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How to make it as a manga artist

Manga art is in rude health, so if you know how to draw manga and paint it you’re in good company. It’s now possible for manga artists to amass hundreds of thousands of social media followers, get crowdfunded via sites like Patreon, sell their art commercially, and even go and live and work in Japan itself. But how do you go about it? Here, four manga artists who have found success share advice on how to follow in their footsteps.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, point is that you need to get your art in front of people. “If you create a lot of illustrations but don’t post them anywhere, nothing’s going to happen,” says Ilya Kuvshinov, a Russian artist based in Tokyo with 1.3 million Instagram followers. “It can be scary to expose your work publicly, but there’ll be people who love it – trust me!”

One of the illustrations from Ilya’s book, Momentary: The Art of Ilya Kuvshinov

Just posting in one place, though, may not be enough, says Larienne Chan. Better known as Lärienne or Princess Lärienne, the Polish illustrator has made a huge impact on the DeviantArt community, which honoured her with its ‘Deviousness’ award in 2016. But she’s also built strong bases on Instagram, Tumblr and the online Japanese art community, Pixiv.

“Some people think just being good is enough, but unfortunately that’s no longer true,” Chan says. “In these times of constantly changing algorithms and fierce competition, you never know where clients or fans are coming from, so you need to be in as many places as possible.”

A girl sitting in a puddle holding an umbrella

“Aiming to give my art a different feel to other manga has helped it stand out,” says Spryszynska

It’s also important to post often, says Aleksandra Spryszynska, a Polish art student who’s attracted almost a quarter of a million followers on Instagram as Yenko. “Being consistent is key,” Spryszynska stresses. “You need to keep posting new things, come up with new ideas all the time, so that people don’t forget you and will introduce you to their friends.”

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