For Episode #51 I wanted to focus back on illustrators because I felt we have been neglecting them. I am proud to speak to artist Ian Olympia, who goes by the pen name, wickedalucard. This is definitely an artist whose work speaks for themselves. Still, we chat about background, concept work, films, and more. Read the full interview below…
Please introduce yourself. Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?
Ian: My name is Ian Olympia and I’m from Philippines. I use the pen-name wickedalucard. I started drawing way back when I was still in grade school. I used to draw characters I like from anime series I watch, I even did mini-comic pages at my empty lecture notebooks and also for our school paper. I stopped going to school early College and started working at odd jobs. I always draw whenever I get my free time, and eventually I came across Deviantart. I started posting my illustrations there. Luckily, Indigo Entertainment, which is a game company, saw my Deviantart gallery and hired me as a full time Concept Artist and 3-D texture artist for online games. I’ve worked there for two years. Now I am working as an Assistant Artist for Groundbreakers Inc. also known as Mangaholix. I am now working at game assets, manga pages, TCG illustrations, and many more. Aside from my day-job, I also do some commissioned illustrations for online clients. I also work on side projects with my group Ink Jar. I’m also fond of joining art contests and book projects from artists I meet online. I just love drawing, be it for work or for personal use.
A lot of your illustrations seem anime influenced, what mainly inspires you to come up with these concepts?
Ian: Yes, my style is anime and manga influenced. It is the style I’ve grown to love and developed on my own illustrations. But although my style is anime and manga influenced, I get my inspiration and concepts from a lot of things. One would be from games. When I’m not working and still have some free time, I always play games, like The King of Fighters, Guilty Gear, Tekken, MMO, RTS, RPG, Drummania, and a whole lot of other types and titles. I like listening to music a lot and also watch music vids, sometimes I draw illustrations after watching a music video that got my attention. I also love looking at photographs, calm and peaceful to intense and dark photos. Photos inspire me with concepts and things to draw. I also get that urge to draw and improve whenever I see new illustrations from artists I like, from places I go, from people I’m with, and even from things I see. My concepts come from just about anything.
Tell us a bit about MANGA ANTHOLOGY SALTED and what attracted you to the project.
Ian: Salted is a manga inspired comicbook anthology that started around four years ago with my group Ink Jar. My close friends and I love reading manga and aspired to be manga creators. Since we all had that same aspiration, I’ve thought of starting a group and publishing our own book. We started with mass printed colored comicbooks which were sold locally at some bookstores. Though the first run was a failure, it was a step necessary for us to learn more about the comicbook industry. After a lot of trials and errors, research and massive work, we were able to create a paperback print of our comicbook anthology [which can be seen on my deviantart frontpage]. We were also able to make an artbook entitled Devour, which was sold at a local convention and had only limited copies. Last year we also released a mini-comic that contains only two titles, Ambition and Owl’s Diary. The mini-comic was called Sidedish, and was also sold at a local convention. We plan to release volume 2 of Salted and Devour some time soon. I continue to work on these projects because these books serve as our way to tell the world our stories and introduce people to our characters. These works are also our group’s accomplishments, collective illustrations that are not tied to work or clients, but instead illustrations that show what we are and what our art is all about.
Since you love drawing characters, please give us a look into your top 3 favorite characters, and also explain what makes them so special.
Ian: Aside from the characters I have for my story, I like drawing random characters that most of the time I forget to name. So I don’t have my top three favorite characters. But, I do have a top three favorite type of character illustration I go with. One would be Mori Girl inspired characters. I like drawing Mori Girls because I like drawing laces and fluffy clothes. They are also nature oriented and most of the time contains a warm or light palette. I feel relaxed when I draw Mori Girls and I find them cute, so yeah, I guess they are on my top list. Second would be the dark and intense illustrations. I have a thing for leather and eye-patches, blood and bandages, crooked teeth and ghosts, fashionably morbid to surreal concepts. Things that are weird and dark fall for 2nd on my list. Third, would be pretty girls. I just love drawing pretty girls!
What tools do you use and what is your process?
Ian: When I work on manga pages, I use Manga Studio. I work from roughs to the finished page / illustration there. When I color, I use Paint Tool Sai. I only use Photoshop to put watermark and to make the final adjustments on my illustration. I work on my illustrations digitally from start to finish with my Wacom Intuos 3.
I always start my illustrations with a lot of rough sketches and pegs. From there I choose which sketch I’d go with. After that, I ink my sketch before I color. When I use overpainting, I skip the inking process and go straight to coloring. I work with a lot of layers and a lot of in between breaks. Breaks are important when I work on an illustration because most of the time I come up with ways to improve my piece when I am taking a break, away from the monitor and away from the actual illustration.
You use networking sites such as Tumblr and Twitter. Do you feel social media is an important tool in expanding your network as an artist?
Ian: Yes, I think social media is important. As I’ve said earlier, I got my job because of my online gallery and I also get my freelance work from clients who come across my gallery. I also use these online accounts to interact with other artists, sometimes with people I look up to, and it also serves as the bridge that connects me with people who like my art. Reading compliments and criticisms encourage me to do better every time I make a new illustration. Though I may not be able to answer all questions I receive from people who view my illustrations, I try my best to interact with them. I know how it feels when people I look up to respond to my comments and questions, so I try to do the same to people who look up to me. Social media also gives me opportunities to meet people with the same interest and do projects with them. It is also a convenient way to showcase my work and to advertise future projects.
What’s your opinion on art school? Do you think it’s worth pursuing if someone wants a career in a creative field — particularly yours?
Ian: I really can’t say much about art schools since I didn’t take one. But I think it is a nice opportunity to be able to study in an art school. Knowledge and experience are key elements in this field, and art schools provide those.
Have any favorite Asian films?
Ian: I watch lots of Asian films and I can’t decide which film is my favorite. I’ll just talk about some of the films I really loved instead. I like “A Tale of Two Sisters” because I’m a sucker for psychological twists and horror films. This film gives that eerie calm and dramatic weird scenes, it also portrays sibling love and tragic events. It caught my attention and if I get to have some free time I’d watch it again. Another would be Ju-On. It is also a horror film. It really caught my attention because instead of gore and intense background music, the film just has scenes of eerie silence and glimpses of really disturbing events and situations. It really inspired me with my own manga Echofreak and my characters. Although the film was really disturbing, I really liked it and it inspired me a lot.
Has the commission process been a good thing overall? How do you deal with an unruly client?
Ian: Yes, commissioned illustrations are beneficial. It helps me with my expenses. It also improves my skills in dealing with different types of clients, on how well I can meet their expectations and specific instructions. It is also a good practice to develop my speed in drawing, since I only work on commissions on my free time. Whenever I get an unruly client, I just try to deal with it professionally and expand my patience to an infinite thread. Commissions are after all, paid illustrations, so I make it happen that my clients feel that the illustrations they get are worth the money they spent.
Any last words of advice for anyone just starting out as an illustrator?
Ian: Step up and always work your way to improvement. Practice and be serious about it. Don’t take art halfheartedly, if you love what you do then do your best to reach your goals. Research and learn from your mistakes.
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