MEimo

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I was born in Bangkok, Thailand. The land of smile, food and ancient traditions! :) My aunt used to give me coloring books and teach me how to draw and color, and that was the beginning of my artistic life. Teachers at school usually assumed that I was a very good student, because they thought that I was taking a lot of notes during classes, but actually.. I was drawing all the time! haha.   

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
Both. I loved to watch cartoons (especially anime) and I used to draw cartoony faces all the time. When I went to high school I tried to focus more on my art skills. My friend Jinny suggested me to take a drawing class for a year. This gave me a new vision about art and I started to practice from the basics again. After finishing the course, I decided to study design and animation. I entered in Assumption University (ABAC) in a major of Visual Communication. Study there was a collage of many artistic fields, a mixture of graphic design, book design, photography and computer graphic. The good thing about this experience was that by getting familiar with so many artistic techniques, you really understand what you love the most, and what I loved the most was Concept Art and Visual Development.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Yes! They supported me since the very beginning, they love my art and my hobbies. However, when I grow up it was a bit challenging to convince them that I could earn I leaving as an artist. Thai people used to think that being an artist means only a ''fine artist'' (selling art in canvas, etc.). Graphic design or animation weren’t as big as they are today. To reassure them, I decided to work as a freelancer while I was studying, I wanted to show them that an artist can survive, get money and be happy, haha!  They understood and support me until these days :)

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up (artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
When I was young Japanese animation was really popular in Thailand. Anime like Pokemon, Digimon and Card Capture Sakura all had a huge impact on my childhood and they influenced my work with an anime style. Then, western animation from Pixar and DreamWork came and it made my heart beats like a drum! I loved all those different shapes and proportions. My favorite movies today are “Up” and “ How to Train your Dragon”, they inspire me to keep improving as an artist.

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?
When I was a child I really I love to draw people, monster or animal in a cute style. Nowadays,  it's still like that.   Sometime, I try to make a character look more dark and harmful, but other people still comment  “it's so cute”! I guess that ''cuteness'' thing is my trademark!

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I mostly work digitally in Photoshop. After creating a rough sketch I use the Lasso Tool (my favorite) and the hard brush to crate the local color for my characters. (Local color is the color without light and shadow). After finish all the local color I create the multiply layers to apply the shadow and also normal layers (+ color dodge) to paint the highlights. 

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I love both sketching and coloring! The moment I love the most is when I can sketch anything without concerning about what the client want. I also love selecting the colors that I will use for my illustrations. The hardest part is the line art because it tense my hand :’(  that's why my work usually has no line.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
I work at The Monk Studios, an animation studio here in Thailand. In the Visual Development or Art Department. I wake up driving through the traffic jam of Bangkok, I say hi to my team and start working. The art department stay separate from the other teams, so this make us very close. I work with very talented people: each of them has its own specialisation, mine is character design and visual development. We have to draw and develop many type of character concepts before we get the final one. In the break time we play games together. We really enjoy playing, listen to music and sing together! Then I go back home I usually work on some personal ideas and and play with my cat :) 

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I can’t really count them. There are a LOT of things to learn from my colleagues, not only artistically speaking, but about life in general. As I said each of the artists in my team has its own specialization. So, I usually see their work and I always try to learn something from them. We share our techniques and give each other tips.  My supervisors teach me a lot of things every day, especially about gesture drawing and structure. A drawing class is available every morning to anyone who wants to improve their skills.

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 worked on the design of the TV series ''Paddlepop Atlantos'' 1 and 2 (Wall IceCream). That was my first project as a concept artist. Right now I’m developing something new, very cute and fun! But I can't tell you more :) 

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I really love to design characters, and I’m enjoying every part of the visual development process. One day I would love to work together in a project with my favourite artists and maybe.. owning a little café!

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Both. Working in company make you meet so many interesting people, chitchat while working, hangout together and getting inspired by each other. Staying in an environment surrounded by awesome artists will encourage you to keep developing yourself all the time. The freelance work makes you choose the projects that you really want to do and gives you a flexible time for working.

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 also have those moments. I believe that almost every artist used to face this situation, sometime it come from the stress. When I got an art-block I stop drawing and I look for something to entertain myself: singing and listen to music, playing with my pet, watching something fun. If I still have a dull concept then I try to find new inspiration: travelling, seeing new places, you really need to get well, rest and relax. Having a Thai massage is also a great idea! haha. Makes your body feel soft and relaxed. And when you feel better.. let’s get back to draw again!

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?
When I was younger I didn’t know exactly what was the difference between them. But when you work you have to specialise in something. I studied art just because I wanted to draw something. Time and inspiration will bring you to the right path. You can experiment which is the thing you love to do and so that you can make it better. Animation lead me to become a concept artist. I love when I see the thing that I have designed in a movie, it really makes my day when it turn out to be good. If you want to be concept artist, you have to sketch a lot of thumbnail characters, key visual or location before get a final one, you have to find out what is the most interesting shape, the right proportion to make a sketch choice different from the all the others. The first one that you think it's ok.. may be not, so let’ sketch so more! 

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Oh, I have a lot of idols! Goro Fujita, Pascal Campion, Dice Tsutsumi, Robert Kondo, Kavin Dart, Shiyoon Kim. Alexandre Diboine. Nico Marlet. When I look at their work it makes me stun and they really inspire me to create my own art. Victorior and Gop Gap are also really awesome Thai artists! 

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 follow me on Facebook ( facebook.com/memeiimo ), Tumblr ( memeiimomo.tumblr.com ), Artstration ( artstation.com/artist/meimo ) and Behance ( behance.net/meimo ).

Thank you MEimo :)