The creative community is a growing community of many talents. Sometimes we can forget that there are new rookie artist amongst a sea of established creators. One such new creator is Thomas James Ludena. We met at J1 and from our conversation, I just really wanted to spotlight this up and coming artist. During our conversation, I began to remember how it was for me at my first con. I also remembered how welcoming and supportive the Inbeon family were at that first con. It was a feeling I wanted to recreate for Thomas and since J1 we have kept in contact.
Hi Thomas, thank you for letting us interview you.
Thanks for having me.
Let’s start by introducing yourself to our readers.
My name is Thomas Ludena, but most people online will probably know me as PocketxUniverse. I’ve been drawing and writing stories since I was eight years old and I’m probably not going to stop anytime soon. I moved to the United States when I was eleven years old and went to art school where I met most of my friends I have today. Now I’m currently working towards my dream of becoming a storyteller. I still haven’t decided if I want to do an animated series, book or comic.
What inspired you to become an artist?
When I was younger, me and my sister lived in a quiet house away from the city. Since our parents worked elsewhere, we were raised by our aunt. I was never allowed to leave the house by myself and socialize with friends, so I was often lonely and felt trapped. Luckily I had my sister and she was both an artist and storyteller. She made the cramped house feel exciting with her stories and I was always her biggest fan. However one day instead of just telling me one of her stories, she asked if I wanted to tell her one instead. That was a world-changing event for me and I started writing my own stories. She also drew her own characters and worlds, I wanted to do the same thing. That’s how I started as an artist. It was because I wanted to see my own characters
We met at J1 anime con. I had walked over to your table and was in awe with your artwork. The art pieces looked like backgrounds you might find in a Studio Ghibli film. What is your creative process?
Idon’t actually start with the drawing itself. I have a tablet and monitor setup. I usually start with opening Photoshop on my tablet and then split the monitor into two windows. One window for videos or music for entertainment while I work. The other for references or anything I get inspiration from. When I draw backgrounds, I start from one point on the whole page and start drawing outwards. I usually draw in a burst of 10 minutes or less since I usually have problems focusing on a drawing for too long. I slowly build it up with a sketch layer before doing another for final lines. Then I do colors starting with flat tones, then the shadows, then highlights, all separated by layers. After all the color is done I then start playing with it by messing with the color settings on Photoshop or by overlaying textures to the piece to bring it together
Sometimes drawing something can be difficult. For me, it used to be eyes. So to get better I filled a book up with eyes for practice. What advice would you give to someone who is having trouble with their artwork?
I used to have the same problem with basically every part of the human anatomy. I used to have this dumb idea that using references or tracing is stealing and that a good artist should be able to draw from either memory or imagination. I was completely wrong and I started to use references and improved drastically. I myself like to watch videos of someone drawing the specific body part or thing I have difficulty drawing before attempting it myself. I would also like to tell people to not give up and try to enjoy the process as much as possible. Do not hinge all your enjoyment on the finished product. Otherwise, you feel bad when you fall short of your own expectations. Just keep drawing and enjoy the little improvements. Before long you’ll look back and realize how far you’ve actually come.
What are some of your dream projects that you would love to work on and some of your goals as an artist?
My sister and I promised each other that we would devote our lives to getting our stories told in a combined epic that would reach the heights of popularity becoming a cultural icon. Naturally, now that I’m a little older I know how lofty that goal sounds. But if anything that just excites me more. My dream project would be to work on an animated series based on those old stories and share them with the world.
If you can pick any creators brain, who would that be?
The late Monty Oum. He was the man who animated and created the RWBY web series, which I am a big fan of, the amount of references from anime, video games, movies, or fairy tales, that he managed to fit into one show is truly something to behold. This brilliant man and his work ethic were insane. According to accounts from his coworkers, he would animate all day every day and fall asleep at work on his computer killing himself to do what he loved. As someone who has their own story they want to share, his dedication spoke to me. I would have been honored to have the chance to talk with him.
What are some projects you have going on right now or down the line?
Me and my friends are currently working on a project together that may or may not be a webcomic. We’re still currently at the beginning stages of trying to work out a story that would be cool and unique. If there are any updates you can find out on my twitter page @PocketxUnIverse
Thomas, we want to thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. Tell our readers where we can find your work and all your links?
Thanks for having me. You can find me on Instagram, Deviant art and Twitter as @PocketxUniverse.