Conversing with a Manga Artist Part 1

Originally I contacted Eri-chan because I wanted some manga style portraits and was collecting quotes.  I narrowed it down to a few artists and chose her because her style looked the most professional out of all the portfolios I looked at.  Her art can be seen here at https://eribloodberry.blogspot.com or http://www.erikatsuona.deviantart.com .

Eri-chan is from the Philippines and she is a young independent manga artist.  She currently has several projects on the go at once so she is a busy woman!  She is also very brave as she is involved with cosplay activities which I often want to do, but I feel too old…

Eri1

Hi Eri-Chan, thank you first of all helping me out with my project.  It’s been a blast and a lot of fun.   So can you tell me a bit about your background and how you became a manga artist?  What inspired you to become one?

Thanks, Jean~ I had fun drawing your characters as well. You have such a very nice imagination to come up with such interesting and diverse characters. 😀

About your question, I was originally in college, taking up Hotel and Restaurant Management. I felt that it wasn’t for me, and that it’s just not what I wanted to do. I’ve been living alone since I was 12 (so that makes it 8 years ago), and been paying for my studies since then, and happiness means everything to me. So I dropped school and worked as a call center agent as I tried to rebuild my first love, which is anime and manga art. When I’ve got the beginning equipment I needed to start as an artist, I left my (really toxic) job and stayed home to draw all day for people who found my art fascinating for their projects. It was something I really liked doing, although I tend to get picky with the projects’ genre, since my style most likely suit shojo and love stories. I never really imagined myself doing this when I was a little girl, I mostly thought of myself as someone who might be a businesswoman in the future, but I guess it’s just that this was what I loved doing, and I love seeing my completed works.

My dad used to be an assistant comic book artist during his teenage years. He was my first idol when it comes to art, and he taught me the basics when it comes to drawing. My dad was a kinda boastful guy, and at first I just wanted to prove him that I can do better than him… and suddenly I just got hooked with drawing. I fell in love with seeing what I created, and that wonderful feeling of “Oh god… I made this artwork?!Wow.”, because honestly, up to now, I still can’t believe that I can draw like this. 😀 So yeah, my dad was pretty much mostly the one who inspired me. 

I don’t really know how to draw, seriously, but I love anime very much. When I was in my first year in High School, there was this girl classmate of mine who draws anime really, really great and I was so amazed that I asked her to teach me how to draw. She said no in a really disrespectful way, and I got kind of pissed off and frustrated. Back then, I drew like a 5 year old! I know how to draw some forms, but it was like a kid’s drawing compared to this classmate of mine. That summer break, I locked myself in my room with a cheap book on how to draw manga that I bought, and practiced day and night while watching animes. I guess that was the time that I started to learn and improve. I was driven by frustration and the will to draw better that that girl who embarrassed me. When classes started again, she was very surprised by the improvement. I continued drawing during classes and my spare time (eventually got better than that girl, haha), until the only thing that’s driving me to draw is my love for what I’m doing itself, and my love for the characters that I draw. 🙂

Is it difficult to be a freelancer?  I mean, lots of people dream about being their own boss!  Although most of the time I saw my husband filling creating lots of paperwork (taxes, invoices, etc) when he was freelancing…

Yeah, it’s pretty difficult, especially when people don’t really acknowledge that you actually work. In my case, my relatives think that I’m just playing around. I’m still young, after all. The most difficult part for me, I guess, is when clients undervalue your art for something cheap and “just a drawing”. I put my heart to what I do, and it really hurts me when people don’t give enough credit to the work. It’s like being stabbed face-to-face.

Another thing is marketing yourself. There are LOADS of great artists in the Philippines, and most are being overshadowed by the popular mainstream ones. Finding a place where you can find clients who may be interested to have you illustrate their story is a bit of a problem, especially for a young, starting up artist like me.If we put up a blog or site, exposure is a bit slow. So we tend to go to freelancing sites like Fiverr, of which even though it kinda lowers the value of the artworks, the exposure to possible clients is good.

Do you usually draw manga for Asian countries?  Or is there demand in other countries?  Also, do the publications do well?

Most of my clients are from America, Europe and Australia. 🙂 There are just so many talented writers there, and they all want to see their works fleshed out in a Japanese-style manga. I don’t have many Asian clients at the moment, and here in the Philippines, the manga industry and publications is just starting up. Most of the few manga being published are cheesy love stories, so I guess it might take a little more time and market tests before other genres make it big here. 

Continues onto Part 2…

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