In honor of it being New Comic Book Day, I’m introducing a new feature to my column titled Indie Artist Spotlight which focuses on independent artists who are doing their thing in the comics community who you ought to pay attention to. Today the spotlight shines on artist Sarah “Neila” Elkins.
Tali Adina: How did you get into comics?
Sarah Elkins: I’ve always loved comics since I was a kid and my older brothers and I would go down to the comic shop. When I was in Middle and Highschool I wanted to become a film director. I used to write movie scripts, staring my friends and I, then draw storyboards for the stories. In Highschool I got to researching the Director’s Guild and found how much the dues were. It broke my heart. I realized I had a lot of fun drawing the storyboards and they were similar to comics. At the time Indy films were new and that thought didn’t cross my mind so I refocused on Comics where I could have full creative control and make things without paying dues to someone else.
I lucked out getting my first comic Flatting Job (colorist assistant, sort of) because a friend who was in art school passed my name on to a former employer of his. Since then I’ve gotten to work on all sorts of books for so many different people I lost track.
TA: What inspired you to become an artist and when did you begin to draw?
SE: I’ve always drawn. We have old doodles of Horses and Alicorns on our freezer I drew as a kid. I think it was probably just my desire to share the movies in my head that made me want to become an artist.
TA: Which tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
SE: I like to use red pencil, either a Ticonderoga marking pencil or the Color Eno mech pencil my friend Lor got me (that pencils rocks!) Then use a regular cheap 2HB pencil for tighter lines over the red pencil. I’ll either ink by hand with whatever is handy, usually some drafting pens or sharpie writing pens, or I’ll ink digitally with Manga Studio EX 5. I love Manga Studio 5 for coloring too, it has all the photoshop tools and then some, really really nice.
TA: What is your art style?
SE: I refer to my art style as “Guns” and I’m sticking to my Guns. :P
It’s been called “too manga” and “not manga enough” by the same people so I just refer to it as my Guns.
TA: What inspires you to create comics?
SE: I want to tell stories. I want to entertain people. I want to share my characters and their worlds. I’m a bit of a chronic day dreamer so I’m always, always, always thinking of new stories while working, driving (which can be scary, gotta keep my eyes on the road), or talking with people. Music is really great to get the imagination gears going in overdrive though! Getting paid helps too, without being paid I’d starve. :S
TA: What do you do when you’re drained and need to recharge creatively?
SE: I work on something else. I’m really bad about not stopping. I get a bit manic when I’m about to crash and when I crash I become a snail. I really need to play video games more, but I do manage to read at night, which helps. At the moment I’m reading Stephen King and studying how he writes.
TA: What advice can you give aspiring artists?
SE: Stay positive. Keep your eye on the horizon. Keep moving forward. Don’t view others in your field as rivals. We’re all co-workers and friends. Don’t be afraid to contact artists or writers you like, be courteous though. A positive attitude and good contacts go a LONG LONG way.
TA: Can you tell us about any of the projects you’re working on?
SE: I’m flatting for Dan Jackson on a book and also flatting a comic called Hero Cats.
I’m penciling and inking a comic called “Here There Be Monsters” with Amelius http://heretherebemonsters.us/
It’s a tie in to her series Charby the Vampirate and follows a group of Monster Hunters.
Also just released “Sharkpony and the Glitter Riders” a one shot parody comic I ran an IndieGoGo for last fall http://paragonketch.storenvy.com/collections/160253-all-products/products/6472642-sharkpony-and-the-glitter-riders-1
I’ve also got some prose short stories I’m shopping around to publishers and a couple novels I’m writing on in my ‘spare’ time. My ‘Spare Time’ is usually from about 10pm to 2am.
TA: What’s an important lesson that you’ve learned so far from working in comics?
SE: Never work for free. Network. Network. Network. The more people you know the more likely you are to succeed. People don’t always read the descriptions of what’s in books or who you are.
TA: Where can people find your art?
SE: I have a DA page I need to clean up and post new stuff on but I’m usually too busy working on the above mentioned stuff to remember to do that http://neilak20.deviantart.com/
I’m usually haunting Twitter all day and bothering people https://twitter.com/NeilaK20
I have a couple Tumblr pages I need to post more of my art on instead of just reblogging my friends XD http://neilak20.tumblr.com/