Hire This Woman: Cartoonist And Letterer Aubrey Aiese
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Illustrator Aubrey Aiese is the letterer of beloved new series Lumberjanes as well as some of the Adventure Time comics and graphic novels from Boom! Studios. She's also an artist who has made her own mini-comics and co-writing a comic with Zachary Sterling.
ComicsAlliance: What's your preferred form of creative output?
Aubrey Aiese: This is really hard because I honestly love doing everything! Hand lettering is my specialty but I also love creating full illustrations and making comics. I really like getting my hands on every aspect of comic-making when I have the chance; penciling, inking, lettering, all of it But I guess that if I had to choose, inking is one of my favorite steps. There’s something about going from pencils to inks that’s so satisfying… It just feels like once I put down inks, it feels like the drawing is “real” now. Does that make sense? I’m all about the finishing touches.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally?
AA: When it comes to lettering, I do everything digital. When I first started, I tried doing everything traditionally. I was using crow quills, pens, brushes, vellum, you name it! But for the sake of time and efficiency I made the switch. I’m currently using an out-of-date version of Photoshop and a Cintiq for all of my lettering work. When it comes to illustration I still like to do as much as I can traditionally, though. I tend to work faster when I’m in front of a real peace of paper because I find that I spend more time actually drawing and less time zoomed in, examining every single aspect of the illustration.
CA: What’s your background/training?
AA: I took a few fine art classes in high school here and there but for the most part I’m self-taught and still learning! I’ve got a nice little collection of super old books on hand lettering and all of the information still applies. I’m also constantly learning from the Internet. There are so many great art blogs and websites and it’s super easy to find new inspiration and techniques that other artists are using that I could learn from and try out for myself.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
AA: This is a toughie… It’s hard for me to say, because I feel like my style is always in the process of evolving. Although it may be hard for me to describe my style, I do know what I like: lots of contour lines and curves, simple yet beautiful color palettes, the juxtaposition of pretty/cool things, and emotive, relatable storytelling. I don’t know if my style has all of that, but these are the things that I appreciate and aspire to have in my work.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
AA: All of my comics-related work so far has been lettering (with the exception of doing some inks on the second Adventure Time OGN, Pixel Princesses). My very first lettering gig was working on the Adventure Time: Flipside miniseries, then I went on to letter the third Adventure Time OGN Seeing Red. Currently, I’m lettering the fourth Adventure Time OGN and I’m the regular letterer for the Lumberjanes series which I’m super psyched about!
Illustration-wise, I’ve been working on some stuff for my own minicomic and I’m also currently writing a comic with Zachary Sterling which is turning out to be super fun. I can’t wait to get it out there!
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to letter a 20-page issue?
AA: Give or take, it takes me about 5-7 days to hand letter a 20-page comic. That is, if I’m not binge-watching trashy reality television.
CA: What is your dream project?
AA: My dream project would be creating my own original graphic novel with a good balance of art and emotion. Something really well rounded. I want to make stories that people can relate to. I want to build characters that you empathize with and care about. I’m always really into art with a lot of emotion but can also make me laugh as well. I’d also like to start getting into some design work of sorts. Basically, I love lettering but my dream project right now would consist of making more art for sure.
CA: Who are some comics creators that inspire you?
AA: First off, my number one lettering inspiration is Britt Wilson. I’ve always had an interest in lettering but seeing her work made me realize that lettering can actually be a real art form. Then there’s Ryan Andrews. Our Bloodstained Roof was the first comic I’ve ever read online and it blew my mind. I had a really set idea of what I thought comics were “supposed” to be and this completely changed that. I’d love for my work to have an impact on others like these creators have had on me.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
AA: Growing up, the only comics that I ever read were Betty and Veronica comics. I know this sounds weird but I didn’t even know they were comics until thinking about it later in life. I used to have this giant Rubbermaid bin full of them and my mom was constantly bringing me home more to add to the collection. I don’t know if it inspired me to make comics or anything, but I really liked that it had female protagonists and that it was pages of art. As an adult, I would have to say that Craig Thompson’s Blankets inspired me like crazy. It was the first graphic novel I ever read and it’s what made me want to attempt making my own. Scott Pilgrim, Anya’s Ghost and Emitown were also huge inspirations.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
AA: At home I work in a studio that’s in its own room and I love it. I really need a separation of personal living space and work environment because I think that it just puts me in the right headspace. The only drawback of working in your own studio is that there are plenty of distractions within arm’s reach! (We have an eight-month-old puppy whose cuteness is hard to resist) Sometimes it can be a little tough to pull myself away from the comforts of home to sit at a drawing desk… That’s why I think it’d be cool to maybe have a studio away from home with other artists. I know it’d be a really productive space with lots of inspiring work being done all over the place. So I guess that might be my really ideal work environment.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
AA: I guess I just want people to know that I put a lot of heart into my work whether it’s lettering or inking or full illustrations. The payoff for me is when the heart really comes through. If I can create work that makes the reader feel something, I think I’ve done my job.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
AA: I regularly update my Twitter and Tumblr, so both are a good way to keep up and get a little insight into the kind of person that I am. I also have a professional portfolio site that’s a little leaner and business-y, too.