Company: Koyuki Panda
Job Title & Description: Founder, illustrator, comic artist
Jamie: How long have you been working in the industry?
Diandrea: Since about 2013
Jamie: Describe why you chose the art industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Diandrea: I don’t want to say something corny like I was born with a pencil in my hand even though it might be true. I’ve been drawing since before I can even remember, so doing something other than art has never really been an option for me. Since I was always drawing and making mini comic stories, my family noticed and encouraged me to participate in different art workshops, draw from life and even enrolled me in the Art Instruction School (the one with the commercials for the drawing skills tests. Ah the 90s.). I learned quite a lot of technical information for my age, but the school was expensive for us and since I was too young to work, I was forced to quit. However, I continued to pursue art and had the opportunity to go to the High school of Art and Design. After graduating, I went on to college…which didn’t last long.
My college experience was enriching, but didn’t provide me with any new information or lessons on improving my craft (which was a huge low point because it was my major!). It was here that I was introduced to photoshop and drawing tablets. I used photoshop in high school before, but for coloring characters, not really to draw and paint with. Once I got the hang of it, I spent countless hours in the Mac lab learning from tutorials, practicing and enjoying the new medium I picked up. After some health complications and being fed up with the lack of new art education I was receiving, I left college, went home and decided to teach myself. Afterwards, I started on my career path, realizing that reality would ultimately be my best teacher. I haven’t looked back since.
Jamie: What are some of the highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Diandrea: I’m still a new artist, so I still have a lot more to experience, but the first time I set up my booth at an anime convention–that was a huge highlight. It was made even more special, when con-goers would come over, purchase art and ask about my comic. I’m really grateful for that spark of interest.
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time in the business so far?
Diandrea: Always have business cards! Always plan ahead for conventions! Don’t be afraid to show your work! Always seize the opportunity to network! And never give up!
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Jamie: Since this series does revolve around comics, can you list your Top 5 comics of all time?
Diandrea: Ooh…so this rough…but
2. V for Vendetta
3. Teahouse by Emirain
4. Y: The last man
5. Starfighter by Hamlet Machine
Jamie: What has your experience been as a Black woman creating comic art? Have you had many challenges? Is it getting harder or easier?
Diandrea: It’s already pretty challenging to find a place in this industry but being a women can be difficult at times. People may not take you seriously enough but I usually try to twist problematic situations into my motivation.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Diandrea: If you are the type to be shy about sharing artwork, train yourself to not be. Toughen up and definitely learn to grow thick skin. Not everyone will like your work so be prepared to learn new things and draw your ass off because your level of quality may not be up to standard as well. Learn to critique your work and avoid laziness. The biggest advice I think I can give is to also be prepared for the amount of artwork you’ll need to produce for this kind of job
Jamie: Are you attending any events or participating in any panels in Spring/Summer 2016?
Diandrea: I’m planning to attend SpringFest NY, Castle Point Anime Convention and maybe AnimeNEXT, but beyond that, I’m not sure. However, for more information about where I might be for next spring and summer, please look on my website at www.Koyukipanda.com