Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jillian Tamaki: Subconscious influences

Here's something that really rings a bell when it comes to how important Children's picture books can be and how they influence you in a subconscious way big time.

This bit is from an interview Jillian Tamaki did with Hellen Jo in Bust Magazine. The whole interview is good but the part I thought was so on point in relation to the topic of this blog hereeeee is right here below. In fact, when Helen mentioned Candy Candy I was reminded that I too was once into Candy Candy and that there was a candy shop really close by where me and my friend used to buy bubble gum to get the Candy Candy comics in them (and of course pig out on the candy) I also used to have a Candy Candy poster that I totally worshipped. I can remember thinking how absolutely beautiful Candy Candy was and then I'd go out and pretend to be her... and so did my friend really, people must have just seen two identical Candy Candys walking down the street when they saw us instead of some little six year old German kids in Teneriffe:

Jlllian: I hate questions about “influences”, but let’s try this: I find some things are “conscious” influences, for example, buying a artist monograph or watching a lot of French New Wave films because they speak to you in an artistic way. But some influences are “subconscious”, like your favourite picturebook you studied for hours as a child, or a piece of art that was in your childhood home. Do you agree? What are your “conscious” and “subconscious” influences?

Hellen: I’ve always believed that everything you consume or absorb or witness in life, whether you liked it, hated it, or had no opinion about it, influences your creative output in some way. As much as I can control the quality and content of my work, I can’t completely filter what I see or hear, nor can I really control how those things will affect me. I definitely agree with you that there are “conscious” and “subconscious” influences, and I’ve had many of both. As far as “conscious” influences go, the most obvious ones are my favorite comic book creators, including Taiyo Matsumoto, Xaime Hernandez, Julie Doucet, Charles Burns, Dan Clowes, Junji Ito, Suehiro Maruo… the list goes on and on. All of these cartoonists deal in some way in their writing and art with the horror of coming-of-age, which is my primary motivation. Similarly, coming-of-age horror films fit that niche nicely for me, of which my favorites are Tale of Two Sisters, Let the Right One In, and the Whispering Corridors.

In terms of “subconscious” influences, I’d say the most important one was probably the Japanese girls’ comic, Candy Candy. As a comic, I can’t really say much about it, because I owned a Korean version when I was too young to be able to read it, but the drawings! I’d always liked drawing when I was a kid, but I think Candy Candy was the first book I’d seen where I thought the images were absolutely beautiful. The characters had large sparking eyes, they were constantly surrounded by furious floral windstorms, and everyone wore a tuxedo or frilly lace dress at all times. I stared at those drawings for hours, and I think I was eventually convinced that the only good art was pretty art. I don’t believe that now, but it has definitely affected my preferences in comics and the style in which I draw.

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