Interview With Detroit Artist Emily Zelasko

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?

emily zelasko,, mermaidI 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?

emily zelasko,, shipSo 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.emily zelasko,, tiger

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.



Romona Williams

Romona Williams

Romona Williams is an ex-librarian, current tutor, and constant writer. She can usually be found in antiquarian bookstores, curiosity shops, and carnivals after dark.