Artist Spotlight: Crystal Ferguson

Last week I unveiled GHG’s new banner art, which has received a lot of positive response! As excited as I am about the site’s new look, I’m even more excited to introduce you to the artist behind it: Crystal Ferguson. Crystal and I worked together at THQ Phoenix’s Quality Assurance (QA) department several years ago, so I was very happy to have this opportunity to work with her again. She was also kind enough to spare some time for an interview, which was fun and insightful.

Gray-Haired Gamer: Thanks for being able to do this interview today! The banner turned out terrific, by the way. Before we dive in, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Crystal Ferguson: Sure! I’m a freelance artist and stay-at-home mom. I live here in Phoenix with my husband and two children. I enjoy cooking, crafting, and sleeping! If there are any pop culture conventions in Phoenix, I’m usually there attending or exhibiting my work.

20140623_crystal_merpunks_2GHG: I enjoy sleeping too. Maybe a little too much. How long have you been drawing?

Ferguson: I’ve been drawing since I can remember, which was when I was about 2 years old. I was obsessed with drawing mermaids, thanks to Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The only pets I had were fish at the time, so I imagined being one, and I swam a lot.

GHG: Besides mermaids, what other subjects do you like to draw?

Ferguson: I like to draw people, but it’s always good exercise to draw everything, such as inanimate objects, organic subjects, and background elements. I’d like to improve on my backgrounds, because for me it’s a challenge to visualize angles and a character’s surroundings.

GHG: That’s definitely sound advice. What traditional and digital tools do you use for your art?

Ferguson: I traditionally start with pencils to get a rough sketch going, and then ink and color with Prismacolor and Copic markers. If I’m doing something digitally, I use Photoshop and a Wacom tablet. I recently got into Manga Studio 5, which I really enjoy using now.

GHG: I’ve never heard of Manga Studio, but I’ll have to take a look. So, what inspires your art and how do those elements make their way into your work?

Ferguson: I’m very much inspired by other artists. Recently, I’ve been following visual development artists for animation studios such as Victoria Ying, Claire Keane, and Brittney Lee. They have a movement in their drawings that I try to imitate, while keeping my own style. They launched a Kickstarter last fall and blew their original goal out of the water.

GHG: Wow, good stuff! Any recent projects of your own we should know about?


Ferguson: Yes! I’m working on an all-ages comic about steampunk mermaids called Merpunks. It’s about three mermaids who start a private detective agency, and after meeting a scientist/inventor, they use gadgets powered by steam to help solve different crimes. At first they’re small, petty crimes, but there is an overarching story that leads them to a bigger, more serious situation affecting both land and sea. My husband Joshua is the writer of the series and I provide the art.

I’ve wanted to make a comic since first being introduced to Sailor Moon. I read the manga and that’s what got me into storytelling through drawing, and it’s what really made me want to get into animation as well. I had drawn a few stories, but never publicized any of them.

After college, I was hoping to finally get something out there. I asked my husband to write a short story, but it turned into an entire series! There aren’t a lot of comics about mermaids, and the Victorian-era fashion of the steampunk genre seemed like an interesting mix.

We’ve been promoting Merpunks at conventions since Saboten 2013, and Issue #0 was released earlier this year. The next convention we’ll be at is Anime Expo in Los Angeles, so please stop by and say hello if you see us! We plan on having Issue #1 out by Saboten 2014 at the end of August.

GHG: I tried drawing a comic in high school and didn’t even make it past the first few panels. It’s harder than it looks! Switching gears a bit, can you tell us a little bit about your videogame industry experience?

Ferguson: Yes, I graduated with a degree in Media Arts and Animation, and then landed a job at THQ as a QA Tester. Although I was hoping it would lead to an art position at either a game or animation studio, I really enjoyed being part of that team, so I stayed there for about 4 years off and on. I met some really great people and have even had the opportunity to work with some of them outside of QA. If the opportunity came along, I would love to go back! The potlucks, white elephants, and contests made it fun.

GHG: I’m feeling all nostalgic now. What are some of your favorite games?

Ferguson: I like Pokemon, Donkey Kong Country and Kingdom Hearts.

GHG: I just started playing through my first Pokemon game this weekend (Pokemon X). Gotta catch ’em all, right? Are you playing anything right now?

Ferguson: I started playing Disney Infinity with my daughter, and she is just loving Elsa! She keeps freezing me when we team up. I usually play on my 3DS because it’s portable, and have Kirby: Triple Deluxe in there right now. My husband is more of a gamer, so I usually watch him play. He’s playing Shin Megami Tensei IV, Bravely Default, Final Fantasy XIV and Infamous: Second Son.

GHG: Have to admit, I’m a little jealous of your PS4. Anyway, did you want to say hi to anyone and/or promote any other works?

Ferguson: Please visit and Like my Merpunks page on Facebook! Also check out James Perry II’s manga, Orange Crows. Crystallis Navigator is a game I worked on with Elisha Miller, another ex-THQer. I’m available for commissioned work as well, so readers can contact me via the Merpunks Facebook page if they’re interested.

GHG: Well, that’s all the questions I have. Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, and best wishes to you for a successful Merpunks Issue #1 launch!

Ferguson: Thank you so much for that and for featuring my art!