Emily Zelasko is an up and coming Metro Detroit illustrator and comic writer who should not be missed. Her art is spunky, original, and immensely eye-catching. After seeing her work in person at the recent Kids Read Comics Con and ComiqueCon, I had the opportunity to ask Emily some questions about her work.
How did you first get into art? And then, how did you first begin working in comic art?
I have always liked drawing. I started keeping a sketch book when I was very young. My cousin and I would spend time drawing for fun. I also really liked cartoons and animation and would seek out the latest animated films. Animation really got me into art.
I went to school for art because I could not see myself doing anything else and it was a decision between animation and illustration. I chose illustration. Eventually sometime after college someone asked me to illustrate a children’s book and after that project was done we talked about doing a comic and I found I really enjoyed comics and wanted to do more. The visual storytelling is very appealing to me.
Who/what would you say are your main artistic influences?
In no particular order, my peers, experiences, books and movies.
What has your experience as a comic artist working in Metro Detroit been like?
So far, I love it! The people I have met doing comics and at comic shows I find to be very nice and hardworking, and it is motivating to see them pursue their goals. A lot of them are focused on pursuing their own characters, stories, or styles and I appreciate that. It is exciting to me. There are some good markets for independent comics, but I think it can be hard to bring in a new audience if they are not already interested in independent comics. I do think there is a good, growing art community in Metro Detroit. We are not lacking in variety and talent.
What is your process for creating new material?
When I am working on someone else’s project and I read the story, it usually plays out like a movie in my head. I can see it visually right away, and based on the writing style I can get a sense for how it should look visually. I also do research and find references, since history and nature have more to offer than my head alone.
For my own comics and pieces, usually I write what I want to draw, like an environment or character. For example, I have a character in my sketchbook that I would like to interact with and see doing things. I write stupid stuff and sometimes it can lead to a great idea. The story for Old Man, Dog, and the Ocean came from a silly line I wrote about a talking fish in some stew.
It seems to be the silly ideas and doodles that grow into a full story. For my own stuff, it has to be fun.
What books and comic books are you reading right now?
I know I’m really behind on the times, but I am reading through Bone, by Jeff Smith. A friend just gave me a copy of Breakfast of Champions and I’m excited to get started.
Emily will be artist of the month at City Coffeehouse in Allen Park, Michigan for December.