Allison Strom is a talented illustrator whose latest work can be seen in Vera Greentea’s independent comic Recipes for the Dead: Issue 2. Read on to learn how she incorporates Copics into her process and find out where you may be able to meet her in person:
Tell us about yourself!
I was born in New Orleans. I was probably drawing at the time, and then just sort of kept at it for going on 25 years. I think when I was growing up I wanted to do covers for fantasy novels like the ones my older sister and my dad read – Like the ones with big elaborate dragons and explosions and battleships and stuff. That was basically my entire impression of illustration until I started going to school at MCAD.
Do you have any formal art training?
I’m currently pursuing a degree in Illustration at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, but I’ve also been working as a freelance illustrator since before I enrolled back in 2007. It’s slow going! But both are excellent teachers, and although learning to find a balance between them is rough, it’s been worth the stress so far. Being at MCAD has been like learning how to speak after years of thinking I already knew how, and I love seeing how my experiences at school translate into my work outside of class.
When did you first become interested in creating comics?
To be totally honest, I thought I’d finally scared myself away from it. I always liked the idea of drawing comics, but it wasn’t until I took Jim Keefe’s Intro Comics class that I really started to find my footing with creating them. From there, it sat in the back of my mind until I got the script from Vera for Recipes for the Dead. Then it basically took over my brain.
What’s the most challenging thing about working on a comic series?
I like to be able to spend eons lovingly tailoring a piece of work. But with comics, that’s got to be the entire book, not any individual panel. It’s so hard for me to let a drawing go and just move on to the next!
The comic you’re collaborating with Vera Greentea on, Recipes for the Dead, raised over $9,000 on Kickstarter – more than quadruple the fundraising goal. How did it feel to have such a positive response to the project?
It would almost be scary, except it’s completely wonderful. It makes me hate the fact that I’m not more experienced, because I want this to be the best thing I’ve ever made.
Do you prefer traditional or digital media?
I spent a lot of time as a primarily digital artist working in Photoshop, but I was starting to feel like I spent all my life in front of a monitor. Nowadays, I like using digital media to enhance a foundation drawing or coloring made with traditional media. I love to work out of my sketchpad for as much of a piece as I can get away with. I use pencil mostly, but also pens, ink, watercolor, charcoal, pastels, colored pencils; it’s always switching around. I think that’s what I like the best about making art: You can always find another way to do something, or undo something, in a worst-case scenario.
Describe how you incorporate Copics into your work:
I use Copics to add tone and texture to my inks before they go to color. Sometimes I use warm grays to set the temperature of the light throughout the scene, that way the shaded picture doesn’t come out looking “shiny”. I’ll go through after that with cool grays to work up shadows and depth, and maybe to describe form here and there. Finally, I use Photoshop to add color and maybe a few more textures, if I feel like there’s a space that needs a little roughing up. I try not to let this part overpower the drawing underneath, and to keep it so that the finished piece still keeps all of the expression and liveliness of the scanned original. It is always tempting to just fix a picture to death!
What are you working on right now? Any personal projects?
I love making storyboard animatics. I feel like it’s a medium stuck between comic and animation, and it’s extremely expressive. I’m currently poking at an idea for a short project about a ghost who lives in an abandoned lighthouse. It’s not getting finished any time soon with my current workloads, but it’s something I enjoy coming back to whenever I can find time. It’s not really for anything special either. I just think its important to have something like that, where there’s no pressure and you can just enjoy it no matter how long it takes to pan out.
Aside from that, I’m always working on new artwork to sell at Anime Conventions I attend. It’s fun designing buttons and posters of my characters from various stories I’ve got no idea how I’ll ever write. I love them anyway.
Any exhibitions or shows coming up?
I’m going to be at Anime Detour and Animinneapolis this year, both in Minneapolis MN. I’m also trying to get into A-kon in Dallas TX, and Mecha Con in New Orleans LA, but we’ll see what happens!
Find Allison on the web: