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Interview With Karen Rubins

Posted: 16/03/13

This is the interciew I hade with Karen Rubins, I emailed her the questions and this is what she put as her answer;

  1. What is your background in the arts?

I studied Visual Communication Design at university, and since then I have worked in the field of comics and illustration, self-publishing as well as working for clients. I was the Comics Artist in Residence at the Victoria and Albert museum in 2009, and have worked as an arts educator since 2007 as well as continuing with my own work.

  1.  What training did you get or receive?

I didn't get any specific training in making comics, but I studied art at GCSE, A-Level, and received a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and a BA in Visual Communication Design (Illustration) from Middlesex University.

  1. How long have you been working in this particular field?

Since 2001 when I created comics as student projects as part of my degree.

  1. What or who is your inspiration?

Comic creators who have inspired me over the years are Wendy Pini (Elfquest), Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), and many other indie comics creators, as well as the work of manga artists Hiroaki Samura, Junji Ito, Rumiko Takahashi, Ai Yazawa and many more! I am also an avid reader of books without pictures, some of my favourite authors being Lian Hearn, Ursula Le Guin, Haruki Murakami and Hilary Mantel. The world in general is a good inspiration, as are films, music, and basically anything you experience!


  1. What do you enjoy and dislike about your job?

I really enjoy creating comics, drawing, and running workshops. Getting to inspire people to love comics and manga is really rewarding. The hardest and least enjoyable parts are having to drum up the courage to network and talk to people you don't know, and getting rejected by publishers! You have to be self-displined, organised and thick skinned, none of which are my natural talents.

  1. what advice would you give to someone who wanted a career in the arts?

Follow your own path and have faith in yourself. There is no standard route to success. Try not to compare yourself with others. Be prepared to work really hard and to do jobs you might not want to do. Never give up! (It's a bit like being the hero of a shonen manga.) Appreciate the support you'll need from family and friends.

  1. Did you have to get particular GCSEs or A leve's to do this job?

Not necessarily, but a general background in the arts helps with skills you will need as a manga artist. It's important to learn things like anatomy, drawing from observation, colour theory and composition – everything you learn will feed in to your work even if it isn't directly relevant. I don't think I could have got this far without my education behind me. Some people don't find art school is for them, and that's fine too –there are many different ways of learning, and no one is going to ask to view your exam results, just your artwork!

  1. Are there other organisations that could improve my skills in the art of manga?

There are many online tutorials, such as on the Letraset website, and communities for manga artists to exchange feedback. The Sweatdrop Studios forum ( is not very active but you can get good and sincere advice from there. Look out for manga workshops and classes in your area as they sometimes turn up in unexpected places! Go to conventions such as MCM Expo and talk to artists in the artists alley, usually they will be happy to look at your artwork and give you tips. Entering competitions is a good way to give yourself motivation to complete projects and to get feedback on your work. The Manga Jiman contest held by the Japanese Embassy in London is a good one to enter, and judges are happy to discuss work with you afterwards.