─── First of all， please introduce yourself!
Hi, I'm Vertigris! I'm a freelance illustrator from Germany working mostly for vtubers and game studios. In my free time, I'm working on my personal art projects. Nice to meet you!」
─── How did you get started with animation culture?
That was quite a bit ago. I think like many I started with anime like Dragonball, Pokemon, and Detective Conan that would run on TV after school. I also fondly remember watching Princess Mononoke as a kid which kind of scared me but also sparked my interest. After getting access to the internet I started to get really invested in the culture (maybe a bit too much, haha). I'd watch tons of different anime and even tried my hands at doing animation myself.
─── Can you tell us about the ambiance of animation culture and creativity in Germany?
German-produced animation isn't really a thing so people either watch American cartoons or Japanese anime. When I was younger it was pretty much seen as something purely made for kids. But with the rise of streaming services especially anime got a lot more widespread and is gaining more and more appreciation.
The creative culture, at least concerning what I do, is also quite small in Germany. That's why I chose to share my art internationally rather than focusing just on the German community. That way I can reach many more people.
─── Tell us about your journey on the creative path! Did you study the basics of art at art school?
My earliest memory of me knowing that I want to be an artist was in grade school. I drew a sheep and my whole class liked it which flattered me. It may be a childish reason but from there on I'd draw a lot more. After a while, my mom got me one of those "How to draw manga" books which at least in Germany are horrible! But back then it was my only resource so I studied them closely.
After graduating high school I went to a school for graphic design with the focus being on illustration and animation, however, I mostly just did it to have a degree on paper. Sadly they didn't teach us a lot there, we did a bit of frame-to-frame animation and motion design but it was mostly graphic design. So in the end, I'm pretty much self-taught with the help of tutorials and books!
─── Your scene construction is very realistic and cinematic, and the character style is quite "cyberpunk". How did you find your own style? If you have referenced some works please tell us about it.
I used to do a lot of movie skills studies that might explain the cinematic feeling. I also like to think of setting up a scene as if it's a movie set, placing the lights, setting up the camera, etc. Having learned studio photography was of great help for that.
Regarding the cyberpunk aspect, I think my biggest influence is probably the world of Akira. Whenever I read or watch it I feel like there are millions of stories yet to be explored in this gigantic city. Arknights is also a big inspiration for the "techwear" fashion, which I'm a huge fan of.
Finding your own style is a difficult task. It took me over ten years and I don't think I found my final style yet. But I don't think most people found it yet, it's always evolving and that's what makes it interesting.
─── We saw on Twitter that you quit your job to resign as a full-time artist. Can you tell us about the opportunity and consideration?
Wow, this feels like an eternity ago! Yes, I was working as a junior art director at an advertising agency until I noticed that I did not enjoy this work at all. I always dreamed of working full-time as an illustrator. However, I wasn't really fond of my art at the time either so I had low confidence in quitting my job.
That's why I started completely from scratch. I created this identity "Vertigris" and gave myself a year to build up an audience and returning clients. It was incredibly hard sometimes to juggle both jobs but luckily it paid off and I could finally quit my job and pursue my dream!
─── We see that you put a lot of effort into your original character, please tell us about your original character and her story! What was the initial setting like?
Her name is Gris, she's a goofy, clumsy bear girl that initially started out as a sort of mascot character for me. I was using that strong blue before in a logo which led to her having this very saturated hair color. But over time she evolved into more and now I'm planning to draw a comedy manga with her!
It's early in development but the idea is that she moves into a worn down, crime ridden neighborhood in this massive futuristic city. I want to contrast her simple minded cheerfulness with the grim surroundings of her neighborhood and tell a fun, unusual slice of life story.
─── We see that your scene is quite Japanese (XD). Have you been to Japan?
Sadly not yet! It's at the top of my travel destinations but Covid unfortunately made things very, very complicated. I hope I'll be able to experience Japan firsthand soon but until then I'll just stick to learning Japanese
─── You guys seem to have made a cool MV(Mirage), how did you initiate this collaboration? How to be inspired? What story do you want to tell?
One day I got a DM from Jorei, who is a fantastic music producer. She prefaced the DM with "you'll probably never going to read this" which I have to chuckle about in hindsight.
She was a fan of my work and just wanted to voice her appreciation for it. I did in fact answer her and we eventually became friends. We ended up collaborating on an MV featuring my OC Gris as the main character. Jorei composed the music while I was responsible for the video. Her music usually has a dark tone which inspired me to design a smug, gothic lolita styled version of Gris. Which is quite the contrast to her usual, friendly personality!
The idea behind the video was basically that Gris resurrects the dead to give them a last concert. It was a lot of experimentation with illustrations, animations and 3D. A lot of stress too as we basically did everything in one month but I'm proud of what we've accomplished!
─── You have also participated in the design of the VTuber Model. Please tell us how did this come about? Moreover, what is your opinion of the way of expression like VTuber?
That's right! So far I made the model for 3 VTubers and made character designs for several others. Funnily, a few years ago I was kind of skeptical of VTubers. I couldn't really get into the whole concept. That is until I watched a few videos of Ina from Hololive EN which kicked me down the rabbit hole. And nowadays most of my clients are VTubers, what a turn of events, right?
I do appreciate the VTuber sphere a lot though. They usually are great to work with and there are endless ways to express yourself as a VTuber which I find especially interesting as an artist. I'm even thinking about creating a VTuber avatar for myself for art streams!
─── You have illustrated many 2D mobile games, please tell us your favorite games and characters.
I'd say my favorite mobile game character is probably Shuten Douji from FGO. I absolutely love her design and character. I must admit though that I'm not a big mobile gamer. I played a bit of Arknights, Blue Archive, and Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage but I can't seem to play them over a long time!
All in all, Arknights is my favorite though because the aesthetics very much align with my own interests. Also, they have a rapping Penguin, isn’t that awesome?
─── We see that you have actually launched quite a few merch products like cotton dolls, and T-shirts. Please tell us what other forms you would like to try in the future.
My absolute dream is to release a figure of Gris. I hope someday she'll be popular enough to turn this dream into reality! Before that, I will probably try my hands at stickers and acrylic standees next year.
─── Could you please introduce your ongoing commercial projects and future creative plans?
Most of my commercial projects I sadly can't talk about in public. But there's one I can talk about which is Parallel Percent. It's a fast-paced and gritty visual novel centered in a devoured world. To summarize the story: Artificial intelligence awakens in the flesh of a human long after the end of the world.
I mostly illustrate the CGs and I possibly will do more in the future.
Aside from my freelancing gigs, I want to work hard on my personal projects such as the manga with Gris that I talked about earlier as well as do animations with her!
─── Thank you for being interviewed, is there any words like to say to your audience?
Thank you for reading this interview and supporting my work! I hope my language will soon reach a level that will enable me to better communicate with all of you.
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