"I enjoy telling captivating stories through my art!"
Brittani Alexia is self-taught traditional and digital artist with a focus in Japanese manga. She is currently a graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Atlanta) finishing up her MFA in Sequential Art.
Where are you from?
I ‘m originally from Florida, but later moved to Georgia when I was four.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lawrenceville which is about half an hour north of Atlanta. It’s a decently populated suburban area, so I was around a diverse group of people growing up.
How did your experiences affect your art?
As a young kid, I really got into Japanese anime and manga and started drawing manga a lot. As I got older in high school is when I wanted to create my own stories. I was always drawing in between classes even into college. My biggest influence ironically came from Tetsuya Nomura after seeing his game, Kingdom Hearts. From there I wanted to do what he did and that’s where the idea of making manga became a passion.
You recently received a publishing opportunity. How has been that experience?
I’m in the finalization process with the publisher. However, that is all I’m allowed to say for now. As far as experience, the idea of being picked up is still sinking in for me. I’m slowly realizing that I’m now entering the professional world which I’m really excited about.
You are currently a graduate student. What drove you to pursue a Master’s degree?
Even though manga was my passion, I went into computer science for my undergraduate. For a while, I thought I could do programming since I was decent with it. However, after working for two years in the field, I soon found out I hated it. So, I figured I had nothing to lose, and applied to SCAD’s master’s program. During that time, I learned if I was going to have to work, I might as well do something I love.
How has the SCAD MFA experience been for you?
It has been amazing! I came into the program wanting and willing to learn as much as possible to get to professional quality with my work. It paid off. I’ve met so many great people and had so many opportunities to grow and learn more about the comic industry. I don’t regret a single day.
What type of stories do you like to make comics about?
I tend to skew more psychological and create stories that deal with tough issues such as inner growth, self-love and self-worth as well as depression and anxiety. I always enjoyed these kinds of stories more that were character driven. Especially after going through some rough parts of my life in college, I really felt the need to create stories based on what I learned dealing with such issues.
What’s your process? Elaborate on how you work through your projects. How do you break up your time for your projects at different stages?
I first start off with an idea that I would want to read, then turn that into story beats and write out a comic script. While developing the story I start off with the characters and their looks and personality. Then go into their story. Once that’s completed, I start thumbnailing out pages traditionally, then take them into the Clip Studio. I try to spend no more than a week on thumbnails. Once in Clip, I immediately start inking digitally. I tend to get one page inked completed in about two hours, and schedule myself based on the deadline.
What do you recommend to aspiring artists that you wish you had known much earlier? What would you tell yourself 20 years ago?
Study the foundations of art first. Doing things like figure study and environments goes a long way if you have that strong foundation. I know some may feel that want to stylize their work, but I’m telling you that will come naturally. Also, it’s okay to reference other artists outside your preference. Although my look is manga, I’ve learned to pull techniques and ideas from artists from a wide range of styles and mediums. I tend to take other approaches and try to adapt them into my style.
What do you love best about making comics?
Seeing my characters and their story come to life makes all worth it. Like even if I’m struggling to get a page out or get frustrated during the process, I get this feeling of excitement when I see it come together on final pages.
What do you wish was different about the comics industry?
I wish there were more known female POC creators out there. I feel sometimes I’m one of very few people who look like me doing manga-styled comics, even with other comics in general. I feel that there is a still a glass ceiling many artists are still trying to break through. Though I have noticed this is changing.
Which books do you recommend artists should have in their reference library? Favorite instructional material?
Have artist books from your favorite artist. I like seeing process work, and how they get to the final product. I collect artbooks from various artists and try to reference them whenever I want to get inspired or figure out a new process. I also buy figure study books.
Top 5 Favorite Artists?
Top Favorite Comic characters?
Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena
Cairngorm from Houseki No Kuni
Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia
Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul
Top 5 Favorite comics, graphic novels?
With Great Abandon
My Hero Academia
Houseki No Kuni
A Silent Voice
What type of work are you interested in doing? Now? In the future?
For now, my main focus is my current comic. However, in the future, I wouldn’t mind collaborating with others creators on different projects/anthologies.
How can others find/ purchase your work?
Find my work on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook as @kuroitani.