Skysenshi’s Artist of the Year: Jano Vesina
In 2006, it was Niccolo Salonga (for the mature version of the Otaku Fridge).In 2007, it was Michael Santos (for the regular Otaku Fridge).
In 2009, it was Jedidiah Dumawal (still for the Otaku Fridge).
In 2010, it’s Jano Vesina for skysenshi.com. While I retained Jedidiah’s Neko-chan for the Otaku Fridge, I commissioned Jano Vesina for my own personal blog just this previous December. Jano is a very quiet person. That was how I knew him back when he took Human-Computer Interaction class under me four years ago; he was a freshman then. So quiet, in fact, that I didn’t know how good he was until I encountered him again in my Portfolio class during his senior year. This made me wonder how come he never became popular in Asia Pacific College. Goodness knows, he wasn’t the only silent artist type — definitely not when it comes to the School of Multimedia Arts — and yet many other quiet types were featured repeatedly in BUMP (our magazine). How did we ever overlook him??
So here I am, collaborating with him on my blog design. He did the Neko-chan artwork, as per my yearly tradition*. At first, I wanted to revive my old GM Shadow Guru Blog design, which I used to maintain when I was still working for Level Up, Inc. That design appropriated one of the fan artworks provided by Gravity’s commissioned fan artists. I remember suggesting that we use GM blogs to promote Level Up so it was sort of a personal/professional thing. With the revival of that theme in my mind, I sent Jano the peg and my color scheme.
Jano is very prolific and fast. In fact, in a couple of days, he was able to give me three studies, with Neko-chan in various levels of armor (light, medium, heavy). Can you imagine how hard it was to choose?? They were all so good! I asked him to do the selection so he, like every other male I’d ask, picked the bare armor.
What he ended up with was totally different from the peg (and wonderfully breathtaking, at that!) so I had to adjust my design a bit to compliment his work. I had to go minimal with the CSS, not wanting my part to clash with his. Organized and stitched sticky notes. Sort of. How else do you combine European Medieval with Oriental? Plus, I tend to go heavy on my content so I could not afford to go heavy on the graphics. I tweaked the CSS yet again so that my body content and his Neko-chan remained cohesively on the center no matter how big your monitor got. (Actually, the bigger your monitor gets, the more you see of Neko-chan.)
When he saw how his illustration melded with my design, he decided to kick the notch up a bit. Without me asking him to, he changed Neko-chan’s eye color from green to gold, added more detail, gave her a lunar staff (my symbol) and finally appended his signature. (I had actually been pestering him to add his signature because I didn’t want someone else filching the exquisite work.) While he was at it, I asked for clouds on a separate layer on the PSD. I then made minor adjustments to his color palette and re-aligned the clouds. Voila!
I really feel good about this collaboration. It was the first time I actually asked someone to illustrate first before I design. My artists usually do the illustrations AFTER seeing my design, so it’s like they just followed my lead. With Jano, I really felt the team work. I should do this activity with my other artists more often.
To make up for the fact that we have discovered him late, BUMP will be featuring this artist and his works in the next issue. Coming up in March 2010, so watch for it. In the meantime, why don’t you visit his DeviantArt page: http://dianos.deviantart.com? Who knows, you might need an illustrator.
*NOTE For those who don’t know the Neko-chan tradition: I first commissioned Niccolo Salonga back in 2006 for an avatar — a “mascot”, if you will — because I didn’t want to post my real pictures back then. I wanted a cat girl that could represent me. Well, she wouldn’t look exactly like me (since she’d be a 2D character) but she’d have my hair, at least. At that time, the choice was between Niccolo and this other artist who was willing to do a sketch for free if I posed nude for him. I went with Niccolo instead. After that, I would commission new artists every year. This is the only year that Neko-chan did not sport my hair, but that’s because the last time Jano saw me was when he graduated in May 2009. I did have highlighted rebonded hair back then.