Welcome to the latest edition of the DCG Artist Spotlight.
Our victim today is the lovely Iina Kojonen, aka Miss Jellybrain!
Comics2Film (C2F): How did you get startedin art?
Iina Kojonen (IK):The same way as mostpeople do, I supppose: realising that the crayon is supposed to go ontothe paper instead of the mouth.
C2F: What software/tools/etc do you use?
IK:Just photoshop, I've never even tried anything else. Well, I did try poser once, but it mademe homicidal after about five minutes.
C2F: What is your background in art?
IK:I'm self-taught, meaning that I've never studied art outside the rather useless lessions atschool. Having always been the class cartoonist as a kid, I started developing my drawingskills more seriously when I was about fourteen after picking up the Batman: Black andWhite anthology and seeing all the different art styles in it. I started doing manipsin 2002 when promo pictures of that unfortunate Birds of Prey show came out. I wanted to seehow Mia Sara would look in a harlequin costume so I just read all the tutorials in the DCGartschool and gave it my best shot.
C2F:What's your favourite part of doing a manip?
IK:It's probably the hair & makeup department where Model X ceases to be Model X and istransformed into Character Z.
C2F:What do you consider to be your best work?
IK:My Ra's Al Ghulpic is pretty good in terms of hair, makeup and lighting (the costuming sucks,though). I think I also succeed in making the potentially boring portrait look relativelyinteresting. I also like my X-mas 2003 picand a Flamebird picI did aeons ago, because they looklike snapshots of the characters' lives. I should do stuff like that more often.
C2F:You have to redo one of your early manips or suffer eternal torment. (Well, okay, just afew years' torment... we'll be lenient). Which one do you choose and why?
IK:I've actually thought about redoing my transgender bat-rogues pic as a series. That wouldinvolve some really creative casting though, as I want the women to look every bit as deformedas their male counterparts (suggestions are welcome).
C2F:What annoys you the most about manipped images?
IK:The lack of mood or personality in a lot of manips. Of course that isn't a huge surprise in anartform where you digitally manipulate pictures somebody else took into characters somebody elsecreated, but when I look at a picture I'd still like to see something of the artist in it.
C2F:Who are your favourite DCG artists?
IK:God, a lot of people. The two guys that have influenced my work the most areEssex andMarrow2000.Marrow's work has that beautiful painted look I'm always trying to mimick (invain), and nobody does hair and makeup like him. And Essex is just an idol to me. I mean I'dwear Essex pajamas if they made them. Even though there might be artists with (gasp!) evenmore technical skill, I've never seen anyone bring more raw emotion into their pictures. Tome his manips are like Alan Moore's comics, they make the whole genre look more respectableand worthwhile. I also have tremendous respect forWelshcat andBill Turner,and just about anyone who does scenes. Who else...Zac,Mystic Morgan,kev_incal,devilbunny,Weapon Xjust to name a few... And you,B,I've always thought our styles are pretty similar.
C2F:On a similar note, who are your favourite mainstream and/or comic book artists?
IK:I like everything that is bold, angular, stylished. In comics my biggest influencesare probably Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola and Bill Sienkiewicz. Lots of people in mainstreamart as well, for example I just discovered Tamara de Lempicka, whose paintings have preciselythe cool, sensual, dangerous mood I'm always trying to achieve.
C2F:What aspect of your work do you think sets it apart from the crowd?
IK:Looking at my early manips, I think I've always tried to convey some kind of mood in mypictures. And I do pretty good hair!
C2F:Conversely, what do you still have to work on?
IK:More than anything technical I need to work on my attitude towards creating artwork. I amthe queen of procrastination. It's probably because my self-image is so connected with whatI think and create: I want to be this tragic artist who goes through hell to bring the worldamazing pieces of art and to have each piece be a new milestone for myself and the humanity ingeneral. (And I am going to achieve this by digitally dressing actors in spandex.) On the otherhand, I have the attention span of your average four-year-old. So typically I start a piece thatis going to be the best manip ever, get distracted (or insecure about my ability to bring mybrilliant idea to life), start seven other manips, then after five months half-assedly finishthe first manip just for the sake of finishing something. I'm the same way with everything.Just look how long it took me to answer to these questions!
C2F:What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
IK:With manips, it's hard to say. Some of my stuff I'd even call very uninspired! But when I doget inspired it's usually because of great, eccentric characters I identify with. They can becomic book characters or actors or musicians or people I see on the bus. I want to get to knowthese characters so I do artwork of them to sort of spend time with them.
C2F:How do you start your images?
IK:On a good manip, where I actually know what I'm doing (and I unpleasantly often don't) itgoes something like this: Once I've decided on the character I scribble some thumbnail scetcheson paper to figure out the composition. This is usually the point where I decide on the casting.Then (and this is the part that I really hate) I go hunting for pictures. Once I've got thepicture(s) in Photoshop I make a layer where I very quickly draw in the outlines of the costume,hair etc. and the position of the light source. Then I just start manipping.
C2F:Does your choice of base model affect your final piece?
IK:It does, especially if the character has been around a long time and has been interpretedin a lot of different ways. I also have this weird distate for base pictures that are tooperfect: for example if I find a picture of a redhead standing seductively in front of agiant Venus Flytrap I won't use it for a Poison Ivy manip. I want my manips to look greatbecause of my work, not the photographer's.
C2F:Any advice for aspiring artists?
IK:If it itches, go see a doctor. (chaka-chaka-BOOM.) And uh... Read a lot of tutorials andtry to figure out how the great artists think. Personally I find walkthroughs more educatingthan tutorials that deal with a specific technique. It also really pays off to dabble indifferent medias. I think a turning point in my manips came when I started doing digitalpainting and applying the techniques I learned to manips. On the other hand, the costumingI do for manips has made me pretty good at drawing clothing on paper.
C2F:Who're your favourite comic book characters?
IK:I've loved Batman and his villains for as long as I can remember. Almost every one of themis an insane geek with a grugde, and that's something I can relate to. Other favouritesinclude Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellboy.
C2F:Your Scarlet Woman manip recently got raves in the first DCG Flashback feature. Whatwere you trying to achieve with this image? Did you succeed?
IK:I never did get around to thanking Dan, but I was amazed and deeply flatteredby his comments. (THANK YOU.) That said, I'm not terribly attatched to this picturemyself (not being very familiar with the character), even though it was somethingof a milestone for me. It was my first serious attempt at lighting and power effects,and I think I succeeded well enough on those areas. I can do much better hair andcostuming than that though.
The part of dperceful's comments that really made me think was where he said"It is rare that we see a manip of a female that is not overly sexual or that capturesthe character." Now, the way I see it, the way female characters are usually representedin manips and comics (well, popular culture in general) basically sucks. Maybe I should tryto do something about that.
For more of Iina's art, takea look at her DCG gallery.Essex pajamas probably won't be available in your local high street shop any time soon but,hey, there's always hope!
Interviewer: Blazej Szpakowicz