Artist Spotlight: Miki Sato
As an individual who has been interested in drawing, I’ve frequent forums for many different web-comics. In one particular forum, I came across an amazing individual who was an art student at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) in Ontario, Canada. Within this forum of collective illustrators, she was one that particularly stood out to me the most in terms of simplicity of her drawings, control, color, and just an overall playful imagination of images. Her name is Miki Sato, though I’ve always called her by her forum handle Nawafiai, or Nawa for short.
Currently, she is a freelance artist that takes assignments whenever it happens to reach her, or vice versa. So if you’re looking at some magazines in Canada, you may stumble upon some of her work. According to her website, she’s already done work for Today’s Parent, Best Health, Registered Nurse Journal, and Canadian University Report. She’s also done a few art shows in the U.S. as well.
Here’s some of our back and forths from a conversation we had earlier (minus most of the silly antics we get into):
Poy: So when did you start drawing?
MS: I…don’t really remember. I was always drawing at some point. I guess elementary school was a time that stood out the most.
Poy: Any idea of what you drew or what inspired you to draw?
MS: I had a ton of manga at home. I remember trying to draw my own stories and failing. I think it had this blue…mascot character. The main character was a girl… I don’t think it really had a story. Typical girl being late for school, and then the blue character fell out of the sky. That’s probably how far I got with that one.
Poy: Lol. Any particular manga back then that still stands out to this day?
MS: They were mostly shojo… (Nurse Angel) Ririka SOS. uhhh…aaa…There was one about frogs with huge eyes. (Pause) Ahh. Kero kero chime. Buahaha, this brings back memories.
Poy: I know you started doing some animations as well, so what inspired you to do so?
MS: Animation was probably late middle-school…grade 8ish? Didn’t know of Flash, so I drew them on Photoshop. I saved drawings as .GIFs so they had to be tiny, ahah. It just looked like a fun thing to do. Hmm…but now I’m doubting myself…might have been first year university.
Poy: LOL that’s a big gap. Oi oi oi…
MS: First year high-school! Sorry
Poy: Have you done any lately?
MS: Not really… Oh but this stop-motion thingy awhile back.
Poy: So how many comics have you done?
MS: haha…I’ve never really finished one. I have a bunch of stories though.
Poy: How many have you started, or created?
MS: oh god…uhhhh… Is this counting the stupid ones I did when I was younger?
Poy: Sure …. Over 9000!!
MS: Let me see…..9000000000000
Poy: aho (idiot).
MS: 15~20. Hard to count, because some of them are just ideas, while some of them are more refined. The longest one was an one of my older stories, because I kept redoing it and changing the story as time went on. It was called Conflux, I’m thinking of changing it though. It had like…5 different names and it’ll probably never be finished. The shortest piece had no pages, just documents on the computer and sketches.
Poy: Why haven’t you finished any?! -shakes-
MS: I have motivation issues and a perfectionist issue. I have a problem where I get restless during the planning stage, and just want to go straight into the drawing part. I’ll say “I’ll think of a good middle/ending while I’m drawing the beginning!!” But then while I’m drawing it, I actually don’t think about it, or do i, and I realize I’ll have continuation problems. So, I stop and redo everything.
Poy: So you drove yourself into a wall pretty much?
MS: Pretty much. I’m trying to avoid that from now on. So I’m really paying attention to planning and sketching out all roughs before I start.
Poy: So the layers concept…how did that come about?
MS: Hmm… I guess it started during university. They pushed the idea of having your own style, and I just eventually went to layers.
Poy: Now…I haven’t seen anybody else with that style. So, how did you come up with it?
MS: I actually have no idea… I guess I just thought it would be fun. I like making physical things, so maybe that had something to do with it. During highschool, I did a 3Dish thing for my portfolio for my review to get into uni.
Poy: So how do you start creating your work once you figure out what you are doing?
MS: The idea part probably takes the longest for me. Sometimes it would come really quickly and easily, but other times I need to labour over it before I figure out what I want to do. I usually think of what I want to do with the layers, the material and colours while I’m drawing out the roughs. After the roughs are done, and I have a good idea on how I want to put it together, I get the layer materials ready. I paint the parts whatever I need with watered-down acrylics. I then take out my trusty lightbox, and re-trace the lines on the backside of the rough. Most of the time, my roughs are a bit sketchy, so doing this helps with finalizing. Then, I trace out the shapes I need onto the different materials. I usually do it in steps so I remember which pieces go where. This is helpful for complex things like hair.
….Then I glue all the pieces together using acrylic gel medium (pretty much transparent paint) while using the rough as a guide.
Tadaaa, it’s done.
Poy: How long does a layer piece usually take to complete?
MS: I’m surprisingly quick when it comes to doing finals. If I don’t have any issues with figuring out what colours/texture I want to use, I can probably finish one within 4~5 hours.
But there have been times when I just could not figure out what I wanted to do with a piece that I put it on hiatus for a few months until I decided to revisit it.
Poy: What do you have planned for the future with your art?
MS: I’m hopefully going to work more seriously on comics. Stop-motion animation would also be amazing, but it does take a lot of dedication and time.
Poy: How about a message to readers out there.
MS: If you have something that you love to do, go for it! But don’t forget that it takes time, dedication and ambition too.
End of corny speech.
The interview above took place a few weeks ago. Since then Miki worked on a comic which story-line isn’t hers, but inspired by someone else’s work. Still the composition of this piece is one that is very impressive. The medium is strictly all done by mechanical pencil and smearing. You can find the comic here. Make sure to scroll from left to right to view the whole thing. ENJOY!
If you know or ARE an artist (of any medium) and would like to have the Gigaventure spotlight on them, please e-mail email@example.com.