by Mike Rhode
Venus Winston is a local artist, native to DC, who is chronicling her battle with cancer through comics. I hope to be able to meet her at this year's Small Press Expo.
What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
I write and illustrate stories with surreal or slice of life narratives. At a very young age, read a lot of mythology and folklore. In many ways, I feel this how I write.
How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
I still paint using acrylic and every now and then create my work in traditional pen and ink, however I have transitioned to mostly digital illustration. It’s far more convenient and easier to clean up.
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
I was born a raised in Washington DC October 1981.
Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
Though I was raised in DC, after college I moved to Maryland. Right now I live in Hyattsville.
What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
In high school I attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts majoring in Visual Arts. After graduating I majored in Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design. I started making art at age 8 and loved reading comic books. I actually didn’t start creating comics till 2010, when I started writing. Before this, I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator or animation.
Who are your influences?
I grew up a huge fan of illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon, painter Frida Karlo and comic artists I enjoy are Lucy Knisley, Fabio Ruotolo and Fiona Staples.
If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
For a long time, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, just that I wanted to be an artist and had a dry spell as an artist for a time. Regrets or “do-overs” I consider dissatisfaction with the present, so I rarely think like that. I am happy with my place right now. I’ve learned allot working in various art jobs and can now put focus on art that I truly feel satisfied with. Everything happens for a reason, and the path I’ve taken has put me at this exact point. I’m happy with that.
What work are you best-known for?
People in DC know me for my painting. Right now I think people appreciate “Room of Norns” and my work in progress “Cooking with Cancer.”
What work are you most proud of?
I am proud of all my work! In a few months, I’ll be self-publishing a children’s book I’ve been working on for years. So If I must say something about proud, I am proud that I am finally finishing this upcoming piece.
What would you like to do or work on in the future?
I want to publish my written work, possibly contribute illustrations, book covers and editorial work to writers, and start my own publishing company.
What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
I paint and create smaller pieces, just so I don’t get rusty.
What do you think will be the future of your field?
I think that the genres I am working in, like slice of life and medicine, are growing in the states. Super heroes are huge here, but audiences over seas have always appreciated stories that don’t focus on such subject matter. Artists that want to be successful in their field, I feel should explore alternatives to reaching international audiences. The internet, encouragement to self publishing and smaller presses, I think will make it possible for artists and writers to not have to rely heavily on larger publishing companies.
What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?
Last year I attended Awesome-con and Small Press Expo. I liked Small Press more and will most likely contribute to that convention. Small Press seemed more my audience and I have more appreciation for the stories that came out of it.
What's your favorite thing about DC?
That I grew up here and know people. It’s the best place to stay connected to people I love and admire.
I think the city has gotten too crowded with people that don’t understand the history and culture of the city. They come with their own culture, which is great, but DC maintained its greatness because of the history here.
What monument or museums do like to take visitors to?
I don’t know about visitors, but MY favorite museums are the Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. I go all the time just to get away.
How about a favorite local restaurant?
Bangkok 54 in Arlington, VA, Room 11 on 11th St NW, and Pho 75 in Langley Park, MD
Do you have a website or blog?
Yes www.bongyongart.com and www.cookingwithcancer.tumblr.com