Mariana Costa


Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in a bunch of places! I was born in Brazil, I lived in Wisconsin for a couple years, and I’ve been living in Portugal since I was 10/11. I’ve always dreamed of working as a writer (haha, yeah, right) for a really popular comic series for children in Brazil called Turma da Mônica, but I only got genuinely interested in the drawing part of comics when I moved to America and found the manga section of the local bookshop chain. I got pretty obsessed with copying the characters and styles (to horrible results). But honestly, I think I’ve always wanted to make things. Creative things that could make me stand out somehow! I didn’t decide to become an artist until pretty recently, actually. I only got serious about drawing at around age 13, but I staunchly refused to call myself something as prestigious as an “artist”. I went by “hobbyist”, I went by “deviantart user”, heck I even went by “drawer”! Calling myself an artist and taking myself seriously and realised this probably isn’t a phase that’ll pass as soon as I reach a certain age happened fairly recently. 
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I don’t know how to answer this! I don’t like calling myself self-taught! I’ve had so many teachers, I just never went to an art school! I wouldn’t be where I am without learning from my peers and reading pages upon pages of tutorials and watching speedpaints until I fell asleep. I used to joke a lot that I was the worst kind of art thief because instead of copying a single piece of art I ripped off someone’s whole style, except it was a bunch of people, so nobody could call me out on it. I honestly still stand by this. My “skills” and my “style” are an amalgam of what I learn and mimic from other artists and my own personal tastes and sensibilities. Either way, even though I’ve looked into going to art school, because I do think it’s valuable to take whatever opportunity you have to learn even more, I’m a very passionate defender of kids who can’t afford the luxury of that kind of education, or who don’t live in a country where it’s even possible, and end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to networking and getting noticed.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I never told anyone I liked to draw. Or, well, of course people saw me doodling, and my parents know I like to Do Art Things, to an extent, but I’ve only told them about how I have a long-running webcomic because it’s part of my job. Also, because I was hundreds of miles away from them and speaking via Skype at the time. I don’t know. As far as my art and my comics go, I don’t like to advertise them. I’m not at all embarrassed by them, I just don’t like to talk about my work all that much, so I keep everything I do pretty hush-hush, even with close friends sometimes! I guess I’m just a private person. Of course the instances when I have told them about it they were supportive, in that goofy, awkward, parental way, hehe.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I guess this is kind of a clichéd answer, but I watched a lot of Studio Ghibli movies as a kid, as well as animated movies of the fantasy/speculative fiction genre in general. CLAMP also helped a lot with defining my aesthetic sensibilities, and it still does!

Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I like people! Especially girls. Telling stories is the biggest reason why I know how to draw in the first place, and I’ll always value characters over everything else in a story, so when it comes to mindless doodling, I’ll always gravitate to people! Expressions, poses, interactions, all that good stuff.

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
I haven’t had many Professional Design Opportunities yet, but as far as commissions go, I’m pretty confident what a client wants to see is my interpretation of a character, so I try not to worry about it too much. I get a bit nervous when the guidelines I’m given are too vague or allow me too much freedom, because I’d hate to disappoint, but overall I’m confident I was hired for a reason, and really it’s just a matter of following directions and putting out the best work you can!

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
Oof, colouring, my greatest weakness! For a very, very, very long time I was exclusive to Paint Tool SAI, but now that I use CSP for pretty much everything I can say the process has only changed slightly. Because I’m a pretty impatient person, my method consists of some pretty simple steps. I flat, I shade, and I highlight! My shading’s gotten a bit softer and I’ve learned a few lighting tricks here and there, but it’s still the simplest part of my entire process, just because I’ve never been comfortable with applying colour theory in any complex way. I guess if I had any specific tips, it’d be that there’s no shame in using multiply or overlay layers on your pictures if that’s what it takes for them to look better. Really! They’ve helped me a lot, and they’re just another tool!

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I love inking. If I could manage to land an inking job, I’d be overjoyed! It’s relaxing, it feels nice, you only need to use one kind of tool the entire time. I love it! On the other hand, flatting is a real pain! Just the thought of picking out colours gives me a headache, and it’s such a tedious process! I swear, I’d be updating my webcomics like 4 times a week if I didn’t have to flat the pages myself.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
This is an odd set of questions to lump together, but sure! My typical day consists of waking up, checking social media for a while and then getting started on work! I go to Uni for translation, which I guess is a pretty esoteric major for a comic artist to want, so when I’m not working I’m studying! Though I always try to take a little time off every day to watch an episode of an anime, or a youtube let’s player. I usually work solo! I’d love to do a collab with someone some day, but I’m a pretty insufferable person, so it’s understandable that the opportunity’s never come up! I’ve discussed doing a joint comic project with a friend a while ago, and we still love the idea very much, but we’ve just been too busy with our own projects to get it off the ground!! I won’t name any names in case they don’t want me to, but if I could rec their work I’d do it a million times over!!

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I guess not most proud of out of everything I’ve ever done, but recently I did some designs for a retelling of The Golden Bird fairytale that turned out pretty neat. You can see them HERE

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
Hoo boy! I’ve done a lot of stuff!! I’ve done short comics for the Ghost Book anthology, Purity anthology, Enough Space For Everyone Else anthology (this one still hasn’t launched!), The Other Side Anthology, and I have an upcoming piece in the Valor 2 Anthology! I’ve also done a few guest comics for Slipshine Studios (under a pen name). As for personal works, I have a whole bunch of short comics on, along with my longer, completed ones like Supermahou and The Well by the House on the Hill, and, of course, I have my ongoing webcomics, Peritale and Roji!
Right now, I’m also working on something pretty exciting I’ve wanted to try doing for a while. I’ve only just started though, but hopefully it’ll be finished by next year, and people will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I want to keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully to the point where I’d be able to make a living off it! I have a lot of fun drawing comics and telling stories! I think I’d be putting too much pressure on myself if I said I had only one Dream Project! I love all my stories, and I want to tell them all. The sooner I stop clinging to the idea of a “magnum opus”, the sooner I can start Just Do(ing) It. (But, secretly, I’ve always wanted to do character designs and art for a videogame)

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I have art blocks all the time, but I don’t even notice nowadays, because a part version of myself who didn’t have art block gave me so much work to do. Really, it’s that easy. Start something when you’re unblocked, finish it when when you are, since there’s less creative work to do. When I’m art blocked I’ll usually do busywork, like lettering or inking.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
No! I’ve actually heard quite the opposite from most art teachers/peers! When you go into an industry, of course they’ll expect you to have a consistent style of your own, but unless all you do is personal work or illustration work, they’ll also expect you to be able to mimic different styles, and adapt your own to suit what they want. Really, rule of thumb, I’d say it’s better to be a jack of all trades than a master of one in this case.

If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
I’m really in love with Kerascoët’s Beauté! It has great visuals, a very charming story, and it ticks nearly every box for me as far as graphic novels go, but I’d say that’s more a personal preference than a universal recommendation!
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
It’s tough! I feel uncomfortable weighing in on this because I’m not even out of uni yet, but the only reason I have a job in comics is through what I’d call sheer dumb luck. It’s very hard to find a well-paying job in the industry, whether you want to go at it independently or working for someone else, and especially if you’re not an American...

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
All my friends inspire me! And honestly, the amount of artists who are big, big inspirations to me are far too many to name! I guess go check out the artists I’m following on twitter if you’d like to see a Curated Look at what I’m into. Off the top of my head, though, the artist I’ve been admiring the longest is actually someone who I’m now super fortunate to call a friend, Blue ( )!

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I have a soft spot for it too! I adore hand drawn animation, and I definitely prefer it to 3D animation… It hasn’t been in a very good place as far as the industry goes, but I really hope more people start realising animation isn’t just “Kids’ Stuff”, and it gets more exposure in mainstream media. I think we’re making progress with this generation. A lot of my non-artists peers can appreciate the value of hand-drawn animation without hesitation!

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
In a nutshell, it’s easier to get noticed! This is good and bad at the same time. I’ll try not to go too into it, because I’m not a fan of sharing Opinions on the internet, but while networking online is a huge plus for artists looking for jobs and resources, it can also create a sense of entitlement from fans of a work. Networking opens up doors for people like me, with no schooling or professional background in the arts, and that’s wonderful! But when social media brings fans and creators closer together, for the most part as a content creator it’s great to interact directly with my readers, but I’ve seen fans of other properties that seem to overstep their boundaries when it comes to interacting with a creator.

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
Howdy! I’d say I have 3 main comic sites ( ) , ( ) and ( ) ! You can find me on Twitter ( @marinscos ) and on Tumblr at ( ). You can also reach me by email ( ). Here’s where you can buy my stuff ( ) and here’s my patreon ( ).

Thank you Mariana :)