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Annie Poon

Annie Poon is an illustrator, comics writer, and artist based in New York City.

Annie Poon is an illustrator, comics writer, and artist based in New York City. She has named 2013 as the ‘Year of the Dog’ and she will be dedicating herself to her friend Puppy. Follow along with his exploits on his website, Oh Puppy. You can also check out Puppy’s anthology.

How have you used technology to create art and comics?
It’s a funny answer. I rely on technology and spend most of my day at the computer and behind the camera animating, posting about my work on WordPress and Twitter, and using my scanner and Photoshop to color my ‘Puppy’ comics. While all that takes 80% of my time, I try to make sure the technology is the last thing on people’s minds when they view my work. I like the finished product to have a low tech, cozy, homemade feel.

How do you strike the balance between the digital and the handmade in your work?
You have to be making things by hand, even if you are mostly working with technology to create your art. On my personal website, the title across the top is written on a piece of vintage paper that I scanned in order to include it in the design.

If I didn’t collect those things, vintage paper, and other art supplies, and draw things with a pen or ink I wouldn’t know how to give digital art that kind of handmade feel. It’s crucial to experiment with handmade crafts, make drawings, and little art projects, even when you work digitally. You need to turn away from the computer and work in another space in the house, sometimes I have to literally turn away from my desk and get out all my art supplies.

That time away from the screen helps me be aware when things are looking a little too digital, a little too slick.

Where do you get your inspiration for your art?
My inspiration for my artwork comes mostly from relationships with friends and family. Affairs of the heart mostly. Bad breakups, secret obsessions, etc.  I keep Puppy at that awkward age between childhood and teenage years where life is still so mysterious and puzzling. It’s a perfect place for him to relive those events in his own delightful way.

How has putting your work online changed your artistic career?
Since I started publishing the Puppy comics online, I have also self-published a few titles on the web. Being online also makes it much easier to network with other comic artists by reading their blogs. You don’t need to be in school anymore to make friends and network, you can have access to people and their work without ever meeting them.

I still show my work in festivals and museums and things like that, but it’s a really small that goes to a venue. I also post all of my animation work to Vimeo, and I  get so many hits from all over the world. People call and text me wanting to know how I do what I do.

Suddenly the world is a really small place and its easy for people to find you.

How is the world of comics and illustration changing as print production diminishes? Is reading a comic or illustrated book on a Kindle or iPad as satisfying?
You can get just as much or more from reading a book or comic on a Kindle or iPad, because you have the added feature of interaction.

There is a website called Lately Lily that I love. In it there is a little girl who travels all over the world. The site is selling clothing, but it allows you to read along with her stories of where she’s been, browser her journal, look through and play with the things in her suitcase. That interactive quality really brings it up to another level.

Who influenced you most growing up and why?
My mother of course was the most influential person to me growing up. She took great pains to create a sort of imaginary world of fancy where manners, elegance, and artistry prevailed. She introduced me to painting and art history as well as drawing, sewing, piano, cross-stitch and baking. When I was a kindergartner she snuck me out of school giving a note to the principal that she was taking me for a ‘cultural education.’ We rode the train into New York City and took in the sights of the Metropolitan museum. She gave me a nickel for every painter I could identify.  On that day I think I hatched my plan to move here.

Who is the most influential female from the past century?
Aside from my mom, one of the most influential females for me would have to be the Gilded Age author Edith Wharton, author of The House of Mirth.  Her books drip with refinement.  People in her books were so concerned with manners and following unspoken rules but inside their hearts were raging rivers. I think I am the same.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Waking up is very stressful for me, I get so overwhelmed about what to do first and wander around moaning a bit. (I work from home). So I read a little to establish a peaceful spirit, practice Cantonese for a few minutes, then go kicking and screaming to my animating table.

What problem are you trying to solve?  
Right now I am trying to establish a more continuous language as an artist.  There are so many things I like to do, but I want to give myself an entire year to speak with one voice.  With Puppy I can express any feeling or emotion I might have.  I decided to call 2013 ‘The Year of the Dog’ and dedicate it to having fun with my BFF Puppy.  Who knows what we will do together?  Activity books, comics, movies… I am so excited. I want to see what it is like to be one of those artists who does one thing, but does it well.

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