Hey there I’m Cy. I juggle freelancing and commission work. with improving my skills in the pursuit of developing my personal projects.
I started out as a programmer but always had art in my life. My earliest artist credit is for my exit project at Smart called “Catch the Thieves.” Then, I pursued training and landed a job at a local animation studio. My notable work there would be background paint checker for “Ducktales 2017.” On the side, I’ve done children’s books with OMFLit for their “OkiDok!” Series. And in between, I’ve made a few indie comics like “Mono Kuro” and “A Moment of Paws.” When I don’t doodle, it’s because I’m probably sloshing through my backlog of indie games and books. On top of that, I play Dungeons and Dragons regularly. I hang out on Twitter a lot and I maintain a Patreon. You can check my social media out here: http://about.me/cyanroll
Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?
The very moment was probably when I attended Komikon 2013, and got to talk to other artists, along with seeing their work. By that time, I was already contemplating on switching tracks, since the nature of my job as a mobile developer require a bit of graphics work, and I really enjoyed it.
Although I already took up art as a hobby ever since I was young, and have considered it an essential aspect of socializing back then.
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
The thing is that I overthink a lot, and am usually really anxious. Art has this performative aspect that always mattered to me. And in the end, I always felt inadequate both in what I have to say and how I usually end up saying it. So the struggle is usually going past the paralysis caused by overthinking
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
Well I cope with it by simply moving forward. I believe a lot of the stress that came from it was being impatient and wanting to accomplish way too much too soon. But as I have gone through in my work tenure and from the experiences of my friends, I realized that the burn-outs are not worth it. I learned the whole “life’s a marathon, not a sprint” the hard way, after all.
I kind of learned to stay a bit more patient, and enjoy the ride alongside my friends. And honestly, I do believe whatever I do churn out will just be outclassed by whatever I produce later down the line, if I keep at it. And I feel like I haven’t exactly matured enough to really make anything as substantial as I wish I was doing. So, I thought, before I could even start heading that direction, I need to first accept and ground myself where I stand in my own path. Love the process.
Though I’m still a man of high standards, I did learn to accept that art for work doesn’t need to be too passionate, and that personal work doesn’t need to be super substantial. There’s definitely a time and place for everything. So I’m just honing myself so that I can be capable when opportunity knocks on my door.
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
I think I’m very lucky in that I’ve always had a habit of drawing as a means of therapy against the stress of the daily grind. When I got serious, I developed a habit of doing gestures and drawing from observation. It’s always this struggle of keeping the eye and hand coordinated, but it’s a challenge I welcome everyday.
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
Art being essential was something I wished was clear to me as a kid. Art is communication, after all. No lesser to a technical course. And there are definitely viable careers for it. But at the same time I wish I knew I didn’t need to quit being a programmer to actually be serious with art. Truth be told a lot of people in the local scene I look up to, have non-art related day jobs. But I guess we can’t full ass two things.
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
Art is a necessary facet of my person. It helps me connect with people and gives me motivation to observe the world.
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
A day starts with me checking e-mails and Trello for my plans for the day. Sneak in a bit of exercise when I’m able, at least jog. Then I sit down to do warm ups and studies which I allot around 30 minutes on busy days, but could occupy me until around 4 hours. Then I just work on my load for 4-6 hours and call it a day. I take a lot of breaks in between, and I don’t believe people can function properly for long with an 8 hour grind.
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
Not proud of it, but I just allow them to happen. Usually there’s an underlying reason to it so unless I’m just really being a lazy bum, I’ll cut myself some slack. Usually it’s because I didn’t realize I’m already overworked, or drained. I wish I had a better sensitivity towards these.
That’s why I usually I have two things going on usually, so when I need to pause and process for one thing then I’ll just mechanically progress with another. It does work against me as well a lot of times.
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
Friends are a big source of energy for me when art tires me out. We usually would eat out, and hearing about their own fatigue kind of helps me get back up.
But often, I just check Twitter or Instagram, or ever Pinterest, because there’s always tons of great art to draw inspiration from.
And when all else fails, I still have this big backlog of games, books, and shows to go through.
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
Being part of a Komiket talk was a big win for me.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
A part of me wants to say quitting my first job was really regretful, but I think I’ve already moved on from that. Instead, I feel my biggest failure was probably just succumbing to really bad crunch time and stress in another job I’ve had. I hope I know a bit better now. But sadly, I’m still recovering from how badly it affected me. These take a while (and patience isn’t my best trait.)
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Personally, I believe that actively exposing your work, be it online or events, as essential. You can’t really avoid expressing who you are and what you stand for in your work, and people naturally get attracted to you if you’re genuine. Thus, be someone people would like to be with, even if it’ll just be your art doing all the talking. And your work doesn’t need to be always consistently polished, sharing rough work really helps people see your journey as an artist better and that also draws in more of a crowd.
But if you mean business, then definitely make sure to always accomplish finished work regularly. Keep people informed of what kind of work you’re gearing yourself towards. Like if you’re into comics, then definitely finish some comics. Publishers really prefer authors who already have established work, after all.
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
Art is like fine wine, and I feel I still need a lot of growing up to do before I can make really great stuff. So I’m just trying to make ends meet, improving my work, and maybe later I’ll be good enough to work on what I want to tell.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
Most of what I do is just because I wanna say something. Life is already a great source conversation topics to pick from as it is. That’s why I love my friends, they give me a lot of inspiration.
Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?
I grew up exposed to newspaper comics but also literary work like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I just love how art and comics are just as informative and deep as wordy books. I’d really love to lend a hand in documenting human experience. But if I take ambition down a notch, I wouldn’t mind just teaching the craft.
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
Maus, Hellboy, and the Goofy Movie
Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)
I think one of the best free resources online today is Proko. He has pretty much abridged a lot of art manuals I’d like to recommend into digestible videos. At the very least I’ve probably watched every video he has uploaded more than once. And if you haven’t definitely give Bobby Chiu’s podcasts a listen. Hearing other artists experiences and thoughts are great. I listen to them while working. Also definitely don’t miss out on The Etherington Brothers’ blog, and their prominent series of tutorials How to Think When You Draw.
If you get a chance to get books, Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit is really great. I’ve admittedly only read excerpts of it, but what I got to digest was really inspirational. Austin Kleon’s Steal like an Artist is also good in giving perspective about art. Framed Ink is also another good book.
Also don’t miss out on Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Though a lot of it is great insight even outside of the context of comics, I really love Chapter 7 and the idea art can be divided into six steps.
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
I’m pretty plain. I’m fine where I am right now. But I guess it would be better to be in the provinces. But I’d miss my friends.
Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?
Satoshi Kon. Bless his soul.
Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)
I’d like to say my family in general. They gave a me a lot of space to be my own person after all! That’s saying a lot given how cramped we usually got in each other’s business.