According to Devin is an incredible webcomic that I found while shuffling through the gobs and gobs of talented comics featured on Tapastic. What stood out about According to Devin was how Le’s comics practically scream “fun” through bright colors, curves, movement, and precision. Those elements, plus the fact that the comics are extremely humorous, make According to Devin one of my favorite webcomics. I particularly enjoy how Le’s simple faces convey so much emotion in so little detail and look forward to each update.
This busy artist and UCLA student was kind enough to allow time for my exclusive interview:
Interview with According to Devin creator, Devin Le:
Q. Have you always been an artist and/or what got you into art and comics?
A. I don’t remember it very well, but my parents told me the first thing I did when I knew how to hold a pen was draw squiggly shapes on furniture. I still have some of my kindergarten doodles stored in a box under my bed to remind me of how far I have come. In some ways, I think art was always the thing that defined who I was a person. I was never good at other things even when I tried really hard. With art, it wasn’t like that at all. Before moving on to web comics, I actually designed tattoos and skateboard logos for a decal store at a local mall. I was going through some personal issues and felt that I was hanging out with the wrong crowd, so I quit designing them during my senior year in high school. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I started posting some comics online after a few friends convinced me to.
Q. How was your creative desire encouraged when you were younger?
A. I don’t think I was encouraged to be focusing on art when I was younger. My parents didn’t think it was the right hobby for me, so I went through a lot of different things like piano and violin. They didn’t restrict me from it, but it was rather difficult to get them to buy me a set of colored pencils instead of a piano book.
Q. What inspired you to begin According to Devin as a regular webcomic?
A. Having a continuing project that I could work on once or twice a week was something I always wanted to do for a long time. Webcomics were the format I chose for the project since they were easier to execute. I could work on the sketches and refine ideas when I was out and work on the final draft on my computer later. I also found it to be an exceptionally easy medium to express my ideas without the restrictions of textual and artistic boundaries.
Q. What has helped you to keep to a regular webcomic schedule while juggling your college classes?
A. It’s extremely difficult to find time to update regularly especially with where I am academically, but somehow I manage to find time for it anyway. No excuses. Sometimes that might means less than five minutes to eat my lunch or no breaks in between classes. Other times that might just mean no hanging out with my friends for one day. I don’t remember the other things, but I’m sure it was something ridiculous like rushing through a research paper.
Q. You also started a second series called Socially Prepared. What spurred that undertaking?
A. Ah yes, Socially Prepared. I came across the Train Etiquette meme on Imgur a few months back, and that sparked my interest in doing a situational comedy series. Contrary to the name, Socially Prepared highlights all the inappropriate things we tend to do even though we know we shouldn’t. Some are purely comical, while others are intended to make a social commentary on social issues, whether it is about domestic violence or LGBT equality. At first, I only wrote enough material for about five comics, but after showing it around to a few people, I got a few additional ideas and was able to release more. The series is now on hiatus since I am currently searching for a long term writer for it.
Q. Your awesome characters and style have been pretty consistent since you started in 2013. Did you formulate your style long ago in college OR did you slave away creating a style prior to publishing on the web?
A. I was drawn to the cartoon series Adventure Time during my senior year in high school. I really liked the noodle arm style, so I started incorporating it into my doodles. It was a rather weird transition for me since I always hated certain cartoon styles and favored realism all throughout high school. I did make some changes to the style, making the characters a bit more realistic.
Q. Stylus/Wacom vs. pencil/paper? Which is your media preference for creating your webcomics?
A. Why not both? If I could only choose one medium, I would probably have to say a digital tablet just because I am fascinated by the crisp and clean line work digital tools produce that even the most expensive scanner cannot translate. However, most of my comics started out as small pencil sketch, so in some ways I think pencil/paper is as important as a digital tablet. I think my mind is unconsciously telling me I like to get callouses on my fingers when I draw too much with a pencil. All jokes aside, I like to find a balance between traditional and digital even though traditional is not always present in my comics.
Q. What are some comics that best sum up what According to Devin is about?
Q. What differences have you found between publishing on Tapastic, Tumblr, and Facebook?
A. They all have their own pros and cons. However, I do have to say that I rarely update on Tumblr and Facebook because I get super lazy uploading my work onto multiple platforms. Tumblr and Facebook are great, but I feel like their fanbases are not really for me. They operate towards a viral stream so a lot of times the people who follow me do not necessarily like my work as a whole but rather a specific work they saw from a friend or from another viral website. Tapastic has been the best for me by far. I like its clean website design and simple user interface, not to mention its awesome community and helpful staff.
Q. You play in a wide-range of art modalities, including illustration, design, painting, video, and more. What direction will you be focusing on as you finish your degree at UCLA?
A. I’m really not sure which direction I’ll be focusing on once I am with my degree. Right now I’m just trying to experiment with all the art approaches that are available to me. However, if life was perfect, I would like to go into animation. Possibly get an internship with Pixar and a full-time job opportunity at one of the Disney Studios.
Q. What has been the best piece of design or artistic advice that you have received while in school? Similarly, what is the best lesson you have learned on your own?
A. The best piece of artistic advice/lesson I have learned while in school is probably to give every art approach/practice a chance (yes, even contemporary art). It might not be something you’re interested in doing, but give it a try anyway because then you can use it a comparative reference to reflect whatever art you’re doing.
Q. What are some upcoming goals or plans you have for According to Devin?
A. While According to Devin will continue to run regularly, I don’t have any specific plans for it. I am happy with where it is at and have no intentions to expand its readership or material. That might change in the future, but for right now, the series will continue being what it is. Hopefully it will be something I can continue doing, even after I graduate from UCLA.