Hello again everyone! We at Neko’s Shiritori had the wonderful opportunity to interview the lovely Belindraw from Southern California! She draws art for a hobby and is quite the fun person to interact with. Her drawing style stands out rather uniquely, yet she is rather flexible in the way she draws like a jack of all trades. She’s proactive and willing to help customers, with an attitude that feels very warm. Here is the interview I had with her below!
Belindraw: Hi! Thanks for this fun opportunity! I’m very excited!! Let’s get started.
From your art history, it is known that you started drawing due to your sister sweetie-moon. When did your art surge date back as far as? To that extent, when did you take the next step in art to have it as a business?
My sister used to have me sell her drawings at school!! (laughs) I’ve always been envious of artists that would sell their work at conventions…So one day I happened upon a local anime convention that was selling their 3-day artist alley booth for only $20! I figured I had nothing to lose so I went for it. I totally underpriced my art and ended up really overwhelmed with orders. I even got scolded by another artist when she saw how overworked I was. After two successful years at that convention, I took a deep breath and told myself I would “compete with the big leagues” at Anime Expo! I was so scared!!! I even told myself if I didn’t break even, I would never try selling there again…But I did way better than I expected!
You currently use SAI as your digital tool, but you used to use Photoshop. How would you say your art tools evolved into its current state?
My tools for traditional art were always the usual grab-whatever’s-nearest-to-me tool (like a pencil or a sharpie or something) for drawing. It would be dangerous because the tools felt so familiar, I would be taking notes one second and doodling the next! It’s so easy to lose focus because of that ;_;. I use Copic markers to color, but only because my first ever commissions were done on fabric and Copics seemed to be the best choice for that.
My digital art tools changed radically though! Up until 2 years ago, I was using the smallest available Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet (‘cause it was the cheapest tablet I could find at the time). But I got really fed up working with it so I bought a 12” Cintiq UX. Best purchase I ever made! I don’t like Photoshop anymore because my computer is stupid and can’t handle it without freaking out. I prefer SAI over it anyway though since the lineart comes out really nicely on it!
I’ve noticed that the impact level your pencil sketches provide have the strongest intensity level. You mentioned before that when you have a visual in mind, you can procure an image the best through a sketch as it is the swiftest and most accurate. Does drawing traditional provide you a zone that you don’t necessarily have when drawing digital?
It used to! Until I got my Cintiq you could really see a difference in my digital and traditional arts, even though I approach both methods with the same mindset.
I think there’s a difference in “intensity” because digital art is too forgiving! There’s no CTRL + Z in real life so if I make a mess up on a line with a traditional sketch, the erased version will still show up, or I’ll just draw bunch of extra lines to make up for that mistake. But if I mess up with digital art, I can keep erasing or undo-ing until I’m satisfied.
Because of that ability to clean up my drawings so easily, I always feel more inclined to be stricter with myself when drawing digitally. So in the end, the digital arts always look more refined, while my traditional arts are done in a more “eh, good enough” style.
With real life factoring in, the rate of play of games is much less. What influences your art nowadays? Anything from the past still resonates in your style to this day?
It’s true that I don’t play as many games anymore, but I still love to see art and character designs for those games I’m missing out on! My siblings still play so they show me any cool stuff to inspire me. So while I don’t quite understand WHAT I’m drawing, as long as the design is cute I’ll typically draw it!
I love love love music and use it as inspiration all day every day!!! To me, the lyrics to a song are more important than the melody. I’m very easily inspired…. I like to pick and choose bits of lyrics I like and draw my own interpretations! Sometimes some real life events will show up in my drawings as well! I like to share events like holidays, anniversaries, or when I buy new outfits~ *(*´ ∀｀*)☆
To spice things up, I like to use original characters as a gateway of putting myself in situations and events that would never happen, then asking myself “how would I react in this situation?” The OCs that my sister and I have now, Belindraw and Sweetmoon, are pretty much an exaggerated persona of us two. It’s fun that way because we also get to design fun outfits we could never wear in person and do stuff we can’t normally do!
I recall AX 2013 was the last artist alley that you applied for. While seeing you for the last time was quite a bang, that doesn’t mean the artist in you is gone. What’s the next step you have planned?
To me, drawing was never supposed to be anything more than a hobby. I’m not really pursuing art as a career (I’m going for accounting instead whoopee). However, I’ll say if the right circumstances fall into place, and I play my cards right, you might see my drawings guest in well-known places!!!
But for now, it’ll just be work on boring real life stuff and continuing drawing to maintain my sanity!
How did Belindaism come to manifest?
Haha!! Belindaism was a little inside joke that I made with my friends back in highschool. It’s part parody of organized religion and part fan club! It’s got an official Bible-scriber, loyal Belindaists, and cult events like wearing a tie on January 31st to celebrate the birth of the great Belinda.
Do you still play IIDX actively?
Oh goodness… No matter how many times I play that game, I just stay really bad at it! I pretty much stopped playing it because the arcade I used to frequent has shut down (to those in the SoCal area, it was called Arcade Infinity). There are other arcades nearby that have the game, and I play it when I’m in the area but I never actively go out just to play it like I used to.
IIDX has done sooo much for me though! I befriended 2 coworkers at my old job through a mutual love for the game (they are really amazing at that game!). It’s also thanks to that game that I met my boyfriend! ♥
Still listen to supercell?
I still listen to their old songs! But after they replaced Nagi, they got kind of ehh. These days I’m more into DECO*27, livetune, and Hachi/Kenshi Yonezu! I may have stopped listening to the music, but the illustrators of supercell (Shirow Miwa, redjuice, and huke) still continue to inspire me today. My favorite song of theirs is Hero.
MMOs you used to actively play had both chibi-sized characters and somewhat normal-sized characters. What is it about about the avatars in MMO’s that draw you in visually that allows you to expand your artistic imagination? Does the same apply to any other games that you play, whether it’s the music score, the overall ambiance, the background design, or some other variable in the composition of the game?
I used to play MMOs just to collect gears and dress up my character!! I was never really interested in the PvP or guild wars part. I remember in RO I made a guild called the “cutie pies” in which everyone’s title was a cute-sounding pastry (laugh).
MMO sprites are so customizable these days! So I always make sure to dress my avatar up in the cutest equipment I can find and draw tons and tons of fan art for them before I quit. The most important and exciting part is putting a personality into the character. You can have two identical looking avatars but if the personalities are different, they can look like 2 entirely different characters!
Which leads me to my next point and the next part of your question. When I take in another person’s creation—whether it be music, character design, game compositions—I see it as a foundation for me to work off. For me, I draw for whatever will fit into the vibe I’m trying to have the picture give off. I guess in a way I’m putting my own interpretation of the creation I’m working off of. Everything is an invitation for fan art! (unless the original artist says no :[ )
Your art has grown in many years in many ways. What do you feel has improved the most that you have been satisfied with regarding your own style, and what do you feel still has room for improvement? Are there long term art goals that you have?
I think the one thing people tell me they like the best is the expressions I would give the characters. I like to use drawing to vent emotions, so you can count on my characters being just as emotional as I’m feeling as I draw the picture! You can usually see me posing half-heartedly or mimicking the character’s face as I draw it. (Pretty embarrassing in public settings…)
It doesn’t bother me too much but I don’t have as good of a grasp as I’d like on anatomy. I have a basic idea of what to do, but I usually end up drawing heads too big and legs too long. I also want to learn to color!!!!! I’m so bad at it. 😦
As we get older, we also get wiser. What kind of advice would you give for aspiring artists that look up to you as an artist?
My advice to all artists is to stop comparing your work to what you see from your friends and online. When you go on sites like DA, pixiv, or tumblr, it’s really easy to get caught up in the “why can’t I draw like that” mindset. Well, it’s because you have no patience! Learning to draw doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a very gradual process that takes a lot of time and dedication—even if it’s just a hobby.
What I do instead when I see those amazing pictures on the web is think “I like how the artist did xxx” and save it as a potential reference/inspiration piece. Then, when I’m at an artblock I’ll look back at it later and see if I can figure out how they did it. Each time you learn something new from something you saw online, you’re only bettering yourself! You take a few elements from each technique you’ve learned and combine it to form your own style.
As, you draw more and more, your style is slowly fixed and refined to what feels and looks right to you. After a while, you can look back on your old work when you were first learning and feel a little better about yourself!!!
Also, have supportive (but constructive) friends besides you at all times!
We thank you for your time to be interviewed by us!
That was fun! Thanks for the interview 🙂