Following on with our Artist Interview series, we have Kuji who conjures up distinctive styled Jrock portraits with beautiful contrasting tones in both monochrome and vibrant colors. Kuji’s art has a certain softness balanced with sharpness from the pencils for the tiny details, so be sure to watch out for the textures of the hair in the artwork below. In this interview, we’ll be talking to Kuji about restarting one’s journey for art after giving up school to work and support the family. Please have a read: ◇◇◇ Let’s start with an introduction to our readers! Hello, I’m Kuji from Philippines and I love to draw Jrock fan art. Hello Kuji, welcome and thank you for agreeing to speak with us. Could you please tell us when you started drawing? I’ve been drawing for as long as I remember. Like most kids, I started drawing anime characters. I drew anime way before I started drawing real people in the Jrock scene. When I was in high school, we had remedial afternoon classes, which focused on art so I was able to practice drawing from thereon. Though it wasn’t really an art school, being an ordinary public high school, we still had a mentor who taught us drawing techniques. That was the time I started drawing portraits and I also learned how to paint. From high school, I continued my education until 2nd year of college. I didn’t get to finish my studies as I needed to work for my family. During this period in my life, I didn’t have the time to draw at all so my skills came to a standstill. I stopped working after a year and I got back to drawing again. This time I started drawing visual kei fan art. Back then I drew almost everyday since I had a lot of time. I tried using different mediums like charcoal, pencils, watercolor, pastels, colored pencils etc. That’s when I believe I started improving a lot. Though until now I still continue to experiment in my methods in drawing. We’re glad that you continued to draw after having to work so hard. How was you introduced to Jrock? I grew up watching anime so part of that was listening to their opening and ending theme songs. Whenever I liked a certain opening and ending theme song, I’d look for the title and the artist and listen to it. Most of the songs that I like are from rock genre like songs from the bands Uverworld, FLOW, and Acid etc. At that time I didn’t have any idea what visual kei was so seeing the GazettE for the very first time astounded me. They were so cool and I thought they looked like characters from a video game or anime. I never thought such beautiful creatures existed. From thereon I started looking for other visual kei bands and my interest in that genre grew. It wasn’t purely because of the visual look that attracted me to these bands but their music most importantly. They’re unique and definitely something I’ve not heard from other bands before. They are my inspiration to draw even now. Yeah, that’s interesting. That’s how a lot of people first find out about Jrock and a lot of the bands do look like characters. Now, as an artist, how do you get over artistic block feelings of being demotivated? I think being demotivated is inevitable. There would always be moments when you don’t feel motivated to draw or times when you’re in the middle of drawing and you just lose the momentum. For me it’s very important to choose your subject carefully. It might not work for everyone, but I also believe it helps to like the subject(s) you choose to draw because the motivation to finish comes easier. However if you still feel demotivated, I would suggest to take a little break, put your drawing on hold. If you couldn’t finish today, continue it the next day. Personally, I’m the type who’d finish a fan art no matter what. There are times that I get demotivated but what I usually do to combat that is to distract myself for a while and then get back to drawing again. If that doesn’t work, then I stop for the day and resume the next. Amazing custom shoes! So far a lot of artists have mentioned the same thing about taking a break actually. Resting is really more important than we think. So now we understand a little about your working methods, what’s your inspiration? My inspiration to draw is primarily the subject of the drawing itself. Majority of my drawings are of my favorite bands. I like drawing them because that’s also my way of showing my support. I also get inspiration to draw them when they have new looks or if I see a nice image of them that catches my attention—ones that makes me go “I need to draw that!” I also get inspired when the subject of the drawing notices my fan art. Though it doesn’t always happen often, it definitely pushes me all the more to keep on drawing and to give my best next time. Yes, there’s certainly a lot of great inspirations in the visual kei community. Other artists also inspire me when I see their beautiful artworks. It makes me want to improve my drawing skills because I always feel my work is inferior to others. Another reason that inspires me to draw is the reaction from people who loves my drawing and their positive feedback. It makes me feel happy when they are also happy and satisfied with the result of my work. Can you name three artists that inspire you to draw? Three artists that inspire me to draw are chari.mii, y_u_e and wataboku_ who are all on instagram. Thanks for those recommendations, we’ll be sure to look at their art. What was your process in improving your drawings? I keep drawing without resting on my laurels. I always look for what’s wrong or lacking in my drawing so next time I can try to improve that part and make it better next time. Sometimes I also look for tutorials or references on the internet especially when I’m having difficulties in drawing. For example while doing the hair part, there are always videos or pictures on the internet that show you how to properly do it. I apply what I learn to my drawing with the hope that those techniques would work for me too. I also look at other artists’ works to see if I can learn something from them. I also sometimes do experiments on different mediums as a way of challenging myself. Now to end, please show us the tools you use! Kuji’s story to pursue their passion in art certainly serves as a great inspiration and I would like to thank Kuji for speaking with us. Please see more amazing pencil and pastel work on their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr! Do you know of any other talented Jrock illustrators? Make sure to send us a link in the comments or email [email protected] for us to check out! Give us your opinion!