Lisa Naffziger Interview
The internet has provided a platform for communities that were once worlds apart. Something as niche as giant monster movies in the modern world has a thriving online community. Out of this community have come charities, writers, directors, zines, podcasters, artists, and more. Pop artist Lisa Naffziger is one of these artists that has lent her electric attitude to this online space with her brilliant artwork.
PHASR sat down with monster artist Lisa Naffziger to discuss how she got into the kaiju genre, the challenges she faces online, and what advice she’d give to aspiring artists. Enjoy.
How did you get into the kaiju genre?
Lisa: My introduction to Godzilla was a typical initiation: a movie night with my dad. While digging through the VHS bargain bin at a CVS, he found a copy of Terror of Mecha Godzilla and brought it home to watch with me. As a kid I would never pass up an opportunity to see cool dinosaurs—nothing has changed since.
Looking back on when you first started creating digital illustrations, how much has your style evolved?
Lisa: I was lucky enough to have digital art equipment since I was 12 years old, so I’ve had many fun years of practice. Like many kids in the 90s and early 2000s, manga/anime had a huge influence on me. The first art websites I joined were dedicated to Neopets, Inuyasha, or Sonic the Hedgehog, so you can imagine the weird hodgepodge of styles I was experimenting with. My comic-driven college years helped me adopt the flat and graphic style that my followers expect from me today.
What’s the online kaiju community’s reception been like to you and your work?
Lisa: People have been overwhelmingly positive and engaged with my work. Be it more detailed illustrations of Godzilla or just silly scribbles of Minilla, I’ve connected with so many people this way. I feel grateful to have met some wonderful people online—we all know that’s not always the case when it comes to interacting with a fandom!
What illustration would you say you’re the most proud of?
Lisa: It’s hard for me to select a single drawing that best showcases my skills. Because I draw comics, I’m constantly viewing things as parts of a whole instead of devoting all my energy to one single thing. I enjoyed doing a set of illustrations for ‘Monster March’ and for my own drawing challenge, ‘Titanotober’. Using a limited color palette has been an exciting challenge for me.
What tools do you use to create your illustrations?
Lisa: My 10-year old laptop is still hanging in there. I’m a stubborn Wacom tablet user— I haven’t felt comfortable with the posture of working on a Cintiq, and even the interface for drawing on an iPad is still a little disconnected for me.
I’ve been making an effort to keep a sketchbook and draw traditionally. After mechanically grinding through so many digital comics projects, I realize I can go for months without scribbling on an actual piece of paper. This had to become a very intentional choice. It amazes me that despite drawing for long hours at a time, I can feel like I’ve hardly done anything creative. Sometimes the process becomes so robotic.
What are some challenges you face as a digital artist?
Lisa: For me, there are so many benefits to being a digital artist. It has streamlined my process and saved me so much time—which is always appreciated when it comes to making comics! My main concerns with digital art is the ease of theft, of course. This is becoming more of a challenge with the rise of NFTs. As much as I love the ease of sharing art online, it has also become a nuisance to take down stolen t-shirt designs or credit myself on reposts.
How have you seen the kaiju community evolve over the last few years?
Lisa: Fortunately, my circle of the kaiju community has become more and more diverse. Generally the fandom has appeared to be made up exclusively of white men, but there are folks from every background imaginable. I’ve enjoyed listening to so many marginalized voices share their connection and identification with kaiju and other cool creatures. It’s wonderful to have a common interest with so many vastly different people.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give aspiring artists?
Lisa: Prioritize your sense of joy. Curating content and obsessing over the social media numbers became stifling for me. Find something silly to draw that is both fun for you and has the potential to connect you with others. I felt so much more satisfaction in my work when I lightened up and made people laugh. At it’s best, posting art on social media is a great way to make friends.