Creator Spotlight: Meet Sharean Morishita!
Today, I've got a special treat for you all: An interview with artist Sharean Morishita of S-Morishita Studio! Ms. Morishita is the talented creative mind behind Love! Love! Fighting! For those of you who aren't familiar with it, allow me to introduce you. Love! Love! Fighting! is a web comic. One so unlike any other that I honestly just can't describe it in one little blurb. Head on over to my LLF spotlight post for an overview of the story and my thoughts on it! (Trust me on this one, guys. You'll be glad that you did!)
I was able to talk to her as well as ask her a few questions about her career journey as an artist and how she’s done what many are afraid to do—talk about important racial and social issues in her work. Take a look!
Q: It's obvious from your work that you enjoy illustration. What made you decide to pursue a career in art?
A: This may sound a little silly, but I started to pursue art as a career when I was finally able to receive some sort of income from it, even though it wasn’t the largest amount of income. Someone saw enough in my work (that I hadn’t seen in it myself yet) to pay me. This little push of faith helped open my eyes to the fact that I should start having enough faith and value in my art to start pursuing this as a career.
Q: A lot of the time, as an English major, I'm constantly told that my major is unlikely to get me a "proper" job. Do you have any advice for students and young artists on how they can incorporate their love of the arts into their careers?
A: Since I still feel that I’m at the starting line of turning my art into a career, it’s hard for me to give advice on how to incorporate art into income. I still do a lot of research online to see what other artists with a larger audience base say about this, and from what I've noticed, a lot of them will usually say to keep putting work out there, keep making meaningful connections with your audience, and that paying for advertisement helps as well.
-It’s a lot about being involved and word of mouth and putting finished content out there, and not just empty promises. I wish that I could give more advice, but even though I’ve been doing this for some years now, I still feel like I’m very new to the game because there is so much more I still have to learn.
Q: I first came across your work on a site showcasing indie comics when I read Bottled Prince. Has it been difficult gaining more exposure for your work?
A: First, that’s so cool that you remember my old comic Bottled Prince! However, I think there might be a bit of misconception when it comes to being a part of a site like that. Even though my work was a part of their signed-on authors', it still felt like I was a pebble in a sea of sand ^^;
-I still don’t feel like I have much to any exposure for my work and I get surprised each and every time whenever someone leaves a comment on my site or a review for my books on Goodreads or Amazon, or even when people drop me a kind comment on my works' social media pages. I’d say the difficulty level has stayed about the same with and without their site because even though they provide you with the monetary income, you still had to put in the work to get your name out there for others to notice.
-Publishing and advertising are two very different things. One creates the book and the other signal boosts it; they both have their own separate job. I haven’t had much experience in this to go any further in-depth with it, but this is something that I learned over the years.
Q: When I write, I often get stuck at crucial moments for my characters. What's your go-to method for overcoming a writing block?
A: I’m still learning new things about overcoming my writing block, but a few of the things that I usually do is re-read Brian McDonald’s book Invisible Ink or go and read the storytelling articles he’s posted on his blog. I also take some time off from work, if I’m able to, so that I can get some rest because I might just be running on fumes by then and need to refuel myself. If I’m unable to take a nice long break, then the other thing that I do is look at the emotion or reasons that are causing me to be stuck.
-I first pegged it as me being “lazy” or a perfectionist, but when I kept digging, I learned that it was neither of those things. What usually causes my artist block is fear. It can be fear of not drawing something good enough, fear of not having the skills to tell this story, or just fear of failure, or fear of negative snap back from those who read it—you name it.
-Usually, when I realize that it’s fear that is holding me back, I know that I have to face that fear and realize that nothing I do will be 100% perfect all the time in my eyes, but as long as I like it and finish my work and that I’m proud of it, then that’s all that matters. Each year, I get older and look back at the things I once thought were perfect. Now I see that they weren’t, but that doesn’t mean they have any less value.
-If a writing block is slowly creeping up on me, it’s usually my fear that’s slow starting to cripple me and I need to do some positive affirmation, then either take a rest to get myself back together or just face it head on for what it is.
Q: Race is a touchy subject for many people--even more so recently. In LLF, you go in-depth with race issues and ethnic identity within different people of color. Does it ever get intimidating to write?
A: Since my race is a part of my daily life, something I live and breathe in, I don’t feel it’s out of the ordinary or intimidating to incorporate bits and pieces here and there in my artwork. I usually write about it the way that I would personally feel comfortable seeing in a movie that I’m watching or in a book that I’m reading.
-I remember listening to a podcast that I think Brian McDonald was doing with someone and they were talking about how shows back in the day had wittier dialogue then they do nowadays because there were some things that they couldn’t say flat out because of censoring. So they spoke around the subject, which made their dialogue witty because we had to fill in the small gaps in what they were saying.
-I like to do that when it comes to writing about subjects that I know others would see as touchy. For those who go through it in their daily life, they can see the gaps and fill them in. Those who don’t go through this won’t see the gap, so it’s almost like that secret language you and your friend made up together (so that you guys could pass notes in class without the fear of someone finding it and reading what you wrote because they don’t speak your secret language. Or is that something only me and my friend did?) Either way, Brian McDonald talks a lot about gap-closing in his books and that’s helped so much with my personal writing style.
Q: Do you ever feel that a topic may be "too much" for your audience?
A: That’s a very interesting question. I was reading something not too long ago about speaking to the audience, but to first answer your question, I would have to say no. I don’t think any topic is every going to be too much for my audience because my audience is always changing.
-I now see my audience not as a group, but as individuals because I learned that though not everyone is going to like my work, there is usually one person that does, even if that one person is myself. So I don’t think a topic will ever be too much until I myself feel full of that topic at that point in time and want to cover something different. There are so many people on this earth, so even if one person is full of looking at that topic, there is always someone else who isn’t.
Q: What first caught my attention about LLF is that it's body-positive! Your main character, Oriana, is a young woman whose love of her body is both beautiful and refreshing. What made you decide to make her a plus-sized character?
A: A few years back, I had given birth to my children and the body image and self-worth that I was struggling with all throughout my childhood on up to adulthood had been ramped-up thanks to postpartum depression and the loved ones that I spoke to around me weren’t really helping me find the answer to what I was struggling with inside, so I decided to stop looking for outside sources to help me with my struggle and decided to create something to get my thoughts out and encourage myself. This is just what I personally did for myself.
Q: Lastly, what do you hope that readers come away with after reading LLF? Is there a specific message that you're trying to amplify?
A: I’d like for my readers to see that love from others is great to fight for but finding your own self-worth and self-love is what can really bring that change of life that you might be looking for. It’s pretty simple to fight for someone you love but what’s hard for some is to learn to fight to love yourself. I can so easily tell my daughter how beautiful and smart and wonderful she is, but when I look at myself in the mirror, I can easily rip myself to shreds with negative words.
-I want them to see that what they say to themselves can have such a great impact and that instead of seeing themselves as worthless because they may not be receiving love back from family or friends, they should instead start speaking love, encouraging themselves, and seeing their own self-worth.
-When you fight for your own self-love, your whole life can feel so brand new. It’s an ongoing journey, so don’t feel like you’ve come to a new revelation and there is nothing more to learn—there is always something new to learn about loving yourself, so keep your mind open to that, enjoy loving who you are, and live life fighting to keep that love going.
*Note: Interview edited for clarity.
Wanna learn more about Ms. Morishita and her work? Check out the S-Morishita Studio website for comics and info!