At this year STGCC 2014, Ani-Culture had the honor of participating in a group interview session with Shirahane Nao. Shirahane-sensei came to the interview dressed in cosplay from Tomokazu Sugita’s original game, Getsuei Gakuen’s Eiri.
Over at her booth Shirahane Nao was extremely kind to do fan requests drawings on their favourite anime characters. It’s awesome to see her wide variety of fans from otaku to young children as well. At her panel, she did drawings of various characters from Tomokazu Sugita’s original game, STGCC’s Mascot and Love Live!’s Kotori. Her merchandise were so popular that it was been sold out within hours.
When did you start learning art and how?
I did not take any formal drawing classes. I started at very young age and when I was in middle school, I hang out with a group of friends who drew a lot together. And when I was in high school, I went into a school in design.
When did you first start taking up illustration as a career?
I started my career as an illustrator roughly around my 2nd year of high school when I was drawing shoujo manga for magazines in Korea. However I felt that just having a career of a mangaka was not enough to be fulfilling so I began doing illustrations as well.
What inspired you to start drawing manga and illustrations?
When I was young , I watched anime such as Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon which I really like. I would not say that they inspired me but I wanted to draw something like those manga and anime.
What inspired your art style?
I am a huge fan of Clamp for a very long time and it has a very profound effect on my style. I feel that Clamp’s drawing style is beautiful and especially, the detail in hands and hair made me more aware of how I should draw these areas.
Other than doing illustration, what do you like to do?
Recently, I love to cosplay with my friends. Also, I like to sing karaoke and travel during my free time.
You helped in designing characters for Danny Choo, who is favourite character among all of the mascots?
Currently, among all the Culture Japan Mascots I like Mirai-chan best. Danny Choo sees Mirai-chan as his daughter and I too place the same significance on Mirai-chan. As for characters that I designed lately, there is character called Chitose who is blond and a bit spacy whom I have come to like.
How did the idea of Sleepless Child, the combination of cosplay and illustration came about?
The main reason I wanted to work on this project was because I met Stayxxxx at Comic Fiesta in Malaysia and we wanted to work on any kind of project but because we live in different countries, Japan and Taiwan. We wanted to find something that can close the distance between us and that was how we came out with this project to do photography and illustrations.
Who are the other illustrators that you look up to or you are fond off?
I know many illustrators in the industry and so it is very hard to give 1 or 2 names but she has always respected Clamp back then. Even if she is not an illustrator, I really look up to Takahashi Rumiko.
When you work with projects like game illustration, how do you manage your time?
My style of working really my pace and I always want to take on as many things as possible that I feel are interesting. So if there is anything I really want to try even if it is a bit hard for my current schedule, I will force it in somehow even by cutting back on sleep.
Working with Danny Choo, what kind of person do you feel he is like?
He is a very kind person but very meticulous and thorough in project and illustration because he has many specific interests and ways of doing things. I’m very thankful that there is someone who is there to help and give me feedback to improve my skills.
How long do you usually take to complete an illustration?
It is different based on the type of illustration I’m doing. If it is simple drawing like a single character, I might take 2-3 days depending on how satisfied I am with it. If it is a large illustration, it might take up to 1 week.
Comparing from your first few illustrations that you made until now, how do you improve on your work?
I rely a lot on self learning by practicing a lot and trying out new techniques. I’m also very influenced by other illustrators and their works Even though my interest might change a second time (manga to illustration and otherwise), I would usually take influences from other works and try to integrate into my own style.
You were originally from Korea, what convinced you to move into Japan and was it difficult to blend in at the beginning?
Compared to Korea, I felt that Japan had a lot of different jobs I am interested to try out, and also because I have been a fan of animation since young, I wanted to experience what it was really like to work in the very country that created animation and that was why I to Japan to study overseas and learn the language. One thing about Japan that made things difficult for me though is that it is very expensive to live here compared to Korea there was a bit of adjustments in terms of lifestyle.
Do you prefer to draw for games or light novel and what does it feel like to be an official illustrator for anime or games?
I like working on both games and anime as both have their interesting points. For games, characters that I designed myself sometime become 3D so it is interesting to see how they translate from 2D to 3D. For light novels, I feel that it is very similar to manga in that I take the content of the novel and transform them into artwork and make it simpler so that they can be translated into different mediums and I like seeing my artwork translate from one medium to another.
As an official illustrator for games I feel very honored and happy when the games I illustrated for are featured on news, website and etc. I would go search for information by myself and search what ranking it is on the charts as well.
Any upcoming project that you are willing to share with us?
Right now I’m working on 2 eroges with Navel, the first one will be going on sale in October. So please check it out!
That’s all we have for Shirahane Nao, stay tune for more from Ani-Culture.net !