Drawing her own conclusions

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

There’s more than one way of telling a story. “I’ve always been interested in sharing stories without using words,” says illustrator Kat Layno, who has done work for DC Comics and Marvel. “That way, there are no language barriers.”

“Draw! Keep practicing,” she advises those who want to draw, but don’t think they have the talent. “It’s resilience more than anything.”

When she was younger, she wasn’t good at art compared to her siblings, who were talented at oil painting and drawing Marvel-style characters. As a child, Kat was more known as the singer in the family, but her interest in drawing never faded. Fascinated by animation, she’d watch Movie Magic and make flip books and stop-motion movies with toys. Being persistent helped her improve her craft: “I’m very stubborn. If I start something, I have to finish it.”


Kat admits she was the kid in school who got made fun of for being different, but she didn’t let that stop her. By the time she was in high school, Kat knew that she wanted to make a career out of drawing.

In college, she took up Advertising at the College of Fine Arts in the University of San Carlos (USC), where she found more acceptance among her classmates and also learned from them, since they all shared the same interests. She continues to draw, illustrate, pencil, ink and color in various forms. She is happier when people look at two of her pieces and can’t see similarities, because this lets her know that she’s flexible in her work. She’s often commissioned to make sketch cards for Marvel and Batman. Through referrals from other artists on online forums, she got to work as a colorist for DC Comics.

It was also through online forums that she met her husband Bryan, a web developer from the US. After nearly two years of communicating online, they met when Kat visited the US, and were married a week later. They’ve been together for eight years.

Kat says that for animators and illustrators, the learning never stops. They need to understand the physics behind a car crash, or know the full story behind characters, to be able to illustrate them. Because becoming involved in a story is a requisite of the job, it also helps her understand and empathize with people who are nothing like herself.

She also composes instrumentals and background music for iPad games. Kat says she would love to illustrate for a video game, which is “a much more interactive way of telling a story. You can’t proceed with a game if you can’t figure things out.”

Kat’s interest in working through problems and obstacles also reflects in her other activities, like teaching mixed martial arts and self defense for PE at USC: what should be done when faced with harm or adversity. “As in life, you have to figure out how to overcome obstacles before you’re able to move forward.”

If she wasn’t doing what she’s doing now, Kat says she would be an anthropologist or biologist, with her fascination for stories and how things work. But what she’s doing now will always be her passion:

“For as long as I can draw, I’m going to do this. I’d rather land on my face than injure my hand. Bahala’g bati ug nawng, basta maka-drawing gihapon.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 31, 2014.


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