First Second Books), Sidescrollers and the five volume series Salt Water Taffy (originally published by Oni Press).

Matthew also illustrated the graphic novel F-Stop and the board comic Good Night Gabbaland based on the Nick Jr. television show Yo Gabba Gabba and has contributed comics and cover art for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Matthew lives in New York and is currently working on his first watercolor-painted graphic novel aimed at early middle grade readers, soon to be announced.

Favorite food:

Pepperoni pizza

Favorite travel spots:

Just about any place in Japan but particularly the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka and the Shimokitazawa and Nakameguro neighborhoods of Tokyo.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MATT

Art Process:

Matthew’s art process involves a foundation of hand pencils, which are then finished with line art using a Winsor & Newton brush and ink.

Colors are either done using Photoshop, resulting in a slightly more polished and modern illustration look, or hand-painted with watercolor for a more classic, vintage feel.

Published books:

The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (First Second Books)
Sidescrollers (Oni Press)
Salt Water Taffy Vol. 1-5 (Oni Press)
F-Stop (Oni Press)
Good Night Gabbaland (Oni Press)

Awards and honors:

Starred Kirkus review (The Time Museum)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2018 (The Time Museum)
Panda Book Award winner, 2018 (The Time Museum)
RI Children’s Book Award nomination (The Time Museum)
American Library Association’s YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008 (Sidescrollers)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2009 (Salt Water Taffy)

Location:

Visit Matt Loux at:

Available for School Visits:

Matthew’s main school presentation (aimed at middle grade readers) begins with a personal look at the influences throughout his younger life that led him to a career in comics. He discusses the steps it takes to actually create a graphic novel from idea to finished book. The presentation includes live drawing and a slideshow.

Matthew’s second presentation (accessible for all ages) begins with a shorter version of what brought him to making comics, then quickly focuses on live drawing and an interactive “create a character” game. In the end, the drawings will be left for the school to display or give to student participants.


Jenny Fine

Jenny Fine

Jenny Fine is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and designer. She got her start in Los Angeles doing posters and merchandise for comedians. Her work can be seen on television (Room 104, I <3 You America, Children’s Hospital), on the web (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Dreamworks TV), and in editorial (Vice).

Before moving to New York, she spent 3 years as a Digital Designer, first at Warner Brothers and then at the CW Network. She enjoys salsa dancing, karaoke, history podcasts, and creating comics about her quirky interactions.

Favorite food:

Chèvre with sweet potato, chèvre with honey crisp apple, or chèvre with cherry tomatoes and avocado and taco seasoning on top.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The books I favored most were the ones where I could pore over each little detail, like “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” and “The Littles” especially, with the detailed cross sections of the characters homes that were built into unconventional places with improvised furniture. I also loved books that I could experience viscerally. I don’t remember the title, but one I read all the time was about a man who needed to make his ration of cheese last while traveling a long distance. I would slowly nibble a piece of cheese while reading, finishing it at the end along with the protagonist.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JENNY

Mediums:

Specialties:

Art Process:

I do “pencil push-ups” every day before I start on an assignment. I get to draw anything I want, but I stay within the medium and subject matter. This usually involves an ipad because most of my jobs are digital.

When I start a new project I stir up inspiration by searching through thrift store fashion Instagram accounts – they rarely have uniformity with regards to “traditional” beauty standards; and they have really fun color themes and locations.

Colors are either done using Photoshop, resulting in a slightly more polished look, or hand-painted with watercolor for a more classic, vintage feel.

Location:

Visit Jenny at:

Published books:

Not announced yet.

Awards and honors:

Member of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS)

Available for School Visits:

Yes.


Laura Langston

Laura Langston

I am a Maryland born and based illustrator who graduated from Harford Community College in 2012 and Maryland Institute College of Art in 2015. I work as a freelance illustrator and colorist for comics and graphic novels. My cat is my coworker and I can tell you that of the two of us, I probably would be Employee of the Month. We do not live in a crab or a house shaped like Old Bay.

My work is for the young and young at heart- I focus on shape and color and the desire to make the viewer go “aww.”

Favorite food:

Chicken and vegetables

Favorite travel spots:

Machida, Japan; Rehoboth Beach; Saranac Lake, NY.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT LAURA

Art Process:

I start with a general idea and composition to focus on what I want the “heart” of the illustration to be. My compositions start loose and messy: Since I work digitally, I can shift things around until the piece feels right. I am always thinking of shape and color, using it to lead the viewers’ eyes around my work. My eternal love is surface design and repetition, so I try to include patterns and repeating textures or shapes in my work as well.

I draw influence from folk artwork, anime, and midcentury modern design.

Published books:

Adventure Time Graphic Novels: The Oorient Express, Princess and Princess, Thunder Road, Marceline the Pirate Queen, Brain Robbers
Adventure Time Comics: BMO Bonanza, Marshall Lee Spectacular, 2016 Spooktacular
Over the Garden Wall comics
Dark Crystal: Discovery Adventure
Clarence Graphic Novel: Getting Gilben
Labyrinth: Discovery Adventure

Location:

Visit Laura at:

Available for School Visits:

I have done visits and critiques! I like coming to explain what life is like as a colorist and what exactly illustration entails.