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The Mary Sue

Introducing Mako Fufu, The Winner of The Mary Sue/WeLoveFine’s Fan Design Contest

Readers, this is Mako Fufu, one of our brightest.

I Am the Mary Sue

Mako Fufu’s “I Am The Mary Sue” design was the #1 one vote-getter in our Mary Sue/We Love Fine contest; and as part of her grand prize, we’re so excited to share some more of her work! We also got a chance to speak to the artist via e-mail about her inspiration, her process, and what she hopes to design next. Meet Mako, everyone!

The Mary Sue (TMS): Do you remember what first inspired you to start making art?

Mako Fufu (MF): I starting doing art like every one of us, in kindergarten. But later on, there’s a certain age when kids stop drawing that much. Apparently I never got that memo, which turned me into “that girl who’s always drawing,” first at school, and then pretty much everywhere, since I’m doodling stuff most of the time. Leave me somewhere with nothing to do for 5 minutes and the sketchbook magically comes out!

TMS: On your website you talk about your love for anime and Disney. What do you think makes certain subjects so compelling for you? Is there any particular piece of art or pop culture that informs a lot of your work?

MF: My love for Disney started with the princesses of their “new” era (Ariel, Belle, etc). For young elementary school me, they were these pretty but strong girls that wanted a change and were willing to go for it. Oh, and that exquisitely animated underwater mermaid flowy hair. Oh, my gosh!

What attracted me about anime was the deceptive “simplicity” of its lines. When well done, anime/manga takes the most significant lines, discards any redundant ones, and synthesizes the design beautifully. I remember the first time I drew Sailor Moon. I was about 12 years old and I thought “the eyes are a line, a circle and a line… A couple little lines for the nose, a triangle for the mouth… this is easy!” The result was horrifying. I was frustrated. But this gorgeous style had just challenged me, and I wasn’t going to lose. So I did what I knew: practice, practice, practice. And I still do practice today. Everything can be improved.

From pop-culture I’m strongly attracted to pin-ups, I draw them a lot. I understand how some people may understand this art as sexist. For me it is actually empowering.

You see, I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina (I’ve been living in the US for almost 2 years now), and the things that you have to hear from men on a daily basis as you walk down the street are hard to describe. I’ll just say that they are extremely gross and quite aggressive. So since I was 13 I’ve chosen to cover up (no skirts, always some sort of jacket or shirt even in summer) to try to minimize these situations, but it wouldn’t go away. Drawing sexy pinups is meant an outlet for that part of myself, a way to say “Hey, I do have sensuality in me, and, no, it’s not for you, gross guy on the street.”

TMS: Since I’m not a visual artist by any stretch of the imagination, I’m really interested in the process that goes into making an amazing design like this. How long did your winning entry take you, and what was your inspiration? Does working on a design like this involve a lot of different revisions?

MF: Gosh! Such a tough question! I don’t tend to time my work, and I usually work on a few things at the same time (depending on my deadlines and how inspired I feel). What I can say is that the inking, coloring, and detailing took several hours over the course of a few days. The design itself came out really organically in about 20 minutes, though.

I warmed up doing some random sketches, and when I was ready I started drawing the face. I wanted an “audacious” and “bold” look. Then I figured that from that angle I was going to have a lot of space on the top of her head, so I thought about adding geeky accessories. Lots of them, randomly placed, paying homage to the coolest shows I could come up with. But when I put the first bow (that was meant to be a Sailor Moon one) I figured that, hey, I could put letters on it. Wait. What about “The Mary Sue”? Too much for one ribbon. Let’s add 2 more!

I also made a list of cool pop culture and geeky themes that I wanted on her. I left her head alone and sketched the body. And then I added everything else digitally before painting.

I have a bit of a messy process. I don’t have an academic education for art (not that I didn’t want one, it just wasn’t a possibility… but that didn’t stop me from trying!) so once I get the picture to go the way I feel it’s right, I just keep working on it until it feels complete. That’s also why I do it in various sittings, so I can see it with “fresh eyes” next time and catch errors.

TMS: What are your favorite mediums to work in?

MF: I work digitally in order to achieve a certain level of cleanliness and, of course, because of the editing capabilities. But I enjoy traditional media the most. I like working with acrylics and oils, especially on wood. Oddly enough, I love drawing in pen (yeah, the regular kind!) because of the smooth trace and the impossibility of deleting it or going back, which leads to creative outcomes that couldn’t be reached otherwise. I always keep a sketchbook and pen with me. And painting in big scale, like murals and such. It’s really soothing, I have not a worry in the world while I’m painting big.

TMS: What’s the next step for you? Are there any dream projects you would like to work on?

MF: I’m going to start doing conventions as soon as possible. I’m currently doing some research on them. It’s hard to decide, since there are so many! I’ll have to team up with other female artists for this. But you’ll see me at the artist alleys real soon! I’d love to make murals here in the US, since I haven’t had a chance yet. I’d like to get a good tattoo apprenticeship, too. I had one back in Argentina and started making some tattoos back then, but it’s been a while…

I just moved and I have a studio space for the first time, so I’ll probably be playing with epoxy resins (I’d love to get into the art toy scene), and I’ll be learning some 3D too. I have lots of dream projects, and I wish the day had enough hours for me to work on everything that I’d like to.

TMS: You’ve called your design “I am The Mary Sue.” What does that phrase mean to you, and how did it influence your work? What does that girl represent for you?

MF: “The Mary Sue” is the hero of her own story. Or at least she plays the part that she wants in it. I’ve depicted her as a strong-willed, optimistic girl, with a deep love and pride for who she is and what she loves.

TMS: How does it feel to know people are going to be wearing your art?

MF: It’s so exciting! I’m honored that the public have chosen my work, it’s truly heart-warming. And thinking that my art is going to be part of somebody’s life, that it’s going to accompany this person during their day, hopefully make them smile… it’s just amazing. And for that I’m deeply thankful.

And now, here’s some more of Mako’s work! You can see other pieces or contact the artist on her website or get in touch with her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram. You can also purchase Mako’s design for yourself over on WeLoveFine!


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