An Interview With Siya Oum

Yes, the Spider-Woman #1 covers by Milo Manara and Greg Land generated lots of outrage and press, but could we stop to give some credit where it’s due? Siya Oum’s variant cover for the same issue is not only beautiful, but it was colored by hand. Let me say it again–it was colored by hand.

Want to know the process? According to Oum’s progress shots on Facebook, she uses both sumi and Pilot ink after penciling her work, then colors over the illustration with Copic markers. The background is then airbrushed after some careful masking for preservation. This is all on one page, so the danger of making mistakes is very real.

Cover: Spider-Woman #1, Dennis Hopeless & Siya Oum. Marvel Comics, 2014.

When she isn’t creating beautiful covers for Marvel, Siya is writing and illustrating LOLA XOXO for Aspen Comics. Issue #2 is currently in stores.

I noticed from your progress photos of the Spider-Woman cover, that you used Copic markers to color it. Why do you prefer this over digital coloring?

It’s quite an experience to see, feel, smell, and hear the work being created. I wanted to feel what I was creating on paper, and if I messed up, I had to find a way to fix it without an undo button. It seemed like a natural progression for me to go from mostly digital to mostly traditional.

I love digital art and the process of making it. Before I started to use Photoshop in college, I was using traditional mediums. A huge part of me missed the feeling of brush, paper, ink, and just getting my hands dirty. There was always something to show for all the time put into each piece. My medium of choice use to be colored pencils and markers.

A close-up of Siya’s work. Siya uses Copic markers, rather than digital painting. (Credit: Siya Oum, 2014)

Who are your art inspirations? This doesn’t have to be limited to comic artists.

Iain McCaig, Feng Zhu, Michael Turner, Norman Rockwell, Kenneth Rocafort, Adam Adamowicz, to name a few!

The cover is prepared for airbrushing. Siya creates a mask to protect her work. (Credit: Siya Oum, 2014)

Your resume includes everyone from Upper Deck to Disney. What’s been your favorite project so far?

My favorite project would honestly have to be my creator-owned book, published by Aspen Comics, “Lola XOXO.” My resume is severely outdated; I need to get on that.

What’s your dream project? This could be teaming up with someone you’ve always admired, or tackling a series of your own.

I have been fortunate enough to work on my own series “Lola XOXO” this year, and am still doing so. Through the project I have been able to work with people I have always admired, and I hope to keep going, to keep working with these amazing artists and writers.

 You can learn more about Lola XOXO at their website. Follow Siya Oum and Aspen Comics on Twitter.

K. Guillory

K. Guillory

K. Guillory is a graphic novelist and fine artist from Detroit, Michigan. She is one-half of the all-female comics company Ashur Collective, which focuses on pulp fiction and stories of dark magic. She's rather talkative and posts quite a bit of art; you can find her on Twitter at @kgpaints, or Tumblr at theuniverseisfinite.