Interview with Tori K. Roman3 min read


Russell Dickerson
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Artist Tori K. Roman, also known as To-Ka-Ro, provided this month’s beautiful Apex Magazine cover. A self-taught mixed media artist and designer, her art pieces vary from anime styles to unique character paintings.

APEX MAGAZINE: Your art for this month’s Apex cover, “Fly Again,” could be interpreted from a few different angles. Some might think that the pilots have returned to flight, and the foreground person is watching them happily. Others might think the foreground person has been left behind. As an artist, are you concerned with how someone will interpret your art, or is that a personal idea that you leave to each viewer?

TORI K. ROMAN: While I have a description of my general vision for every piece, I’m very open to viewers seeing my artwork in a different light than I intended. I think that different perceptions happen naturally with each viewer; those viewpoints sometimes even help me develop a concept or piece further along.

AM: Many of the pieces in your DeviantArt gallery are anime fanart. What is it about anime that you find inspiring, and how does it influence your art? Do your ideas behind art influence the types of anime you are interested in?

TR: I find the anime style and variations of the style aesthetically pleasing to me since I grew up watching anime and reading manga. To me, it’s both nostalgic and refreshing when someone can take a general style, like anime, and fine tune it to make it their own. In that way, I’m influenced by the anime style: I like to take the aesthetics from anime, and put a slightly realistic twist on it. When I see anime, manga, cartoons, etc, taking what is considered a general style, then creators tweaking it to where it produces something I’ve never seen before, it definitely catches my attention.

AM: In your gallery, you feature a very large mural on a coffeehouse wall. Many digital artists don’t work at all with traditional media, especially at that physical size. What did you learn from that experience, and does it affect how you work on your digital pieces? Would you recommend other artists try murals or other large, traditional media paintings?

TR: I have learned from that experience, and other mural experiences thereafter, to be flexible as an artist, and to challenge myself. I think learning the fundamentals are incredibly important, and I stress it to my private students regularly. When one has a somewhat decent understanding of fundamentals, it gives an artist an edge to where they can be a bit more flexible and willing to reach outside of their comfort zones. Mural work, in a technical sense, has helped me view digital artwork as a step-by-step process, and to view pieces I work on in more manageable chunks. I would recommend artists to try murals if they have a curiosity about it, and are willing to stretch themselves a bit out of their comfort zone.

AM: You mention various music tracks in the descriptions of your gallery pieces. Do you consistently listen to similar music as you are working on a piece, or are those songs simply the original inspiration for the art? Has a song ever had an opposite effect than intended while you are working on a piece?

TR: I do both listen to similar music while working, and have had songs independently inspire a piece on their own. Sometimes I’ll be listening to the radio while driving and an image will pop in my head, while other times I will be listening to a drawing playlist I’ve made. Most of the time, the music I list either directly inspired the concept of the piece, or helped to create the feeling or ambiance while working on a piece. Sometimes listening to certain music has been more of a hindrance than a help, mostly due to me not being in the mood to listen to a certain genre; so it was distracting me more than helping me focus.

AM: Your DeviantArt page lists a couple of conventions you will be attending this year. How do fans at a convention interact differently than they do online or on your social media? Do you find that you gain more fans from one versus the other?

TR: People who interact with me at conventions are typically new viewers of my artwork. Viewers in person tend to be more inquisitive and engaging, and tend to ask more personable questions. Viewers and fans online tend to keep their comments more brief; however, there are a few followers who I have more lengthy discussions with in private messages. I gain more followers online because what I believe to be is the ease of access to my artwork, especially since I acquired more social media accounts recently. People who are interested in my artwork and works-in-progress can follow me on Instagram, and on Tumblr, Facebook, and DeviantArt under the name To-Ka-Ro.

  • Russell Dickerson

    Russell Dickerson has been a published illustrator and designer since the previous millennium, creating works for many genre publications and authors. He has also written many articles for various organizations in that time including Apex.

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