Interview with *chirart
<thefluffyshrimp> Welcome to ASKtheARTIST. My name is ~thefluffyshrimp and today I have the great privilege to interview *chirart, a very talented comic artist and creator of many well-known works on deviantART, including Sfeer Theory and The Fox Sister.
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you for presenting us with this opportunity to interview you, Chirart.
<chirart> My pleasure! Thank you for considering me!
<thefluffyshrimp> ~StrifeLaughter asks "About how much of your day is devoted to drawing?"
<chirart> Quite a lot of it. I keep thinking the day is longer than 24 hours and sleep isn't THAT important, is it?
<chirart> On average I'd say ten to fifteen hours is dedicated to drawing a day.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sentimentale asks "You mentioned Diana Wynne Jones as an inspiration. How has she affected your story-telling style?"
<chirart> Diana Wynne Jones definitely plays a major inspiration in my artwork and storytelling. I think the feelings I resonate with her work is that childhood melancholy we all experience, and that children face things that are darker and scarier adults give us credit for.
<chirart> And, of course, a good healthy dose of magic.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~nixkickin asks "How do you choose your color palette?"
<chirart> I try to lean on very basic color theory principles... All the ones you're taught in a grade 8 art class. Contrasting colors, the emotional impact of some colors, warm versus cool colors, the works.
<chirart> I try to go for emotional impact than what makes sense, so color remains extremely relative.
<thefluffyshrimp> =gongjins asks "I know every artist works differently, so if you don't mind me asking, what is your comic process like from script to finish?"
<chirart> Well, I don't write my scripts for one! I work with Alex Singer on Sfeer Theory and Christina Strain on The Fox Sister. They both have very different ways of approaching the script. Alex has been my best friend for years now, and we collaborate evenly on our stories, so working on her scripts is very intuitive for me. Christina, however, I have a business relationship with, so she's very precise about what she wants, which I like.
<chirart> In both cases, I do thumbnails and run it by the writers, and they either give me the green light to proceed to draw the finished lines, or they tell me suggestions and fixes to make.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~rabbityak90 asks "Is there anything you've found really difficult to get the hang of drawing?"
<chirart> Besides drawing itself? Well, I guess my biggest challenge is getting a hang of what I'm capable of, and knowing when to stop and rest.
<thefluffyshrimp> What about objects/forms? Are there any in particular that you found difficult to draw?
<chirart> I don't find myself very strong in terms of sci-fi settings--so architecture, vehicles, technology.
<chirart> I haven't given a lot of opportunity for myself to study/learn that yet.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~StrifeLaughter asks "Have you ever considered other art forms? Even outside of visual mediums?"
<chirart> Oh absolutely... Actually as a child I did a little bit of everything. I did music, I did sculpture, I did dance, I was in choir. I was terrible at all of it but I had fun. More than anything, though, I wanted to be a writer! I never got the hang of prose narrative and ended up falling on drawing, somehow.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Alerane asks "What's it like to update multiple ongoing comics? Does having deadlines for yourself help keep them organized?"
<chirart> Having deadlines helps keep things moving, definitely, although while I'm an organized person by nature, with my art I can't seem to be. It's such a creative and arbitrary process. I make a schedule and I try to stick by it as close as I can, but there's no way to plan "why can't I focus!?" days
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sentimentale asks "What is your process like for creating new characters?" and ~pepechka asks "I think many fans would like to know how, when designing the looks of original characters, you pick out certain physical traits. Basically, how much are they based on your initial mental image in proportion to deliberate design choices? (Besides making everyone dreamy.)"
<chirart> I try to make every original character recognizable, iconic, and unique, and the key to being unique is to embrace features that media everywhere is telling you is ugly.
<chirart> I firmly believe that what stands out is memorable, so to make everything beautiful is to make everything conformed and unrecognizable.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~P-the-wanderer asks "Do you think you could have been where you are if you didn't meet Muun, your artistic partner?"
<chirart> I think my life would've been sadder, and I wouldn't be drawing at all, if it wasn't for Muun.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~ri-el asks "Do you draw inspiration from real-life experiences and try to incorporate them into your comics?"
<chirart> As much as I can. The more I go through in my own life, the better it connects me to characters and motivations I may not have understood before.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Melancholy-Minds asks "Hello, my fellow Canadian! I was wondering if you've had any formal artistic training and if so, would you tell us which art school you attended?"
<chirart> I consider myself self-taught. I had no real formal training in art. I took a grade 8 art course in high school, which I hated and vowed never to take art again. I also took animation for 3 months in 2007. I stayed just long enough to draw my bouncing ball and then dropped out.
<chirart> So I did my best figuring things out on my own like a chump.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Zachula asks "Did you notice anything in your art that caused your fame?" and *DustBunny-Studios asks "How do you advertise and promote both yourself and your work to get such a large readership?"
<chirart> Haha I think my viewers will have a better idea than I do... I really have no idea why so many people bother looking at my work. I actually have a hard time handling the spotlight, so often times I don't think about it.
<chirart> I'm grateful, all the same.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Melancholy-Minds asks "Which digital program and tablet do you primarily use for your works?"
<chirart> I use a Wacom Intuos 3 6x8" tablet— had this one for about five years now. I primarily do my line-work in Open Canvas 4.06E Plus and I color using Adobe Photoshop CS3.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sentimentale asks "Has art always been a passion for you or was it something you stumbled across later?"
<chirart> It always has. I painted all the time growing up, and I was obsessed with animated movies. I grew up in Paris, so going to the Louvre was my equivalent of going to the carnival... Painting and drawing that well was like magic to me, I didn't think any ordinary human could do that — because I kept trying and I couldn't!
<chirart> Still, I decided very early on that the one thing I did NOT want to be was an artist... So it took me a while to embrace being one.
<thefluffyshrimp> What reasons did you have to be hesitant about being an artist at first, and what "won you over" later?
<chirart> I hated the "starving artist" imagery. You see it in every movie and TV show and comic book ever. The answer was clear: if you're an artist you'll be poor and miserable! That seemed so stupid to me, why would anyone want to be that way?
<chirart> So I decided to be a writer, because clearly they make a lot of money, right?
<chirart> But lo and behold, I ended up being an artist, anyway. If anything won me over, it was Muun. I just believed in her writing and stories so much, she constantly inspired me, so I kept drawing for her.
<chirart> And somehow this became more and more of a thing.
<chirart> (Muun being Alex Singer, for clarification.)
<chirart> (The writer of Sfeer Theory--that's her nickname.)
<thefluffyshrimp> ~MysteryCreator asks "What kind of advice would you tell beginner web artists who want to go into the business?"
<chirart> Oh, god, I'm so not the right person to ask for that, I'm terrible at business.
<chirart> In fact, business gives me so much anxiety! I'm still trying to figure that part out myself.
<chirart> I guess one thing I can say is: don't let people convince you your art (and the time it takes to make it) isn't worth the value you think it is.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~CharisJB asks "Do you have other aspirations aside from being a webcomic artist?"
<chirart> I'd like to study history and languages more.
<chirart> I'd like to go to school and major in history one day. Properly.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~ri-el asks "Fox Sister is absolutely gorgeous in print! What company prints your books?"
<chirart> You'll have to ask Christina that one — I think she goes with Global? Which I believe is stationed in China. Don't quote me on that. For Sfeer Theory, Alex and I went with Transcontinental, stationed in Montreal.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Jashiku asks "Do you read any webcomics? If so, what are some of your favourites?"
<chirart> I do, and I have a whole list of new ones to read. But the ones I keep up with are TJ and Amal, Knights-Errant, Starfighter, and Oglaf. Sometimes I remember to catch up with Penny Arcade.
<chirart> There's a bunch of others... Just need the time to catch up properly.
<thefluffyshrimp> *DustBunny-Studios asks "When you create your comics that are a little more... Raunchy, is that just something for yourself or is it similar to your other work that are scripted by another person?"
<chirart> Hmm. Well, to clarify, with the exception of paid work (The Fox Sister, commissions), all the art I draw is for myself. If you mean that I draw it to whack off to, that's a huge no! I mean... it's really hard to find something erotic when you're busy redrawing a panel 6 times and haven't slept for a day.
<chirart> But I think drawing sex is fun.
<chirart> It's like drawing people interacting, or drawing a fight scene — it's another form of human communication and connection.
<chirart> So it's another way to explore emotional dynamics between characters.
<chirart> Also it's a great way to tackle anatomy.
<chirart> And like most comics I draw, if it's with Muun (Alex Singer) then it's just another story or a snapshot of a story we want to share. It's all fun, to me.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Ann-Cygnus asks "Chira, I think you mentioned that you're the only artistic person in your family? As the only person who is making a living from art in your family, what sort of challenges do you face?"
<chirart> About the same challenges as anyone living on their own: how to manage time, money, and social life.
<chirart> My family has always been really supportive of me and my art, I don't think that'd be any different if I pursued something else.
<thefluffyshrimp> *licchan asks "Do you dream of seeing your comic animated? If so, do you have any specific style in mind or studio you'd specifically want to do it for you?"
<chirart> I only see my work animated in my style, otherwise what's the point? But it's not really something I think about, if I have to be honest.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Anime723 asks "Do you believe your process of drawing is more methodical, casual, or just somewhere in between?"
<chirart> It depends. With comic/sequential work, I definitely pursued developing a method. It's not rigid, but it's enough of one to keep things consistent, to plan, and to keep things going at a decent pace. When I do illustrations, though, it's my excuse to try something new.
<chirart> To me, if I don't do something new with every illustration I do then I'm wasting my time.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~CondescendingArthole asks "You are an inspiration in both your views on storytelling and artistic abilities; as an aspiring artist and a writer, how can I improve on my storytelling, and making them into something that's convincing and something that an audience would enjoy?"
<chirart> A lot of people ask me about how I lay out my pages or tips on storytelling. I wish I could give a precise answer, but if it helps, a lot of my technique actually comes from studying Film Studies.
<chirart> I'm a huge fan of cinematography, and the language of movies.
<chirart> And I heavily rely on director techniques in my visual storytelling.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sentimentale asks "Who among your characters is the most fun to draw?"
<chirart> All of them? If a character isn't fun for me to draw, I just... don't draw them. But I love all the characters I design, so!
<thefluffyshrimp> *DustBunny-Studios asks "How do you keep yourself motivated?"
<chirart> I think about the stories I want to tell with Alex and how much I believe in them.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~SunshineNine asks "You're really amazing at showing movement with your drawings. How do you think you developed that skill?"
<chirart> Well first of all, thank you! As for your question: I was really lazy. I see things in my head as fully animated movements or sequences, but I don't have the patience to be an animator, so it became more of "how much can I pack into a single drawing, because that's all I'm going to do."
<thefluffyshrimp> ~invisibleinnocence asks "How do you achieve such beautiful gradients in your color work? Do you use a gradient tool?"
<chirart> I make sweet romantic love to my gradient tool.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Zachula asks "If you were stuck drawing one thing for eternity, what would want it be?"
<chirart> Sfeer Theory, I imagine.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Ann-Cygnus asks "What are some of your pet peeves about character design in animated films, shows and non-superhero comics?"
<chirart>The lack of diversity in female characters.
<chirart> People are unwilling to draw female characters who aren't conventionally attractive, and they're willing to take less risks in their character design, and it's appalling.
<chirart> You open up an average character design book and they show you all sorts of diverse types for guys... but all the girls have the same body-type and face but different hair.
<chirart> And it's not just in films but it's warped the audience perception of what to expect from female character designs too.
<chirart> I constantly try to make every girl as different and unique as possible, and if they differ from that normal feminine look often people tell me I draw them too masculine or not girly enough.
<chirart> And I think that's really sad.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~Sentimentale asks "I've seen on Tumblr that you're pretty passionate about women owning their sexuality. Do you ever intend to feature that sort of thing in a story?"
<chirart> Absolutely. It's something Alex and I are very passionate about.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~CondescendingArthole asks "I just want to say thanks for taking out some time today to answer some questions and do this interview! As for my question, and maybe just an opinion would suffice, but how does one really put themselves out there and get their work recognized, or how do you know that what you're doing will resonate with an audience? I've written stories that are interesting to me, and a few friends, but how do I make something that can really be rooted into a reader and make them connect or admire something I've done?"
<chirart> Honestly? Don't worry about your audience.
<chirart> I'm a weirdo in that I never bothered or cared if anyone read my stuff
<chirart> All I cared about is if I was proud of it and if Alex was proud of it.
<chirart> I was happy just sharing it with friends.
<chirart> Somehow people took notice, though.
<chirart> What's important is if it resonates with you, it'll likely resonate with someone else out there.
<thefluffyshrimp> *Ouffi asks "You have a very unique art style that I simply adore. What are your main inspirations for your art?"
<chirart> Disney, anime, manga, French comics, a lot of my artist friends... Blacksad is a huge inspiration to me. Tarzan (the Disney movie) probably was the reason I started taking art seriously because it's pure magic.
<thefluffyshrimp> ~CharisJB asks "Do you happen to know your Myer-Briggs personality type?"
<chirart> I tested myself once every couple of years using different questionnaires and I've consistently been INTJ.
<thefluffyshrimp> Alright everyone! The official interview with *chirart is now complete! I want to thank you all for joining us today and for supporting the ASKtheARTIST project.
<thefluffyshrimp> Please check out Chirart's work at the following sites --> littlefoolery.com, sfeertheory.littlefoolery.com and thefoxsister.com
(You can go there right now --> [link] , [link] and [link] )
<thefluffyshrimp> Thank you again, *chirart for the privilege to interview you today, and for your patience and dedication in answering so many fan questions for our ASKtheARTIST event!
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<thefluffyshrimp> And a special thanks goes out to tonight's moderator who recorded the interviews for us, ~Melancholy-Minds!
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