Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rina Ayuyang - Cartoonist Survey #182

Rina Ayuyang was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a child she was fascinated with cartooning, drawing her own, reading the Sunday funnies and borrowing David Breger’s “How to Draw and Sell Cartoons” from the Shaler North Hills Library over and over again. During college she stopped drawing comics and focused on painting and installation/conceptual art. She graduated from San Francisco State University in 1998 with a major in Art. After discovering the work of cartoonists Chester Brown, Lynda Barry, Dan Clowes and John Porcellino (Cartoonist Survey #154), Rina re-discovered her love of drawing comics and began self-publishing "Namby Pamby", a semi-autobiographical series which focused on the humorous side of everyday life. She has just released her first graphic novel "Whirlwind Wonderland", a collection of her auto-bio comics that was co-published by Portland’s Sparkplug Comic Books and Tugboat Press. In addition to drawing comics, she also co-hosts The Comix Claptrap, a comics podcast with fellow Bay Area cartoonist Thien Pham. Rina lives in Oakland, California with her husband, son and cat. Check out Rina’s website and blog. Click here to purchase her "Whirlwind Wonderland."

What is your favorite pen to use?
My favorite pens are felt tip pens, but my ultimate favorite amongst them is the Pentel Sigma Sign Pen. I love the feel of that pen when I draw in my sketchbook. I also favor cheap brush pens from the local Daiso Japanese superstore. Anything from Uniball or Pentel is great for me.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I don't normally draw with pencil first, but when a page or panel requires something that needs to be accurate like a car, or a building, I use a blue pencil because I really like to draw in heavy strokes on the page, not very light. So using a regular graphite pencil is murder to erase.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Yes, usually I color by hand, but it depends on the project.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
I mostly use colored pencils or Sakura crayons for coloring. Also Faber Castell markers.

What type of paper do you use?
Because I use felt tip pens, I use regular sketchbook paper, sometimes charcoal paper because I like the texture.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
I don’t think I've found anything yet that I hate drawing, but there are some things that I wish I was better at drawing like people's feet, the side profile of cars. I also wish I drew bottles better. Everything I draw seems to be asymmetric.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
I buy my supplies through both local and online stores depending on what I need. My favorites are Artists and Craftsman Supply in Berkeley, the Kinokuniya stationery store in Japantown; Patrick and Company and University Arts in Downtown San Francisco. I get a lot of fun pens online through and WetPaint, a store based in Minneapolis, MN.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Hmm, well procrastinate? No, I just sit down on the couch, with a pad of paper, a couple of pens and just start drawing anything, just doodle. I try to start something as a stream of consciousness and go from there.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Sometimes I do, but often I just like the quiet when I draw. When I do listen, it's mostly electronic, shoegaze type stuff to hypnotize me into drawing, or old easy listening standards, stuff to calm me down a bit.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Oh yeah, I read the Sunday funnies like Nancy, Blondie Peanuts, Doonesbury, collections I could take out from the library like Dick Tracy, Classic Illustrated. I also loved MAD magazine, and random comics from Marvel and DC but also Krazy Kat and Tim Tyler.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Peanuts and Nancy. Also Blondie. Right now I'm loving Larry Alcala's Mang Ambo strips.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Well I loved a lot of illustration, architecture books. I think one of my favorites were the big architecture books by David MacAulay like "Cathedral" and "Pyramids". I also loved the Choose Your Adventure books especially the ones that were illustrated by Paul Granger (aka Don Hedin). I still have a lot of those books from the series and love looking at those illustrations.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
I got a BA in Art, Conceptual Art/Information Arts at San Francisco State University.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Well both, I feel like the Internet can be a useful resource but is also totally can be abused in a way. Twitter makes me crazy. I guess I'm biased because I am a web designer too, and also much of the art I was making before comics incorporated the web and computer technology. I think though that we could stand to use a break from the Internet from time to time.

Did either of your parents draw?
My parents drew stuff like doodles for me when I was little. One time my dad demonstrated how to draw a coconut tree and a bahay kubo/nipa hut for this story I wanted to do when I was in second grade. Sometimes if I really beg them, they'll oblige still, but they aren't professional artists or didn't have any formal training. I have a feeling though that they probably draw a lot, but they do it in secret.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Well my family for sure. My parents even though they were a doctor and a lawyer, have totally been supportive of my creative art goals and haven't nagged me to be a brain surgeon. I think my dad thinks I'm going to make a lot of money like Charles Schulz. Anyway, my siblings and I constantly drew a lot as kids, and my older sister really got me into painting and drawing and art history. My husband also introduced me to comics again years and years after I had abandoned it during college when I focused more on painting and installation and that crazy stuff.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I keep a lot of sketchbooks in random places. I have a sketchbook specifically for the bus ride to work for drawing sketches and writing some ideas. I have the thick Fabriano sketchbook at home supposedly for notes and drawings for my current project. I have a little one to take with me to draw with a friend down the street at a coffee shop... I have a feeling I collect sketchbooks more than I draw consistently in them.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have never done it. I do show my son how to make marks with crayon. I think I'd have fun teaching kids to draw rather than grown-ups. I'm not great at public speaking or verbalizing things but find it more comfortable talking to kids. Perhaps if it was an online class, then I might be good at it.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Well that's tough, I definitely think passion is important, otherwise it just feels like a chore, and the lack of motivation can be obvious in the art or the end product. I do think having or acquiring some basic skills in drawing helps a lot, or at least working hard to at least improve your skills is key, but I don't think talent is required and as necessary as passion.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I collect a lot of comics, books, music, probably also pens. Apparently I also collect sketchbooks.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
People say I'm Lucy from Peanuts, but that's not true. I think I'm Sally. I would love to be Nancy though and witty as Bugs Bunny.

Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm a lefty. Actually I'm a lefty when I draw or write but a righty for everything else.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I would like to be a publisher someday. I'd also like to own a bookstore/cafe with my husband.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
My drawing area used to be a cluttered drafting table, in an office but that turned into the baby's room. Now my drawing area is a lap-desk, otherwise it's pretty much non-existent.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play the guitar horribly. I used to play the recorder very well. I can play a tune on the piano.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Observe the world around you, Keep drawing. After you finish one comic, just continue onto the next one. Never stop and stay in love with it.

Who is your favorite artist?
I have a lot of favorites from various places: Michelangelo, Raymond Pettibon, Bruce Conner, Blutch, Picasso, Edward Hopper, Barry McGee, David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Rodin, Lynda Barry, Jaime Hernandez, the list goes on and on…

Thanks very much Rina.

Phil Yeh, cartoonist, illustrator and founder and president of Cartoonists Across America & the World will be next.

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