A (virtual) chat with artist Kaili Mossman

January 21st, 2011

When last we left our tale of the Liliha Library Anime Art Contest, we had seen all sorts of wonderful artwork from young artists around Oahu, along with pieces from the divisional winners and honorable mentions. What we haven’t covered yet, though, is the story of the contest’s grand prize winner — the only person not on the island, the artist whom Liliha young adult librarian Linda Mediati allowed into the contest after the artist’s dad appealed so nicely on her behalf. That would be Kaili Mossman, Kamehameha Maui sophomore, active member of her school’s drama club, and, of course, avid anime and manga fan and artist. As I was poking around on Google to see if I could find anything on her background, in fact, I found that she had entered another contest as well — last year’s Maui Matsuri manga art contest. (She won a prize there as well.)

While Kaili won’t be joining us at Saturday’s awards ceremony — she has to take her SAT Subject Test in chemistry on that day — she is getting a three-day pass to Kawaii Kon in April as part of her prize package, so hopefully she’ll be able to visit us here on Oahu then. I also fired off a few questions to her, which she was gracious enough to answer.


How long have you been drawing, and what do you like about it?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. However, I really started refining my style in third grade, when I started reading the manga my relatives sent me from Japan and began to understand the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I love drawing out my imagination and seeing it on paper instead of in my mind.

What’s your favorite anime/manga series?

My favorite anime series is Baccano! The action scenes and the comedy is great, but what I really love about it is how the characters all interact with each other.  They each seem to lead their own individual lives, but as the series goes on, you get to see how they’re all connected somehow.

My favorite manga series would definitely be xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. The two are separate series, but they were both made by CLAMP and often crossover each other.  The best part is that they can both can stand alone, but it makes more sense when you read them together.

Any favorite artist(s)?

My favorite artists are definitely the members of CLAMP.  Their art is unique, full of style, and matches with the story.  They put so much detail into their work and they really have a wild imagination!  Some other artists I like are actually from DeviantArt.com, a website for artists all over the world.  Some of my favorites from that site include yuumei, cartoongirl7, Ecthelian, inma and kaoru-chan.

What was your inspiration for the prize-winning piece (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream – HI Style”)?

I drew that picture in honor of the school’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare. Since I entered high school, I’ve drawn a picture featuring the cast members as the characters they played in each performance. Last year was “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and I am currently working on “A Christmas Carol.” Our director and our costume designer wanted to add a Hawaiian twist to the play, so the cast members were given rather unique costumes for a play set in Athens. For example, the fairies became hula dancers and the mechanicals became plantation workers. I played one of the mechanicals. You can see me in the upper left-hand corner wearing a mop head, holding a sign. I tried my best to make the costumes in the picture as accurate as possible. (So, yes, I really was wearing a mop head.)

How did you feel when you heard you won the grand prize in this contest?

I missed the call because I was auditioning for the school’s latest drama production (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”) and had to turn off my phone.  When I heard the voice mail, however, I was ecstatic!!  I let out a scream and was literally jumping for joy.  I had thought that the highest I could get was third place, since there are other artists in Hawaii who are much better than me.  Winning grand prize was an absolutely wonderful surprise!  It was a terrific way to end the day.

Have you ever tried entering other art contests?

Unfortunately, the only other art contest I’ve competed in besides the Maui Matsuri art contest was this one.  I draw a lot on my own time, but with all of my extracurricular activities, such as my school’s drama productions and my daily community service, I don’t really look around for contests to enter.  A little contest once a year is good for me. ^_^


I also asked Kaili to offer some commentary on some of the other pieces she submitted to the competition.

“Alice in Underland”

I sketched this picture out on the way to my friend’s birthday party on Halloween. I had just listened to the Vocaloid song “Alice Human Sacrifice” and was in a rather “Halloween-ish” mood.  One of the girls at the party suggested that I make the white rabbit a zombie.  Another girl wanted a humanoid Cheshire Cat. When I messed up on the Mad Hatter’s eye, yet another girl advised that I cover it up with an eye-patch. And the birthday girl recommended black roses and thorns. With all the input I recieved from my friends, this picture could be called a collaborative piece.  :)

“Water Spirit”

Originally, this picture was going to be of Haku from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.” However, I had no reference material during the sketching process and ended up changing it completely. At first, it was just going to be the boy and the fan, but then I thought it would be cool if I gave it a xxxHolic feel to it. That led to the koi fish on the fan and the jewels around the boy’s neck. After adding the koi fish, the background looked empty, so I added a dragon to it.  To give the picture the xxxHolic look I wanted, I extended the dragon’s tail into the fan. I also added strings of jewels to fill up empty space. It took a long time, but I am very pleased with how this one came out, even though it is definitely NOT Haku. I consider it to be one of, if not THE best work I’ve done so far.

“APH: Family Photos” (left) / “Fire Spirit”

“APH: Family Photos”: On YouTube, there is a beautiful hand-drawn slide show of the popular anime series Axis Powers Hetalia (often abbreviated APH) to the song “Anshin no Naka” by KOKIA. The heartful song and pictures left a strong sense of “family,” “love” and “memory.” I tried to capture that feeling in my picture through the different “family photos.” I tried to give the characters of America and Canada the innocent look of children while trying to portray the characters of France and England as loving older brothers. It wasn’t quite as effective as I wanted it to be, but I think it came out okay.

“Fire Spirit”: This may sound self-absorbed and proud, but I was so happy with how my “Water Spirit” picture came out, I had to continue. I knew that I wanted my new picture to have a fire theme to it, so I came up with the color scheme first. Using that color scheme, I started brainstorming what should go on it. I figured that whoever would go on it should represent a warm area. I suppose I should have used an Egyptian or a person of a similar race, but I ended up going with a native American (from Arizona, as I’ve come to think of him as). The phoenix in the background was heavily influenced by the Pokemon Moltres. The three-tailed fox on the boy’s sash thing (I’m not quite sure what it is…) was inspired by the Mozilla Firefox icon. I guess that goes to show that inspiration really can come from anywhere. I am currently working on a “Wind Spirit” picture, with a griffin, a butterfly and an Arab with white hair (inspired by Kida from Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire).

3 Responses to “A (virtual) chat with artist Kaili Mossman”

  1. Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] last we left our 2010 grand prize winner, Kamehameha-Maui sophomore Kaili Mossman, she had received a whole pile of goodies, including a three-day pass to the Kawaii Kon recently [...]

  2. Otaku Ohana | The Cel Shaded Report, 11/2: Anime Art Contest turns 3 | Otaku Ohana | staradvertiser.com | Honolulu, Hawaii:

    [...] library's Anime Art Contest, the one where we've celebrated young artists like winter 2010 winner Kaili Mossman and summer 2011 winner Caytlin Yoshioka, would be returning for a third go-round this year. When, [...]

  3. Otaku Ohana | The Anime Art Contest’s last roundup | Otaku Ohana | staradvertiser.com | Honolulu, Hawaii:

    [...] some of the  best anime-inspired student art in the state (well, okay, mostly on Oahu, with a few glorious exceptions), our services would no longer be needed. This edition of the contest would be its swan [...]

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