Meel Banania currently works at ASI studios as a rigger and a storyboard clean-up artist. She dabbles in illustration and is working on her comic book series, Mahou No Uso, which she sold at local comic conventions. And is conceptualizing on her other comic idea.
In her free time, when she isn’t doing any art related things, Meel lurks on reddit, watches documentaries, fawns over her anime men, or plays video games. If she’s not chillin’ at home, you can find her hanging out with friends around the city and having some self-proclaimed adventures. You can check out Meel’s work on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter.
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?
I remember I started drawing when I was young and was influenced by the cartoons I kept watching on television. Also being surrounded by my grandpa’s paintings around the house eventually sparked an interest in me. As I grew older, I kept drawing and made characters and worlds for self-entertainment, until eventually I had other people to share my drawings with and seeing them have fun looking at it.
I guess from that point I was still thinking about if I should consider art as my profession, knowing that some of my family members took that path. It wasn’t until that I found out about my grandpa’s old photocopied works that really gave me that wonder and excitement of working in the arts. I was considering going for fine arts since it was the only thing I knew at that time, but with the discovery of my grandpa’s work on the animation and illustration industry, it gave me more insight on other art professions I could go for.
I’ve decided to choose animation as my college course because I mean, I totally love to draw! I’d already dabbled in animation during my high school days and I also loved the feeling when you see your drawings come to life. I was really excited for college, where I could finally focus on my art and hone my skills in it. But of course, all ups have their downs (does this make sense? Haha!). College made me feel insecure about my skills but it also motivated me to become better.
Being surrounded by fellow artists and helping each other improve made me want to become an artist even more.
Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?
Being insecure about my work. I’m surrounded by great artists and sometimes I can’t help but question if my work is good enough. It was a really weird feeling at first, because I hadn’t actually experienced something like it until I started drawing more seriously.
But as of now, I know how to calm myself about it because I know I’ll still improve and I’m usually doing art for my own personal enjoyment.
Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?
Like what I said in the previous question, I just tell myself that I will improve! And also give myself a little boost by trying to have some self-confidence and say “Hey! Your art isn’t that bad! It’s okay!” and pat myself on the back, just for finishing a funny piece. Haha!
Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?
Just keep on practicing drawing. JUST KEEP ON DOING IT!! PRACTICE!!! I used to think my art would be the same forever, until I gradually noticed how it improved every time I drew more. (I know it was pretty weird to think that my skills would be stagnant, haha!)
Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?
I wish I had mastered (or at least had practiced more often) anatomy and perspective drawing. We had classes for these, but I regret not practicing them enough. It’s really helpful to know these more, whatever style you have. It makes it easier to bend the basics into your own style because you know how it works! (Did I explain this right? This is how I feel about it though, haha!)
Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?
I make art to express, and for comedy. “I’m feeling a bit down? Let’s vent it out with a drawing! Hey guess what, I’m infatuated! Let me express that through a really cheesy art piece!” My emotions are first and are a big part of what inspires me to make art.
Second is comedy, this is also a big part of what drives me to make more art. I really love making people laugh and feel good, especially through my cartoons. My comedy skills might not be that high level, but earning a giggle is enough for me to get more inspired to produce more art!
Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)
Weekdays. I’ll be at work from 9am-7pm. Get home, eat dinner, lurk on reddit and doodle on my diary if there was something that happened during the day. Sometimes I won’t be on reddit and just go straight to my laptop, maybe try to sketch an idea before going to bed.
Weekends. I might be out hanging with friends or more often I’d be in front of my laptop, either sketching new art or continuing a piece I put on hold, while watching documentaries. I also could be working comic related things, depending on what I have on my to-do list.
Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?
I try not to give in and not give up working. I just tell myself that what I’m doing will help me improve. Even though it’s something simple, it’s still experience. I will try to figure out a way to overcome the temptation of distractions and the frustrating challenges. Whatever they might be, I know I can power through it.
Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?
Music and seeing other artist’s works help. Or sometimes I’d search for ‘Art Prompts’. When I check these things out, I might just get an idea out of it. And it also gives me a push to work on something I’d like to see in and experiment with my own style .
I also have this weird thing I call ‘Angry Motivation’. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I sometimes I’d get a rush of adrenaline whenever I experience something I feel somewhat insecure about? Yung parang nagagalit ako sa sarili ko na tipong nagkakaroon ako ng motivation para mag-improve lalo. [It’s like I get really mad at myself to the point that I spur up the motivation to improve even more.] I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it really does help me get motivation in a very strange way. Hahaha!
Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?
Finishing my first comic book! I’ve been wanting to create my own ever since I’d found out that other artists were self-publishing theirs. I have made comics before, but they were just really short stories or experiences. I have witnessed friends go through creating their comic books and would see them tired from working on it every night. I was quite oblivious, at first, to the process of comic book making, and I’m now really grateful for my friends who helped me out. I now understand what they went through. All those late nights just sketching and planning to finally finishing it felt really great. There were struggles but I managed to pull it off, even though it wasn’t perfect (and there are some errors in it, hehe.)
I also consider the animated short I made for school, a win. But for now, that’s taboo for me to talk about, haha!
Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?
This is might be weird but it’s probably when I was working on my first comic book. I’m guilty of procrastinating often, and this was one of those times. I thought I could fit the work within a short time frame but I was totally wrong hahaha! Realizing that I haven’t actually had the full experience of creating this kind of thing, I got quite stressed about it.
Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?
Social media and art gatherings (conventions and such.)
Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?
As of now (because I haven’t actually made a final decision yet), I’d like to have a series of cartoon shorts. I’m not trying to get it to the big studios and companies, it’ll be already a dream just to get a lot of people to see and enjoy it.
Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?
COMEDY. I love illustrating comedic (or at least amusing) scenes and cartoons! Most of the time it’s from experiences, while other times it would be from the question “What if this happened?” or “What if they did this?”.
I also get fuel from music and emotions.
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?
When I say I love making people laugh and feel good, I mean it. That’s why I do my art. Knowing that, even just slightly, I’ve brightened up someone’s day with my somewhat amusing works, makes me feel accomplished. I wanna spread good & funny vibes!
Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?
Looney Tunes (or Warner Bros. Cartoons in general), Steven Universe, and Nickelodeon cartoons.
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)
Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life for lifedrawing! Along with my professor’s classes, this book also helped me a lot when I had a go at lifedrawing.
ICON Manila master class, H.C. Brown’s youtube and tumblr (there’s a lot of good art tutorials there from other artists! So search away!)
Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?
Japan. It’s a dream.
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?
ITO JUNJI!! Oh how much I would love to know~.
Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
My college professors for sure! I’m very grateful that they really helped me by giving their insight and guidance on what I could improve on in my skills and on what I’ve learned from them. Shout-out to my prof, sir Dennis E. Sebastian for guiding me and pushing me to become more!