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And yet again, I find myself back in the United States. How much stranger could this place be? Luckily for me, I had remembered to pack a few extra bags of Earl Grey, some of which I am sipping on right at this very moment. Now, if only these silly Americans had some crumpets... what was I doing again? Oh right. I was making my way over to Michigan to once again interview one of Smogon's more distinguished artists—this time it was Volmise. It's been quite a while since my last Arterview with #Az, but I feel refreshed after taking such a long break and now I'm ready to get back into the whole Arterview business.
Ugh, that tea really got to my bladder. After polishing off my last cup, I decided to make my graceful promenade down to the loo and commence my little tinker. Washing my hands afterwards, I looked up at the mirror and saw the unexpected...
"How could this have happened?"
"I... transformed into..."
And that was the story of Alchemator, the Arterviewer.
Hi Volmise! To start things off in the generic traditional fashion, just tell a little bit about yourself, where you live, and such.
I'm 22, living in Detroit, Michigan. I have been interested in drawing since I was a little girl—actually, just a tiny bit before Pokémon hit the states.
Honestly, I've never been to Michigan before despite having to travel a lot. Do you live near the lakes, and doesn't it get really cold?
I don't live too close to the lakes though they do surround the state and affect the weather. Winters are extremely snowy sometimes. Also yeah, it's really cold here. But I've lived up north half of my life so I'm used to it. I must say I do like summer more though.
Yeah, I live in New York City so I can relate with the cold weather sometimes. So what drew you into Pokémon? Haha, get it? Drew? Good pun, huh.
Volmise cringes at my joke and sits quietly for a moment before speaking.
I'd have to say it was during Valentine's Day in elementary school. The kids were handing out little trinkets and cards, you know the usual thing. One of the new kids who was rich and traveled a lot—his family had just gotten back from a trip to Japan—was giving out playing cards that featured some really weird looking characters on them. He explained that it was a Pokémon. A while later the show came on TV, and when it did I was hooked for life. Also for those curious, my card had Pikachu on it.
I never understood those silly Pikachu TCG cards; the illustrations back in the RBY days were weird.
Oh, no. It wasn't one of the TCGs, it was an actual playing card, like clubs, hearts, diamonds.
Oops, I totally misread that! I did not catch "playing cards" at first, haha. I actually do have a set of playing cards showing Ash and Pikachu from way back when I was four years old...
Oh man, I am silly. Realizing I made a rather stupid remark, I hesitate a bit before continuing to ask questions.
Before I move on, what do you do nowadays besides art? Any college studying or work?
I've had a few small jobs, but currently I mostly live off of art commissions and being a middleman for a collecting community.
Ah, I see. Anyway, what brought you to Smogon?
My drive to learn a bit more about competitive battles. In all honesty I've been lurking the site since the Gen III era, but it wasn't until last year that I decided to join in. Discovering Smeargle's Studio just sweetened the deal since I could show off my work and see art from other people who I had never met before.
Could you tell me a bit more about your early interests in competitive battles? I just think it's rather interesting when I see how many artists wind up on Smogon and end up being more devoted to the art rather than battling. It's pretty cool.
Well, I'm a Pokémon fan through and through. There isn't anything I wouldn't try once, and competitive battling is one of those things I 'tried' and 'liked', despite not being very good at it. I have to say my favorite tiers are NU and UU though, since they contain some of my more favored Pokémon. You won't find me in any tournaments or on the ladder though; like I said I'm nowhere near one of the best. It's mostly just a for-fun type thing, haha.
I know what you mean. NU is an amazing tier by the way! Anyway... moving on, you said that you started doing art since you were younger. But what's the rest of your history with art? What happened between then and now?
I went through that usual phase that kids go through: copying poses they see on the TV screen or cards. I will admit, when I was a kid I even traced some of the comics my grandfather had purchased for me. However, that all stopped when my art teacher in elementary school explained to me that it was wrong and wouldn't help me in the long run. He was right.
As time went on I literally drew whenever I could on whatever I could: my notes and projects in school, lined paper that I taped up around the walls of my bedroom, and even my own hands if I could get away with it. Badly drawn sharpie-Pikachu were a very common occurrence, hah. I was sort of that weird kid in middle school who'd sit in the back of the class and draw random animals and Pokémon. I never decided to turn my drawing into an actual hobby until my mother bought me a tablet for my 18th birthday. I'll be honest though, until I had obtained my tablet I was never very good, despite how much I drew. Even now I'm a little iffy on how 'good' my art is.
Oh! Speaking of Pikachu, that's your favorite Pokémon, correct?
Pikachu is my favorite, yes. It was ever since I got that card back in elementary school. Volbeat, Illumise, and Gardevoir are close seconds though!
Could you explain a bit about that Pikachu character you draw with that tuft of hair?
Oh dear, it's a bit embarrassing.
Volmise hesitated a little; I caught a glimpse of her shuffling in her seat and taking a pause before responding.
She's pretty much what 17-year-old me imagined myself as a Pokémon. But over time I dropped the 'sona' side of things and have developed her into just a character I use for a roleplay called Pokémon Crossing.
Old things just stick, huh?
They stick with a few changes, yes. Haha.
I'm pretty sure you are aware of this: many people always comment on the cleanliness of your lineart. How do you usually do it? I always hear you say that it's time-consuming, but it always yields a beautiful, simplistic look!
It's through the use of the hard round brush in Photoshop and lots of tiny little strokes with erasing to keep the lines even and clean. There really isn't more to it than that. Recently I've gotten into the habit of using Paint Tool SAI's lineart tool as well, which takes less time and yields almost the same results.
And I assume that it's this that takes up the most time for you when you do these pieces. I still haven't gotten used to that lineart tool; I just do it entirely with the brush, heh.
Yeah. The lineart is definitely what takes the longest for me. It's also the most boring part; since my sketches are so clean anyways it's pretty much just tracing!
Hah! Well, how would you describe your style anyway?
It's simplistic and clean. I had always been taught less is more!
Seems like I hit the nail right on the head when I said that! How did you develop that style anyway? Have you tried anything different like... well, I don't know... digital paintings with minimal lineart and stuff?
Paintings... I tend to get absolutely lost. It's really a concept I can't seem to wrap my head around. I guess I've used lineart in my pieces for so long that it's hard for me to keep colors in order without using lines as a guide. Lately though I've been practicing more and more on developing a painted style. It's going slow, but progress is being made. Trust me, I'm trying to get out of my comfort zones!
Definitely! Lineart really keeps things organized easily. Do you have any future plans (artistic or otherwise)?
Well... a goal of mine is to be an artist for something little children can enjoy. So either part of an art team working on cartoons, or illustrations for children's books. It also helps explain why most of my works are cutesy or sparkly, and why I have difficulty getting into more creepy or sad feelings with my pieces!
Well, I was supposed to ask the "favorite Pokémon" question now instead of earlier in the ol' classic Alchemator fashion... oops! Instead, I'll just take something that Bummer wanted to ask you! What do you think is your best quality?
Definitely my voice! I have a bit of a high-pitched voice that is perfect for sounding like multiple Pokémon. Pikachu especially.
Suddenly I hear a little squeaky and confused-sounding "Pika?" In my head I thought it was Pikachu, but it was just Volmise's spot-on voice imitations!
Oh man, that's awesome! Well, that concludes the interview. Thanks Volmise! It was a pleasure. By the way, when you publish a children's book in the future, hook me up with an autographed copy while you're at it too!
Volmise chuckles a little at my silly remark.
Yup, no problem! I'll try to get that far!
Simplistic... clean... the very words Volmise used to describe her own art. Volmise is very modest about her own work, but is honestly one of the best artists that Smogon has to offer. The cleanliness in her work may show the remarkable attention to detail, but so do her choice of colors. In many of her pieces, Volmise maintains a wonderful palette of saturated, warm colors for her nature-inspired backgrounds to show the light-hearted mood of her piece. Of course Volmise does not venture too far out of the cute and rather bright drawings, and it may be seen as a little too "young" or "childish" in terms of taste. However, they are absolutely well-executed vibrant pieces of art that could never be overlooked.
Even though Volmise doesn't always opt to go for more somber moods in her art, they aren't exactly restricted to just whimsical and playful either! Volmise has shown that she can produce art that conveys a slight variety of emotions or moods. Going to the opposite spectrum of colors, Volmise can employ darker and cooler colors with soft brushes and small glowing highlights to create a serene picture. This really exemplifies her wide range of techniques and skill!
There isn't much else to say, other than the fact that Volmise just builds upon her sketches and crisp lineart with wonderful aforementioned techniques to achieve such exceptional art. The solid backbone and foundation she starts off with in her sketches and lines... it makes me quite jealous.
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