Hello, everyone! Welcome to our brand-new blog series: #CreativeQueens! Every few weeks we feature an up and coming female content creator in the video game and animation industries!
This week we interviewed Illustrator and Game Artist, Yolanda Leif! Let's get started!
Hi Yoyoleif! Before we start can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and when you first started drawing?
Hi there! My name is Yolanda Leif, I’m 22 years old, and I was born in the Philippines but I grew up in southern California where I currently still live!"
I first started drawing in elementary school. My friends and I started drawing comics during lunch and sharing stories and characters that we made. That was when I really started drawing every day. I just wanted so badly to share art with my friends and improve my skills!
What artistic styles would you say have impacted your style as an artist the most?
Anime and manga have definitely been the strongest influences in my art. I definitely watched a crazy amount of anime in middle school, haha. I remember pausing scenes in Naruto on the TV, and redrawing the frame that was paused on. Making fan art is what continues to lead me to want to draw all the time. I just find a lot of joy in creating fan art of what I love."
Lately I’ve felt really inspired by Naoki Saito’s art. He’s done a lot of art for the Pokemon trading card game, and is the lead artist for the mobile game Dragalia Lost.
"I’m influenced by so many different artists it’s hard to keep track of. I keep folders and save art I love and look at them every day for inspiration. "
What is your career ‘dream goal’ as an illustrator?
Honestly I’m still figuring out my goals for my art career! I guess working on any franchise I love would be a great honor and goal for me! I’ve been really interested in working in video games, and actually have worked on a couple indie games called Ghost Fight!! and Space Probe.
Above all I’d like to have a role in creating art that inspires other people to create art as well! Also making art that makes people happy is another goal of mine. Though to be a bit more specific, my goal is definitely to be an artist working in character art and design.
What does your workstation look like? What tools are essential to your creative process?
So I have some beautiful Neon Genesis fan art by omocat up top. The left is an Android 18 portrait by JimboBox. The right side has Princess Mononoke fan art by zetallis. Below that is a drawing of me from my friend @v4karian on twitter! I met them online and we are very close friends now, and they were kind enough to send me a letter and that drawing!
On the right side of my desk is a photo reference book of action poses. I use it to study anatomy and to push myself to make more dynamic drawings!
I used to use a Cintiq 13 HD tablet and Clip Studio Paint to draw, but now I use an iPad Pro 10.5” and Procreate to make all my art now.
Where do you derive your main sources of inspiration from and in what forms would say they manifest into your art?
I definitely take much of my inspiration from playing video games and reading manga. Even if it’s not necessarily the style I want to develop in my art, I really ‘recharge’ myself with those two mediums. I guess just experiencing other people’s creations is the best way to get myself inspired to make art."
"Just seeing other people’s ideas brought to life in intriguing ways really motivates me to do that myself."
What are your top 3 favorite pieces you’ve done up till now?
The second piece, the girl with the spear, is a Dungeons & Dragons commission. Someone’s fiance commissioned me for a surprise gift of their fiance's D&D character for Christmas! The client then messaged me after Christmas and let me know that the illustration was now sitting framed by their bed and the recipient was super happy.
That honestly made me so happy I couldn’t describe.
If you could meet and study under any artist throughout history, who would it be and why?
I would probably want to study under Rumiko Takahashi. She is an absolutely incredible manga artist and creator of Inuyasha, Ranma ½ , and Urusei Yatsura. I admire everything from her character designs to her story writing. I really love Inuyasha and Takahashi’s art in that manga. She is just a really brilliant artist I couldn’t even fathom meeting and studying under her, but it would be incredible to say the least.
Could you show us a drawing from when you first started drawing to now? What advice would you give someone new to the art field?
My biggest advice to someone new in the art field is to not be afraid of experimenting with your art! Also, don’t stress about your style because it just naturally happens. There is so much pressure to post finished illustrations every day on social media.
Not everything has to be super polished and 'post-worthy'.”
"You should feel free to make art just for yourself for the sake of improvement and your own enjoyment."
What hurdles do you think pose the biggest challenge for you as an illustrator?
The biggest challenges for me as an illustrator are my own skill and financial stability. I’ve been freelancing lately and it’s definitely difficult supporting myself financially, but I believe I’ll find more opportunities as I expand my skillset.
I know I have a lot to improve on, and that’s definitely always going to be one of the biggest challenges of being an illustrator. That’s why practicing regardless of what level you’re at is important no matter what! It’s definitely tough when you think about how much you really need to work on your own skills, but at the same time it’s exciting that there’s just that much room and more to grow!
What are your future plans in relation to art?
I plan on just working on improving my art every day and seeing where that takes me. I don’t quite have concrete goals for my art career except for the fact that I want to better my skills constantly. There’s just so much to learn and that’s one of the exciting things about art!
"Sorry I don’t have such an interesting answer haha, but I guess all I can say is my future plan for art is to give it my all and see where I end up."
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