• Uprizine

Artist Spotlight - Angelyn Labadan

1. First, give us a short introduction!

Hi! My name is Angelyn Labadan, but people usually just call me Angie. I’m from Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands) and moved to Japan in fall 2016 to study at Temple University Japan (TUJ). I graduated as a double major in Fine Arts and Communication Media with a minor in Japanese in spring 2020. I was formerly the editor of Uprizine from Summer 2019 - Spring 2020.

2. Describe briefly the work that you do.

Since coming to TUJ, I’ve been able to explore and work in a variety of mediums, but my main mediums have come to be illustration/painting combined with storytelling. From a young age, I loved reading and writing stories, and getting into art enabled me to further illustrate narratives via paintings, comics, and animations/animatics.

Letters of Venus (2017)

Artist Book

Recently, I’ve learned to program visual novel games, which are games where the player makes choices that affect the overall outcome of the game. I guess something like an interactive storybook, and something I’ve employed to push this quality of narrative further. Overall, I think my works are comprehensive and work together as one big piece.

3. How did you get introduced to your craft?

I’ve always loved storytelling and drawing from a young age. I think it came from all the cartoons I watched, books I read, and a few games I played.

However, since Saipan didn’t really have any creative community or art education, I mostly just self studied drawing and painting via books, Youtube videos, and DeviantArt. I came to TUJ knowing almost nothing about art or fine arts for that matter, but this blank slate allowed me to explore various mediums as well as hone in on what I truly love to do.

4. What themes do you pursue?

My work mainly revolves 1. Storytelling 2. Characters 3. Other random things I like, such as astrology, tarot, starry skies and summer oceans.

La Stella (2020)

Watercolor Painting

5. How do you work/what is your process like?

I usually have an overflowing amount of ideas that bounce around in my mind. I always have to write these ideas in my sketchbook because more ideas will come in and take up my head space, pushing the others out for the time being, so it’s extremely helpful to write ideas down.

This also usually leads to me bouncing in between many projects instead of focusing on solely one, but sometimes I find working on just one project a little boring!

I think I just like to keep the creative energy flowing with different ideas and projects.

Tanabata (2019)

Watercolor Painting

6. Do you have any long-standing influences?

Illustrator Qing Han (also known as Qinni) and animator Mike Inel. Qinni and Mike’s work were the first “artworks” I’ve ever encountered on DeviantArt (there were no art museums on Saipan), and I always find myself looking back at their works when I’m in a slump.

7. How do you want your work to affect your audience?

At first, I thought that I wanted my art to make people happy because the art I saw and books I read did one thing for me: they made me happy and I wanted to do the same for other people. Similarly, I wanted to show my work and believe it would somehow make people happy.

But over time, I realized that my goal as an artist became less about “making people happy” and instead about people experiencing my work and then taking something away from it, that something being along the lines of inspiration, motivation, and appreciation for creation.

As I mentioned previously, I like to make comprehensive works that tell stories, which later becomes something that people can dive into, to think about and experience.

While I do not define the type of experience the viewer may have (for example, “happy”) with my stories, I believe my artwork allows room for the appreciation of creation which can lead to an inspiration and/or motivation for the viewer to do the same: to create.

8. Can you describe your idea of artistic success?

The word success makes me think a lot about career goals and achievement, and of course, I want to “succeed.” But when I think about “artistic success”, I think it's about being able to continue creating, holding your passion for creating, and allowing that to inspire others as well.

9. What are your plans for the future?

Idealistically, I’d love to work in the creative field, be it in illustration or other behind the scenes creative production work (i.e. character design, concept art, storyboarding).

Even if I don’t end up working in a creative field, I feel like I’d either want to continue studying (film and animation specifically) or do something with creative writing and publishing. Personally, I’d just love it if I could continue creating and doing what I do, as well as have a really nice personal art studio. Haha.

10. Let’s talk about one of your most recent and favorite projects:

There are two actually! 1. Angieism and 2. Re: HappyTUJ (A Diary)

I choose these two because I feel like they’re representative of what I’m trying to achieve, which is storytelling and providing an experience for the audience.

Angieism is a visual novel game that served as my final project for my Spring 2020 Interdisciplinary Workshop class. It was created based on some things I mentioned in question four and it became a major production project for me.

I wrote a fantasy sci-fi esque story, developed and designed the characters, and programmed the game. Overall, It was this amazing and arduous experience of building a world then letting people into that world and experiencing it in their own right.

Currently, this game is in the BETA stage, but after that’s done I’d like to polish it up and publicly release it in the future.

For Re: HappyTUJ (A Diary) though, it was a little different. I chose the visual novel game format to present the photographs I took for my Spring 2020 Advanced Photography class. The photos were documentation of life at school, but since the school closed down due to the COVID19 situation, I wasn’t able to continue taking photos.

So, I decided to use the photos to build a world where the player plays as me five years into the future, looking back at the photos as memories, and reuniting with university friends in Tokyo after years of being apart. It’s creepily real but also somehow nostalgic, personal story that allows the viewer to experience some sort of weird post COVID19 world while at the same time reminiscing pre-COVID19, if that makes sense.

Anywho, I hope to create more stories, animations, and games that I can share with you all in the future!

Be sure to check out more of her work and connect with Angie via:

Instagram | Twitter | Website | Portfolio | Youtube


Thank you Angie for taking the time to talk with us!

Artist Spotlight is a series hoping to promote local creatives from TUJ and beyond. We aim to cover a diverse range of artist from variety of fields, so please follow us to find out about aspiring artists and more!

Contact us to if you want your work to be featured or know an artist who’s a good fit to our mission and you think deserves more attention!

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