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A picture of Lee Lai

Lee Lai

Cartoonist, illustrator

in cartoonist, illustrator

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Lee, I make comics and illustrations, and I'm in the process of writing my second graphic novel at the moment.

What hardware do you use?

I use mechanical pencils (whatever brand, I lose them all the time), with Uni NanoDia 0.5 HB leads - I find them the smoothest and the least messy. Plastic and metal rulers from the Dollarama, and then Strathmore 300 series Smooth Bristol, 9" x 12" which hasn't failed me yet for handling pencil, gouache, watercolour and ink. I like Speedball ink for its fast drying, and recently my publicist sent me some UniPin 0.2 fineliners for lettering which has been a game changer - they're really smooth, fast-setting and never seem to smudge.

I do most of my linework with the Winsor & Newton Series 7 00-size brush, which has held up way better than I expected. I wash it each use with The Master brush cleaner, which has been really good for preserving the hairs over time and avoiding a temperamental line. I wish I could say I'm discerning about the gouache I use but it's been a mix of various low-ish quality tubes over the years. Recently I bought a tube of Winsor & Newton white gouache and I like its texture and opacity.

And what software?

Photoshop, and Google Docs for writing (good for being on the move a lot, so I can access my script drafts from wherever). My computer is ancient and can barely handle Photoshop, but sooner or later I might try and invest in a tablet to do some of the touch-ups and colourings I can't do in analogue.

What would be your dream setup?

Honestly I think I have my dream setup already. I have a desk on a little mezzanine nook, in a large and bright pottery studio that I share with some big loves in my life. So I get to be around other makers on most days and I earn my keep with pottery work which is a nice, tactile change from fine-detail cartooning. The single difficulty is the occasional kiln firing during summer, which turns the space into hell's belly. Otherwise, it's home to me in most of the ways.