Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. Artist and writer, Lorena Sofia TL, has taken her career into her own hands and created MUG, a simple, fun (and sometimes ridiculous) bi-weekly webcomic. Fresh Print was able to sit down with this local artist and ask her a few questions about her background, inspirations, and just why she chose to write about a magical mug.
Fresh Print: Hi Lorena. I’m so glad we get to talk to you. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lorena: I’m Lorena. I’m originally from Bogota, Colombia, but I’ve been in Canada for about ten years now. My folks are both artists, in a more ‘High Art’ kind of way. I’ve done a little bit of theatre, and recently I did an illustration for Shameless magazine (which is very cool), and had a table at Canzine. As far as education goes, I’m taking some creative writing classes right now at UofT and some comics classes also at UofT and through the Comic Book Boot Camp, which is amazing!
Fresh Print: I’ve taken classes from the Boot Camp too. Ty Templeton’s classes are absolutely fantastic. How did you get interested in comics?
Lorena: I grew up drawing and reading way too many books. Eventually I realized that comics were the best medium to do everything I like. The thing that got me into webcomics is that they’re really accessible. I really want to make stuff that anyone can read and enjoy, even if they can’t afford to pay for it or if they don’t know much about “Art”. Comics can be just as fascinating as more established mediums, but I feel that people are less intimidated by them. You don’t need to be an academic to read them.
Fresh Print: How did you come up with the concept of your comic?
Lorena: For Mug, the current story, I wanted to draw something simple, fun, and somehow in the fantasy genre. So, I tried to come up with the least cool magical object I could, the most useless thing. It grew from there. Overall, I just try to make the kind of stories that I’d like to read.
Fresh Print: And what kind are you reading now?
Lorena: Right now, I’m really into webcomics like Cucumber Quest ( by Gigi DG), The Last Halloween (by Abby Howard) and Nimona (by Noelle Stevenson). Basically fun, fantasy genre stories with awesome art. I also read lots of manga and other stuff, but webcomics remain my favourite. All kinds of different people are working hard to make these stories, and I think that’s exciting.
Fresh Print: I know a lot of artists out there would like to start their own projects. How did you get started?
Lorena: I started posting comics on the website in 2009, on and off. It was a way to have fun and de-stress, so I didn’t think too much about it. In the last few months I’ve been posting more consistently, and the more I do it the more fun it is.
Fresh Print: What is the most challenging part of running a webcomic?
Lorena: This probably varies from person to person, but time management is the toughest for me. As a reader, it’s sad when you love a story and it just doesn’t update regularly. I’m always running around trying to make sure the comics appear on time. But there are many rewarding parts too. Maybe my favourite is having something that can be read from all over the world, and making the artwork improve as time goes on.
Fresh Print: Any advice to other struggling artists?
Lorena: I’m still a beginner, but let’s see… Maybe pushing your limits as much as you can. Draw the stuff that is difficult for you. Find new ways to show your strengths, read new stories, that kind of thing. I think that comics are evolving all the time, so you probably should evolve too. I have a very long way to go, but eventually I would love to work on comics full-time. Even more importantly than that, I’d love to make comics that people really, really like. And that I really like.
Fresh Print: Are you involved in any upcoming projects you’d like me to mention?
Lorena: I’ll be at the Toronto Indie Arts Market on December 14th (at the Gladstone Hotel) selling little zines and comic related stuff. Of course, the comic is ongoing. Currently I put a page up at some point on Tuesdays and Fridays. Who knows what else will come up in the future!
Thank you so much, Lorena, for sharing your story. Check out Lorena’s ongoing webcomic MUG and tell us what you think in the comments.