Honor and Valor

Thick and heavy outlines, realistically large eyes, small mouths, sometimes nonexistent noses. Anime? Not quite. This is junior Valor Aguilar’s self-developed artistic style, a uniquely crafted blend of western comic and animation elements. Without private lessons, Aguilar needed hard work to perfect her detail oriented style.

“An unfinished drawing is like a really bad itch. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I just have to see it done. The fact that the painting isn’t finished sort of just eats away at me. I once spent 18 hours straight bent over a desk, getting up only to [use the restroom] and eat, just to finish a painting,” Aguilar said. “Being detail oriented is a great advantage for an artist. It adds a lot of depth to your work.”

Aguilar has been drawing for about 10 years and was initially inspired by her uncle, who is a comic book artist. Her uncle’s collection of comic and manga books interested her and made her want to start developing her own drawing style.

“The more original your style is, the better off your chances are of getting admitted into an animation or illustration department in an art college,” Aguilar said. “I think everyone likes to stand out, to think they have something that makes them different from the crowd. I’m human, I like attention, but too much scrutiny always makes me uncomfortable.”

Not taking drawing lessons outside of school and only taking art courses on campus has both advantages and disadvantages toward Aguilar’s drawing skills.

“I think I missed out on learning about the more technical side of art, and a lot of opportunities for great networking. It also meant I had to discover a lot of basic art rules, and I had to learn how to draw things, not as I think they look like but as they really are on my own instead,” Aguilar said. “But on the other hand, I’ve also learned how to really just go with my gut when I’m painting or sketching, and it really trained my eye for colors and texture.”

Aguilar’s drawing style originated from anime, but eventually deviated into her own unique style. She is inspired by a variety of artists and art styles she grew up with, including Norman Rockwell, Tim Burton, Marvel, DC comics and various manga she read as a kid.

“I put more realism in my style, though my character’s eyes still remain pretty large. Like for western comic book art I try to stay true to anatomy, and in a lot of my paintings I like to make use of thick outlines. In sketches I like to make use of the comedic expressions found commonly in manga. You know the sweat drop, the throbbing vein, the blush and the sparkle,” Aguilar said. “I take aspects of both styles and apply them in a way that best suits the piece I’m working on.”

At times when Aguilar runs out of ideas, she draws inspiration from Norman Rockwell, Katsura Hoshino, Miyazaki, Wes Anderson, Irie Aki, Disney, Leonardo Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh and the art blogs she follows on the internet. When Aguilar needs help with something for her artwork, she learns from her peers and does research on Tumblr, Deviantart and Instagram.

“Meeting with other artists during school and seeing their work really opens my eyes. Every time we do critique I am so humbled, and inspired by how great their work is, and not just on a technical level,” Aguilar said. “There are so many amazing artists out there, and it’s ridiculously easy to find drawing tutorials if I need help.”

Aguilar plans to continue her drawing career in the future and wants to major in animation or illustration at Art Center.

“Art can tell stories. It has the potential to make people feel, to connect them with other people and to inspire them. I love how there are so many different forms of art out there: dance, music, writing,” Aguilar said. “And how even within those divisions there are subdivisions: contemporary dance and hip hop, rock and pop, poetry and journalism. I love how it’s possible to mix different media together, or stick to one media and still manage to convey what you wanted to say.”

By Olivia Chiang, Staff writer

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