During the second day of STGCC, Ani-Culture attended a 1-on-1 interview session with Kishida Mel, one of the top illustrators in Japan. Personally I am very honored to able to interview him. For this post, I will be compiling up the Q&A session that took place on the first day itself, the Spotlight on Kishida Mel which also consists of audience’s questions and the 1-on-1 interview. Let us get started already.
Spotlight on Kishida Mel:
Q: Can you tell us about yourself before you became an illustrator?
A: I was studying in a design school. I did stage acting while doing illustrating as a hobby; I quit acting after a year and became a full time illustrator.
Q: Hanasaku Iroha and Kamisama no memochou are currently very popular now, how is your involvement in this 2 works?
A: For Hanasaku Iroha, I was approached by the project design team to do the artwork for it, while for Kamisama no memochou, I drew the original artwork. In this way, I feel much closer to it compared to Hanasaku Iroha.
Q: When you are unwell, how does it affect your artwork?
A: When I draw, I do not really know what I am drawing but there is a deadline to meet thus I have to finish it no matter what.
Q: Between male and female characters, which do you find more difficult to draw?
A: I find no trouble in drawing either gender, but as I draw girls more often due to my work requirements, I find drawing guys more interesting.
Just for us, we were able to see a picture of how Kishida Mel-san’s workspace, 1 interesting fact is that he works from his home. You can actually find a picture of this in the Atelier Rorona and Totori Artbook.
Q: Do all illustrators do digital drawing nowadays?
A: The illustrators that do digital drawing are increasing but most still use the traditional way of drawing, which is to draw on a piece of paper and then scan and colour after.
Q: What inspired you to become an illustrator?
A: I love to draw back then when I was young but I do not count myself as illustrator. Even when I got commissioned to draw illustrations, I still do not count myself as one. After I moved out to live, I realize I am starting to make a living through art thus I became an illustrator.
Q: How long do you need to get the basic design?
A: Usually it takes me 2 months for 10 to 15 character designs.
Q: Which is your favourite character from Hanasaku Iroha?
A: Nako, I like the design for her.
Q: Any tips for aspiring illustrators?
A: Draw a lot and try to get criticisms from friend or online as they help you to grow.
Q: How is Singapore so far?
A: This is the first time I am here. I landed on Thursday evening and I visited the Merlion. Singapore is a very clean country. Singapore is not really as hot as my house was during the summer so I am fine with the weather. The food is delicious here and I also had chilli crab.
Q: How do you practice drawing?
A: To me, practice is not just practice, but it is also putting in effort in the current work and working to make the current one better than the previous.
Q: Who is the hardest character to draw?
A: I would say the Atelier series as the costumes are all very detailed. An example would be the frills on the skirts; I drew them on the skirt one by one.
Message for inspiring artists:
Everyone enjoy illustrations. With the help of internet, I was able to feel the love that the fans out there have for my work and this is how I got here, to STGCC. Show everyone your work, especially online, and receive criticisms in order to grow.
Q: How do you feel every time your work gets released to the public?
A: As the time between the production stage to the release can be quite long, it can become quite exhausting. During that time, I do not think about much things but putting all my effort and concentration into my work. After the release, I receive a lot of feedback and criticisms. This makes all the hard work that I put in seem worth it in the end.
Q: Working in the industry means working as a team. How do you work alongside with your project team so that there are no miscommunications along the way?
A: For the light novel, it is just me and the editor. So we communicate through phone call or emails.
For games, I am limited to just communicating with the art director.
For anime, I communicate with people like the producer and animator, I get feedback from them and start to do changes for design. It is quite complicated actually.
Q: Working consistently can sometime cause some stress to build up. What do you do to help destress yourself before going back to concentrate on your work?
A: I usually go shopping or walk around my house.
Q: Personally which do you prefer to work on, game artwork, light novel illustration or anime project works?
A: To me they are all the same, but I find it quite challenging to work on game artwork as there are a lot of factors to consider, such as the poly count the character has, animation, etc.
Q: What do you use for inspiration for new characters?
A: I do research on the different clothing. An example would be, for the Atelier series, I researched on the game period, and based it off European clothing.
Q: With so many illustrators out there in the industry, how do you create your own kind of art style?
A: I draw whatever that influences me, what I like, what I think about and it just becomes what I want and imagined.
Q: What are your future plans from here on?
A: I would like to do more of what I am doing now. Other than game artwork for Japanese RPG games, I would really like to try out doing game artwork for other game genres such as online games.
Q: How do you feel about the big change in the character design for Rororina from Atelier Totori to Atelier Meruru?
A: It is quite a big change as there are a few other illustrators working on it as well. Personally, I feel that it is pretty good and we get a lot of feedback from fans.
Q: Out of all the characters from the whole of the Atelier series, who is your favourite character?
A: If I had to choose, it would have to be Rorona. I put in a lot of effort into her, so much so that you could say that she is like my own child to me.
Q: Is there any other place you would like to visit here in Singapore when you come back on your own as a tourist?
A: I went to Clarke Quay yesterday night and saw the vertical jump. I would really like to try it when I come here again.
Q: After walking around STGCC, how do you find STGCC art scene?
A: The art is very interesting as you can see the mixture of Japan and American artwork together here. It really is very fascinating.
Final message to all the fans:
I am very touched to see that there are a lot of fans here in Singapore. I didn’t expect to have this many fans. I wish be involved in more anime, game and manga work so that everyone can see what I have done.
This concludes the whole of Q&A session with Kishida Mel. Quite a lot of questions were asked and answered during these 2 days. I hope (very hard) that Kishida Mel could make another appearance again here at STGCC next year.
This is a photo taken of Kishida Mel during the spotlight session.