Fun and Whimsy and Making People Happy: The Art of Agnes Garbowska [Hire This Woman]
Hire This Woman is a recurring feature on ComicsAlliance that shines a spotlight on female comics creators, whether they're relative newcomers or experienced pros who are ready to break out. In an overwhelmingly male business, we want to draw your attention to these creators --- and to raise their profile with editors and industry gatekeepers.
Agnes Garbowska is an artist best known for her adorable work on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comics, but she's also done a lot of covers for other series, like Powerpuff Girls and Red Sonja, some children's book illustration, and a little bit of everything else as well!
ComicsAlliance: What kind of comic creator are you?
Agnes Garbowska: I am mainly a penciler, inked, painter, and colorist, but I have been a writer. I have written my own web comics and self published books. I also wrote a short for the Soulfire Annual for Aspen Comics.
CA: What is your preferred form of creative output?
AG: The combination of above! 90% of the time I do everything, except the writing and lettering, I am just used to creating all the art in the comic or the cover. Sometimes I feel I would like a colorist on some projects, but I have a vision for how I would like the final product to look and I know how to achieve that look.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally?
AG: A combination of both. I do my layouts digitally in Manga Studio. I print them out and lightbox the inks. I watercolor all the tones/shadows traditionally. Then scan the piece back into the computer to complete the final colors digitally. The reason why I do my process this way is because I love inking and watercoloring traditionally, but I also like the pop of the digital colors. It is because I combine both traditional and digital I get that soft watercolor look my art is known for.
CA: What’s your background/training?
AG: I took art classes in high school since I wanted to be in film or computer animation. I have a diploma in computer animation and one in traditional animation fundamentals, but it is by getting these that I realized I don’t like to animate, but I do love telling stories.
When I started to work in comics I felt I was not improving the way I wanted so I went back to school and I also have a degree in illustration. It really helped me experiment with different mediums and also helped me fall in love with watercolours again. I have been working in comics for about 10 years now; this includes working in small press and self publishing before I got steady work for larger comic companies.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
AG: My creative style, eh? I would say fun and whimsical. I feel my style is very story book. I have a lot of fun with the characters and try to let their expressions and body language tell a lot of the story.
My colors are usually soft and pastel-like since I love this type of palette, even though I adjust my color palette for the story or cover that is needed. When I get to work in my own style I find it really is a combination of American and Japanese styles. Style is not something I set off to find, but instead it is something that finds you over time.
I am still learning every day, so my style does change with me as a I grow as an artist. I can also adjust my style for different projects so I have been able to work on a number of different properties that are not my usual style. I think because of my ability to adjust it opens me up to a lot more opportunities.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past, and what are you currently working on?
AG: Currently I am mainly working on the My Little Pony line of books for IDW. I also do a lot of cover art for IDW including art for Powerpuff Girls, Littlest Pet Shop, Samurai Jack, Judge Anderson, and maybe even Jem and the Holograms? In addition to this, I have and still am doing a lot of cover art for Aspen Comics. They let me do the covers for their Fathom: Kiani Vol. #4 and I had a blast with these since they were movie homage covers and each one I used a different technique.
In addition to IDW I have also done interior work for Victories for Dark Horse, and Li’l Vampi for Dynamite Entertainment. As well as Off Panel strips for Sonic the Hedgehog for Archie Comics. A few years ago I also worked on Girl Comics and Spider-Ham 25th Anniversary for Marvel Comics.
I keep myself busy doing a lot of cover work, which I really love as well. It’s just another way to tell a story for me. I have done cover art for Dynamite Entertainment on such titles as Red Sonja, Doodle Jump, and the covers for their line of Li’l Dynamite books. Recently I also got the chance to do a cover for Sonic the Hedgehog for Archie Comics, which was huge for me since I grew up on Sonic. I also did a super fun exclusive cover for Unity for Valiant Comics.
In addition to comic work I have worked for a Canadian children’s book publisher called Pdoink. I worked on a number of their Yogurt the Ogre books. It was a fun series of books following a little Ogre named Yogurt and his friends.
I mentioned earlier I self published and worked on web comics. I have three stories that you can still find online on my website, agnesgarbowska.com, or you can order the first volume off Amazon. The three stories include You, Me, and Zombie about a girl and her dog who wake up in a world full of zombies, Imagination Station about three friends who imagine their school days as a giant space adventure, and Waking Up Abbey, about a girl who wakes up each morning with a new power, both good and bad.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to create a 20-page issue?
AG: I learned through working on My Little Pony that I can pencil, ink, and color a whole book in under a month if the deadline calls for it. I usually take on cover work on top of that. I’m a workaholic and I find in comics you have to be. I do have a flatter though, who helps me lay down the flat colors that are layered under my watercolors in Photoshop. Her name is Lauren Perry, and she is awesome for knocking a few days off my schedule to help me take on such tight deadlines.
CA: What is your dream project?
AG: Really anything from Marvel or DC. I’m a huge fan of Rocket, Groot and the X-Men, so any of those would we a dream project. When it comes to DC, to do a little Justice League comic would just be awesome. I would love a chance to work on my favourite superheroes.
I really am working on one of my dream project right now since I grew up on My Little Pony. I am so happy I was able to work hard enough to be able to work on such a wonderful title.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
AG: I am inspired by a number of creators. When I first started to get into comics I loved Michael Turner, Chris Bachalo, Jim Lee, and Joe Mad. I loved the X-Men and I started to collection all the X-Men comics, as well as Witchblade and Fathom. When I was able to meet Michael Turner and know him in person, I think this was one of the best things that ever happened to me. He really was an amazing person and inspiration.
When I started to attend conventions in late high school a whole other world opened up to me and I was able to meet so many creators. Some of these creators include Dustin Nguyen, Skottie Young, Ming Doyle, Gail Simone, Tony Daniel, and Geoff Johns. The list really goes on, since so many people have inspired me in one way or another. Just meeting a creator and hearing about their process and their art always pumps me up to draw more.
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
AG: I work from home. I have a little studio space set aside for myself. It has my laptop and Wacom tablet. I also have a little station set up for my watercolours and light boxing. I don’t need much space to work as long as I have everything I need. The wonderful thing of working from home is I have my dogs with me. They keep me sane and get me out of the apartment.
I find that because I love attending conventions and meeting fans I also have a travel work station since I work a lot on the go. It really is a compressed version of my home studio space. A smaller tablet, a smaller light box, and a portable scanner. I actually travel with my work station a lot. I find as long as I have everything I need I can really work from anywhere.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
AG: I am very deadline and goal oriented. I am always determined to reach all my deadlines, and all-nighters are something that I’m just used to. I am really committed to my work. I work hard, and I think this is why all these amazing opportunities have been coming my way. I am proving time and time again that I can do the work. I want to prove that I can make the most out of anything that comes my way.
The main reason I enjoy working on all-age titles is because I enjoy making others happy. I like knowing that I created something that made someone smile and maybe brightened up their day just a little.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
AG: I have a website, agnesgarbowska.com, which has a lot of my work and my e-mail contact. I am also very active on social media, so anyone can find me on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram just by searching my name. I post all sorts of goodies across all social media, and each one gets at least some exclusive fun art that I might just post on the one. I have a Facebook fan page where you can find the majority of my work I always try my best to be up to date with all social media so everyone can see new work each week.
If there's a woman who you think should be included in a future installment of this feature, drop us a line at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with “Hire This Woman” in the subject line.