Ash Szymanik

Inking

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

Inking

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.


Elizabeth Jancewicz

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Elizabeth grew up in remote northern Quebec where she developed her love of natural landscapes and wild animals, which greatly influence her paintings.

She spends much of her time touring the country with her husband Eric in their band Pocket Vinyl, where she creates large fantastical oil paintings on stage while Eric sings and plays music. In 2019 they beat the world record for playing shows in all 50 states in the fastest time (45 days).

Elizabeth also writes & illustrates a twice-weekly autobiographical webcomic called The Touring Test, which focuses on the characters of Elizabeth & Eric, their two cats, and their experiences of being in a small touring band on the road.

Artist and graphic novelist Elizabeth Jancewicz headshot

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I love being around creativity. My walls are filled with other artists’ work, my shelves are full of graphic novels, and I love spending my time in DIY art spaces and seeing how other people interpret and express their individual creativity. I feel very fortunate to live and work with a creative person, whose artistic medium is so vastly different than mine.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ELIZABETH

Mediums:

Art Process:

I describe myself as purely a traditional artist. I’ll “clean up” pieces in Photoshop (brightening colours, or adding shading to my inked comics), but besides that I do not work digitally.

My comics are all penciled onto bristol paper, then inked in pen and marker.

My oil paintings are typically done on gessoed masonite board.

I like to work fairly quickly so that I can’t overthink an idea. I may then step away and let it sit for a while before either changing things up or deciding it’s finished.


Black Sands Entertainment

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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


Kaia Tseng

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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:


Jenny Fine

Inking

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.


Mike Sgier

Inking

Mike Sgier is a cartoonist and printmaker based in Philadelphia. Born and raised outside of Denver, Mike received a BFA from Creighton University, and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has been making comics since 2006, exploring a wide range of genres in the medium, including autobio, indie romance, and humorous sci-fi. His current comics are based in the fantasy genre, following an array of characters in a world called Vespers.

Mike is an active member of BYO Print, a printmaking studio and collective in Philadelphia.

What was your favorite book as a child?

A tie between ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, and ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary.

Favorite travel spots:

Dublin, Ireland and Kyoto, Japan

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MIKE

Art Process:

My creative process starts by drawing quick, small thumbnails of the image, trying out different compositions, and determining which visual elements will be used. Based on these quick drawings, I’ll complete 3-4 small drawings (around 4.25” x 5.5”) with the basic elements in play, but still not too detailed. These drawings help to give an idea of where the image can go, but also help to determine if different routes are needed to achieve the result the client is seeking.

Once a drawing is approved by the client, I transfer it to a fresh sheet of paper where I finish it, most often with pen and ink. Then I scan and clean it up, adding digital techniques if necessary.

For relief printmaking, I transfer the drawing to a block of wood or linoleum, carve it, and pull prints from the block. This process may add more time, but it can also provide the image with a singular expressive element.

Location:

Visit Mike at:

Published books:

Once Upon a Time Machine Vol. 2: Greek Gods and Legends (Dark Horse Comics, 2018)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream
(Locust Moon Press, 2014)
Quarter Moon
(Locust Moon Press, 2013-2015)
Colonial Comics – New England, 1620-1750
(Fulcrum Publishing, 2014)
Rock Ink Roll
(Altered Esthetics, 2013)
Lutefisk Sushi
(International Cartoonist Conspiracy/Big Time Attic, 2008 & 2010)

Available for School Visits:

I have worked with all ages of students to show my creative process for both comics and printmaking, from college level to elementary school. I enjoy teaching kids how to create their own characters, gadgets, and environments as part of a game.


Misako Rocks!

Inking

Misako Rocks! is a Japanese manga artist based in Brooklyn, NY. At age 19, she won a scholarship to come to American as an exchange student. Her first break came when The Onion decided to use her illustrations for their “Savage Love” column.

Since then, she has published seven books in both the United States and Japan, and teaches manga students privately and at several schools throughout New York City.

What do you love to do for fun?

Kickboxing! Everyday!

Why did you leave Japan to America?

When I was a kid, I watched a movie Back to the Future and got a huge crush on Michael J Fox. I wanted to be his girlfriend. That’s the main reason why I moved to America. Hahaha!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MISAKO

Art Process:

If I’m working on comic books, I like to start with a finished manuscript first. It’s easier for me to work this way. My thumbnails look like a bunch of eggs are talking. Once I complete the entire thumbnails, then I can move to the “pencil” process. I normally use awesome manga paper from Japan. I start drawing carefully on these papers. Meanwhile, I draw backgrounds like cities or streets separately. Then I move to the “inking” process. I use Japanese calligraphy brush pens and Copic ink pens to trace the pencil lines. Once it’s done, I scan every page to color them with Photoshop. That’s my favorite part!

Forthcoming books:

Bounce Back, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, Fall 2021

Published books:

Biker Girl, Hyperion 2006
Rock and Roll Love, Hyperion 2007
Detective Jermain, Henry Holt 2009
How to Find a Gaijin Boyfriend Discover 21, Japan, 2014
New York Life Style: How to make your life fun and exciting Discover 21, Japan, 2015
How to speak English with Misako’s method, Ascom Publisher, Japan, 2015

Location:

Visit Misako at:

Awards and honors:

NYPL Best Teens Book List, 2007
Selected as one of 5 Japanese artists to meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe, 2015

Available for School Visits:

I’ve been teaching manga at so many schools! I offer a Manga Drawing Workshop for all ages, where I teach students how to create their own manga characters step by step. I also offer a motivational talk aimed at middle and high school student called “How Misako became a manga artist in America!” I use a slideshow with photos of Japan and comic books to talk about why and how I left Japan and became a manga artist in America.


Debbie Fong

Inking

Debbie Fong is an illustrator, designer, and cartoonist from Brooklyn, NY, and currently the (sole) artist behind POMMO Press, where she turns her best doodles into fun products like enamel pins and embroidered patches. After attending her first indie comics festival in 2015, she fell in love with the world of small press comics and has been drawing and printing her own books ever since, exhibiting regularly at comic festivals around the country.

As an illustrator, she enjoys both commercial work as well as longer narrative projects. Past clients include Time Inc. Books, The Strand, and CreativeFeed. Her latest illustrated children’s book is titled How To Be a Person, written by Catherine Newman and published by Storey Publishing (May 2020).

Favorite food:

Noodles! 🙂 I love all types of noodles from Italian pastas to Asian egg noodles, rice noodles, and even noodles made from beans! Growing up as a Taiwanese-American kid in Northern New Jersey, I think I got to eat the best of both worlds – noodle soups with vermicelli and fried shallots at home, and spaghetti and meatballs whenever we went out.

Favorite travel spots:

One of my new favorite things is to go on road trips! In 2018 my partner and I took our first cross-country road trip from New York to California with our dog and it was an unforgettable trip. Since then we’ve done a bunch of smaller road trips, but I can’t wait until our next big trip to the West Coast!

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DEBBIE

Mediums:

Specialties:

Location:

Forthcoming books:

How To Be a Person, Storey Publishing (May 2020)

Awards and honors:

Ignatz Award nomination, 2018
Broken Frontier Award, 2018

Art Process:

My illustration work is 95% digital, which means there is a lot of fluidity to my workflow that I find helpful when working with clients or other artists on a project. For example, changes to “inked” lineart are not too difficult to make at any stage, and when requested, I can deliver Photoshop files formatted so individual colors can be easily changed. In terms of my approach to a new assignment, I find that establishing clear communication from the beginning can really help to get everyone on the same page, so I always try to be as thorough and communicative as possible!

Visit Debbie Fong at:

Available for School Visits:

Not at the moment!


Michele Cajes

Inking

Michele Cajes is a Filipino-American illustrator based in the Bay Area. She loves to create fun illustrations with bright, bold color combinations. Her main goal is to get people excited and happy when they see her illustrations. If it starts a conversation, it’s very satisfying.

She graduated from the Academy of Art with a Master in Fine Arts focusing on sequential illustration. She’s had illustrations in 3 zine projects and has been a part of a fully backed Kickstarter artbook called Amongst the Toadstools.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein The illustrations and poems still draw me in.

Favorite travel spots:

Jedediah Redwoods State Park was a great place to camp and hike. It’s like time stands still when walking through giant redwoods centuries old.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MICHELE

Specialties:

Art Process:

Before I start working on a rough draft with pencil and paper, I look up references like costumes, props, patterns, plants or locations. I try to have at least two strong ideas sketched out for the client for their approval to move forward with one.

If the illustration is colored and there was no specific color palette given, then I send a clean inked digital draft with color roughs for approval. I then complete the illustration digitally.

Location:

Visit Michele at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes.