There are many things that inspire me, too many to name them all, but I will try to show a few.
The first thing that comes to my mind is something that inspires many artists since centuries: nature. Especially woods and water are rather inspiring to me and though I can’t tell why, I could sit amidst a forest or by the riverside for hours and I’d thousands of new ideas. Knowing this it’s also understandable that many characters I create have a very close bond to nature or that I tend to criticise the way humans treat nature in my stories.
But not only plants are what I love, but animals – and especially birds – as well. Is it any surprise that one of the main characters of my “Yokai Tales” (Yokai = japanese for “spirits” or “ghosts”, they’re very much like our mythical creatures of Europe) is a crow? I always loved how animals were personalized in fables, so this is kind of where I take my ideas from.
Oh and speaking of Yokai – another source for ideas for me is Japan. It’s astonishing to see how even nowadays, legends are still alive – and to see how historic sights and modern ones coexists in the cities is simply beautiful. Just take a look at a city like Kyoto, then you see what I mean.
Though I have to admit that I’ve personally never been to Japan, I still love to think of stories that take place in the feudal era of the country. Same goes for reading Japanese myths and legends, by the way, this is something else I love to do.
Japan however, isn’t the only country that gets me daydreaming – and by far not the only country with tales and legends I love. I read a lot in general and of course there’s also myths from all over the world that interest and inspire me.
To name a few: Tales of One Thousand and One Nights, the Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs), Irish or Nordic legends and of course the unforgettable fairy tales of my youth.
As for artists that inspire me: there’s two I’d like to mention.
The first being Caspar David Friedrich. As I said, I love nature and to see how humanity plays a minor role in his paintings and how nature seems so majestic and strong... It just impresses me, to say the least. Besides, I also like the kind of dark and mysterious touch of romanticism.
The second artist is Yoshitaka Amaono. He’s always been a great inspiration to me and made a big impact on my art style. Not only did I learn so much through analyzing his artworks and improved a lot thanks to him, but I also admire him because he managed to succeed in what I can only dream of: he’s both, character designer (for example for Final Fantasy) and an illustrator (e.g. for Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D novels).
I told you that there’s thousands of people or things I could list – there’s authors like J.R.R. Tolkien or Bram Stoker (both authors I respect greatly) or Manga artists like Kentaro Miura (I love Berserk <3) and Nobuhiro Watsuki (Rurouni Kenshin, anyone?), but this entry would possibly become too long if I name them all.
Still, there’s one last source of inspiration I want to tell you about – one that I cannot leave out, because it has accompanied – and inspired – me for over ten years of my life (and it still does!). What I’m talking about? Final Fantasy VII, of course!
Although I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series in general (from FF I to FF XII, not counting FFXIII. FFXIII is quite a bad joke. Just... Don’t ask >_>) and I also played and enjoyed the classics, no other part of the series ever... I don’t know... Stunned? Emotionally caught me? Impressed me as much as Final Fantasy VII did?
I’ve never seen a game before that seems so much as though it’s drawn directly from life – the amount of small details, the fact that almost every minor character has their own story and that the problems the people in the game have to deal with are so very much like our own, it all serves to make FFVII strangely...Real.
I know it’s just a game, something to enjoy, but if you ask me it kind of criticizes social and political matters we deal with in reality. And at the same time it conveys a very important message: everyone can do something to change the world, and everyone can be a hero. Oh, and those heroes? Final Fantasy VII shows that even heroes – those that are called heroes by the public, or those who think they are heroes – aren’t perfect.
Yes, no other game ever touched me down to my very heart – no other game ever made me want to cry and smile at the same time. And today still, after so many years, it still doesn’t fail to inspire me.
A small side note for those who don’t know it by the way: if it were not for Final Fantasy VII – or for Sephiroth, to be more precise – I would have probably never started to draw and write.