“I guess that means it was just TOO POWERFUL for mortals’ tournaments.” – Krin on the possibility of Daring Escape being banned.
Krin Syn is a colour artist mostly known for her fan works in the Transformers community, as well as being the title card artist for youtuber Todd in the Shadows. However with Wave 4 of Transformers TCG, Krin started doing official colour art for Transformers, providing colours for battle cards such as Reprocess, Lucky Vest, Dual Wield, Kinetic Convertor, Daring Escape and many more.
Krin was kind enough to answer some questions about the Transformers franchise, the fandom, the TCG and more.
Ready to hear about sea cucumbers and Mirage? Great. Let’s go.
(all photo comments by Krin.)
What are your earliest memories of Transformers, and what ultimately sucked you into the franchise?
My earliest memory of Transformers is from when I was very young, mid-late 80’s. I was at my grandmother’s house. She had cable, which my family did not have, and I was enjoying the cartoons. I saw a scene I’m still searching G1 for: a white robot turned into a car and drove down a road, which curved to the left. Fascinating! I wanted to see more! Then my grandmother walked into the room, said, “this is for boys,” and turned the channel. I didn’t see G1 again until a few years ago. The internet makes things so much more accessible nowadays. Growing up, I caught scraps of Beast Wars, which I liked a lot, but had limited access to. I didn’t see a Transformers show from start to finish until Beast Machines aired. I’d go to my best friend’s house to watch.
I wasn’t sucked into the franchise until years and years later. MTMTE (More than Meets the Eye, IDW comic – ed) is ultimately what grabbed me. I have always loved the idea of sentient robots and had seen parts of the franchise before reading the comics: some BW, BM, the 1986 movie (I bought its 20th anniversary DVD in 2006, so excited to see what it was all about, and found it confusing to the point of incomprehensibility because I hadn’t seen G1), TFA (Transformers Animated – ed), some Bayverse (also incomprehensible). I had enjoyed most of what I’d seen, but was never moved to buy toys or seek out others who were fans. MTMTE is what pulled me in, inspired me to participate in fandom, and to check out the shows I’d missed.
Do you see yourself as a fan of the cartoons, the comics, the toys or something else?
I think I’m a fan of characters. I do like toys but I tend to only grab those of characters I like rather than collecting entire waves (I have… at least 11 Cyclonii). I absolutely love cartoons as a medium- it’s my favorite way to convey the franchise, but the IDW1 comics did the stories I like best. If MTMTE were made into a cartoon, that would be perfection for me.
What hooked you into the actual fandom? What keeps you engaged with the fandom?
MTMTE hooked me, specifically TF biology and how it influenced their culture. Fandom-found friends, doing art, and exploring concepts that are interesting to me keep me engaged. One of my first steps into fandom was a Cybertronian equivalent to the textbook Gray’s Anatomy, which I called the “Anatomica Cybertronia.” I still really enjoy thinking about medical/biological implications for TFs!
Mirage is quite clearly your favourite character, what do you like about Mirage?
[WARNING: LOST LIGHT SPOILERS!]
I love his design! It’s unique and beautiful. His helm has a pharaoh-y feel to it, very regal. His special ability is also unique to him and has incredible storytelling potential. To be honest, Cyclonus was my #1 until (SPOILERS!) Mirage was slaughtered by Star Saber in LL. That was when I switched my fan-content focus to Mirage. Cyclonus was fine. He had tons of fans. But Mirage needed more love!
… and more importantly, why Mirage and Skywarp? What makes them the couple for you?
Haha! Oh no. Okay. You know shipping, right? I have always been completely perplexed by it. Did not understand OTPs (One True Pairing – ed) at all. But a good percentage of the side of fandom I hang with revolves around that kind of thing. I felt left out! I wanted to join! So I slapped together a bunch of crack pairs in a grotesque facsimile of the practice. Mirage and Skywarp was one of them. I initially paired them up because their colors are nice together and they can both disappear, in their own ways. But they stuck in my mind. And then I thought about them too much. They became my favorite and now I love them. My desk is an ode to the OTP.
What are some of your other favourite characters from across the franchise and why?
Cyclonus: purple, pointy, competent. In MTMTE he was scary, insular, and everyone left him alone. That changed eventually, but I don’t hold it against him.
TFP Soundwave: TFP (Transformers Prime – ed) has amazing designs and Soundwave‘s is my favorite. He’s just so cool. A powerful, memorable character who doesn’t need to say a word.
Flatline is fascinating to me. In IDW1 he left the Decepticons! That’s amazing! Why did he do that? Also, he’s a red and black medic, instead of the usual red and white.
Many of my favs are favs simply because of color schemes and designs. Octane has that distinctive crown-shaped helm and he’s purple. Aquafend has those 3 lights on his head and his colors are cwazy. Crosscut‘s chest looks like a happy puppy face. There’s so much to love in Transformers!
How long have you been drawing and colouring? What initially inspired you to start – and other than drawing robots, what else inspires you to draw?
I drew a little bit when I was young, but I didn’t do art with any kind of regularity until around 2010. Drawing title cards for Todd In The Shadows is what really pushed me into the art world. In that way, Todd has been an incredibly important person for me. I have no formal training in art. When he took me on as his title card artist, I was forced to practice, learn, and invest in better art supplies. The first few title cards I did took me 12 hours each: I had Photoshop 7 and a mouse and no idea what I was doing. I literally didn’t know how to make a canvas the correct size in PS so I measured it out on paper and scanned it. I wonder if he would’ve taken me on if he knew that??
I wish I could say I was one of those artists born with a pencil in my hand. I’m not. I find coloring other peoples’ lines much more fun and enjoyable than drawing my own. In terms of coloring itself, I’ve been practicing on and off for about four years.
The funny thing about inspiration, for me, is that it comes from different places but invariably ends with robots. I take a lot inspiration from my job and apply it to TFs. If canon says, “sub-cutaneous circuitry,” what does that mean? We’ve seen protoforms. What kind of embryological development do robots go through? Working with anatomy and parasites and applying those things to robots is very inspiring for me. In terms of coloring, my biggest inspiration is Josh Perez/@dyemooch. I love his style!
Do you consider art to be a career, or more of a hobby?
That’s an interesting question for me. My full time job is completely unrelated to art – I am a Biologist. I work in a lab with specimens in jars most people would rather not think about. Art has always been a hobby… until this year! Doing the TFTCG work thrust me into this place where, based purely on definition, I might be considered a professional artist now. I do commissions here and there, and I have two clients I do steady work for, but I definitely need my lab job to survive. Art is in this gray zone where I desperately wish I could give it more time, both for studies to improve and to produce content, but my time and energy are restricted by the day job. Right now art is like a mini career.
What advice would you have for anyone who wants to make more out of being an artist?
Practice! As much as you can. Look up tutorials. Dissect the art you like – what do you like about it? What can it teach you? Find friends to learn and grow with. A bunch of friends I made through fandom also did work for TFTCG this year and a few have joined IDW. Your peers are who you will grow with. Be kind, be supportive, be encouraging!
People might also recognize your art in the title cards for youtuber Todd in the Shadows; how did you end up working with him?
Long story short: at the time that he was beginning to pick up traction on the now-defunct TGWTG site (That Guy With The Glasses – ed), I was getting into pop music. His review style and his humor totally jived with me. I made a comic in his review style, which he really liked. I continued making fan art until he asked me to be his artist. 2020 will officially mark 10 years doing art for him! 😀
You got mentioned in a fairly recent video as having bugged him to cover Pepper by the Butthole Surfers for his show One Hit Wonderland; how long did it take you to convince him to do that one?
I didn’t! That’s one of Todd’s many embellishments! And it’s been a secret until now, haha. I’ve mentioned favorite one hit wonders, including “Pepper,” in our chats over the years. One day he decided to review it. If he had asked me to pick, I would’ve requested “Sunny Came Home.” In the video, though, we played it up like I had been bothering him for years and years about “Pepper” and he finally blessed me with a review. The title card was super fun to do! His pose is a Simpsons reference.
Back to Transformers, what work have you done in an official capacity for Transformers?
My official work for Transformers has been providing colors for TFTCG, through Volta, for Hasbro/WoTC.
What challenges did you have to overcome doing colours for the card game?
The first challenge was navigating the absolute scream energy of being assigned Alex Milne lines for my first five cards. I was stunned and excited and nervous all at once. But I had to get a grip and get to work, because my other challenge was that I could only work on art around my day job, and we were in a bit of a crunch.
Is there a particular card that you’re particularly proud of?
Yes!! Reprocess, lines by Casey Coller. The coloring really clicked for that one and I was so, so happy with it. Casey’s lines are fantastic to color!
A card you coloured, Daring Escape, has been the centre of some controversy lately. As an innocent artist who worked on this card, how did you feel that some were wanting to see it banned?
I was surprised! I can’t help but feel a bit protective of the cards I colored. If one of them was banned I think I’d be a little sad. But… then again… I guess that means it was just TOO POWERFUL for mortals’ tournaments.
Have you had a chance to play the card game, and how did you find it? Do you play card games / board games / rpgs / etc in general?
I haven’t played the game. I generally don’t play any type of game. I’m a very unexciting person, in that way >.> I’d be happy to learn the basics someday, though!
What about unofficial and fan works? Has there been anything fan-made that you’ve worked on and are particularly proud of?
Definitely! I absolutely love coloring friends’ lines. For inktober 2018 I did wraith-infested TFs. I’m proud of those, as well as the “Anatomica” concepts, and various fanzine contributions I’ve done with my friend Albie/@dailydurian!
When did you start drawing Sea Cucumbers, and what’s the original inspiration for drawing them as Transformers and other characters?
Sea cucumbers started in October 2019. I saw the article headline: “Antarctica scientists find bizarre creature 3,500m under ice: ‘Like nothing seen before.’”
There are all kinds of TF AUs (Alternate Universes – ed) out there: humans and mermaids and dragons. I thought “bizarre deep sea creature AU” was hilarious. And the actual creature is very cute! So, I drew my favs as deep sea cucumbers because it’s 2019 and we all need to escape reality somehow. They’re cute and fun to draw, and they make people happy. They are the perfect AU. Some people have even commissioned cucumbers of their own!
Are you happy to do card signings, and if so when and where can people find you? (conventions, etc.)
Sure, if people want them! I might attend TFN in 2020, but I’m pretty shy about attending conventions. If anyone out there REALLY REALLY wants me to sign something for them, I have a PO Box. We can figure something out!
Finally, is there anything else you want to add or say to the Transformers TCG community?
Have fun! Enjoy the game and be kind to people still learning it. If there’s a particular card that has art you love, let the artist(s) know! That would make their day!
Krin Syn Cardography (3/12/19)
Battle Cards (Colours): Backfire, Contract Contingency, Conversion Engine, Crude Club, Daring Escape, Designated Target, Dual Wield, Guarded Posture, Kinetic Converter, Lucky Vest, Multi-Missile Pod, Pincer Movement, Reprocess, Shoulder Holster, War of Attrition (continued updates to this list can be found here)