Hire This Woman: Artist Yasmin Liang
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.”
Today we're talking to comic artist Yasmin Liang. You may know Liang's work from BOOM! Studios' Steed and Mrs. Peel or anthologies like Shattered: The Asian American Anthology, and of course from ComicsAlliance's Best Art Ever (This Week).
ComicsAlliance: What is your preferred form of creative output?
Yasmin Liang: I was trained as an illustrator first and foremost, so when I think about my process, the end result is usually a finished product. However, as a comic book artist, it's quite exciting to stop at a certain part and let a colorist take over. Above all things though, in terms of what my preferred form of creative output is -- I tend to appreciate and congregate towards storytelling just in general which is why I try to have some form of narrative in my illustration work.
CA: Do you work on paper or digitally? Why?
YL: I predominantly work digitally as I was given a tablet pretty young and really learned how to draw digitally before I ever drew on paper. I actually had to re-learn how to draw with a pencil on paper because it felt extremely foreign at one point. I try to mix it up and work both digitally and traditionally, sometimes combining the two. I'm actually looking forward to working with watercolor currently as I haven't used it in a while and finally have some nice paper to play with.
CA: What’s your background/training?
YL: I didn't have much training up until my late teens when I decided to do my thesis in watercolors. I took a few lessons from Lorette Roberts, a published watercolor artist known for her sketchbooks containing scenery from Hong Kong. After that, I attended the Pre-College Cartooning program at the School of Visual Arts as a summer course in New York. I enjoyed my three weeks in New York so much, I decided to apply to art schools there and attended Parsons the New School for Design. I graduated with a BFA in illustration and interned at Marvel for a few months as well. More recently, I was looking to get my masters in Character Animation at Central St. Martins based in London. I was there for an an eight-month winter, doing 2D and 3D animation, before I decided the course wasn't for me and dropped out.
CA: How would you describe your creative style?
YL: Geez, that's a hard question. I've been looking at my own work for so long, I don't know what it looks like really. I feel like my work can be pretty consistent one day and then change the rest, but I bet a lot of artists feel that way. I try to simplify in terms of how many lines I put down on a composition, while still trying to remain grounded in some type of realism? That probably sounds a bit pretentious.
CA: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you currently working on?
YL: I started out doing short comics for anthologies like the Kickstarter-funded comic anthology Before, After and In Between: A Comics Anthology and Shattered: The Asian American Anthology (Secret Identities). In the mean time, I worked on my own webcomic which has sadly been on hiatus since I started doing professional work. I was lucky enough then to come onto BOOM! Studio's Steed and Mrs. Peel title as the ongoing interior artist and stayed on until the last issue. Any new work of mine will be out next year but I can confirm I'll be on Star Trek #29 and #30 at the very least and another title from BOOM! as well.
CA: Approximately how long does it take you to draw a 20-page issue?
YL: I can usually get it done in just under a month. Of course, it all depends on the script. If it's highly-detailed, I tend to struggle because it's a bit of a perfect storm. If a writer gives me a lot of detail (even detail that may not actually be necessary), I'll try to get as much of it done as possible because I'm a real stickler for it. This can slow me down a lot unfortunately as I'm constantly trying to make perfect what the writer had in mind.
CA: What is your dream project?
YL: Well, I've always said that I'd like to do a Batman story and I think that's pretty much still my dream project. I'd love to do a Batman, Superman or Catwoman book. Besides from that, more-likely possibility would be to do more covers for comics. I feel like I haven't really had a chance to flex my illustrative skills as much lately so a cover presents a perfect opportunity.
CA: Who are some comic creators that inspire you?
YL: So many! So, so many. David Mazzuchelli, Chris Samnee, Kris Anka, Ming Doyle, Karl Kerschl, Lucy Knisley, Dean Trippe, Adam Hughes, Darwyn Cooke, Alison Bechdel, Olivier Coipel, Tim Sale, P. Craig Russell, JH Williams III -- the list goes on. Outside of comics, I hold a great appreciation for the Golden Age illustrators and the masters.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
YL: I get asked this question a lot and I hope people aren't getting sick of the same answers. I grew up reading mostly newspaper strips like Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert and The Far Side. Carl Giles' work held a special place in my heart and his work still influences me to this day. I graduated later into reading mostly DC titles, like Catwoman and Batman. From there, I devoured anything I could get my hands on. My graphic novel collection is ever growing now that I've given up on collecting singles -- just too many boxes!
CA: What’s your ideal professional environment?
YL: Quiet, clean and with sustenance nearby in case of hunger or thirst. I mount the heads of my enemies on my wall to motivate myself.
CA: What do you most want our readers and industry professionals to know about your work?
YL: I feel that my work is still evolving and with each new project, I'm beginning anew. It's exciting and scary but I love the collaboration of putting forward and sharing a story with readers. There's nothing quite like it.
CA: How can editors and readers keep up with your work and find your contact information?
YL: I'm all over the internet but my contact information is on my website at http://www.yazmeanie.com.
If there is a woman you’d like to recommend or if you’d like to 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.