Artist Name: Lashia Lee
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
I’m a digital illustrator.
What kinds of work do you currently do and/or what kinds of projects have you worked on in the past?
I sell my art at anime conventions and I’m currently illustrating for children’s books.
Could you talk about how you got into art or doing what you do today? What’s your story? What made you want to pursue this path? Were there any challenges you had along the way?
I started drawing at the age of 3. Notebooks were filled with Pokemon, Neopets, and Sailor Moon. By middle school, I had a ninja phase and was doodling Naruto all the time. I made my first small income by submitting several drawings to HmoobTeen magazine. In high school, my instructor encouraged me to practice more realism rather than 2D cartoons and I finally understand why.
My parents wanted me to pursue nursing. I cried almost every day not because I failed the exams but because I saw a future without art. I wasted years trying to become someone I didn’t want to be. I don’t blame my parents because they were doing their best to help prepare me for the real world. The praise and support from relatives was nice while it lasted.
Now, I do art full-time and it’s frustrating explaining to older adults about what I do because they think art is just a hobby. Here’s one conversation:
Me: “Guess what! I’ll be illustrating for children’s books!”
My Dad: “Good! Now go get a job!”
Did you attended art school or majored/minored in Art or Design in college? If so, what were your experiences with it and would you recommend it? If you did not attended college or did not majored in anything art-related, what advice would you give to those who are in a similar situation and want to pursue art or improve their craft?
These days, it seems that networking will land you a job regardless of credentials. Unfortunately, I’m a shy introvert who struggles with talking to people so I’m pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
I think college is an investment and it depends on the major or what your goals are. Ask yourself what your plan is, if you can afford it, if you have time, and if it’s worth it to you. Weigh the pros and cons based on what you value. The biggest mistake you can do is succumb to your fears and do nothing.
Some people don’t realize that many artists have day jobs in addition to their art career. Do you have a day-job or do you do art full-time? How do you balance art with work and life? How do you find time to work on art?
I’m a full-time artist and a part-time university student. I prioritize work, education, and survival. Sometimes I have to work faster or “wing” my assignment to make time for other obligations. Time is short but it’s a constraint that forces me to find efficient ways of illustrating or designing faster.
Often times people associate artists with the “starving artist” mentality, even though we know this is not always true. How do you make money from your work?
I think every career path works in different ways if you have a plan and do your research. There are so many ways artists can make money these days. For example: freelance, live stream, sell at cons, book illustration, product design…etc. The possibilities are endless! I illustrate for children’s books through a contract, sell art prints at cons, and do freelance design on the side.
Where do you get your ideas from?
The most creative ideas pop up when I’m not brainstorming. For my Shy Hamster comic, I immediately list every idea that comes to mind in Google Docs. The more I attempt to interact with people to overcome my shyness, then the more embarrassing moments that can be turned into comics!
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work? What is your typical artistic process like?
I use a simple Huion drawing tablet (similar to Wacom Bamboo Fun) and Photoshop for most of my digital paintings. I start off with thumbnails, research references and inspirations, sketch it out, experiment with colors, then post it on a hidden social media account to test how it looks. Re-edit the next day.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
Digital artists: Loish, WLOP, Goro Fujita, and Krenz Cushart.
Childhood inspirations: Nomura Tetsuya (Square Enix), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto), Takeshi Obata (Death Note), and Atsuko Nishida (Pokemon cards).
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
https://www.proko.com (I wish I learned this before trying to render semi-realism)
https://www.posespace.com (full nude poses)
What advice would you give to young artists or people just starting out?
Several of my manga projects were delayed because I felt that I wasn’t “good enough.” The longer I waited, the less passionate I was about the project. If you are fired to do something, do it now. You won’t feel the same later.
Who would you like to work with or work for, if anybody? Could be a person, another artist, or company.
I would love to illustrate or create concept art for a feature film someday.
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’ll like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
I’d like to turn my Shy Hamster series into a TV show someday. I created it in hopes of connecting with other shy people. We can all laugh instead of loathe about our humiliating moments!
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?
Shy Hamster Comics: https://tapas.io/series/shyhamster