Friday, February 12, 2010

The Story of MangaPets

Part 1

In my current incarnation as an artist I am exploring pet portraits. I have done these for many years but it has been quite some time since I put up a shingle and sold them professionally. As I thought about going back into the art business I considered my style, either photo-realistic watercolor, colored and/or graphite pencils. Although I am fairly happy with that style (with the room for growth that all art should have built in), I also wanted to explore something new in the medium of pet portraits. Something more open to interpretation, more free. Since I have spent the past few years working on a webcomic in the manga style (and why is it sitting idle right now…? That’s a story for another time) I considered my Japanese influences for the use of animals in manga/anime. As seen in the illustrations below, animals are interpreted very differently in Eastern and Western comic images.

To us cartoon cats look like much more angular. They always appear to have a skeletal structure under the skin. I was most impressed when I first saw a manga/anime cat shown hanging from a child’s arms like a boneless bag. Also the weight and attitude given to lazy/sleepy cats (see the cat “Muta/Moon” in Studio Ghibli’s wonderful “Whispers of the Heart”.) To my Western eyes, this was a fresh look at a common sight. I was fascinated! I started looking at cats, dogs, and other animals with new eyes.

There was suddenly a new sense of freedom in what I saw. Working in a digital medium also broke through my old habits of rendering and slowly a new process was born. It was called MangaPets.

In part two of this post I’ll talk more directly about what MangaPets and the very interesting reactions I’ve had to them thus far.

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