Anime NYC was bigger than ever this year and had a number of high-profile guests make an appearance. Among them was the talented Taiwanese illustrator VOFAN. Famously the illustrator of the Monogatari novels, VOFAN has made a name for himself thanks to his unique artwork that perfectly takes advantage of both color and lighting. VOFAN’s art book Colorful Dreams was published by Vertical Inc. earlier this year, showcasing even more of his talents.
This year at Anime NYC, we had the opportunity to sit down with the prolific artist to discuss his work. This was conducted as a roundtable group interview between multiple approved outlets. That said, we have decided to only include All-Comic’s questions from the discussion.
With that in mind, here is All-Comic’s portion of the VOFAN interview:
All-Comic: In Colorful Dreams, you mentioned that you were a fan of Yuzo Takada’s work and Yu Yu Hakusho in your youth. What in particular about these series was so compelling to you?
VOFAN: I have always been an anime and manga fan. For example, Yu Yu Hakusho, I had contact with it when I was about 13 or 14, right when I was really getting into drawing. The style of the artist really influenced me. You know how you just copy in the beginning, so that’s how I developed my own craft. When I was younger, I would just simply copy or imitate the style, but as I got older – so let’s say in college – I would replicate the essence of the character rather than the entire character.
All-Comic: Since you have shared your artwork online for an incredibly long time, do you feel that social media has become a vital asset for artists?
VOFAN: I actually don’t spend too much time on social media. I think putting your creations on social media is a must now for artists, however if you pay too much attention to it, it’s going to affect your art style and what you produce. So, I only pay attention to it when I have time or have a break.
(Editor’s note: The Moderator mentioned that Twitter and Facebook are the main platforms that VOFAN uses.)
All-Comic: You’ve cited Makoto Shinkai as a major inspiration for the rendering of light in your illustrations. Which of Shinkai’s films has resonated with you most as an artist?
VOFAN: Voices of a Distant Star. The reason that it’s that particular work is not that the art is the most sophisticated. However, even with his technique at the time, he was able to bring through the atmosphere, feeling, and emotion that he wanted to portray. I realized that I don’t need to make everything super sophisticated, delicate, or beautiful as long as I could bring through that feeling, emotion and essence. But of course, the most important thing is still the cute girls!
All-Comic: Since digital art is such a rapidly changing landscape, do you find yourself having pressure to continually improve as an artist?
VOFAN: I’m always learning new tech and the new styles that are currently available, but I also do not want my style to be too influenced by these rapid movements to digital technology and art style. So, I observe them, learn about them, and then slowly adjust my own style and technique accordingly.
All-Comic: Since you were able to use a lot of the techniques you learned during your architecture studies in your current illustrations, do you think your illustrations would look a lot different if you hadn’t studied architecture at all?
VOFAN: I actually wasn’t a very good architecture student, so the influence of architecture on my style is not as much as you would imagine. Compared to that, photography has influenced me a lot more.
All-Comic: What is the one place in Taiwan that you feel all tourists must visit?
VOFAN: There’s a place called Yilan, which is on the east coast of Taiwan. I think that’s very beautiful and that everyone should go there if they get the chance. Transportation there is not as convenient as other places, so it feels a bit separated from the rest of society. It feels like a different world in a way. Most tourists who come to Taiwan end up going to Taipei. I think that’s quite a shame, and they should check out the east coast of Taiwan.
All-Comic: Is there a specific genre of manga or light novels that you would love to illustrate for, but haven’t yet?
VOFAN: I guess murder-mysteries or something dark like that. I actually like illustrating horror stories, so whenever I get an assignment to illustrate one, I’m really happy because it’s very different from what I usually do. It’s like a challenge to me.