an Artist with a Flair
Article / Interview By Joseph Timmons GS1
In a small bistro in San Luis Obispo I met with Irene Flores, published and well known anime artist and illustrator. Over lunch we discussed her travels in the art world and how she became one of the few anime artists in the United States to be just as much, if not more popular than artists and illustrators from Japan. Irene has always been interested in art, as a child she enjoyed being given opportunities to explore her interests freely, and having a father who was also an established artist was very helpful and her whole family supported her dreams. From an early age, Irene enjoyed reading comics and graphic novels, growing up in a family that was very close to its Asian roots , she quickly moved from American style comics to anime and then on to animated movies from Japan and Asian countries. Irene would examine the story telling aspects of illustration and found appreciation for the craft and its natural ability to be transformative, to change and grow with the story line or plot. She relies on the emphasis of good story-telling to give her illustrations life.
During Irene’s journey in art, she has grown to treat her illustrations as if they were alive, the characters grow and mature, experience personal development and become real, not just to Irene, but to her fans and followers. Irene shared that at the many Comic Conventions and Cosplay events she has been at, both as a patron and as a celebrity; it is the fine line between fantasy and reality that excites her about her artwork. Irene enjoys being an artist, but also keeps a certain amount of anonymity. Irene stated that as well as being a published artist and illustrator, she continues to live a normal life; she has a day job and tries to keep her celebrity status “Low-Key”. Irene has been a bit disappointed in the transfer of Japanese anime and animated movies that are voiced over or edited for American audiences, stating that the process takes the life out of the story and mutes the true voices of the characters, “Some things just cannot translate” she said as she was sipping her smoothie and enjoying the sunlight streaming through the window. Irene likes living in California and often works at the local library and art schools services to teach illustrative skills and share her gift.
Her works include a series of books that teach anime style illustration, her work with Impact Comics, Tokyo-Pop, Marvel and is working on a project for Yen Press. Her most impressive work however is her Anime series Mark of the Succubus, A story where an unmotivated high school student named Aiden meets Maeve, a succubus-in-training sent from the demon homeland to learn about humans. This series was voted as one of the top titles in Tokyo-Pop’s publication and is available on Amazon.com and other online distributors.