Graphic Artists - One on One.
Capture. Create. Express.
The quotation Mitsuki likes to use, an aspiring graphic artist residing in Southern California. Sheís a realist in her own ways, art being a big passion. Mitsuki calls herself a jack of all trades, ranging from traditional art, digital art, and photography.
A cool fact to start this interview with is that she started back in 2007 and has now created over 300 signatures, avatars, icons, wallpapers and banners. Sheís personally one of those artists you say ďYouĒ to. Admiration for her graphic art is only a simple way of putting it. A truly inspirational artist, and we get the chance to have a detailed one on one chat.
Let's start this off! We all know youíre a pretty creative lady, what inspired you to get started with graphics?
At the time, there were a few individuals on the forum who inspired me to start GFX. Lirael was actually one of them. Iím pretty decent with traditional art and paintings, so I figured I might as well explore this type of art at a different angle -- something that was new and challenging to me. It took some time to get used to, and I did give up the first time. Months later, I saw the graphics section booming with activity, so I started asking members for advice. Itís a wonder how the most simple questions can invoke a mindís creativity.
What was the first program you used, and what did you end up with?
I used CS2 when I first started. Lots of memories and fun times with that one. A year or two later (I honestly canít remember now), I switched to CS3. I am now using CS6. Itís the same old stuff, with cooler interface and additional features. I also use Photoshop CC, Creative Content.
On your website you state that you occasionally participate in online contests, aside from our own Signature of the Week, what are some competitions you can tell us a little more about?
Thereís only a few so far. I like to check out this website called 99Designs every so often. Last year, a company was hosting a logo design contest -- Japan Aquaponics. The company was founded after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a few years ago, and they donate almost all of their profits to assist communities in northern Japan. I wanted to participate, not only because the concept intrigued me, but the whole subject was enough to make that effort worthwhile. I knew I was competing with professional artists who have designed hundreds of logo in their sleep.
A week later, after coming up with my own original design and working with my new tablet, I realized I wasnít going to make the deadline. Moreover, I didnít know enough information or the general rule of thumb when it came to creating official logos for a company. In short, I should have started it on Adobe Illustrator instead of Photoshop. That was the biggest mistake. It was too late to start over, but I really wanted to finish the project. Iím glad I did. (You can check the logo out here!)
Thereís other little side projects. I have participated in a few contests at deviantArt. Banners for Facebook pages and Twitch.tv are other examples. They did offer to pay me for my service, but I turned it down. Iím too nice.
In honesty, I donít think I deserve to be paid for something I consider as a hobby for now. It wouldnít settle right with me. Iím nowhere near professional.
A topic I am usually concerned about is non-constructive feedback. While we see that a lot of artists have a respectful way of bringing things, or rather, a constructive way, how do you feel about those that Ďbashí the artist, giving non-constructive feedback?
Oh, this topic. Ah, what can I say? I donít like it at all. It takes years for someone to develop and care for their own art. Unfortunately, it takes a few seconds for that to be shattered, even if they are confident people. The old excuse, ďWell they need to learn to take criticisms anywayĒ isnít doing anything good, especially if thereís nothing constructive about it. Thatís just a cover-up for being harsh. I donít care if they are the most renowned artists on the planet, but itís very off-putting. Thereís a certain tone and care for words when providing feedback. If artists donít recognize or understand this, then they are in no position to offer anything useful, so they might as well put a lid on it.
Usually, you have very detailed signatures. Do you have a certain thought process of how things should be done when you start on a signature or do you go with the flow, how do you pick your resources?
I never actually have a specific design in mind when I start a signature. So you could say I just go with the flow. Thereís tons of mistakes along the way, so even if I had a design in mind when I begin, Iíll always find a reason to change something. Thereís no point in thinking too much when it comes to this. My eyes will often be the deciding factor in the end... and probably the one to lead.
I usually find resources on deviantArt or Google. GFXResource is also a fantastic place.
Hereís a few quickies: Favourite brush, favourite gradient map, favourite filter, favourite canvas sizes?
Favorite brush: Soft round brush. Like I said, mistakes are plenty.
Favorite gradient map: Black & White. Purple and orange comes close.
Favorite filter: Gaussian Blur.
Favorite canvas sizes: 420 x 200 | 450 x 230 | 400 x 220Ö I really am just spouting random numbers here. Iíve never given this much thought before!
How would you like to be perceived by others?
Iím not sure what this means. Can you elaborate?
Well, some people like others to view them in a certain way, have their work Ďreceivedí by others in certain ways. Would you want people to notice the amount of details you put into your work? Would you like to be recognized for certain things you do with your signatures is what it means, really.
Thatís an interesting question. Iíve never really put too much weight on how others should recognize my work. The greatest thing about art in general is that once completed, people will view or define certain elements on their own. It isnít just about how my eyes view the pieces and expect others to view or understand the same. One aspect that amazes me is when I produce a piece, a few people would point out something about my work that Iíve never noticed before, whether it be positive or constructive. So Iíve been open-minded about this.
Yes, Iíve heard many times before that my work is generally Ďdarkerí, and while thatís true, Iíve never really defined my work like that, leaving it to themes and colors. Itís all about providing ideas, words, and images, then selecting these materials to make it Ďfití.
Even though youíre high up the ladder yourself, who do you look up to? What do you like seeing in graphic artists?
I donít necessarily see myself being high up the ladder. This ladder is endless. Anything can happen. Iíd like to think I simply joined others on the racetrack and weíre all just cruising along. What someone may lack in horsepower, makes up with finesse. Um, probably not the best example, but you get the gist.
So with that, I do have a few favorite artists from here. Lewis, Coco, and Six. (Why, hey itís you! Haha). You guys have been my main inspiration for the longest time now. (Kira -- also because you keep nagging me to enter SOTWs and try to entice me with all these GFX clan talk).
Hah, well someoneís gotta do it!
I love to see intelligence in an artistís work, more than anything. Itís so easy to drag resources in a canvas, do a few tricks here, and produce a signature. But how do you apply the resources and have it make sense? Granted, art doesnít have to make any sense -- Andrew Pollack, anyone? How do you create 'simple' from something 'complicated' and still portray 'clarity'? How do you ensure that you avoid producing effects without substance? I guess those are the main examples and qualities I look for. If careful consideration shows in your work, then Iím sold.
Lets dive in to something simple. Are there colours you dislike working with? Which colours are your strength?
Thereís not a single color in the color spectrum that I dislike. My favorite colors to work with are earthy tones. Dark, grey, green, brown, red, and orange. It may seem boring when you think about it, but I love these shabby colors. Give them a little touch and it can brighten my day just like any brighter colors.
What is your time frame when making graphics?
Depends on what Iím doing and if I keep changing clothes like Iím on my first date. In that case, a little over two hours. But normally, Iíd say an hour and a half. Nothing less.
Youíre helping out with making a video game, can you tell us a little more about that?
Well, itís not actually a video game, but rather a mobile game. Or app game. Nothing fancy. Iím helping out my brother-in-law and friend. The main challenge right now is that our programmer friend lives 25 miles from us, so itís hard to actually get a solid feel for anything yet. That and not having the proper equipments. I donít have the full program for 3D Studio Max (nor am I familiar with it), for example.
I created a background concept for it using Photoshop and tablet, but itís mainly just that - concepts, drafts. My brother-in-law who has experience in video gaming design, is the one leading this. He has already produced some mockup, 2D layouts, and recently, test renders. Iím not sure where I fit in the picture yet, except bouncing off ideas and art concepts.
What do you do to stay motivated, refreshing and creative with your graphics?
Listening to music and generally just being around you folks. Iíll check out the SOTWs too, even if I donít enter majority of times. Sometimes Iíll read around the web for anything graphics related, although not necessarily tutorials because I donít have the patience for them.
I also love chatting to a few individuals about GFX on Skype, particularly Lewis and you, Kira!
Surrounding yourself with people who love the same thing that you do is always a key for motivation and inspiration. I told Lewis a few months ago that one of these days, we should gather a group of GFX artists from the forums and have a relaxed day of graphics talk. Forget the issues on the forum for a few days, etc. Just chill, really.
And then thereís the best method for creativity: experiment. I canít stress that enough. Just take a few days with Photoshop, open up a canvas and explore the tools. Donít upload anything for anyone to see. It doesnít hurt to keep a few work for your eyes only. Itís amazing how much you can do knowing youíre working for your own pleasure and not anyone else.
...And that's another wrap, people! I'd like to thank Mitsuki for the kind words, I'm personally flattered, and a huge thank you for wanting to do this interview. You're a truly inspirational artist and friend, so it was an absolutely honour being the one doing this!