Kaia Tseng

Writing

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

Writing

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


Dave McDonald

Writing

Dave McDonald has worked as a television producer/director, a theme park entertainment show writer (Scooby Doo) and a puppet/costume (Rugrats, Angry Beavers, Richard Scarry) and mascot (NFL Panthers, NBA Hornets) designer and fabricator. He was a puppeteer for a kids TV series and for a touring school production.  He’s the author/illustrator of two humorous early reader graphic novels featuring his original character, Hamster Sam.

When he’s not freelance writing or illustrating, McDonald works as a visiting teaching artist in elementary schools throughout North and South Carolina. His teaching can be found online through the educational platform EPIC! as well as Professor Garfield and on Youtube.

Favorite food:

Steak, medium; with a local craft IPA.

Who were some of your influences growing up?

Silly, slapstick humor is at the heart of what I enjoy most, and so I consumed ample doses of comedy from television cartoons created by Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken), Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny), Jim Henson’s Muppet Show and from record albums featuring musical satire and parody by Stan Freberg and Spike Jones.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVE

Art Process:

The bulk of my work is black and white “comic strip” style illustration and spot art.  I work ‘old school’ using pencil, paper and ink pens. For contracted illustration work, I begin with pencil roughs; typically will send a pic or jpg to the client, and we’ll go back and forth until a “final rough” is approved.  I then ink the work and send along for approval. If color is desired, I’ll use Photoshop for a flat fill (I am not a colorist). Occasionally for puppet designs that include color costuming details, I’ll use Prismacolor markers to create a textured look.

Published books:

The Secret Adventures of Hamster SAM: Attack of the Evil Boll Weevils! (DM Creative) 2008
Hamster S.A.M.  Odd-ventures in Space! (DM Creative) 2013

Awards and honors:

Cartoonist in Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, 2011
Graphic novels panelist at the NYC School Librarians Conference, 2013
Featured guest author/illustrator and presenter at the South Carolina Book Festival, 2014

Location:

Visit Dave at:

Available for School Visits:

For over 10 years, “Mr. Dave” has presented education-based arts programming to schools, libraries and museums through his “Kids Make Comics!” assemblies, artist in residencies and workshops.  His programs have been accredited by several state and local arts agencies in North and South Carolina, where he works with hundreds of kids each year through grant-funded visits. His programs combine the best of a traditional author visit with dynamic interactive drawing and writing exercises.  School assemblies are 45 minutes long; students draw along step by step with Mr. Dave to create exciting and original characters, and discover that writing can be just as much fun as drawing!


Jenny Fine

Writing

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

Writing

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.


Debbie Fong

Writing

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!