Michele Assarasakorn, a.k.a. M.Sassy.K, has come full circle in her work as an illustrator. She started off her diploma at MTM in Illustration for Sequential Arts, then switched to Concept Art (which she graduated from in 2011) and now primarily works as a comic book artist. She thought that background art for video games would be where she would have ended up, but she came back to her love of comics. So skeptics beware, there is money in the comic book world!
It is possible to have a career as a Comic Book Artist?
Is it possible to have a successful career as a comic book artist that also pays the bills? “It is!”, says Michele from her home in Vancouver, “And it’s a lot broader than you think.” She goes on to say that “all the skills you learn in school with the foundations…it’s so broad that you can just leap into different careers as you progress as an artist”. There’s a lot of crossover in the industry so it’s not like you are stuck with the diploma choice you made, and the training at MTM prepares you for this kind of flexibility as a career artist.
Michele is the colourist on the comic book Isola, co-created by Brendan Fletcher (MOTOR CRUSH) and Eisner Award-winning storyteller Karl Kerschl, which just launched volume 2 (July 2020) in its series.
Understand what the market wants
Michele stresses how important it is to do your research before embarking on your career. Start your research before graduation, so you know what path you want to apply yourself after graduation. “You are your own business person so you have to understand what the market wants,” she emphasizes. As a freelancer, it’s critical that you set out with plan – even if you end up deviating from it. You have to choose your own direction and start working towards it – you cannot sit there and wait for someone to approach you.
It is because of the feedback of alumni like Michele, and others in the field, that the Illustration and Storytelling for Sequential Arts program was expanded in 2018 from a 3 year to a 4 year program to make sure that graduates were better prepared for a career as a freelancer, and to increase their general versatilely as visual storytellers, giving them many potential career options in areas such as Background Painting, Storyboarding, Layout and Visual Design for Marketing alongside freelance or published work in Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Children’s Books.
Want to work in Canada after graduation? Don’t forget to do your research!
MTM is very welcoming to international students – we offer a unique international student orientation, we offer support throughout your time at MTM, and we have one of the lowest international tuition rates of animation, concept art or illustration program in North America.
Michele was one of our international students. When asked about her experience of what it was like to come to Canada as an international student, she says “it was a long journey… but it was definitely worth pursuing”. Michele believes that this country is full of opportunities for illustrators – comic books or concept art – and it’s worth the time and effort to make Canada your home to have the career that you love. Just don’t forget to research the permit process and what you will need to do post-graduating to stay in Canada!
Watch the full interview for helpful tips for any current students pursuing illustration, or for graduates looking for some pointers in starting your career. You’ll also see lots of Michele’s artwork too, a must see for any of her fans!
Interested in MTM’s Illustration and Storytelling for Sequential Arts Diploma Program? We also offer workshops for artists of all levels if you want to take a shorter course or one day workshop.
All illustrations in this article are by M.Sassy.K.