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Salim Asks: Monaka the Illustrator from the Blue Forest

Salim Asks is a series of blog posts where game designer Salim Larochelle interviews his teammates and friends.

It’s July 2012 and I’ve just left Gameloft Montreal in the hope of new challenges. I’m starting my own studio and making The Girl and the Robot, the first of many games that I want to make. I know that I can’t do the game alone, so one of the first things I do is search the world for a concept artist to help me out.

In my mind, this game need to have a specific art style; one that could transmit the idea of my fairy tale and be nostalgic, a little bit like a forgotten dream. After weeks of searching, I came across the Pixiv page of a Japanese artist called Monaka; I felt in love with her art style right away.

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I brushed up my rusty Japanese that I learned long ago and started emailing her; even if I had to takes hours to write emails in proper Japanese at first, I didn’t care because in my mind I knew that I absolutely needed this artist. Even today, her ability to choose colors and to draw character expressions amazes me. Here is my recent interview with her.

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Salim: Hello Monaka, could you tell us a little bit about your background and also the work that you do on The Girl and the Robot?
[こんにちはもなかさん。よければ、あなたの経験について少し話してください。また、The Girl and The Robotではどんな仕事をしていますか?]

Monaka: I’ve always loved drawing and painting since my childhood. I started to publish my work on the internet since 2008. On The Girl and the Robot project, I’m in charge of character design, promotional art and also doing the paintings that will be present in the game’s environment.
[子どもの頃から絵を描くことが好きでした。2008年から作品をインターネット上で公開しています。The Girl and the Robotではキャラクターデザインやプロモーション用のイラスト、それから現在はゲーム内で使われる絵も描いています。]

Salim: Which part of your work would you consider to be the most challenging, and which part do you like the most?
[あなたの仕事のどの部分が最も挑戦的であると考えますか?また、どの部分が一番好きですか?]

Monaka: My challenge is to paint pictures that make people enjoy the game. I feel like my work also express things outside the game; in that sense, my pictures supplement the game and players imagine the world of The Girl and the Robot more deeply.
My favorite part is that I can draw freely and with little limitation. Of course, I need to take responsibility for that, but I think I will gain much knowledge and this gets me motivated.
[ゲームがより楽しくなるような絵を描きたいですね。実際ゲームの中に出てくるできごと以外のことも絵なら描けるから、プレイヤーが想像して楽しめるような、ゲームを補完するような役割もあるかなと思います。
好きなところは、制約が少なく自由に描かせてもらえるところです。責任もあるけど、勉強になるし、やる気も出ます。]

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Salim: Is there a game that you played in your childhood that was special to you, and why?
[子供の頃に遊んだゲームの中で特別思い入れがあるものはありますか?また、その理由は?]

Monaka: I love games like the Harvest Moon series. The gameplay is about doing the same thing every day but the little change that occurs keeps the game fun and interesting for me. I also like PoPoLoCrois. I really love that characters and worldview.
[牧場物語とか、シミュレーションゲームが好きでした。やることは毎日同じだけど、毎日変化があったりたまにイベントがあるのが楽しかったんだと思います。絵が魅力的ではじめたものはポポロクロイスですね。キャタクターも世界観もとても好きです。]

Salim: Is there an artist that inspired you more than other? What makes this artist special for you?
[誰よりもあなたにインスピレーションを与えたアーティストはいますか?また、そのアーティストはどうしてあなたにとって特別なんですか?]

Monaka: It’s difficult for me to choose one person. I like so many artists. There is one person that I like among the Japanese writers: Miyazawa Kenji inspired me many times. I like his thoughts and feeling toward nature.
[絵描きさんだと好きな人がたくさんいて選べません。作家だと、宮沢賢治が好きです。自然の感じ方や思想が好きで、影響を受けていると思います。]

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Salim: How often do you draw each week? When you draw, how do you come up with new idea, what is your process?
[毎週どのぐらい描きますか?描くときは、どのように新しいアイデアを思い付きますか?]

Monaka: I draw for about 20 hours per week. I usually draw after my day job and during holidays.
I can think of a good idea for a drawing before going to sleep or just when I’m doing nothing. Otherwise, I keep drawing random pictures and after that I choose the best ones.
[仕事の後と休日を合わせて20時間くらいでしょうか。
アイデアは、たくさん描いてその中から選んだり、寝る前やぼんやりしているときにふと浮かんできたりします。]

Salim: How is your experience working on a game so far? Is it the same as you expected from the first time I asked you to join me?
[ゲームを作ることはどのような経験ですか。ゲーム制作に参加した当初と変わりありませんか?]

Monaka: When I was a child, I wanted to draw just like the drawing in game strategy guides. I’m happy that it’s now a reality and so I try the best as I can. I’m now working on the paintings in the game; I’m a little nervous but it’s good tension. I will work wholeheartedly so please look forward to it!
[子どもの頃にゲームの攻略本を読んで、こういう絵が描きたいなと思うこともあったので、実際関わることができて嬉しく思います。自分にできる限りのことをやれたらと思います。今は、ゲーム内で使われる絵を描いているので、とても良い緊張感がありますね。一枚一枚心をこめて描いていきたいと思っていますので、お楽しみに!]

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Salim: If you had an advice for other artists that wants to start, what would it be?
[アーティストの仕事を始めたい人に助言があったら、それは何でしょうか。]

Monaka: I think we should show our own works to as much people as possible. Also, it is necessary to make the extra efforts to improve our skill. I don’t always put up my work on the internet but I always feel good when somebody enjoys my work. I’m glad and grateful for that. I know that there are a lot of artists in the world and I want my place to be somewhere where I succeed. It’s important to keep painting. Your passion of painting day after day will be your own treasure.
[少なくとも、作品を人に見せないと何も始まらないと思います。もちろん実力を高めていく努力も必要ですが。私もネット上でしか活動していないのですが、見てくれる人は確実にいるのでありがたいです。絵を描く人はたくさんいるけど、絵を仕事にすることについては、私の席もどこかに残っているんじゃないかなーという気持ちで、作品発表を続けています。描いた作品はきっと全部自分の財産になると思いますよ。]

Salim: Thank you Monaka for the fine work, I’m looking forward to continue working with you.
[もなかさん、ありがとうございます。これからもよろしくお願いします。]

Monaka: Me too, thank you very much!
[ありがとうございました!こちらこそ、これからもよろしくお願いします。]

Follow Monaka on Twitter and on Tumblr!

1 Comment so far

  1. “I think we should show our own works to as much people as possible. Also, it is necessary to make the extra efforts to improve our skill. I don’t always put up my work on the internet but I always feel good when somebody enjoys my work.”

    I certainly enjoy the heck out of your work! Beautiful colors, enchanting compositions, cute characters and mystical worlds.. its’ absolutely lovely :D

    Great little interview! It was nice to finally get some insight as to the person behind the wonderful look of this game. To see the extra pictures, and to also have the links to other websites where one can see more of her work, is also great! Thank you!

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