Illustrator Ellie Yong wanted to create a series of fan arts for a couple of films from Studio Ghibli (A Japanese animation film studio based in Koganei, Tokyo, Japan. The studio is best known for its anime feature films) that she enjoyed, and “My Neighbor Totoro” was one of them.
I wanted them to have a bit of a dark fantasy kind of feeling. By the way, many theories suggest that Totoro is not all he seems. About the design, there was a scene in the movie where Totoro flies the children up for a ride on a magical flying top. I quite liked that scene, it’s what most of us dream of, especially as children, to fly (but not via planes). I imagined it as a balloon and the moon lifting the lot of them up, above the tree and clouds, closer to the stars and heavens.
The inspiration is all about the feelings in one’s childhood that never really leaves. I like to think of my art as a quiet speculation upon some things, a little mysterious, and a little dark inside. I really like the works of Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, James Jean, as well as the stories by Neil Gaiman, to name a few.
The best advice I can give is, “Hey there, you. Go for it. Everybody’s still trying. Nobody gets ‘there’.”