pixiv is currently accepting submissions for the "2020 pixiv High Schoolers' Illustration Contest"! As such, today we'll be interviewing Roki, the high school senior who won the grand prize in last year's contest. Through life-sized words overflowing with youth and power, they'll give us a glimpse of fresh-faced enthusiasm and what goes into creating illustrations.
- Has been using pixiv since they were in elementary school, and the illustration they submitted to the 2019 pixiv High Schoolers Illustration Contest, entitled "Running Water Sounds Like Rain", won the grand prize. Since then, they've begun working as a professional illustrator, despite still currently attending high school. Their drawing style is characterized by the abundant use of light and expression that stimulates all five senses.
What lead to participating in the High Schoolers' Illustration Contest?
── You first participated two years ago, in the 2018 pixiv High Schoolers Illustration Contest, isn't that right? What made you decide to participate at that time?
I won a lesser prize the first year. In retrospect, I drew in an unnecessary amount of detail and there were several areas that I wasn't satisfied with in the illustration I submit that year.
── Did you use your disappointment over the result of the previous year's contest when trying again in 2019?
This time I wanted to draw a picture that had all the things I like in it. The theme for 2019 was "sound" so I chose the sound of water as my motif. I like water and transparent things such as clear vinyl umbrellas. I think those are the strong points of this illustration, so I was very particular about them.
── I see, so you like "transparent things"?
However, I've always mostly just drawn based on vague images of scenes that I found emotionally compelling. After uploading the finished illustration for this contest, I noticed many areas I wasn't satisfied with and that became all I could see.
But the judges were able to logically interpret the areas that I drew intuitively, so that confirmed my strengths in my own mind. This was the first time I've truly been able to have people critically analyze my work, so I was very happy about that.
── Did any of their comments especially stand out to you?
── Has anything changed since winning the contest?
── I see, so you feel like you're still in the process of learning and improving your skills?
Trying professional work
── I've heard that you've received paid commission work since winning this contest. What did you think of your experience doing professional illustration work?
For my job drawing the cover illustration for the novel that won the grand prize in the pixiv novel-writing contest, I wasn't able to prioritize my own interests like I usually do and had to focus instead on the author's tastes. However, I found that the challenge made it all the more worthwhile. I also really enjoyed the broadcast work for pixiv Sketch LIVE. It was my first time ever doing a live broadcast, but my real-life friends also tuned in. I received a lot of comments, so I consider it a valuable experience.
── Have you done any especially memorable jobs in the past year?
── I've noticed that all of your your illustrations seem to put a unique twist on the decided theme.
The unexpected secret to creating art
── Please tell us about your drawing set up.
── Do you ever find yourself just not in the mood to draw?
I usually have days where I do draw and days when I don't draw, but on days when I do draw, I'll wake up really early and draw for about 2 hours before I go to school.
── I was under the impression that most artists were night owls.
Also, I've found that if I play video games while drawing I can concentrate better and finish faster.
── How do you draw while also playing video games?
Playing a good game really puts me in the mood to draw. Not only video games, but movies, CD jackets, posters in stores, etc. I think it's important to view many inspiring images, and when I'm not receiving this inspiration, my own creativity seems to wither and die. There are tiny things in every corner of our daily lives that can become inspiration or reference material for drawing. It's important to employ all our senses in order to gather this information. I think it's important to experience as much as you can, not just related to illustration.
For example, last year a friend invited me to a live music concert. The atmosphere of the venue, where the performers were illuminated by multi-colored spotlights, was very moving. Since then, I've been obsessed with using vivid colors in my illustrations, inspired by those spotlights.
── The drawing process changes a lot, huh?
── Do you have a specific goal in mind for what kind of illustration jobs you'd like to do in the future?
── Do you have any advice for the participants in this year's contest?