BNP: So, first off let’s start with an “easy” question, what’s your origin story as an artist?
Amber: My origin story as an artist… I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I started drawing for Neopets, for all sorts of different online communities. It was at least where I got some start with digital art, after getting my first tablet and all of that stuff. My educational background is in graphic design, so it was still an artistic environment throughout school. Strangely enough, even as a graphic design major, we were required to take drawing classes and sculpture and all of these other art classes so that kinda helped me hold on to my interest in illustration and things like that even throughout college.
BNP: What are some of your biggest inspirations and influences?
Amber: My influences change a lot, really by what I’m reading and looking at right now. I’m always inspired by nature, and nostalgic stories inspire my comics work a lot. I love artists that have work that translates well over print media, digital, and apparel. I’m reading GLEEM by Freddy Carrasco. Mooncakes by Wendy Xu is really good. Whatever I’m looking at at the moment, those are always pretty big inspirations for me.
BNP: Pivoting off of that, how did you get involved with Wayward Kindred with your author Sherin Nicole.
Amber: Really just the usual process. I start that they were accepting applications. Normally, in a lot of my work, I work as both the writer and the artist. In this case, I decided to apply just as an artist. I submitted links to my portfolio and I was just fortunate enough to get chosen and paired up with Sherin the writer and got this amazing script.
BNP: What’s it like getting a script from a different author when you’re usually the writer then?
Amber: It was definitely a challenge for me, but I think it’s important to know. It’s common in a lot of creative processes in comics to be an artist working with a writer. It was definitely different for me but it was a great experience, learning how to stay true to the writer’s vision while also bringing in my own inspiration and design to it. It ended up being a lot of fun though.
BNP: Do you have a favorite panel or page in the story? I know that’s like asking “what’s your favorite child” but…
Amber: I think the one that was chosen as the preview page during the Kickstarter that was one of my favorite pages. The one that kind of showcases each character. Like we have “Child sitting in the car”, Spinner and Kai in there. I love how it captures each character and their different worlds. That’s one of my favorites I think.
BNP: Backtracking a little, you mentioned some of the things you try to incorporate in your work include nostalgia, childhood, myths, nature, horror, and fantasy. Firstly, is there anything you’re feeling nostalgic for at this particular moment in this strange world?
Amber: Oh my god. Nearly everything. Even though I have a lot of experience working remotely, working from home, I didn’t really realize even in that case… I used to go out for walks all the time. Really simple things like errands. Just… the fact that I’m in Chicago and the mayor closed down the lake front. Granted, it’s in the 30’s right now but the fact that I can’t go out and take a walk along the bike path or anything. Yeah, lots of nostalgia happening right now for sure.
BNP: Alright on a happier note, do you have any favorite childhood myth that you latched onto?
Amber: Childhood myth… In my case, in a lot of the stories I do, they are based off of experiences that I’ve had during childhood and I kind of turn those in a kind of myth. Like my story Bad Blood. It’s a short comic about kids and mosquitoes, where mosquitoes have the ability to determine the type of person you are depending on how much blood they took. And that was just inspired by me playing in the backyard, my grandma’s backyard, trying to fight off all of the mosquitoes all the time, just hating the whole experience. So I turned them into these strange creatures with a powerful ability like that. Pretty mundane memories like that and turn them into myths in a lot of my stories.
BNP: If someone wanted to see more of your work, where should they start looking?
Amber: I’ve been involved in a few anthologies (outside of Wayward Kindred). One of my earliest ones is Immortal Souls by Ladies Night Anthology, which is a local Chicago based anthology. I have a few other things I’ve published by myself, all of which can be found on my website, berhuff.com. Bad Blood and You’re, which is more of a combination of illustration and writing, kinda almost poetry but not quite. Don’t Worry, I Promise You is one I finished a few years ago. This one I did traditionally in pencil. I’m mostly digital these days. It’s also a fantasy with a little bit horror. All of my stuff tends to be playful, but kinda dark?
BNP: Looking at your website, you do this wide mix between graphic design, comics, illustration, animation, and print media. What are the challenges having to work and switch between all of these medias and the different ways they present information.
Amber: I think it’s beneficial to be an artist that can work in all of these medias, but I’m always concerned about consistency. I wonder, “Maybe if I just did comics or graphic design” and really honed one skill, I could excel at this one thing, but… one thing I like about being able to do illustration, turn around and do graphic design, turn around and do comics all in the same day sometimes, is that it provides me slightly different ways of working and expressing myself. Some of the work is more commercial, on the graphic design side, to get those bills paid and stuff like that. And illustration and comics, lets me tell my own stories in my own voice and get myself out there and display the things I want to bring out into the world. I think I’m fortunate that I’m interested in all of these things and that they are different pursuits that I can do.
BNP: So, I like to twist the “what’s your favorite [blank]” question, into what’s something you wish more people knew about so you could talk to them about it.
Amber: I think this artist is a little more popular now, but there’s a manga artist, Daisuke Igarashi, who recently got his comic work called Children of the Sea adapted to a featured film. I was supposed to see it in theaters next week, but of course given everything that’s happening… uh… that will not be occurring which I feel very sad about.
BNP: Oh, I feel you.
Amber: But his work in that story is inspired strongly by nature and has always been a big influence on me. And hopefully with this movie out, more people will find him. It’s translated, and he has a lot of work that haven’t been. This whole comic is beautiful, his ink work is amazing and he also does these amazing watercolors as well. Which is something I’ve been trying to get into as well, it’s become my quarantine hobby: water colors. His work in that comic is really amazing and I think everyone should check it out.
BNP: Anything you want to say to our audience?
Amber: First, thank you for reviewing Wayward Kindred. I really hope that helps get this project out to more of your audience and that they enjoy. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I hope you like my stories if you do read them!