Saturday, April 17, 2010

Interview with Saiful Remy Mokhtar (eisu)

Do you have an educational background in art?
I did go to a local college here in Malaysia (or at least it was a college, it just got upped into University a couple of years ago) called Lim Kok Wing Creative Institute. I took a major in 2D animation but we still learn Figure Drawing and some Graphic Design stuff so, yeah, I honed my artistic skills in the 3 and a half years I was there.

How did you get involved in sketch cards/What was your first sketch card job?
I'm a friend of Irma Ahmed or more widely known as Aimo and I saw her doing a lot of Sketchcard jobs, particularly from Topps involving Star Wars and stuff and I got interested but didn't join yet. Then I saw a call online for artists to join in the Marvel Masterpieces II sketchcard gig from Upper Deck and, hey, big Marvel fan here, I applied straight away and got in.

How do you feel about working on such a small surface?
It's very restricting but challenging. I do erase the initial skethces I drew A LOT, but I'm used to it now so it's actually pretty cool. And I like the fact that I can draw a full drawing with backgrounds and everything and not worrying about whether I filled the space enough or not, because the small space means, even if you don't have a background, it's filled, ha ha ha. Naw, just kidding about that, I do try to fill up empty space with colours so that it'll look full.

How do you feel about the entire process?
It's pretty much the same with what I've done before, which is drawing comics (mostly local), so the deadline pressure from companies and all that isn't anything really new to me. But, new or not, I somehow always manage to drag the work til the last minute and pull all nighters so that I can finish the job. I really gotta stop doing that.

Do you prefer to work with a specific media (pencil, marker, paint, etc)?
Pretty much pencils, brushpen and markers for me. I'm not much of a painter cos I'm not as well-trained on that (my own fault, never having the patience or attention span to learn it well) but with markers, I really love using them. It might be the instant application without worrying that I might smear the colours or something like or just the fact that it's like using a pen or a brushpen but with colours that makes me like it so much, I dunno but markers have always been my weapon of choice when it comes to colouring.

Do you have a lot of contact with collectors regarding your cards?
When I started my commissions, yes, but I've been making a mistake of not putting myself out there in the sketchcard forums and communities so it's been dwindling down. I guess I should start being more pro-active in this sense so that I can continue to work on sketchcards, personal or otherwise.

How do you feel about some collectors wanting more detailed cards versus what sketch card artists are paid to work on the cards?
Well, when it comes to official APs, I usually charge by the specifics of what the collectors want. The more detailed it is, the higher I charge. I haven't really done that for my commissions yet because so far I've been getting commissioners that are pretty okay with just asking who they want without going into specifics about the details they want the card to be like, but I feel that if the collectors want more detailed card, the sketch card artists should charge a bit more for the specifics, because drawing something when asked like, "Power Girl please" is easy cos you can just draw her in whatever pose you want but when someone asks, "I want Power Girl flying down towards the camera carrying a tank above her head and looking like she's going to throw the tank at you and I want the Metropolis skyline in the background but make it look sort of blurry as if Power Girl is moving really fast" is actually quite difficult as you have to make it look, hopefully, to match the descriptions and that takes a lot of planning and time to make sure it comes out just right, so yeah, collectors should be prepared to cough up a bit more for the artist's hard work.

Have you had any bad experiences with collectors?
Thankfully, no. So far the collectors that I've had to work with have been very civilised and patient (seriously, sometimes I would drag on a commission for so long, I'm surprised the collector haven't hired a hitman to kill me... though I guess they wouldn't since that would be more expensive than the commission they're asking me for anyway, ha ha ha ha).

Bad experiences with companies?
I've worked with Upper Deck, 5Finity and Sadlittles so far and haven't really gotten any bad experience from them yet like getting stiffed for payment or anything, so, again, thankfully, no. Maybe when I put myself out there, I'd get a company that would screw me over then I'll get to chalk one up for the bad experience score, ha ha ha ha.

Has your career as an artist benefited from doing sketch card work?
Can't really say right now. Like I said, I'm not really that pro-active in the sketchcard biz so I'm not really seeing any huge changes in my art career currently but hopefully once I get more time and can spend a lot of it to just put myself out there, I can maybe lift my career up to a better status.

What was the most difficult sketch card set you have worked on to date? What made it difficult?
I have to say, to date, is my latest job, Pin ups and Puppies (P'ups). I had fun drawing it, yes, but at the same time the pressure of trying to draw the right Puppy breeds to make them look accurate was so difficult for me. I did get frustrated in the middle of doing the job at one point and felt like I don't wanna see anymore puppies but in the end, I finished the job and am pretty happy with the result.

Are there any cards that you are particularly proud of?
I have one in the P'ups one that I'm proud of but I'm not allowed to show it, ha ha ha.

Some companies provide return cards or artist proofs for working on sketch card sets. What do you do with yours?
I put them out for commissions. Well, about 80% of my APs anyway, the other 20% I like to draw something I want and sell it. I myself am sadly not a card collector and wouldn't know what to do with the cards so the only way I can see it being of use is to actually put it out there and let someone who is a card collector keep it and treat it well.

Do you see yourself continuing with sketch card sets?
I do. I enjoy drawing these cards especially interesting sets like Damsels & Dinosaurs. That one is fun... I'm not fully done with it yet so I have no previews to show of it, but hey, stay tuned to my Deviantart, I'll post there as soon as I finish the set and get approval for it.

Is there any advice you would like to give to people wanting to break into the sketch card ‘biz’?
Just have fun. The cards are small but that adds up to the challenge and upon finishing a set, there's always a sense of satisfaction but you gotta have fun doing it. Take it too seriously and you might grow to hate it, so just have fun with it. There's a lot of creativity that can be shown in a single card but it won't appear unless you have fun with it.

Can you tell us what future sketch card sets you'll be working on?
As I mentioned above, I'm working on the Damsels & Dinosaurs set right now and I also two other Sadlittles set I'm doing, Rantz Angels and Dreamers of Darkness. I also have a Rittenhouse project underway but I have no idea if I'm allowed to talk about it so I'll just keep it under wraps for now. Hopefully I'll get to do more sets in the future when I'm done with these and are able to post them online as part of my "Putting myself out there" mission.

What are you currently working on?
I'm actually underway of drawing a test script for Marvel comics hoping to get hired as an artist and am still working on an online comic I'm collaborating with Bobby Crosby called Marry Me ( ). There's also another comic I'm working on for Heavy Metal magazine but I dunno of the position whether or not I'm able to talk about it so... yeah, ha ha ha ha.

Where can people see more of your work?
My deviantart, is where I frequently put up any new artworks I do, but I also have a blogspot at and a livejournal and I also have an online comic that is currently on hiatus called No Pink Ponies at Yeah, those are places you can go to to check out my artworks.

Thank you SO much for your time!!

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