St., aka Suto, is a Taiwanese-American illustrator with an anime-inspired art style. They are the illustrator for the English translations for The Husky and His White Cat Shizun and Remnants of Filth both by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou, and have provided artwork for the Barnes and Nobles edition of Scum Villain’s Self Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. When they’re not busy drawing, they’re busy playing video games and sleeping. They are currently set to illustrate the English translations for Ballad of Sword and Wine: Qiang Jin Jiu by Tang Jiu Qing.
I had the opportunity to interview St., which you can read below.
All statements and opinions are my own (St.) and do not represent Seven Seas or JJWXC.
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi hi, thank you so much for having me, it’s an honor! I’m Suto, also known as St., a Taiwanese-American illustrator/dreamer/cat, dog, and fox lover.
How would you describe what you do professionally and creatively?
I’m a mostly independent artist who does illustrative work and other small jobs for a bunch of things. What I do is nothing crazy, haha. Some of the things I’m working on I can’t say much on, so apologies for the boring answer!
Meanwhile, during my free time, I like to doodle and write down stories and ideas for my original characters.
What drew you to illustrating? Could you describe your artistic background for us?
I’ve been drawing and doing all sorts of creative-related things since I was able to pick up a pencil, but I don’t really have any formal artistic training. The highest level of art education I’ve received was an art elective during high school.
Actually, I was offered a scholarship to an art program back when I was applying to colleges. But I ended up not accepting it… instead, I became an English literature major while doing a minor in East Asian Studies. Even funnier is that my focus was/is Japan, and not China, so it’s a little funny I ended up as an illustrator for historical Danmei works.
As someone known for their work illustrating the English translations for The Husky and His White Cat Shizun and Remnants of Filth both by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou, what draws you to this author’s work?
At first it was the interesting plots with all the twists and turns, but then it was definitely the characters that kept me drawn into Meatbun’s writing. I’m pretty sure the cast in Husky is my favorite cast of characters out of all the Danmei stories I read. Also, the humor! I think Meatbun’s works are really well known for angst (for a good reason!) but the comedy had me stifling laughs at 2 AM when I stayed up reading.
What are your thoughts on the current danmei (Chinese genre of literature and other fictional media that features romantic relationships between male characters) publishing field and fandom?
Regarding the publishing field for Danmei, I cannot offer much. All I can say is that it is a complicated and difficult business, so I wish fans would be a little more understanding and patient when it comes to official international releases.
Fandom-wise… It is also difficult to express all my thoughts. As with all fandoms, there are pros and cons.
For Danmei specifically, there are issues of culture appropriation, fetishization (whether intentional or not), misinformation, and so on.
But on the other side, people can be very very supportive and excited when it comes to Danmei. There’s just tons of creativity spilling out from fanworks shared online and other sorts of positivity. I’ve been seeing more and more people (re)connecting with their Chinese background and history, as well as others wishing to learn more about Chinese culture thanks to Danmei – which is always a delight to see!
What are some of your favorite danmei or queer Chinese titles in general?
Mo Du by Priest
Qiang Jin Jiu by Tang Jiu Qing
Here U Are by Djun
Tamen De Gushi by Tan Jiu
As an artist, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration?
I’m always admiring and being influenced by various and fellow artists online on sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, pixiv, etc.
But to list a few more inspirations:
-Character arts from mobages (mobile games) such as Granblue Fantasy and Fate/Grand Order
-Behind-the-scenes concept works from basically anything, such as games to live-action movies
-Chinese shanshui and Japanese ukiyo-e style artworks
-Costumes and historical dress from various cultures, although I’ve been focused primarily on China these days due to my work. The Ming Dynasty is my favorite fashion-wise, and the history of some of the fashion choices is incredibly fascinating too.
-Various types of music ranging from Gufeng and Qinqiang styles to niche EDM
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?
There isn’t any specific question that I’d like to be asked, I think. But if there’s a topic that I’d like to be asked about and that I could go on and on talking about it’d probably be about my original characters haha… I will spare the interview from my rambling, though!
Aside from your work, what are some things you would want people to know about you?
I love cats and think they are super cute, but I’ve only ever had dogs and probably will only raise dogs in my life. I’m allergic to mangos. One of my hobbies is doing research, so I have a love-hate relationship with academic databases. I truly believe the old animated Barbie movies are some of the peakest/most peak(?) fiction to exist. Also, I think everyone should read The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono at least once in their lifetime.
As an illustrator, what advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
Health-wise, remember to regularly stretch and take breaks. Many of us creatives have terrible and unhealthy lifestyle habits, so don’t forget to drink and eat regularly (setting up alarms helps sometimes…). And also try to get as much sleep as you can no matter how busy you may be. I often joke about staying up all night and having to rush to deadlines, but in reality, I do try to get as much sleep as possible.
Creative-wise, I think it’s good to take a look at other things or do something unrelated to your creative work from time to time, and not just do the stuff you like. Such as taking walks outside in nature, watching YouTube lectures or documentaries on a bunch of different things, going to a science museum, and so on.
Making art takes a lot of brain power, so it’s easy to get stuck. I think it’s always important to take breaks from thinking creatively and let yourself have a breather.
Are there any projects you are working on or thinking about that you are able to discuss?
There are a few things I’m working on now that I cannot reveal at the time of this interview, but I’m excited for when it gets revealed publicly.
As for a more personal project, I’ve been working on a series of original character illustrations inspired by the Chinese 24 Solar Terms. At first, it was just something I decided on a whim and I wasn’t really that serious about. But I’m now halfway done, so I’m quite proud that I’ve gotten so far and pushed myself to do this illustration series. I might do something similar but simpler next year though…
Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/ authors/artists would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?