Job Title & Description: Independent Comic Artist.
Jamie: How long have you been working in the industry?
Olivia: About a year. I’m very much a baby!
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Olivia: I’ve read comics in some form since elementary school. In those days, I was addicted to Captain Underpants. In middle school I discovered anime and manga, and that’s when I started to draw more seriously. I found webcomics and independent comics near the end of middle school and beginning of high school. In high school, I naively attempted two longform comics and neither of them lived beyond 70 pages or so. At the moment, I’m still a junior in the Illustration department at the Rhode Island School of Design. I took a comics class during the winter of my freshman year here that changed everything for me and led me towards regularly making comics again. My final project for that class actually became the first chapter of my ongoing webcomic, Alone.
Jamie: What are the highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
I’m still extremely obscure but I have had some amazing experiences already. A good number of readers have emailed, messaged, and tweeted to me about how they related to something or someone in the comic. Mainstream romance can be pretty pale, sometimes, so it’s always great to hear from Black and Latino readers who appreciate my story.
Jamie: Thank you for the work by the way with Black Girl Nerds! You are responsible for the images of our Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter avatars! Have you done work for other sites like ours?
Olivia: No problem! BGN has a special place in my heart. I haven’t done avatars for anyone else, but I have done some other work for sites like The Guardian (US) and Fusion Comics.
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about the work you do in webcomics so far?
Olivia: You need to have an actual product that you’re promoting. I think in the beginning a lot of people get caught up with the idea of their story and daydream about fan interactions and having a book but…you need to draw the story first. And don’t wait to start until you’re ‘good enough’, because you may never be where you want to be and the only way you make okay comics is by putting in the time and actually drawing them. Start small, too. If you can start and finish something, even if it’s only a few pages, you’ll gain the confidence to tackle something longer next time and go from there.
Jamie: Tell us about the live Twitter chat you participate in called #WebComicChat
Olivia: #WebcomicChat is a weekly Twitter chat where webcomic creators answer automated questions about specific topics and generate discussion with each other! I think it’s an awesome resource to get tips or advice and to get a few more eyes on your work. I’ve had some great conversations about crafting stories during #webcomicchat.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Olivia: I’ll be exhibiting at MICExpo on October 17 and 18th in Cambridge, MA! I’ve actually won a MICE Mini-Grant for a new short story I’m debuting at the show called ‘Here Lies’. You can read about it here: www.micexpo.org/grant/ along with other winning submissions. I’ll also be selling my short story Nuclear and some minivolumes of my ongoing romance/drama webcomic, Alone. Alone is about the budding relationship between a widower and former musician as they attempt to reconcile their pasts, and it updates on Thursdays!
Jamie: Since this series does revolve around comics, can you list your Top 5 comics you are reading right now?
Olivia: Agh, this is going to be difficult. In no particular order…O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti, Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis, Love Me Nice by Amanda Lafrenais, Relativity by Beck Kramer, and….Kamikaze by Havana Nguyen and Alan & Carrie Tupper. I’m leaving out many people right now and it feels awful, haha.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Olivia: The sooner you start, the better. Everyone has to draw at least 100 pages of total garbage before something really good comes out, so you might as well start now.