Creator Interview: Laica Chrose

Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 0

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, have been captivating people’s hearts since the old ages. Embodying such fascination is the Sakura Exhibition where creators display their sakura-themed masterpieces, an exhibition that attracts attention every year. Chrose’s “Magical Wish” was a piece that excelled even among such masterpieces. With its fine lines and mysterious choice of colors, it invites the spectators to a fantasy world so beautiful one cannot help but gaze at it, sighing. After winning the CJ3 Prize in 2013, she also won 2014’s TOM Prize and the ARTs*LABo Prize. During Chrose’s recent visit to Japan, we had the opportunity to ask her about how she feels winning these prizes and about the charm projected in the works she creates. We also had the rare chance to take a look at her key animation file, and gazing at the works within, we went to the depths of her usual creative activities and her source of inspiration.

**Laica Chrose’s Profile**
An illustrator active with TOM as a Special Creator. Her greatest strength lies in her fine lines and lustrous facial expressions. She publishes works ranging from fantasy worlds with elves and unicorns to pop-style girls in skillful compositions. Not only does she draw her characters with great attention, she depicts a whole spectacular world with minute detail, from chandeliers to small accessories.

──Please tell us how you feel about winning the 2014 TOM Prize.

I had a vague determination to continue from 2013 and participate the following year, but I had no idea I was going to get an award. I originally intended “Magical Wish” as a New Year’s Card, and it was monochrome.

Chrose’s entry for Sakura Exhibition 2014. In contrast with the traditional Japanese image, the charm of this piece lies in its mysterious colors.


──Why did you choose to participate in Sakura Exhibition?

I saw a lot of beautiful illustrations displayed at Sakura Exhibition on Twitter and thought it would be interesting. But more than anything, I was strongly drawn to the “sakura” motif. Although I'm a Japanese descendent from Brazil, I studied at a Japanese art university and lived in Japan for about nine years. Wanting to go to Japan was also because I really wanted to see the sakura trees. There are four distinct seasons in Japan, and there are many events in accordance with the season. Sakura is the same, but there are also seasons for various food, making the year feel full. But for an artist, even if the year is full with potential illustration motifs, sakura season is the most beloved, partly because of its evanescent nature and partly because we can’t wait to see what other artists have in store that year as each of them have their own different style.

──“Magical Wish” has a very different atmosphere compared to your entry the previous year.

That’s because my 2013 entry was fully made using Photoshop and Illustrator, while the original for “Magical Wish” is fully pencil-drawn. Since the preparation period for Sakura Exhibition falls around New Year, I engaged in drawing wanting to challenge something new with the beginning of a new year ahead of me.

── What is your inspiration when drawing?

I like unicorns to begin with, I even collect goods. I also like My Little Pony which has been quite popular overseas recently. I drew this piece thinking how nice it would be if something fantasy-like and mysterious happened at the beginning of the year. Also, I like drawing hair, so I searched for braided horse hair pictures and found a lot of artistic pictures that looked as if pretty flowers were braided in their hair.

──Besides the hair, small details such as the lace are very pretty, too.

I copied the lace part from the lace paper of a cake using pencil powder and a pastel brush, in a manner similar to stenciling. I often use a kneaded eraser or stump brush; they can be used to show surface irregularities and texture by stretching or thinning with tapping, so they really come in handy. Also, at the highlighted parts, especially the eyes, I often use my pen-shaped eraser.

She even showed us her stomp brush and pen-shaped eraser she loves using so much. They come in handy when blurring pencil lines or adjusting shades.

A piece titled “:::::still life:::::” from her folder. It was lined out with a grey ink Copic Multiliner down to the smallest details of the lace.


──When I first saw your work, I wasn’t sure whether it was analog or digital.

Actually I’m not very good with CG. I give volume to the original drawing by shading using pencils, then use Photoshop from the coloring stage on.

──Even on your colored illustrations, the glint in the eyes and the texture of the skin is so glossy. It’s very pretty.

I really fixate on the eyes, so much that if I can’t decide on the eyes I can’t move forward. Actually, I pay attention to the 3D feeling and the gleams of the eyes in every work of mine. When I’m coloring in Photoshop, I just lightly put on some color with the spray brush and add some layers or effects. It doesn’t take a lot of time. In the case of skin, when there are a lot of white parts, putting on a filter in Photoshop messes it up, and carefully shading with pencils beforehand makes it easier to put on the colors.

──What’s your secret for creating such texture for the eyes and skin of your characters?

I make them the same way. When I want to highlight the skin on a nose, I use either my pen-shaped eraser or make the color stronger by accumulating thin layers with the help of a pastel brush. Also, I like using Kent paper, because the lines stretch well on it.

The original, monochrome drawing for “Iridescence~Iridescent Clouds,” a piece that captures viewers with its fairytale-like coloring (left). The lashes and lips look very realistic.

──When did you start publishing illustrations like the ones you do now?

During college, I used all my time for studying, I didn’t draw illustrations like these at all. But as I came in contact with various drawing materials, I thought it would be nice to do something, and roughly two years after my graduation, I started drawing things I like when I felt like it. Then I started publishing them on Facebook. I even get requests occasionally and take up jobs to draw book covers or card game illustrations. However, right now I’m focusing on drawing my own original works.

──Was it after you came to Japan that you learned to draw in the style you use now?

I came in touch with manga even before coming to Japan, and it made me want to draw pictures myself. Lately, I’ve been checking out European and American manga as well. The characters have pretty eyes and facial expressions; it’s very stimulating.

──Any artists who influenced you?

There are many, like Alphonse Mucha, Ayami Kojima 1, amd Yoshitaka Amano 2. My favorite manga are Sailor Moon and Mushishi 3, especially Sailor Moon. I collect the manga of course, but I also have illustration collections, and I get very excited whenever new goods come out.

“character study 3,” a pop-style illustration inspired by Tai Parfait, a dessert that presents the Japanese sweet taiyaki in parfait form.

──You’re a TOM Special Creator. Why did you choose to participate?

I thought that TOM’s propagating the charm of Japanese content overseas had a fresh feel to it. Japanese creators are high in quality, but they usually don’t publish for overseas audiences, and I think there is a lot of content that goes to waste if not called to attention.

──Including your aim to publish overseas, is there anything you want to challenge in the future?

I want to draw a manga, so I’m drawing and accumulating settings and a plot. Even among my illustrations there are pieces that revolve around the same theme and make up a series, or pieces that I drew imagining a scene of a story, and I want to give these a shape and publish them. It’s still in the composition stage, so it might be a thing of the very distant future. Besides the manga, I want to try something new at this year’s Sakura Exhibition as well. I want to aspire for expressing black in a beautiful way by changing my paper and drawing equipment, and if possible, I want to publish my first such work at Sakura Exhibition.

──Lastly, a message to your fans, please.

I’m planning to take on various new challenges from here on too, so check often to see what I’m up to

“Amongst the Skies.” Is it a dream or an illusion? A beautiful sky reminiscent of a scene in a fantasy movie expands over the horizon.


^1^ Japanese illustrator, mostly known for the character design of the Castlevania series.

^2^ A popular creator known for the character design of the Final Fantasy series.

^3^ A Japanese manga by Yuki Urushibara. It follows a Mushi master named Ginko in a story centering around various Mushi-related phenomena.

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*This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article written by Megumi Higashiashidani and translated by Barbara Tar.*

Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 1
Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 2
Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 3
Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 5
Creator Interview: Laica Chrose 6
Chrose’s entry for Sakura Exhibition 2014. In contrast with the traditional Japanese image, the charm of this piece lies in its mysterious colors.
Chrose’s entry for Sakura Exhibition 2014. In contrast with the traditional Japanese image, the charm of this piece lies in its mysterious colors.
“Iridescence~Iridescent Clouds,” a series that uses meteorological phenomena as character traits. It uses iridescent clouds painted green and red by the nearby sun as its motif.
“Iridescence~Iridescent Clouds,” a series that uses meteorological phenomena as character traits. It uses iridescent clouds painted green and red by the nearby sun as its motif.
“character study 3,” a pop-style illustration inspired by Tai Parfait, a dessert that presents the Japanese sweet taiyaki in parfait form.
“character study 3,” a pop-style illustration inspired by Tai Parfait, a dessert that presents the Japanese sweet *taiyaki* in parfait form.
“:::::still life:::::” was drawn with a ball-jointed doll in mind. It is a masterpiece that draws eyes with the detailed expression of vintage lace.
“:::::still life:::::” was drawn with a ball-jointed doll in mind. It is a masterpiece that draws eyes with the detailed expression of vintage lace.
“Amongst the Skies.” Is it a dream or an illusion? A beautiful sky reminiscent of a scene in a fantasy movie expands over the horizon.
“Amongst the Skies.” Is it a dream or an illusion? A beautiful sky reminiscent of a scene in a fantasy movie expands over the horizon.

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