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Artist Spotlight: Riana Dorsey


Riana Dorsey is an illustrator and an award winning comic artist currently from Los Angeles, CA. She is a passionate about creating artist who tries to illustrate life as she most sees it. You may have seen her work on Hashtag Comic’s new series Cloud Riders, as well as her online graphic novel, Suihira: The City of Water.  Her art is whimsical and real all at once. She is happy and humbled to be known as an earnest artist. Riana shares with us how she got started making art, the things that inspire her and what she hopes to do with her art.

Tell us about yourself

I’m Riana Dorsey, I’m an award winning comic artist and illustrator born and raised in Southern California.

How long have you been making art and how did you get started?

I’ve been making art seriously for about fifteen years now. I got started because I was inspired by the art and animation in Dreamworks’ Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The DVD had a bonus feature that had James Baxter, the supervising animator for the character of Spirit, do a step-by-step drawing tutorial that touched upon important foundations for animation art, such as using basic forms at the start and building them up to draw a character. This gave me a huge head start in my artistic journey as a pre-teen.


what is it that inspires a design?

You’ll get different answers from different artists, but for me, it’s real life, especially nature and its relationship with humanity.

When and how did you get into making comic books? Do you do the art as well as the stories?what is it that inspires your stories?

Because I was so inspired by Spirit, I had dreams of becoming an animator. However, when I was in college taking courses in traditional animation, my heart was broken when I learned that I absolutely loathed the animation process. I still loved narrative art and I wanted to give it a stage so I can still tell the stories my art drew from. I gave comics a shot because I have a mentor and friend, A.M. Alecci, that introduced me to webcomics, and I was absolutely hooked. When I first started, sometimes I couldn’t sleep because I just wanted to leap out of bed and draw more comics! When it comes to what inspires my stories, it’s the same thing as what inspires my visual art: nature and its relationship with humanity.

What has been the reaction you received about your designs and your work?

I’ve had all kinds of reactions towards my work. People enjoy my color and lighting, the expressions I give my characters, and the care I give to the backgrounds in which my characters live in. It’s nice to have these things noticed and appreciated! My favorite description I’ve ever received was that my work was earnest. This comment made me very happy because my aim for my work is not to be necessarily the best artist in the world, but to make art that’s genuine and true to myself.

You have a website that showcases your art and where people can purchase your art, what lead you to put up your website? What has been your most popular piece of art? 

Putting up a website is pretty much a must if one wishes to pursue a career in any art. Plus, it acts as a “home” that all my social media outlets all come back to. In terms of my body of work, my most popular piece of art has certainly been my webcomic, Suihira: The City of Water. In terms of individual pieces, I have an illustration of two orcas swimming in the ocean I made for my significant other for his birthday that was also enjoyed by people online and at conventions.

What are your hopes for your art and yourself in the future?

My hope is to completely live on my own work. I do enjoy illustrating for clients very much, but to have full-time hours dedicated to my own work is the dream.

Do you have any highlights from your artistic career so far?

So far my highlights include first publishing my webcomic online, being hired by Hashtag Comics to work on their series Cloud Riders, and being nominated for a Russ Manning Award at the Eisners and being able to attend that Award Ceremony.

Eisner Awards. Source: Riana Dorsey

Are you interested in other types of art?

While I do love narrative art, I love landscape paintings as well. I hope one day to have time to do plein air painting again so I can master it. Plus, it’s nice to do artwork away from the studio sometimes.

Are there other makers who inspire you?

I have so many peers in the comic industry that inspire me every day, but my heroes are Osamu Tezuka and Hiroshi Yoshida. Osamu’s storytelling and Hiroshi’s use of flat color combined with realistic drawing inspire my creations the most.

What would you say to someone who is first starting out as an artist? What advice do you have from them?

My biggest piece of advice is to learn the difference between what you like to draw and what you like to look at. The two can be very different, and you have to be honest with yourself that just because you enjoy looking at a piece of art, doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy making it. It’s important to go out and explore all the mediums of art to see what you enjoy using to bring your visions to life! A finished piece is fantastic, but in the life of an artist, the process is where you’ll spend the vast majority of your time, so you have to make sure you enjoy it.

If you are interested in learning more about Riana and the work she does, you can reach her on her website or follow her social media below! 




Monica Duarte

Born and raised under the California sun. Monica can be found around the Southern California comic book and pop culture convention scene. She can usually be seen either behind the lens of her camera or in cosplay. Lover of all things geeks but especially Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek.

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