Monday, August 20, 2012

STGCC 2012: Spotlight On Newcomers - Firestarter & Bleufish

What makes a pop-culture convention energetic and vibrant lies mostly in the people who participate in the event. This includes the organizers, creative guests, fans, promoters and of course, the booth exhibitors!

Many of the larger booth exhibitors are well-known retail store or industry names, but quite a few, especially in Red Dot Diva's favourite area Artist Alley, are manned by indie but equally talented folks. Many may not be household names right now, but who knows? With time, some of them may take their creative work to higher places!

One of the new booth exhibitors at this year's STGCC is the artistic team of Firestarter & Bleufish. Such a fantastical and intriguing name!

Red Dot Diva managed to get hold of one-half of the duo Firestarter, for an introductory piece before the convention kicks off on 1-2 September. She thinks that those who love monsters and colourful whimsical artwork would find their booth interesting!

Firestarter is the moniker behind 25-year-old Sarah Isabel Tan, who is currently a concept designer/ illustrator in a local game company. Sarah confesses that she loves animation, video games, movies, travelling and wheeeeeeee! theme parks!

Here's Sarah telling us more about herself and all poised to bring her fiery artistic passion into the world at large:

Red Dot Diva: When was your earliest memory of loving art with a passion?
Sarah: I have always loved art for as long as I can remember. I literally grew up on animation and comics as a kid and spent a lot of time watching Looney Tunes and Disney's Silly Symphonies. My parents knew I loved animation and always sourced out interesting films for me so I ended up watching stuff like "Flight of Dragons", "The Thief", "The Cobbler" and "Totoro". I read a lot of Tintin, Asterix and french comics too and have a great love for European comic art.

When I was a child, I drew a lot although I did not take it very seriously until I was much older. My fondest memory regarding art was after having seen ''The Lion King'' at the theatre. I began drawing Simba and Nala in school and discovered that my classmates were actually willing to pay me for these drawings. I used to charge 50 cents a pop for them but I eventually had to shut my 'business' down because I couldn't cope with the overwhelming demand!

Red Dot Diva: What is your artistic forte? 
Sarah: I have always loved animals and beasties. I favour a stylized art style and enjoy toonier, more fun looks. Dragons and big cats tend to be my favoured subjects though lately I have taken a liking to more sci-fi related things and have grown to like drawing the occasional spaceship/hovercraft. I tend to stress on the art having a personality of some sort; something that makes people break into an uncontrollable grin.

Red Dot Diva: So who is your favourite monster? 
Sarah: Do dinosaurs count? Jurassic Park was one of my major inspirations when I was younger and I had a ton of dinosaur figurines and books. I still have a model of an Allosaurus on my work desk to keep me company. I like Godzilla, Draco from Dragonheart, and I am absolutely in love with the Xenomorph design from the Alien series. I like a little body/visceral horror from time to time and the creature from The Thing comes to mind. The old version, not the new one. To me, monsters that are scary do not need to have spikes on them.

Red Dot Diva: Who are you artistic heroes? 
Sarah: Um, wow. I have a whole bunch! Claire Wendling, Cory Loftis, Paul Felix, Hayao Miyazaki, Mike Yamada, Rhemrev, Andrew Shek, Nico Marlet, Glen Keane, Terryl Whitlatch, Scott Robertson. The list can go on and on. Most of them are usually artists in the field of animation, European comics, creature design and visual development types.

Red Dot Diva: What was the most challenging thing learning from work as an illustrator/ concept artist compared to learning art in school? 
Sarah: School was actually more challenging than work in this instance. The biggest difference for me was that I was actually getting paid to do art and that my art was actually going to be used in games. It's not like school where even if you don't do so well, nothing particularly terrible is going to happen to you. At work, the onus is on you, the designer, to make sense of things and make sure everything works well. That said, it is quite fun to see your stuff get programmed and see characters prance about on the screen.

Red Dot Diva: Have you been to other comic conventions before? And what has the experience been like?
Sarah: Not yet. But soon I will be attending the CTNANIMEXPO in LA later this year to meet up with industry people and fellow artist friends I've made over the internet. I look forward to my first SDCC but I think I need to save a fair bit before I can go; I hear the merchandise can get pretty crazy there. The only con I've been to is Siggraph in Boston 2006 as part of a school trip. And that was more graphic/tech related rather than comic related.

Red Dot Diva: Who are you hoping to meet at this year's STGCC?
Sarah: Let's see. I'm going to talk to some buddies at Imaginary Friends Studio, try to find Sonny Liew and Simone Legno. Oh maybe the designer, Touma. I like his toys. They are pretty awesome. It would be a different experience sitting at a booth and not really being able to walk around, so I am not really sure who I'd meet this time round!

Red Dot Diva: What have you got planned for your booth at STGCC?
Sarah: It's my first con where I'm actually running a booth and I am a little nervous about the whole thing. I have a handful of art prints and I will my first sketchbook ready. It is going to be fairly exclusive and it's something I've thought about for a while, so I figured I might as well get down to it and do it.

Red Dot Diva: What do you expect to achieve by having an STGCC booth?
Sarah: I am not new to STGCC but I am new to boothing. I'm not sure what to expect really! I'm fully aware that this is a comic con and that I'm not selling anything vaguely related to comic-dom and this could be either a yay or nay thing. I also don't have much fanart on me at all; I'd say 99% of the work I'm bringing to the table is original. I'm trying to network and get my art noticed by industry folks, and also to find out what is the general reaction to my work. I'm extremely aware that it's all rather risky and I could stand to lose a fair bit of money in this but I think its a good way to gauge public interest. We will see what happens!

If unique concept designs, creatures and monsters are your thing, then don't forget to say hi to Sarah and her partner at booth G39 during STGCC.

Besides, Red Dot Diva thinks one might be curious enough to see what their more mysterious half Bleufish, may be up to during the convention as well, right?!


Check out Sarah's profile at her website -
And art page at

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