Artist interviews - a new feature on Animetion where we speak to artists influenced by manga and facets of Japanese culture.  For our second interview we speak to UK artist Sonia Leong, who is well known in the anime and manga community.  She is most well known for her work on the Manga Shakespeare series, for which she illustrated Romeo & Juliet.  She was also the winner of the 2005 TOKYOPOP UK Rising Stars of Manga competition, as well as NEO Magazine's 2005 manga competition.  Her artwork has appeared on the set of the Channel 4 sitcom The I.T. Crowd, as well as the 2007 British movie Popcorn.  She is also part of the Sweatdrop Studios collective and is the artist for the online webcomic Aya.Takeo.  Sonia is often in attendance at UK anime & manga events, often helping out budding artists with tips and hints. 

Animetion:  How long have you been drawing/been an artist?

Sonia: "Since I was a baby! Actually, my earliest drawings are from when I was
4yrs old. Horses, princesses and castles XD"
A: How long have you been a professional artist?

S: "Since 2005."

A: What/who inspires you?

S: "Whenever I read a cool manga or watch a great anime, I go "I want to
tell a story like that!" "

A: Who are your favourite artists?

S: "CLAMP, Kiyo Kyujo, OH! Great, Kei Toumei, THORES Shibamoto, Yoshiyuki
Sadamoto, Haradaya "

A: Do you concentrate on one theme in your work or several?

S: "Definitely diversity - when you start out as a freelancer, you need to
be flexible to feed yourself! So I can draw in various styles, in many
mediums. " 

A: What has been your proudest moment as an artist?

S: "Being asked by the Kyoto International Manga Museum to sketch and sign
something for their display! "

A: what has been your worst moment as an artist?

S: "Having to listen to some pedant lecture me on how my stuff isn't Manga XD  But I get it all the time, and I'm used to it, so it's not so bad
these days. " 

A: What sort of materials do you prefer using?

S: "I love using markers (I actually mix Copic, Letraset and Deleters).
For computer software, Photoshop, Deleter Comicworks and OpenCanvas. " 

A: Do you have a dream project?

S: "It's strange, but I've already achieved several of my dream projects!
So... I guess to continue getting my manga published by lots of
publishers in general? Haha! " 

A: What are you working on at the moment?

S: Two childrens' books, a short story for a friend, a graphic novel and
a pitch to a magazine!

A: What tips would you give to a budding artist?

S: "There will ALWAYS be people out there who are better than you, and ALWAYS people out there who are worse.  And there are ALWAYS going to be mean bastards. Therefore, learn to ride with the criticism and the praise, find your own style and always aim higher.  Work hard on your art, then be proud of it, then try to improve on the next piece."

A: Do you have your own website / are you on deviant art?

S: "Yup - http://fyredrake.net/ is my official website, although you can find me on deviantArt (FyredrakeMagick) or SheezyArt (sonialeong) as well. "  

(click any thumbnail for a larger image)

All images are copyright Sonia Leong and are displayed here with her kind permission