Project site: http://littlefoolery.com/
Sfeer Theory: http://www.sfeertheory.com/
Hey guys, sorry for the break last week. I’ve been swamped! This week we return in full force with Jayd Ȁit-Kaci, better known as Chira, who draws comics for a living. Her partner-in-crime is writer Alex Singer, who goes by Muun, and together they form Little Foolery, which is essentially a creative partnership dedicated to bringing original stories to life in a graphic novel format. A good representation of their work includes That Which Wills, following the witch Liam Harbinger and his demon familiar Ronway, and Sfeer Theory, a fantasy epic in its first act, detailing the life of the immortal wizard Balzac and his efforts to protect an empire. Their most recent work is Small Town Witch, set in the 1920’s New York, in a world where the Prohibition outlaws magic and spells. It’s set to be published quite soon, and you can pre-order it at the Little Foolery store. And it looks so good!
Chira is frankly one of my personal heroes. This whole article may be a love letter to her, but it’s also been a long time coming. What you won’t find from going through her blog is that years and years ago, Chira frequently posted fanart on Livejournal–my first exposure to her work was through her Harry Potter drawings!–and I’ve been following her progress the entire time. Anyone who’s ever tried their hand at comics knows it’s a grueling, demanding process. It asks so much of the artist, and all to tell a story that can be read in a fraction of the time it takes to produce it. Chira’s comics are a product of many years labor, and immeasurable love. It’s these qualities of hers that become apparent over time: her dedication and uncompromising attitude towards telling stories well, and her empathy for everyone struggling to make good art, just like her.
When I think of Chira’s art, I think of confident strokes, beautiful line weight, and expressive, dynamic characters. If you check out her sketches on tumblr, you can get a sense of the truly naturalistic movement and weight in her drawings. Chira is quite obviously an artist in love with the human figure. Not only does she draw characters of all shapes and sizes, but the way those characters interact with each other belies a faithful attention to how people interact in real life. Nor does she fall into the habit of drawing the “same face” for all her characters. Each of them is charmingly differentiated: in their bodies, their hair, their fashion, their facial features, and their mannerisms. The goal is to have every outward aspect of a character reflect their personality, and she absolutely succeeds.
As a bonus, her blog is a goldmine of advice for the aspiring artist. I personally go through her tags “art advice” and “ask box answers” whenever I’m having a rough day. She speaks articulately about the hardships of being an artist, and making a living by drawing. All of her responses come with the weight of experience; tough love when you need the truth, and inspiring words when you need the support. The topics range from not underpricing yourself as an artist, to life advice, to compelling character design and the frustration between the art you want to make and the art you’re making. She offers tutorials on line weight and diversifying your characters, about not comparing yourself to other artists and the process of improvement.
One of my favorite pieces of advice she gave was about how sometimes you just have to get started. Comics are such a sink-or-swim medium, and brutal in that they force versatility onto the artist. If you draw a person riding a bicycle down a street, you have to draw 1.) the person, 2.) the bicycle, 3.) the street and all the buildings along it. “And,” she said, “MOMENT OF TRUTH AT THE PEARLY GATES. YOUR TEARS WON’T DRAW THEM FOR YOU.” It made me laugh, but it’s the truest thing I know. The only person who can make you learn is yourself, and the best time to start is now. Chira herself is the best example: she is completely the self-taught artist, not having attended art school (or any college, for that matter). In this, her own story is an inspiration. Think of the uncertainty and fear in forging your own path. Then think of the perseverence, passion, and heart of courage that drives one to succeed.
As a final note, one of the best things Chira’s ever drawn is a Fate/Zero comic about Gilgamesh and Enkidu. It’s one of her personal favorites, and with good reason. Check it out!