Sunday, May 3, 2020

Diva's Reylo Fan Art Series: Afterblossom's Creative and Adorable Cartoons

For a May the 4th Star Wars Day Special, Red Dot Diva continues with her Reylo Fan Art Series by introducing Kelly aka Afterblossom, a freelance artist based in Malaysia! (The first of the series was a Q&A with Rachel Xin , who is now working with Pixar!)

Afterblossom's level of creativity is as astounding as it is humourous. She manages to capture pop-culture characters, especially the Star Wars ones, in an irresistibly adorable way.  Reylo fans would have already come across her funny-cute cartoons and comics on her sites like Patreon, Tumblr or Twitter.

Red Dot Diva learned that Afterblossom started working on her first comic when she was getting her graphic design degree at university. Other than drawing, Afterblossom also enjoys reading, watching movies and swimming. But we really want to find out more about her art, don't we? So, here's Red Dot Diva's Q&A with Afterblossom:

Red Dot Diva: How did you get into drawing fan art?
As someone who likes to draw, this comes naturally to me. I’ve been drawing fanart for my previous fandoms for a while. Once I saw The Last Jedi, I immediately supported the Reylo pairing and I have been drawing them ever since!

Red Dot Diva: Who are your artistic inspirations?
Afterblossom: I have a lot! As a Malaysian Chinese living in my country, there’s plenty of cultural influence to be inspired from. I shaped my art style from Japanese mangaka such as Kyoko Hikawa, Chie Shinohara back when I was incredibly into Shojo manga. As I was growing up, I got to know about multiple Western art movements, like Art Nouveau, along with notable figures like Harry Clarke, Kay Nielson and Edmund Dulac which I really looked up to when I was studying art.

Red Dot Diva: You are well known online as the artist who created the “Where's Rose” Story Book. What inspired you to start that project? What have been the challenges faced, and how has the journey relating to this project been?
Afterblossom: When TROS started its marketing campaign and outreach, we notice that Rose Tico was missing in the main poster and other promotional materials. Why was Rose hidden, and why is there an alien in her place? Naturally, the fandom was concerned and our speculation got wilder and wilder as tensions mount among the fans. So I was thinking: what can I do to alleviate the panic? Where did she go? Is she out for a secret mission and therefor her location remains a tight secret? Maybe she’s off having a splendid adventure and that’s why she isn’t in the poster. That idea latched on and I decided to draw her adventures into a children’s storybook. I’m glad that everyone has been very supportive of my drawings.

Pic of Kelly Marie Tran with “Where's Rose” Book after her BUILDSeries talk at NYC (credit: sadboyklyo and boobooben)

Red Dot Diva: Two Reylos managed to gift Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) your “Where's Rose” Story Book in person. Tell us more about this, and what was your reaction when you found out about it.
Afterblossom: Words cannot describe how I felt when Jess and Maddie handed her the book in person. Seeing how Kelly Marie Tran got emotional when she saw the book, inspires me to do I’m doing, to draw with love. Similarly, Rose Tico once said: “Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love” is a powerful line that continues to motivate me to draw.

Red Dot Diva: I love your chibi characters. And that alphabet series of Reylo art! Just TOO ADORABLE. Which Star Wars character did you find most challenging to draw in chibi form? 
Afterblossom: So far none, but maybe the aliens in Canto Bight? I have to find a way to make them cute!
Red Dot Diva: Oh, please do! 

Red Dot Diva: I notice that when you are not drawing chibis, you drawing styles is very different, with a kind of ethereal quality to them. How would describe your own art style, and do you experiment with different ways of drawing?
Afterblossom: I’m really envious at artists who have found their own style, as I’ve yet to find my own. I’ve been exploring all kinds of styles and I’m still not satisfied with what I can do. Currently, my style sits between a distinct Asian-inspired aesthetic and a more Golden age approach to illustration. I experiment with a variety of patterns, colours and lines, with plenty of patience thrown in. Art is a slow burn and patience is a very important key.

Red Dot Diva: How much of a Star Wars fan are you? What is it about the Reylo that draws you to the ship?
Afterblossom: Before TROS, I was a new and starry-eyed (ha!) Star Wars fan, someone who is always open to exploring more about the Star Wars Universe. However, I felt really let down after TROS, especially when you’ve invested so much into the story. I hope that Star Wars will be better in the future.

After I watched The Last Jedi, I was very curious about the Rey and Kylo pairing. So after much Googling, I discovered an essay written by Ohtze: “The Death and the Maiden”, and I felt a major revelation. I’ve always loved mythical metaphors and symbolism, and Reylo’s intriguing relationship makes them such a versatile pairing to explore with. You can mix them with different art styles and art contexts, so there’s no end as long as you have unlimited imagination.

Red Dot Diva: Do you think that the Reylos has been constantly misunderstood within the Star Wars fandom?
Afterblossom: Yes, absolutely. Lots of people think we are the same as those in the Fandom Menace. The truth is a huge part of the Reylo fandom are mostly women, especially POC women, making us an easier target for bullying. 

A few days ago, I saw a post accusing us Reylos for chasing Daisy Ridley away from social media, but the culprits are other ‘fans’ who are known to be notoriously sexist. It’s hard to convince others to hear us out as well because many are not willing to admit that their actions and thoughts have been wrong all this time. As with all fandoms, the Reylo fandom is a big one, and I cannot speak on behalf of everyone’s behaviour. However, to immediately generalise the entire group as ‘bad’ and using that as a legitimate reason to bully and harass Reylos is wrong.

Red Dot Diva: What are your other favourite pop-culture ships? I have many! 
Afterblossom: I don't have many pop-culture ships, because my main fandom before Reylo is in Chinese social media. Sometimes I ship it but Reylo is the only one that I have invested so much in. I have maybe one you may know, Mako and Raleigh Becket from Pacific Rim.
Red Dot Diva: Oh, that's a good one!

Red Dot Diva: Do you have any advice for artists out there who are planning to make fan art for a living?
Afterblossom: Draw more, and more. It's the best way to improve your skills, and also show your support for your fandom! Some people often look down about fanart, but fanart opens up a lot of opportunities to the artist. Reading also helps expand your imagination, so I definitely suggest reading all kinds of books and stories.

Red Dot Diva: Any other artistic projects that you have in mind for the near future?
Afterblossom: I am redesigning book covers, YAs, Sci-fi, or even dark erotical book that I like. It's like killing four birds with one stone: you get to read more books, while also getting a chance to sharpen your skills, which means more work for your portfolio! This will eventually lead to attention from potential clients too. I also have a few Reylo-inspired comic ideas but I’m taking it slow, as fandom is all about finding joy and relaxing with like-minded individuals. I hope everyone will find their own joy and happiness in due time.

Red Dot Diva: Thanks for much for the interview, Kelly! May the Force Be With You Always.


You can find Kelly aka afterblossom's lovely artwork in her online shops and sites here:

Website and store:


Other articles from the Diva's Reylo Fan Art Series:

* Interview with Rachel Xin
* Interview with Leiaporgana (Cody)

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