Artist Spotlight: Ikumi Moriya

Ikumi’s Portfolio


Could you give us a brief overview of your art background (when you first became interested in art, education, work history, etc…)?
I spent my early childhood in Japan, where comic books and anime are big part of culture. I was an avid manga reader myself, and just like any other Japanese girl, I spent much of my time drawing girls and princesses on cheap notepads.In high school, I saw Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and wondered what it would be like to work for an animation studio. This was before internet was available, so information was harder to come by. I wasn’t even aware that there were schools that taught animation! . All I knew was that I liked to draw, so I eventually found myself enrolled in an Illustration program at a certain New York art school.I’d like to say the school taught me invaluable skills and life lessons, but I actually found the program pretty boring. I spent a full semester in one class copying sewing machines and paper bags. 
Things turned around when I met a friend who was an intern at a TV animation studio called Jumbo Pictures. I finally found my calling! I immediately applied for an internship as a cel painter, quit my school, and then became a color key artist for a show called PB&J Otters. I migrated from one project to another between different studios for the next few years, and  learned a lot about various aspects of TV animation production.

Could you describe how you came up with your particular style(s) of art?
My roots has always been Japanese shojo manga. None of my American friends were accustomed to the style, and I felt ashamed to be different at times. But I knew how great manga was, and I knew that people would eventually come to appreciate it.

More people are familiar with the style now, and people actually verbalize that my work is anime. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. The statement doesn’t mean much to me, except that I’m being categorized into a genre. Whenever I get such response, my reaction is to work harder to create pieces that evoke deeper reaction than that.

Kitty_Magic_by_IkupooWe’d like to know about your creative process. Could you tell us a little about how you create your pieces?
I sketch out my roughs in pencil, then I edit and enlarge to size in Photoshop. I transfer the drawing using a light table to a watercolor paper (Canson Montval cold press) then I use acrylic washes to build values. Then I paint layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of watercolor wash. The water background on all the Arludik pieces took a total of 4 layers of washes. I later often use color pencils to tighten and define certain areas. It’s so time consuming, I need to devise a faster way to paint.

What were your influences (both technical and aesthetic) as you developed artistically?
Aside from manga, I also love Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arietty, and films by Mamoru Hosoda, especially Wolf Children. I love the juxtaposition of beautiful backgrounds against simple character design and animation.

I’m sure that I’m influenced by my husband, Bill Presing, but I never tried to draw like him. People assume that I try to draw like Bill, but I think his influence is subconscious. He’s had more influence on my attitude towards art more than anything else.

Do you find particular inspiration in any other art forms?
My inspiration sometimes comes from graphic design and store displays. But most of my inspiration comes from life, combined with lots of day dreaming.

Where do you find inspiration outside of art? What are your passions in life?
I receive inspiration from being in a beautiful place alone with my thoughts. This means enjoying a nice summer day in my hometown in Long Island, swimming in my favorite ocean in Oahu, scuba diving, cooking, gardening, and food, food food!!!!! You may have guessed surfing, but no, I don’t surf. I’m also inspired by girls who have healthy, toned bodies, maybe even a bit muscular. I see a lot of images with beautiful, wispy ladies, but that’s not who I am, nor what I aspire to be. I like being around girls who are happy, cheerful and lively. My main goal is to depict such joy in all the girls I draw.

b0fdfc6d0c5532ea1a16d893a3d8e4df-d5yif3o How has working professionally helped you develop as an artist? 
Working in both TV production and mobile gaming made me develop speed, as well as versatility.
I’ve also learned to maintain professionalism while remaining flexible during unforeseen circumstances.

Do you have a preference between working with digital or traditional methods? Could you give a couple reasons why? 
There’s always a part of me who is seduced by the convenience of digital media, but I never seem to choose an easy route. I get the most satisfaction out of completing traditional paintings, no matter how many times I wind up cursing, crying, and tearing up failed experiments.

As art industries continue to evolve with these digital production methods, what is your advice to aspiring professional artists? 
Knowing digital programs is only a small part of what is required to remain a professional artist. For artists like us, it’s essential to dedicate our free time to elevate ourselves to the next level. Currently, I am dedicating my nights and weekends to studying After Effects, 3D animation and drawing my personal pieces, while balancing a full time job, raising a family, and keeping house.

Look ahead a decade. Where do you see yourself with your art (both personal and professional)? 
I used to long for working for certain companies, but I realized that my own happiness doesn’t come from being hired at a particular place. That puts my happiness into someone else’s hands. Instead, I created my own personal goals to develop as an artist- gallery shows, animation projects, conventions- which I hope to achieve in less than 10 years. Being a wife and a mother is also a big project, so I hope that I could maintain a good balance between my artist self and other self.