Vencys Lao

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Paulínia, near São Paulo, Brazil. Its kind of a small town, where almost everybody knows each other in some form or fashion. I remember that when I was in kindergarten I drew a panther: this was so awesome for me and it made me look to pencil and paper in a different way. That moment was a revelation to me!
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I love to tell stories and I wanted to illustrate them.  I've always been a cinema lover too, so I found in comics my way to do cinema. That's how all started. When I finished school, I looked for an art school to learn life drawing but my teacher told me to do Illustration for advertising instead. Thanks to Mario (my teacher) and his advice I got my first job in an animation studio. After that, I studied traditional animation at the Art Academy in São Paulo.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
When i decided that I wanted to be an Illustrator, the Brazilian animation industry was just a seed. We had some animators working for the American, Canadian and French animation industries, which are big ones... but in Brazil, we didn’t have something to call an Industry. So my parents always feared about my future, but never told me not to do it. My mom always encouraged me to be what I wanted to be!
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I think that my strongest influence was Hollywood. In Brazil, we had a television channel showing Hollywood movies late at night, those movies were the kind of cult movies that most people don’t know or dislike, like ''Forrest Gump'', ''Fried Green Tomatoes'' or ''War of the Buttons''. I love them! Other inspirations were Disney movies and comics, T''urma da Mônica'' (the most famous comic series from Brazil), ''Dragon Ball'', ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'', ''Yu Yu Hakusho'' (this inspired me to do my comic series). Today, Hayao Miyazaki is the artist who inspires me the most.

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 focused on character design. Not just by drawing the characters, but also by telling the stories about them. When I draw a character on my sketchbook, I get to know a little bit about their stories too.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I have different ways to do it! I love experimenting with different tools: pencils, markers, watercolors.. but my favorite tool is my Bamboo tablet and my computer :D
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
To me, come out with an idea and creating the character is, without a doubt, the best part of the creation process. Make sketches, make more sketches... It’s awesome. The hardest part is the line art!

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Right now I’m working at Oca Animation Studios, producing a TV animated series called “Hora do Rock” (something like “Time to Rock”), so a typical day for me would be: I start around 10am in the studio and I finish my day around 8pm. I do Character Design, Props... but for the most part I do the Art Supervising. I’m honoured to work with great Brazilian talents such as Caio Martins, Victor Sampaio, Livia Constante, Christo Silveira and Welton Santos. Alexandre Augusto Ferreira is a person who teaches me a lot and really is an inspiring artist. Also, Luiz Gustavo do Amaral, who is the Director of the series. And another name I can’t forget is Christian Cunha, another Oca Animation Studios Director :D

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I’ve learned a lot about character design with Alexandre. How important is to have a solid concept with tridimensionality in you character. I’ve been learning a lot with Amaral about scripting. And I’m also learning storytelling with a great comic artist called Gabriel Bá.

Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I don’t really know. Maybe how I get good proportions and tridimensionality to my characters. I like my late designs, but I always have it in my mind that I’ll make the next one even better.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
As I mentioned before, today I’m working as Art Supervisor for a TV animated series and I’m also working on my next comic “A Saga de Bo” (something like "Bo Saga"). I’m working on the second volume of a Brazilian anthology called The Samurai, too.  

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I’m already working on what I always dreamed about: creating characters for the animation industry, working with talented people and living my life working through art :D I would like to work for one or two Brazilian studios, but I would also like to try Canada or the US to learn more with those guys!

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I prefer working for a company because you get to work with other artists, and you have more point of views about the same subject. You can really learn a lot with all the guys there. Freelancing, unfortunately, is a lonely work :(

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?
This is a good question. When I have an art-block I usually stop what I’m doing. I talk with my friends and family about other subjects, I watch my favorite TV series or I just dance my favorite song (today I would listen to Lion Heart of Girls Generation! It inspires me a lot XD). Sometimes, I visit my favorite artists’ blogs or I read a manga! All those things inspires me.  

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?
Nothing in art is certain. You will constantly find out more about yourself as an artist.. So, don’t worry about your artistic path, just draw and draw as much as you can and the rest will come to you later. I think that it is important to create, no matter what the form is.

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?
I think it is important to have a consistent style, if you work with comics or independent projects it will be your signature. But when you work in the animation industry, it's necessary to be versatile.
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?
Please read Walt Stanchfield's Drawn to Life! It’s not only for animators, but for all kind of visual artists.

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?
We live in an industry where most of the artists wants to become character designers. It’s not easy to be one today because of this. I think there are many areas in the animation industry that are looking for good artists too. But whatever your decision is.. this is the best moment! We are living an awesome moment in the animation industry but It is necessary to study a lot because there's a lot fantastic artists on the Internet!

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
I really love Hayao Miyazaki. For me, no one is a better artist than Miya-san :D But of course, I also love artists like Fabien Mense, Anthony Holden, Chris Sanders, TS Sullivant, Paul Felix, Enrico Casarosa, Carter Goodrich, Cory Loftis and Wesley Rodrigues, to name a few.

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
Yeah! I really have a soft spot for hand drawn animation too. Well, I hope that this art form will not die, although the industry today wants fast productions. Hand drawn animation is just going into a new path.
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?
Websites like Kickstater are a great way for the artist who has not been discovered by the industry to appear. So many good independent projects are emerging because of this tool and this is great! I think it's a super cool way to promote yourself and your work when the industry says NO for you.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can find me on Tumblr ( ), Instagram ( )  and Facebook ( ). You can find my comics here ( ) And, if you need to get in touch, get a commission, ask something, or simply say hi, just drop a line to ( )

Thank you Vencys :)