Our inaugural Artist in Residence, Chelsea Wong, term has come to an end already! The time flew by as she drew pages upon pages of her comic and made beautiful original artwork!
After eight months of working on her craft at Rolling Tales headquarters we wanted to catch up with her and share her experience as our first A-i-R!
Read on to learn more...
How was the residency? What did you work on? What was your favourite thing to make?
This residency has been such an incredible experience! I’m so grateful that I got to have time to explore comics as a medium and have amazing interactions with the public! While most of my time here was devoted to creating more Jezebel, I also got to make monthly comics and daily illustrations. It’s hard to pick my favorite thing out of all the work I’ve done here…but I definitely had fun with the monthly comics! Making a comic in a month with audience participation was a great way to challenge myself as an artist!
Did you have any particularly memorable conversations or happenings during your residency?
There are so many amazing interactions with the patrons that come through the door. Each time someone stopped by to talk about their passions or asked inquisitive questions really made my day. I especially liked talking to young artists who want to be comic artists one day themselves. Listening to them talk about their stories they want to make and answering their questions reminded me of when I was young and wanted to become an artist. When young girls tell me that they want to start making comics because they see me creating, there really is nothing more heartwarming. Having the chance to give them encouragement and advice always made my day!
Do you feel your art has changed in the last several months? You’ve now completed two comic anthologies about your character, Jezebel. Do you see differences in your work from one book to the next?
You can definitely tell the difference between the first chapter I drew versus the latest chapter I just finished up! I’ve been able to focus on Jezebel during my time here and got into a rhythm with these latest chapters. A huge difference is the continuity in the story, something that I haven’t really experimented with until this year. Getting to focus my time on these chapters and completing them faster with practice has allowed Jezebel to try a longer arc format than before! It’s been exciting to see it all drawn and inked after all these months.
How do you come up with ideas for Jezebel comics and other original characters?
Coming up with ideas for comics like Jezebel starts with a simple idea that is slowly built upon as I write the narrative. Sometimes the story is inspired by things you find in the horror genre, like witches and ghosts. I then combine those elements with a funny and lighthearted premise to make a new chapter for the story. I’m always thinking of fun prompts to try out and there’s an abundance of inspiration I get from my favorite media and artists! My creative process for coming up with any story is to draw what you like and build your comic around it. Stick to simple and fun themes like “fairy in a field” or “magical girl who captures dreams” and build from there!
In your opinion, what are the easiest and hardest parts of being an artist?
Being an artist of any practice can be challenging! Even though I find some parts of being an artist a challenge, the good parts always outweigh the hard parts. A thing I know lots of artists struggle with is balancing the workload, especially if you work in comics. There’s always the challenge of making sure you don’t overdo it so that you can have a good and healthy relationship with your work. The good thing is that there are tons of resources available now to help make your job easier so that you can continue creating.
What were your most frequently-asked questions? Would you like to give a few general answers to them?
I get asked a lot about the tools I use digitally and how someone can get into comics in general! For my tools I use my Huion tablet that plugs to my computer and work mainly on Photoshop. When I’m on the go or need something more lightweight I love using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to draw in Procreate. Most of the comics and art I made during my residences was digital, but for traditional tools I personally like inking with a brush pen to get the varied line weight in my work.
If you want to get into comics yourself I always say it’s never too early to start! Start simple with your idea and build on it as you go! I follow the pipeline method of scripting, thumbnailing, penciling, inking/colors, and then the final edits and text added at the end. You can start small and make little comic zines to share with your artist peers. As long as you’re creating something you genuinely enjoy, you’ll figure out what your comic path will become.
Do you have any parting pearls of wisdom for emerging artists? Was there anything you wish you’d done differently during your career?
One thing I always remind myself and emerging artists is to draw and create what you love. When I was starting off I was afraid that no one would like my work because it was too niche to my own specific interests. Jezebel may not be for everyone but there are people out there who like fun and spooky stories who I can share my passions with. Even my art style was a struggle to figure out at first until I found what works best for me. If you’re still figuring out who you are as an artist that’s totally okay! Keep drawing that specific thing that makes you happy and eventually you’ll find your audience. Don’t be afraid to try different things and talk to your fellow artists as you explore who you are as an artist too! You never know…you may find the perfect tools and techniques by connecting with others. It may be a challenge to find yourself artistically but as long as you're making art you love you are an artist! So go out there and create!
In the future, how are you hoping to take your career to the next level?
That’s a big question! I never really know exactly where my career will take me next but I hope to create more comics and books over time. Jezebel is still one of my favorite projects and I’d love to keep making more chapters over the years to create multiple volumes of spooky stories to share. I’d also like to create more long form colored comics after experimenting with the monthly comics here at Rolling Tales. Beyond comics I’d love to get into children's literature or even design my own line of new products for conventions! Wherever my art journey takes me I hope to keep creating comics for years to come!
What’s the best way for fans to reach you? What upcoming events can we find you at?
You can always find me online @sharksndonuts on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr! I also have a portfolio website if you have any inquiries: chelseawong.ca. I’ll also be joining YouthWrite as a comic instructor for their camps if you ever want to have a more in-depth comic class with me. I’ll also be around Rolling Tales once and a while, including the September’s Sketching for change! And of course you can always find me at local conventions and events in the Alberta area throughout the year! Thank you all for your love and support these past 8 months! I’m so grateful for the opportunity made possible by the Rolling Tales team to share my work with all of you!
Are there any graphic stories you want to recommend?
That’s a hard one! I have tons of favorite graphic novels, manga, comics that it’s hard to narrow down! The team at Rolling Tales give great recommendations, but a few of my personal favourites are The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui, and Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka.