Artist interviews - a new feature on Animetion where we speak to artists influenced by manga and facets of Japanese culture. 

For our third interview we speak to UK artist Emma Vieceli, a professional illustrator, writer and comic artist who is well known in the anime and manga community.  She is most well known for her work on the Manga Shakespeare series, for which she has illustrated Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing.  She first became known to many due to her involvement with the  Sweatdrop Studios collective, which produced her early, and still ongoing, title Dragon Heir 

She was also one of the winners of the first TOKYOPOP UK Rising Stars of Manga competition, as well as NEO Magazine's five-page manga competition.  Other work includes a short story as part of Comic Book Tattoo (an anthology comic book based upon the songs of singer-songwriter Tori Amos) and as an illustrator NEO Magazine.  She has also made contributions to art tutorial books Digital Manga Techniques and Draw Manga. 

Emma often attends anime events across the UK to offer tips for budding artists.  She has attended the hugely popular events MCM London Expo and
Bristol Comic Expo, as well as international shows. 

Animetion:  How long have you been drawing/been an artist?

Emma: "I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, just for fun – but I certainly wouldn't have called myself an artist back then, haha.  I'd say I got serious about creating sequential art when I joined Sweatdrop – so about 8 years ago."
A: How long have you been a professional artist?

E: "
Around three years now I think."

A: What/who inspires you?

E: "
Everything!  There's not a thing I read or watch that doesn’t inspire me in some way.  If I ever feel unmotivated I like to go read or watch something and get the buzz back.  Events also give me loads of inspiration as I get to leave the studio and interact with actual human beings."

A: Who are your favourite artists?

E: "
Always hard. My mind is always changing, but I’d say at the moment: Yoshinaga Fumi, Keiko Nishi, Adrian Alphona and Jo Chen"

A: Do you concentrate on one theme in your work or several?

E: "
When I get to work on my own stories, I'd say they're often themed around friendship and human interaction, no matter the setting.  I'm hugely interested in how humans react to situations and love to take a very unreal setting and insert very real emotion into it.

How did you become involved in the Manga Shakespeare project and do you feel it has opened up more opportunities for you as an artist?

E: "
Years ago now we heard about this new company, SelfMadeHero, looking for artists to pitch for a Shakespeare play adaptation.  At the time I was working as an artist for a games company, but as a huge Shakespeare fan I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  I tried out a few pages of Hamlet and sent them off as a pitch.  To my joy, my Hamlet and Sonia Leong's Romeo and Juliet were the first titles chosen.  I'd say that yes, it has opened opportunities, especially networking opportunities, but most of all it taught me what it was to work on a full length graphic novel contract.  It was immensely hard work, so much so that I ended up having to quit my dayjob mid-contract.  It was a huge learning experience, without which I doubt I would have had the courage or confidence to move forward."

A: what has been your proudest moment as an artist?

E: "
I'd say there are two that spring to mind: One was after the Manga Shakespeare launch, when my mum and dad texted me on their way home that they were proud of what I’d accomplished.  That was a huge deal for me. And a more personal ‘wow’ moment was when I was asked to be part of Image's Comic Book Tattoo anthology.  As a HUGE fan of Tori Amos, I was utterly floored to have been invited to be a part of such an amazing project. It was just a five page piece, but it made me feel I’d been noticed as an artist in some way."

A: what has been your worst moment as an artist?

E: "
I often go through patches of negativity and paranoia, I think we all do.  Those are the worst moments, I'd say.  Those times where

you can't see your work improving and where you feel you’ve somehow fallen off of the crazy rollercoaster of comics. 

One of my most negative moments was when it finally sunk in that a three book Tokyopop deal I'd signed up to do simply wasn’t going to happen.  Poor Tokyopop really went through it when the recession hit, and there were many victims, I was just one….but it was a moment of horror, as I'd not been looking to secure new work, thinking I had three books already lined up and signed.  That taught me a valuable lesson. Never take anything for granted in this business.

A: What sort of materials do you prefer using?

E: "
I’m mostly a digital artist.  I use Manga Studio for my comic pages, and Photoshop for colour.  But if I want to just draw for pleasure, I’ll often reach for a trusty sketchbook and pencil.

A: Do you have a dream project?

E: "
Currently I’m obsessed with Richard III and would love to do a series on his life, dispelling the Tudor history and restoring his name.  That's as a creator.  As an artist there are certain characters I'd love to draw and those are dream projects I suppose.  Vertigo's Fables, and Marvel's Runaways, Young Avengers or Gambit.  Sometimes I fear though, would I want to draw characters I love so much or do I prefer reading them?  Haha.  Funnily enough, I think creating Hamlet as a comic would have been one of my dream projects….I kind of wish I could do it again with all that I’ve learned since! ^_~

A: What tips would you give to a budding artist?

E: "
Draw everything.  Step out of your comfort zone and really challenge yourself.  You need to be prepared to try your hand at anything.  And draw all the time, whenever you can.  Also,

if you want to get into the industry, networking is vital.  Head to events and get to know the communities out there."

A: Which events do you regular attend on a professional basis?

"I love the London MCM Expo events. As Sweatdrop we've been attending for years and love the craziness of it and the cross section of people.  I also like to head to a few anime cons a year – though this is getting harder these days.  Regulars have been Minamicon, Ayacon, Tomodachi and Tokonatsu.  I’d love to get to Kitacon and Alcon as well, as I’ve heard good things.  There are just so many shows these days, it’s fantastic!

I also try and attend Bristol Comic Expo, Birmingham International Comics Show, Leeds Thought Bubble and the New York Comic Con as an artist as they're fantastic comic-based shows where I get to see friends, make contacts and talk shop.

A: Do you have your own website / are you on deviantART?

E: "
I do indeed. Find me at www.emmavieceli.com or just google something approximating ‘emma vieceli’, haha.  I'm also emmav on deviantART, emmav on livejournal and EmmaVieceli on Twitter.  I'm always hanging around somewhere on the net, so do say hello if you see

(click any thumbnail for a larger image)

First row (from left to right): 1. Snow Queen, inspired by Lumi from Vertigo's Fables series
2. Fanart of Billy Kaplan from Marvel's Young Avengers
3. Cover of Much Ado About Nothing, published by SelfMadeHero
Paperdream: Erin & Solomon, characters for a personal pitch

Second row (from left to right):

1. Manga panel from Dragon Heir, published by Sweatdrop Studios
2. Manga panel from a short comic contributed to Princess AI: Rumours From The Other Side.  Written by Sarah Winningham, published by TOKYOPOP
3. Manga panel from Wuthering Heights, part of Phonogram B-side.  Written by Kieron Gillen, published by Image.
4.  Precious Things, sampler from Comic Book Tattoo.  Published by Image. 

Third row (from left to right):

1. Profile
2. Fanart of Marvel's Runaways
3. Fanart of Ouran High School Host Club

Fourth row:

1. Test spread for a project on the life of Richard III

Article images (from top to bottom):

1. Untitled
2. Cover of Hamlet, published by SelfMadeHero
3. Princes In The Tower.  Illustration based on the imprisonment of Edward V & Richard Of Shrewsbury

All images are displayed here with the kind permission of Emma Vieceli