For our February issue, Apex Magazine features a bright and beautiful cover from artist Loika. Otherwise known as Yan Qin Weng, Loika discussed her cover piece and her portfolio of colorful works withApex.

APEX MAGAZINE: For this month’s Apex Magazine cover, we’re using your piece Summer Cradle. As you are creating a piece like this, is your first vision of the person in the foreground, the sun or event going on in the sky, or a mix of things?

LOIKA: I believe it was the shape of the cloud, forming the crescent or “cradle” around the sun which came first. The rest of the composition was built around that—I knew I wanted a storm in the distance and vivid greens and blues. I painted in the figure last, but I had planned out beforehand where I wanted him to go; the piece is quite a center aligned one so it wasn’t a complicated decision to make.

AM: Many artists tend to favor a particular angle with the characters they create, say, always looking to the right. Your characters seem to be from every angle throughout your works. Is that a conscious decision you make with each piece, or does the art lead you in each direction as you are creating it?

LOIKA: I think a lot of artists can be quite conscious of this, actually! That is to say, people will note if they fall back into one pattern too often. I certainly did and always do—I try to think of new ways to approach things all the time. It used to make me anxious if I found myself drawing similar things too often. I would consciously make myself move out of those comfort zones and try something else. I’m less anxious about it now, but only because I’ve grown more confident—that is, for example, I know I can draw things from various angles, so if I do choose to draw a character facing the right then I know I’m making that decision for a good reason, not because it’s the easiest choice. So I guess to answer your question: I lead the art, the art doesn’t lead me. Certainly happy accidents do happen, but more often than not I make conscious decisions to face a character this way, to use this colour palette, and so on.

AM: Quite a few of your works use a very colorful palette, and high contrast between the bright parts of the images and the dark parts. Do those ideas ever conflict while you are working on a piece?

LOIKA: Oh, all the time. Sometimes I manage to lay down the colours smoothly, other times I may struggle for a while. The latter happens most often when I don’t have a clear image in my head of what I would like the colours to be—sometimes I will be undecided between two or three looks, and that can lead to confusing compromises that take a while to fix.

AM: Nature and natural elements play a large role across your portfolio, from green fields through rain and weather. Most of your characters don’t seem wary of their environments, and even the storms are rendered in a softer light. Do you feel your own connection to nature is similar, or do your creations come more from a hopeful imagination?

LOIKA: I was born in a large city and currently live in another city, so to be perfectly honest I am more likely one of those city folk who idealise the country. I certainly have greatly enjoyed some time in forests and mountains and oceans—but I would sound ridiculous talking about any innate connection to nature. My experience of it is ultimately a curated one. I do love it though, I really do. Nature, however curated, however imagined, is a place in my mind I associate with all the good things in life. It takes me away.

On the subject of storms, however—the softer light you speak of is purely because storms are my favourite kind of weather.

AM: Characters from your Fanwork pieces, such as your Attack on Titan pieces, show isolated characters alone in their open environments. Is that to specifically have your viewer look only at the character, or is it something that comes from the story itself? Is it more of a different style from your other pieces, or merely refining an idea from your other works?

LOIKA: My enjoyment of most stories come from appreciation of characters, so I suppose it makes sense that my fanart would have more of a character–based focus than a lot of my original pieces. Most of the time when I draw fanart it is because I want to spend a little bit of time drawing a specific character, not because there is an iconic scene/place in the work that I want to depict. There have been exceptions, although I don’t think I’ve made all of those works available online in full yet.

AM: A number of the images on your website are animated, with rain or other effects. Do you go into a piece thinking about that, or is it something you decide to add later on? Do you get a different response to the animated pieces from your followers online?

LOIKA: I definitely go into a piece with the animation in mind. It makes the process a lot smoother if it’s planned out beforehand, in terms of overall coherency as well as technical ease, like setting up matte shapes and keeping certain layers clean. And I think the response is largely the same—if people like a piece, they like it, animation or not. I’m sure some people are more interested in animated pieces than others, but if I’ve botched up a piece then no amount of animation is going to save it!

Russell Dickerson has been a published illustrator and designer since the previous millennium, creating works for many genre publications and authors. He has also written many articles for various organizations in that time, including Apex, and his work can be found on his website at www.darkstormcreative.com.

 

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