When I repacked my stuff today, I forgot to pack a pen. I have at least seven pens in my possession while I’m here, but did any of them make it into my backpack this morning? Nope. So I wasn’t able to take notes during this, so it’ll be from my memory (and I’ve seem to already forgotten a lot of it. Sigh.)
Comic book people probably are most familiar with Jillian Tamaki because of the graphic novel Skim that she did with her cousin Mariko Tamaki, but she’s an accomplished illustrator and comic creator on her own too. She has a recent collection out from Drawn and Quarterly called Inside Voice.
She started her talk with a slideshow of a lot of her illustrations. She talked about what she likes to do (more interpretive illustrations for science articles) and what she doesn’t (images of celebrities, mostly because she doesn’t think she’s great at likenesses). It was a fun glimpse into her process and I love people who are able to be creative for their job.
She then talked about comics and showed how she put together Skim. Mariko had given her a script but didn’t break it down panel by panel, so she had a lot of freedom to do what she wanted. She sketched it out in thumbnail form first and even put together a little book of her thumbnails to check on transitions and things like that. Since it was a pretty intense process and she didn’t have long to do it, she made jokes about being “unwashed” for a couple of weeks.
After her slideshow, Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot asked questions. She said it wasn’t bad collaborating with her cousin because they didn’t actually know each other very well at the point they started (they do now, however). She said Inside Voice was sort of born out of her sketch blog, which she started as a creative outlet. While she loves illustrating and feels like she can put a lot of herself in it, it’s to some art director’s whims. It allows her to do what she wants.
Both she and Nakamura discussed the process of getting started for young illustrators (basically, work for free. OK, that wasn’t so much the point, but they both agreed that sometimes it’s good to be out there even if you’re not getting paid). Tamaki also said she sees a disconnect between the illustration world and the comics world. When she goes to illustration cons, they know her for that and don’t know she does comics. At events like Comic-Con, it’s the other way around.
She was delightful and said many other things that have fallen out of my brain. So yes, I should go try to find a pen somewhere so this doesn’t happen again.