Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog series: #CreativeQueens! Every few weeks we interview and feature an up and coming female content creator(s) in the video game and animation industries!
Happy New Year! We're kicking off 2021 with an interview featuring WEBTOON Artist and the Creator of "Brass & Sass", Enlik Kildibekova aka @antlerella!
Hi Enlik! Before we start can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and about “Brass & Sass”?
Sure! Hi there! If anyone’s curious, my name is pronounced n-leek (like the vegetable) and I’m a Kazakh girl living in Canada, making webcomics for WEBTOON! Brass & Sass is my current project; it’s a light-hearted read about highschool band nerds falling in love!
How exactly did you get started as a Webtoon Artist? Is art (or making comics) itself something you picked up as a childhood hobby, or did you always know it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
My older brother introduced me to anime and manga at a very young age. Since then, I’ve always been drawing, and although the goal post has changed multiple times--from wanting to be a mangaka to wanting to be an animator or illustrator--I’ve always held lofty dreams of making a living off of art someday.
Even though I knew deep down that I wanted to pursue an art-career, I was discouraged by multiple outside influences. By high school, I ended up lacking the courage to go against seemingly more realistic suggestions. This resulted in my attempt to pursue a science degree, but that didn’t last very long!
I discovered the Korean branch of WEBTOON back in middle school through “Cheese in the Trap”, and later rediscovered the newly formed North American branch because of “My Giant Nerd Boyfriend.” Seeing the app for a second time inspired me to eventually release my own comic on the platform.
The story wasn’t fully formed at the time, and I wasn’t planning on making it for too long, especially because I was juggling school at the same time.
"Purely on a whim, I started uploading anyway. I wasn’t expecting to be picked up, but I’m eternally grateful that someone saw potential in me back then."
What was the inspiration behind the story of “Brass & Sass”? Also, what was the catalyst (if any) that made you sit down and decide to begin creating it when you did?
Growing up as a band kid, I always wished for more stories centered around that premise/experience. However, the core of the story came from the time in my life when I was forcing myself to ignore my passion for drawing.
"It got me thinking a lot about an artist’s complicated love/hate relationship with creativity. Thus, a story that tries to explore the different ways people pursue art, was born."
So really, the catalyst was a need to organize my jumbled thoughts on the matter in a way that I could share with others.
"Through Brass & Sass, my goal is to communicate how I feel is the healthiest way to be a creative person."
What other artists (or even fandoms, series, works) have inspired you as an artist?
I grew up idolizing CLAMP’s works (Card Captor Sakura, Chobits, XXXholic, etc.) and also consumed copious amounts of shoujo (my favourites being Strobe Edge and Kimi ni Todoke). Sailor Moon and Ghibli were also a huge part of my childhood.
I admire a lot of artists, but especially my webtoon peers! Currently my faves are Nice to Meet You by Wishroomness, and The Kiss Bet by Ingrid Ochoa. They’re incredible and I feel like I learn so much whenever I read or look at their work!
In general though, I’m amazed by all of my fellow WEBTOON creators, Canvas and Originals alike! This community is teeming with talent and earnestness. It’s constantly inspiring!
“Brass & Sass” has over half a million subscribers at the time of this article – how does knowing that almost a million people are actively reading and engaging with your stories and characters make you feel? Is it something you ever expected to happen?
"Putting it that way is surreal."
Trying to think about the logistics is crazy, because I never even expected 10 people to read my work.
The webcomics sphere has really grown so much, and I’m so grateful to be able to be a part of it.
"It makes me so happy that so many people read comics on WEBTOON, such that anyone can share their ocs and their stories on it to find their own audience!"
What does your workstation look like? What tools are essential to your creative process?
I like to work in a very minimal space, mainly because it helps my ADHD brain focus. Really the only thing I need in order to make Brass & Sass is my trusty iPad. When I first started, I was making the entire comic, start-to-finish, on a 10.5 in iPad Pro (using Clip Studio Paint). Before I was an Originals comic, it was very useful to have this portable drawing tablet on the go when I wanted to chip away during breaks at my old job, or on the bus, or at school.
Some time after doing Webtoon full-time, I considered getting a big Cintiq to ease the load on my wrist (so I could use my full arm for drawing), but the portability of the iPad and the familiarity of my previous work flow was too appealing to give up-- so now I mainly work on an upgraded 12.9 in iPad Pro!!
Nowadays, I also do some final touches on my desktop computer on photoshop. Keep in mind that every webtoon creator has different preferences. I truly think you don’t need much to start making your own comic! You could even draw it on paper, scan it, and format it to vertical scroll (like in Miss Abott and The Doctor by Maripaz Villar) I hope seeing what tools I use though is helpful to anyone just starting out!!
Creating a comic is a huge task to undertake. There’s a lot of layers that go into the creation of such a big work, so… how do you juggle your tasks among the many hats you need to wear in the process? Like between being a character designer to being a storyteller/writer and then being an artist, etc.? Overall, what would you say the whole process has been like for you?
It’s still something I’m learning to balance. Overall, what’s helped me is to break up my workload into multiple steps, and “theme” my days around these. So one day, it’ll be “thumbnail day” and I’ll put on that hat and focus only on that. The next few days, I set my intention to drawing-- and only that. I try to make sure that each day, there is only one task to do. These tasks are very time-consuming, but at least it’s simple and clear enough to reduce stress.
"The process is ever-changing, but I’ve also hired colourists to help take off a bit of the load. Getting help has definitely also been a game-changer! "
Are there any personal benchmarks/goals/dreams you have for “Brass & Sass” in terms of perhaps a sequel story in the future, other adaptations of the story, hitting a specific reader count, etc?
Brass & Sass has already exceeded so many of my expectations! Anything extra is just a bonus at this point, because I’m just grateful to be here at all! If anything, most of my goals revolve around the future after Brass & Sass ends.
"I’d like to think that it’s simply my first stepping stone. I’ve already felt myself growing and improving so much through this story, but I have so many other ideas for new projects. I can’t wait to see where they go!"
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? On the flipside, what would you say is the most challenging?
Being able to share my story with people, and see it progress in front of my eyes. I could scarcely finish a full illustration before this job, so having 50+ episodes made is wild to me.
"The most challenging aspect is being creative on demand, and being reliably productive week to week."
What advice would you give to someone who dreams of creating a webtoon but perhaps lacks the confidence to pursue it?
"Your stories need to be told, and we want to see it!"
I was in the same boat, and now I know that the only way to gain confidence is to put yourself out there. You’ll surely surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.
"I believe in you!!!!"
What were the inspirations behind Victor and Camilla’s characters? Was there a structural process involved in breathing them to life, perhaps pieced together with your real life experiences/relationships, or is it purely imaginative and organic?
Vic and Cam represent two extremes of the story’s central theme. On one end, there’s the obsessive and elitist side of creativity, and the other end, the purely free-form, less structured side of creativity. I don’t think either end is bad, nor entirely good.
"And every creative person falls somewhere in between, and will constantly go up and down this spectrum day to day. Plus, they represent different aspects of myself."
As this is my first story, I find it easiest to draw directly from my own experiences in this way.
What are your future plans in relation to art and comics? Is creating comics something you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life or are there different fields in art, or other industries, you also want to expand into?
I’m trying to go with the flow, because while I’d love to make another WEBTOON (especially starting from scratch with all the know-how I’ve gained from my first one), I’d also love to try different creative avenues. I’d love to learn how to animate, for starters! We’ll see!
You get thousands of comments on each episode of your story where readers communicate to you how much “Brass & Sass” has impacted them, but… how would you say that “Brass & Sass” has impacted you and your life as it’s creator?
"This project has given me the courage to throw myself at creativity, totally unencumbered."
"On top of that, Brass & Sass has let me meet so many amazing people. Being part of this community has been the biggest blessing. I’m always reinvigorated by my readers; they’re the ones that get me through all the low points, and keep me chugging on!
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