Victoria Tsai

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you develop your artistic skills? Did you go to an art school or are you self taught?
I am self-taught. I've always been drawing, whether it was doodling during class or planting myself on a bench between passing periods and sketching people walking by. 

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Up until high school, art was never discussed as a realistic way of making a living, among friends or family. It was always regarded as something lesser than. Even now, I struggle to gain my parents' understanding that I want to make art my career. College has been a transforming time for me, because I finally met and made friends with people who supported my decisions. It seems simple, but their acknowledgement of my passion and the encouragement to live my life according to my own expectations has helped me irreparably. I am forever grateful and constantly striving to improve my skills and prove to myself that I can, in fact, live my dream. 

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Definitely manga and comics. I remember feeling absolutely elated as a third-grader when I first got my hands on a copy of the Fruits Basket manga. It was also a past time that involved my friends, so we would trade and share copies at school like a miniature book club. I was, and still am, mesmerized by the artist's ability to tell an engaging story through art. I would spend hours drawing characters from those series, a practice that had a strong influence on my developing drawing style. 

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've always been fond of drawing girls and women. The stories I enjoyed the most growing up featured girls or young women as the protagonists. They instilled a belief within me that females are varied persons who each have their own stories to tell. The subscription to a monolithic ideal of a female never appealed to me and so drawing different types of females allows me to better explore that idea and create characters of my own who each express femininity in their unique way.

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I do most of my coloring digitally with Paint Tool SAI and an Intuos Medium tablet. The Intuos is fairly new and before that, aka the majority of my digital artwork, was done using a 10 year old Bamboo Fun I begged my mom to purchase in middle school. Traditionally, I use Copics, ballpoint pens, highlighters, whatever I can get my hands on really. With both mediums, I always lay down a sketch first and build from there. Digital is my strong suit at the moment. I can create pieces a lot faster and of greater complexity. Traditional requires a considerable amount of planning, but it's ultimately a more rewarding experience. 

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Yes actually, my four original characters I created last summer and lovingly termed the Summer Girls. The characters were incredibly well-received online, which came at a great surprise to me. I plan on making a comic weaving their individual stories together and I hope when that time comes people will enjoy it as well! 

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The hardest is always coming up with the idea. Once I get the ball rolling, the process proceeds quite naturally. It's a bit embarrassing, but sometimes if I can't think of anything to draw I'll either: a) sit there staring at my screen hopelessly willing an idea to come forth or b) draw a ton of awful sketches until I settle on something that works. 

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
I have a number of projects in the drafting stages at this point. I want to create a health campaign dedicated to girls and young women, I want to tell stories about my experiences as an Asian-American woman in America, and I want to create an artbook of my drawings. Fingers-crossed that I will have the stamina and motivation to bring these projects to fruition!

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?
Everybody deals with art block differently and I think it's important to acknowledge that at the forefront. What typically works for me is drawing through the block. Taking a break to gather inspiration can help, but it can also distract and introduce more self-doubt. So I usually end up barreling through it in a fit of frenzied stubbornness. 

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
I think it's important to know yourself and know why you enjoy the things you do. I'd encourage young artists to try anything that they find even remotely interesting. Even if it doesn't work out, it can guide you to another path that you may not have found otherwise. If you'd like to try concept art, then try it. If you want to draw comics, then try it. And when you find yourself having fun, then you'll know you've stumbled upon something special.

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I've always had a penchant for artists who blend traditional and cartoon styles with bold colors. Traditional artists like Klimt, Chéret, and Matisse struck a chord in me with their shared mastery of color and pattern. I admire how expressively they convey their subjects and utilize color to tell a story. As for modern names, I love Loish, Satoshi Kon, and Milt Kahl. Their stylistic interpretations of shapes and mastery of color are qualities I strive to emulate in my own art.

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?
I think these new platforms are fantastic. For example, it allows artists like myself without any academic training to gain an audience in an otherwise previously network-exclusive pursuit. Newer voices that have new stories to tell are emerging with the help of these new media. It's more welcoming and I appreciate that. Of course, there are still parts of the cycle that replicate itself and many voices have yet to be discovered. Increased competition is also a factor, but I don't consider that a negative thing. Overall, it's changed the course of art for the better. 

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
All of my art is viewable on my Tumblr and Instagram! I also sell prints of my artwork on Storenvy. Another great way to support my art is on my Patreon!

Thank you Victoria :)