A Chat With: Leigh Ellexson

Hey Gang!

I’m so excited about having Leigh on the blog! I feel like I talk about her and her work everytime I mention youtube. Her videos are calming, and they always get me into the mood to create!

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NAL: Can you walk us through a typical day for you?

LE: Every day is really different for me! My job consists of a lot of different types of work. I wake up between 8 and 9 in the morning with my dog, Toadie. We eat breakfast together (cute). Then I typically start work... this may be making art, filling orders from my online shop, designing new products, answering emails, updating my Patreon, making a YouTube video, and the list goes on. Sometimes I wait until the afternoon to start on something and work at night instead. I'm really not on a routine

NAL: What’s Your creative process?

LE: My creative process is pretty much, I decide I want to make something and get started! I don't do a lot of preliminary sketching or planning. Really... I don't do any. I don't have a plan for what I'm going to make or how I want it to turn out. The more I think about what I'm going to do the less likely I am to get started!

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NAL: Do you have any advice for beginning artists?

LE: My best advice for beginning artists is to not overthink it. Once I let go of wanting to make things look a certain way or to look "right," I was able to relieve a lot of stress I had associated with making art. Jump in before you have time to doubt yourself!

NAL: How did you choose your color palettes, your art is always so bright and cheerful?

LE: I usually base them off of complementary colors or a loose interpretation of the primary colors. I've been shying away from purples and greens for a while. (Also not planned)

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NAL: Who are some of your favorite artists?

LE: furrylittlepeach

sarlisart

choodraws

foreversoftcore

mcmintea

taylornprice

My favorite "classical" artist is John Singer Sargent 

NAL: Who Are some of your favorite youtubers?

LE: You can peep them on my youtube channel. I have a few featured,

Furrylittlepeach

HollyExley

Frannerd

Minnie Smalls

Bybun

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NAL: Tell us a little about Herc and Toadie.

LE: Herc is 6 years old. He's a parrotlet which is a parrot breed that is about the size of a parakeet but the personality of a macaw (the big rainbow ones). He's sassy as all get out. But also sweet when he wants to be. He is the CUTEST thing ever. I stare at him in awe of his cuteness. Toadie is a 3 year old pupper. He's mostly french bulldog, I'm not sure what else he is... I found him on Craiglist. Pros... good boy, sweet, loves walks, loves fetch, pro cuddler, garbage disposal. Cons... farts.

NAL: What would be your dream project? 

Maybe to illustrate a children's book I'm not really sure honestly... I haven't really ever thought about this. I'm not the best goal maker.

NAL: What’s the most favorite piece you’ve completed?

LE: UHHHH! I'm not sure. Tough question. I get sick of looking at my art after a while. I constantly am changing my favorites to the newer pieces I make just because I like to look at something new 🤷🏻‍♀️

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NAL: What’s your favorite TV Show?

LE: Parks and Rec, The Office, Merlin, Avatar the Last Airbender, Downton Abbey... to name a few!

NAL: Do You watch Anime? What’s a favorite?

LE: HAIKYUU!! ( also love naruto )

NAL: If you could live in any fictional world (Anime, TV, or movie). What would it be and why? 

LE: How to Train You Dragon. Why? Dragons. DRAGON FRIENDS.

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NAL: Do you have any tattoos? Do you want any?

LE: I don't have any tattoos. I can't ever decide and all the tattoo artist I like are so far away from me.

NAL: Tell us a little bit about yourself?

LE: Favs:

-bats

-red pandas

-colors

-walks

-french fries

-carrots

-games

Not Favs:

-mosquitos

-olives

-flip flops

Don’t forget to visit Leigh at the links below!

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A Chat With: Rachel Smythe

Hey gang!

Have I got an awesome interview for you today! I came across Lore: Olympus as an ad on Instagram a couple of months ago, and after reading the very first chapter I knew I needed to have the writer and Artist on the blog! The coolest part, is that they’re both the same person! Lore Olympus is a webcomic about the romance between Persephone (my favorite goddess) and Hades, and includes a huge amount of gods and goddesses from Mt. Olympus. Rachel Smythe is super cool and I had to pick her brain about her creation.

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 NAL: Tell us about yourself.

RS: I'm a small, angry woman from New Zealand.  I have wrinkles around the upper nose from being judgemental. I really like coffee, snacks, and podcasts.   

NAL: Walk us through a normal day.

RS: I'm self-employed, so I work from home. That being the case, I always make sure that I get up before 9 am and follow a regular routine to avoid bad habits.  

I normally do about half an hour admin before I settle into drawing for the day.  I use a lot of timers to keep myself on track. Using a timer also helps me remember to stretch and take breaks.  I used the pomodoro technique to keep myself focused.  

If the weather is good I'll take my ipad pro and go draw somewhere that's more interesting than my office.

NAL: Do you have any tattoos?

RS: I have one on my wrist. It's an abstract pattern in a circle shape. I know what it is, but no one else needs to.  

NAL: If you could live in any fandom what would you choose and why?

RS: Probably the Dragon Ball Z universe because I like their goofy, expressive eyes.  

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NAL: As a creator, who would be in your dream team up?

RS: I'm not sure if this counts but I'd really like to share an office with James Baxter.   

NAL: What are some of your favorite movies?

RS: Dancer in the Dark, Neon Demon, Fantasia and it’s not a movie but Hannibal.

NAL: Who are some of the people that inspire you?

RS: Don Bluth, James Baxter, Mary Blair, Rebecca sugar, My family and friends. 

NAL: Why Greek Mythology?

RS: I love these Gods, they are flawed and relatable.

NAL: What's your creative process?

RS: In terms of writing, I'll draft out some key dramatic events. Then I'll try to join them together.  For Example:

• Hades and Zeus are buying matching watches.

• Hades and Zeus wake up from being blackout drunk in the fitting room a wedding dress shop.

How did they get from point a to point b? That's the fun part.   

For each chapter, I write a script and then make a draft comic based on the script. I don't always stick to the script, sometimes the drawings will help me write better dialog.

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NAL: How would you describe your art style?

RS: Expressive colour blocking?

NAL: If you were a part of Olympus, which God or Goddess would you be?

RS: Nike the goddess of victory, for sure.

Lore Olympus is updated every Sunday. Don’t forget to visit Rachel Online!

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A Chat With: Mega Mite Cosplay

 Hey Gang!

  I'm so excited! I have the absolutely adorable Megamite to chat with today! She's an amazing Cosplayer and her magical girl cosplays are top notch! I found her Instagram a couple of weeks ago and just knew I had to have her on the site! 

NAL: Tell us a little bit about yourself?

MM: My name is Mega Mite and I am an active cosplayer in the state of Texas. I hope to be a positive influence for all cosplayers of color, to show that cosplay is for everyone.

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NAL: Walk us through your day. 

MM: A typical day for me is waking up at 6 am to get ready for work and coming home around 4 to finish cosplays, artwork or play video games until late in the evening; and then rinse, wash, and repeat. I'm also in school currently. I save weekends for socializing, eating out with friends, etc.  

NAL: What's your creative process?

MM: I like to use Pinterest for new cosplay ideas, or collaborate with friends about what cosplays to do next.

NAL: What's your favorite costume you've ever done?

MM: My favorite costume that I have ever done would have to be Melty Granite from Shining Hearts.

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NAL: If Money was no consequence what would be your dream cosplay?

MM: Ooo! That would most definitely be KOS MOS ver. 4 from Xenosaga! Her mecha looks so amazing and I would love to cosplay her one day~

NAL: Who would be in your dream fictional team up?

MM: Sesshomaru from Inuyasha, Riku from Kingdom Hearts, Youko Kurama from Tenchi Muyo, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII, Zidane from Final Fantasy IX, and Shido from Nightwalker – there’s probably more that I forgot, but just from the top of my head~ <3

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NAL: Do you have any tattoos?

MM: Not any that you can see. :P

NAL: Do you have a favorite fandom?

MM: I’ve never really been one to join fandoms, but the only three I keep tabs on are Final Fantasy, Harvest Moon, and Kingdom Hearts franchises.

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NAL: How long have you been a cosplayer?

MM: I’ve been a cosplayer in my heart since high school, but haven’t started it officially until 2014.

NAL: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

MM: I really love gaming, anything from PC to console. I also really enjoy drawing and creating art with mediums like paint, clay, pencil, photoshop, etc. I have a secret love for bookbinding; it’s just an amazing skill to have. I also like to collect stuffed animals. :3

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NAL: What was your first convention?

MM: Oh man, my first convention would have to be Anime Matsuri.

Make sure you check out all her links and give her some love!

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A Chat With: Brenna Thumler

 Hey gang!

   With August right around the corner, so are some brand new comic concepts that I've never seen before but am dying to read. In my August Previews video one comic mentioned is Sheets, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Brenna Thumler and published by Lion Forge, I scored an interview and I can't wait for you guys to meet her. 

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NAL: Tell us a little about yourself.

BT: I received my degree in illustration, but not once during college did I think I’d work on graphic novels. In fact, I actively avoided them, assuming I wouldn’t be happy with or suitable for that type of work. But sometimes fate knows you better than you know yourself, and won’t take “no” for an answer. When I began illustrating my first - an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables - it was like finding true love, a dream home, and the secret recipe for that restaurant sauce no one can replicate. Storytelling has always played a significant role in my life and my art, so clearly I was stubborn and blind. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

NAL: Walk us through your typical day.

 BT: When I’m in the middle of a graphic novel, my day starts the same as any other: with coffee, breakfast, and Sudoku puzzles. Then I dive into my work, which might mean writing, storyboarding, drawing, or coloring, depending on where I am in the process. And here I stay, hunched over my desk, with Spotify or my umpteenth run of The Office playing in the background, until I decide I should probably sleep. I do take breaks to cook meals, attend nightly Zumba classes, and play music, which are my three favorite ways to unwind! I love my job, but it’s demanding. Being an artist means being an artist at all times. It’s a powerful thing, though, to be willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary and be so indescribably passionate about something so intimidating and challenging.

NAL: Who are some of your favorite writers or artists?

 BT: Where do I begin!? Some of my favorite writers are Jodi Picoult, John Green, Daniel Handler, and Emma Donoghue. As for artists and creators, this is even harder to narrow down. I’ll say Jillian Tamaki, Vera Brosgol, Jon Juarez, Quentin Blake, and Michael Byers, but stress that there are about fifty other favorites.

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NAL: What was your favorite thing about Sheets?

 BT: My favorite part of working on Sheets was the freedom to create a world that was entirely my own, with characters that I have become so personally attached to. (They’re my friends!) I put a lot of myself into the book, but discovered, even more, growing as both a person and artist. When I complete a graphic novel project, I am shocked by how much I’ve learned and how much my skills have improved. I love knowing that there’s no end to the creative process; there’s always another level for you to strive to work towards.

NAL: What would you consider your most favorite project?

BT: Sheets has been the most incredible project I’ve ever worked on. Because it is my first original graphic novel, it will always hold a special significance. It was a great challenge that transformed both my abilities and my perspective, and I have never felt such a strong sense of purpose. Plus, it has ghosts.

NAL: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?

BT: I would love to do a graphic novel with Lemony Snicket, whether it be an adaptation of his Series of Unfortunate Events, or a new work. To illustrate his dark sense of humor and quirky scenarios would be a thrilling experience. And a visual adaptation of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny’s story would involve one bizarre, action-packed adventure after another, each in a unique and dynamic setting. Also, if the Duffer Brothers ever want a graphic novel version of Stranger Things, I’m so on board.

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NAL: If you could live in any fandom world where would you choose and why?

 BT: Is Hogwarts too obvious? My other choices would be Wes Anderson films, because my surroundings would always be color-coordinated and symmetrical, or Stars Hollow, because the worst thing that would ever happen would be Taylor Doose installing a traffic light.

NAL: Do you have any tattoos?

BT: I don’t, but admittedly, the thought of a small ghost tattoo has crossed my mind ever since I started Sheets.

NAL: Any advice for aspiring artists?

 BT: Make connections and don’t stop drawing. It’s easy to get stuck in your own little art corner, but meeting others in the industry is critical. If an opportunity to network presents itself, jump on it! And if you assume you’ve reached your maximum artistic potential, don’t. I just finished my second book and I still don’t believe my art is good enough, yet. Keep drawing every day, because there is always room to get better, and share these drawings with the world.

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I'm so excited to read Sheets! Make sure to visit Brenna on all her social media.

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A Chat With: Penelope’ Bagieu

 Hey Gang!

  One of the things I love the most about running a blog is the opportunity it presents me. I get to create fun content that speaks to myself and others like me and having the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other creators, I’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Penelope' is a published French Illustrator, and her latest book, Brazen, is on the top of my to-read list. 

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NAL: How did you begin your journey as an illustrator?

PB: I've been drawing since I was maybe 3 or 4, like every kid. Drawing and writing stroies quickly became company for me, and I started making little books in primary school (my mom still has them somewhere probably). I went to an ENSAD in France, where I studied animation. After graduation, I started doing commissioned works for advertising agencies, book covers and the like. One thing led to another and a magazine I was working for offered me their last page for a weekly strip, I gave comics a try, enjoyed it and now I'm making books again!

NAL: Do you have any favorite artists or illustrators?

PB: I've been very influenced as a child by cartoons more than comics, and especially by what I thought was the art of Walt Disney but was really the creations of Mary Blair, and her poetic colorful world. Later on I discovered another woman, behind the books that I loved too, the adventures of the Moomins, that is Tove Jansson, who is portrayed in my book Brazen. And when I started reading graphic novels, women like Marjane Satrapi or Alison Bechdel  really showed me the variety of stories you could tell through comics.

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NAL:What was your favorite thing about Brazen?

PB: Reading ! I spent a year in the company of all these women who, in very different ways, strongly took hold of their fate and didn't let other people chose for them. At some point, it necessarily grows on you, it has been a very empowering journey for me, personally.


NAL: Can you walk us through a typical work day?

PB: I usually wake up very early (I have no idea why, even without an alarm on my phone, I never sleep late) and stop working early. In the meantime, I try to work in big slots, typically my morning is about emails and annoying stuff, and I keep my afternoon as a block to work on my long term project (usually a book). I work either from home on a computer, from my female coworking space The Wing when on an ipad, or from a café for the writing-only part. But I can spend weeks without being able to produce anything, and then suddenly go hectic and wake up in the middle of the night with the urge to draw. In short, I don't really have a typical work day (which is awesome)


NAL: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve done so far?

PB: Honestly, Brazen, because it led me to travel, meet incredible people, connect with a different audience, and learn a lot. 

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NAL: How would you describe your art style?

PB: I'm still improving the same art style I've had since I was three. 


NAL: What is your favorite movie?

PB: Jurassic Park


NAL: If you could live in any fictional universe, what would it be and why?

 PB: I would love to be a sibling of Wes Anderson's Tenenbaum family, live in their house, wear vintage sportswear, have a camping tent in my bedroom and be part of Margot's plays.

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NAL: Can you walk us through your creative process?

PB: I have to be frustrated not to be able to write so that I can write. So my creative process consists in provoking long periods of time when I'm away from creating, like accepting commissioned work, or going on long promoting tours. And usually, on the plane, when I have nothing else to do and no wifi, I'm suddenly crushed under an avalanche of genius ideas, 99% of which are actually crap the morning after. But the 1% I keep is usually fun, and I can't wait til I'm done with my current tasks and finally get to writing again. 

NAL: Any advice for beginning Artists?

PB: Show your work a lot, but to a very very selective group of trustworthy people. And learn to say no to opportunities sometimes.

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A Chat With: Maria Nguyen

Hey Gang!

  I'm so excited to introduce an interview with the amazing Maria Nguyen. She's an illustrator I found on Twitter, and I was blown away by her art, and I just had to find out what makes her tick, and introduce her to ya'll.

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NAL: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

MN: My name is Thuy Duong Nguyen, but I'm commonly known as Maria Nguyen. I'm a freelance illustrator living in the Greater Toronto Area with my cat Cricket and plants.

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NAL: Walk us through a typical day for you. 

MN: I usually wake up to the sound of my cat softly calling me from the foot of my bed. 

I get up and run through my morning routine.

I feed my cat and myself. 

I go out to check on the plants and just take in the moment in my garden. 

I am in my studio working until the afternoon.

I reply to emails, negotiate contracts, chase overdue payment, or go back to the garden before taking a lunch break.

I eat lunch.

Feed my cat.

I relax.

I go back to the studio and work.

I eat dinner.

I work some more. 

Feed my cat.

Run through my night routine.

I go to bed.

I think I should also add: throughout the day I am on Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, the floor petting my cat.

NAL: Who are some artists you admire?

MN: Sun Jun, Hiroshi Yoshida, Alphonse Mucha, Killian Eng, Takeshi Obata, Tan Jiu, James Jean, Ito Junji, Tessar Lo, Ness Lee

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NAL: If you could live in any fictional world where would you choose and why?

MN: I'm not sure... Probably one where I am a modern-day witch and my companion is a dragon.

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NAL: What is your most favorite project you've done? 

MN: I love working on personal projects. It's really scary and challenging because I'm making the conscious decision to try something new on my own terms.

NAL: Whats your favorite movie?

MN: My Neighbour Totoro

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NAL: Whose in your dream team up? *fictional or real-life*

MN: My cat, Sailor Uranus, Tomie, Hatake Kakashi and Ching Shih!!

NAL: What's your favorite way to break art block?

 MN: Gardening, cat petting, hanging out with friends, watching a movie/tv show, reading, cleaning up, going to sleep, eating, shower...basically anything that isn't arting .

NAL: Whats your favorite medium to use?

MN: Black coloured pencil on frosted acetate + Cintiq and Photoshop.

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NAL: Any advice for aspiring artists?

MN: Besides learning to be acutely aware of your physical and mental health while working: fill your life with things outside of art so that you can have an escape when art gets too overwhelming, practice, cherish & encourage your peers, and get yourself into a small business 101 course if you want to make a living off of art.

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