【Interview】Copic Award 2022 Finalist Sushidog
We interviewed Sushidog, who was chosen as a finalist of COPIC AWARD 2022, focusing on their use of the Copic Airbrushing System (ABS).
Please watch the video to see the ABS technique, which is essential for expressing the "roughness" that is a distinctive feature of Sushidog's work.
Sushidog’s video is now available on the Copic YouTube channel!
You can see how the combination of smooth coloring with Copic Sketch markers and the "graininess" of the airbrush particles, which is unique to airbrushing, gives her work a very special look.
If you have never heard of Copic ABS before, please take this opportunity to discover the world of airbrushing.
In addition, line drawings for coloring and stencil sheets by Sushidog are available on the official Copic website, so be sure to download them.
Copic Interview with Sushidog
Q: Could you tell us about your background?
Sushidog: My dad is American, and my mom is Japanese, so I call myself Sushidog. It's a combination of hot dog and sushi, my favorite food from each country.
I have loved drawing since I was a child, and my hobby led me to start working on illustration through a commission website in the US.
After moving to Japan in late 2019, I started streaming to let people know about my work and activities, as I work from home more often due to COVID-19. While showing my creation process through streaming, I became more fascinated with the joy of drawing illustrations with analog art materials, and I now work as a streamer and illustrator.
Q: How did you start using Copic?
When I was a little kid, I saw a manga color illustration done with Copic, and it was so beautiful that it stayed in my mind. Then I had a chance to try Copic myself, and I was very impressed by the vivid colors and the ease of drawing with it. When I started creating illustrations as an adult, I mainly used digital tools, but through trial and error, I realized that analog drawing suited me better. While experimenting with various drawing materials, I again realized the usability of Copic, and it became my main drawing material.
Q: We understand that you lived in the US as a child. Were there any differences in the influences of the different environments of Japan and the US on your artwork?
Sushidog: Yes. When I lived in the US, Lisa Frank's work was quite popular, and I was very interested in her technique of combining bold colors with animal motifs. In Japan, I was particularly interested in the powerful expression of manga and was influenced by various artists in the use of screen tones and Copic.
Q: Your works convey the emotions of the girls you portray. Is there anything you are particularly intentional about when you draw?
Sushidog: I think about what the characters are doing and how they are feeling, and I try to create a backstory to give a lot of information in a single piece, just like a scene in a comic book.
Copic Award 2022 Finalist Entry
"Nature's beautiful Patterns"
Q: Congratulations again on your selection for the 2022 COPIC AWARD! As in your entry for the 2022 AWARD, you have used Copic ABS in many of your works. What made you use ABS, and what attracted you to it?
Sushidog: Thank you so much! I have loved Japanese manga since I was a kid, and I was particularly impressed by the glamorous airbrush illustrations used in manga from the 1990s.
I considered using an airbrush for my illustrations, but it was too expensive to invest in. Then I found Copic ABS and was attracted by the fact that it did not require a compressor or other fancy equipment, so I gave it a try and was surprised by the unique texture only airbrush can offer. I think the advantage of coloring with Copic is that in addition to the excellent vividness, the smooth texture, and the ability to express gradations. By using Copic ABS, I can add a rough texture that is very appealing and gives the finished piece a different look.
Q: In what specific areas of your work do you often use ABS?
Sushidog: I mainly use it for backgrounds to express the soft feeling of 90's shoujo manga/girls' comic backgrounds or a neon-like glow. I also use it for character details, such as shadows and black tights, to give them a unique texture that cannot be expressed with Copic markers alone. You can also use stencils and masking sheets to color even the finest details nicely. It is fun to find new ways of expression!
Q: What kind of paper do you use to create your works? Also, what are your tips for using an airbrush effectively?
Sushidog: The paper I use is the Copic Paper Selections: Premium Bond Paper.
The tip for airbrushing is to spray a little away from the paper and layer the colors to get a clean finish! You can mix the colors well when the nozzle is not too close to the paper.
Q: Copic ABS comes in two models; The ABS Air Can Set and the Air Adaptor Set. Which one do you use? Also, how do you recommend using them differently?
Sushidog: I am currently using the Air Adapter Set. It is because it is stable enough to use for a long time or research new methods of coloring.
The Air Can Set is not suitable for long hours of work, but it is incredibly easy to use. I thought airbrushing was complicated, requiring a compressor and special ventilation equipment. I was surprised to find that all I had to do was insert a Copic marker of my favorite color into the Air Grip, and it was ready to use.
I recommend the Air Can Set to everyone new to airbrushing and who wants to use it to accent their work.
Q: What are your favorite ABS techniques?
Sushidog: Here's a technique I used in my entry for the COPIC AWARD. When I was working on the freckles, I blocked the air outlet with my finger to randomly disrupt the airflow so that I could create uneven-sized dots. I couldn't see how the ink would spread until I tried it, and the result was somewhat dependent on luck. But I guess that is the fun thing about analog art materials. I enjoyed creating my entry with these coincidences as well.
Q: In your ABS tutorial video, you used various items such as stencil sheets and masking sheets. Are there any essential items you would recommend to anyone interested in trying ABS?
Sushidog: I want everyone to try and enjoy using ABS casually, but if I had to recommend one item, it would be a masking sheet.
If you go to your local dollar stores, you can find fabric laces with cute patterns, heart-shaped stickers, artificial flowers, etc. Place them on the paper and apply your favorite colors with ABS - You will get a clearer idea of what you need by airbrushing on different things.
Q: You have used Copic Multiliner pens for the line art that appeared on the official Copic website. What colors and nib widths do you recommend?
Sushidog: I use the black Mulitiliner pens a lot because I like the crisp, sharp lines reminiscent of shonen manga/boys' comics. I mainly use the 0.03 nib, but when I want to make the line thicker, I use the 0.05 for overlay.
I also use colored Multiliner pens when I want to soften the finish, such as the inner lines of hair or flowers.
Screenshot of the illustration creation process while online streaming.
They use ABS in the program and actively interact with their fans.
Q: You are also a Twitch partner. Isn't it difficult to livestream while creating illustrations?
Sushidog: Well, I originally started this live streaming to let people know about my work, and there is a lot of pressure to create a certain level of high-quality work for the audience to see, which is sometimes a challenge.
However, the viewers not only support my creative activities but also chat with me during the streaming and give me ideas when I'm stuck in my work.
It's like we're working together, and I enjoy livestreaming every day.
Q: You are very active in interacting with your fans. Do you ever get questions from fans about Copic?
Sushidog: I get a lot of questions about Copic from viewers overseas. These questions include what kind of paper I use, how Copic is different from other markers, and what to do if there is a mistake in coloring. Each time I answer these questions, I show them the paper I use or explain how to recover the mistake by intentionally dripping the ink on the paper.
Their workspace is complete with a variety of art materials and streaming equipment.
Q: Do you use digital tools in your work? If so, when do you use them?
Sushidog: I use digital tools when experimenting with different ideas, that is, at the rough sketch stage.
For example, if I cannot decide on a background, I will try some digital backgrounds by placing them behind a scanned illustration to find the right direction.
Q: What are the influences and sources of inspiration?
Sushidog: I'm inspired by Japanese manga artists! I admire Kentaro Miura's detailed lines and use Kazuya Minekura's Copic coloring as a great reference.
This work "Akari - Glimmer" was shown in the exhibition "358colors," featuring works created with Copic.
Q: Is there anything you would like to work on in the future?
Sushidog: I have been creating artwork by trial and error using Copic ABS, and I would like to compile all the techniques I have learned into an instructional book. Many people, especially overseas, have never heard of ABS, and I would like to make a book that will show them the benefits of it.
Also, there is a story that I have wanted to make into a manga since I was little, and I drew a scene from that story as an exhibit at "358colors. I want to challenge myself to make these works into manga.
Through this interview, we learned that the colorfulness making Sushidog's work so fascinating results from various influences. They shine when bringing out the best in Copic ABS and enjoy their creative process!
We also had the opportunity to hear interesting stories about her interaction with her fans through live streaming and the way she presents herself.
Team Copic will continue to support Sushidog's creative career.