Artist Feature: Angela Long
Angela Long, who also goes by Sono, is an artist and a regular podcaster for unKamencast-RX.
She is also trying her hand at RPG Maker games and visual novels, which can be supported over at her Patreon. There she posts sketches, character sprites, and music for her visual novel, “Sharktooth” and her Kamen Rider-inspired RPG, “Decode”. She also live streams her work on her Picarto channel, “Mama Draws.”
Where did you grow up and how did you discover a passion for art?
I’ve lived my entire life (with the exception of my college years) in central New Jersey, within a few miles of the beach, which has been a gorgeous place to grow up, as long as you’re looking in the right places.
My aunt and grandmother are both fine artists, and my mom always loved doing coloring books with me, so I’ve always been encouraged to draw. I got into anime very young with Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and everything that came along in their wake and started imitating what I was watching.
In high school, a friend started showing me different webcomics and I latched onto that and knew that that was the sort of thing I wanted to do when it came time for a real job.
We really love your Kamen Rider inspired pouches. How did you come up with each design and can you walk us through their creation process?
Thank you! A few of the designs, like the “Nyamen Rider Blade” series mostly started as doodles I did at work to pass the time. I thought they were cute, and other people liked them so cleaning them up to sell seemed like a smart idea. The Dream Vegas design had originally been done to print on twill tape as part of a cosplay, but I loved the pieces so much that I made a pattern for that too.
A lot of it just comes from whatever I’m thinking a lot about at the time. More often than not, I’ll sketch a design out on paper first. I’m much better with proportions making sense working directly on paper than digitally, so it helps me make sure things look right to start that way.
Then I’ll scan it into Photoshop and decide what sort of look I’m going for, whether it’s something very graphic like the Dream Vegas or Nyamen Rider Blade patterns, or something more illustrative like the black & white Shroud design. Then some corrective sketching (if needed), inking, coloring, and (if necessary) shading.
If it’s a repeating pattern, there’s a handful of extra steps to setting that up that involve repeated offsetting and adding repeated instances of elements. It’s a little complicated, but I find it to be kind of fun.
Will you have the pattern available on other items, like scarves or phone cases?
I try to make each design available on as many items that RedBubble offers as I can. Usually if you scroll down past the top product, RedBubble will show everything else it’s offered on. I think it was a little harder to find when I first launched the shop, but now they’re pretty clear about showing everything. I know there’s also a menu on the left in the shop that lets you select a product, and it will sort into everything I have on that type of item.
How did you discover tokusatsu?
Aside from watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as a kid, it was first brought to my attention in my last year of college. A comic I was doing at the time with a friend was going to be making a reference to Kamen Rider, so I thought I should have some familiarity with it and I had some friends back home who were getting into it.
This was the middle of 2010, so the first thing I saw was the initial magazine scans that showed Shroud in Kamen Rider W. I thought she had such a cool character design (She’s long since become my favorite Kamen Rider character.), and told them that I was willing to give the show a shot after I’d graduated.
I was marathoning W while OOO’s was airing, and when Fourze started I started watching that and OOOs every week and I absolutely fell in love with Kamen Rider. I started picking up some Super Sentai too and at that point I just couldn’t get enough and began watching as much as I could get my hands on!
Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with?
Photoshop is where I do the majority of my work, though I really do love just doodling with pencil on paper.
I’ve invested in Kyle T. Webster’s megapack and watercolor pack of Photoshop brushes and they’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with. I can’t recommend them enough to anyone who does a lot of digital art.
How has being active on Tumblr and other social media supported your work?
Tumblr has it’s pros and cons, but overall it’s been a really positive experience for me. I’ve met a lot of other fans that have really helped me learn and grow. All of the tokusatsu fans I’ve gotten to know have always been wonderful, supportive people. They bounce ideas around with me and help me pick out the best ones to expand on.
Being more active on Twitter was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made though, especially in the past year. It’s allowed me to meet and reach a lot more people and show things I’m working on as I do it, and also to just be more active in conversations with the tokusatsu fan community– especially since I started co-hosting on the UnKamenCast-RX podcast.
Do you have any projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
My two main projects right now are “Sharktooth”, a short magical girl visual novel, which is what I’m mainly working on, and “Decode”, a Kamen Rider inspired RPG, which is slightly more on the back burner for the moment. I’m working on them as often as possible, but it’s slow-going with my day job.
What would be the best advice you can give to aspiring artists?
The best advice I can give is to get your hands on as many tutorials as possible, especially for things you’re not as good at, and try all of them. Try everything, and learn from as many different kinds of artists as you can find. That’s really the best way to improve and grow.
I was resistant to that kind of thing for a long time, because I thought I wanted my artwork to look a certain way, and that things that didn’t look like that weren’t useful. I could not possibly have been more wrong. I’ve learned from classical fine art, anime, western comics and cartoons– there’s so much variety in art that you can only ever make yourself better by taking in more.
There’s absolutely nothing to lose.