Literati profile: Aśka

What is your most recent creative project?

My latest is a YA graphic novel Stars in Their Eyes, co-created with Jessica Walton. It’s a very cute, queer romance with an amputee main character. After Jessica wrote a fabulous manuscript, my job was to ‘translate’ it into the visual language of comics by laying out, designing and ‘engineering’ the content, and then drawing the 200 pages of the book.

What new projects are on your current horizon?

I am currently juggling a few picture book and graphic novel projects. Physics, road kill, bore water, neurodivergence and heavy metal music are some of the themes that just don’t get enough coverage in our visual literature. You’ll be happy to hear that at this very moment I’m scratching away with my pen to change that.

Why do you love what you do and what inspired you to begin?

I spend my days pulling faces as I draw, laughing at my own jokes and creating characters who are extensions of my naughty side. Then, I visit schools and talk about the power of picture-language, while occasionally exploding stuff (mostly on purpose.) What’s not to love about that? I’ve always followed my passions, even if no one else thought it a good idea or there was no road leading there yet. I don’t know how else to be.

If you could collaborate with any other creative in the world, who would it be and what would you make together?

I think it would have to be Dave McKean. His works, such as Cages and Pictures That Tick showed me the amazing potential of comics to describe the quiet and the everyday. Our collaboration would be a black and white graphic novel opus about colour and its emotional manipulation potential.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given that you try to incorporate in your approach to work and creativity?

Daily practice. Sounds obvious, right? But once you get busy with life, especially as a creative, you can end up talking more about your art than actually doing it. Consciously putting aside blocks of time, especially for personal work, is something I really fight for on a regular basis. And not just the ‘dregs’ of the day, but the juicy, optimal creative hours. I’d also put peer-feedback high on the list.

What are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it and why?

I’m reading Mirranda Burton’s Underground. It’s a very ambitious and thoroughly researched graphic novel, based on real events, about the rebels of Australia’s War in Vietnam. I especially love Mirranda’s sense of design and the way she visually communicates large amounts of information by weaving innovative layouts and symbolism with the narrative. Highly recommended as an outstanding, home-grown example of what the medium of comics is capable of.

When you’re not working on projects, how do you relax?

I like to dance like nobody’s watching, even when everyone is. As an avid supporter of the local music scene, I love loud, live gigs, preferably with at least three guitars all at once. I also enjoy rage-cycling (it’s exactly what is sounds like) and recently started skateboarding. I have not broken anything, so I don’t think I’m very good at it yet.

If you could travel to any destination tomorrow, where would it be and why?

I like to go to countries where there is no fast food chains and no one is clutching a mobile phone; where your mind is free of clutter and focuses on what’s truly important. Basically, I admire destinations that showcase the simplicity of human connection.

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