Teen artist adds a little darkness to ArtWalk

KENNEWICK -- Sydney Langlois turns 17 next week, but she's already showing maturity in her artistic style that stretches beyond her youth.

She doesn't sculpt or paint, but sketches in ink in an anime style, which is a type of Japanese art used in graphic novels and animation.

Sydney, the daughter of Brooke Berg of Kennewick and Scott Langlois of Finley, will have an exhibition of her sketches at tonight's ArtWalk in downtown Kennewick at You & I Gallery, 214 W. First Ave.

Several businesses in the downtown area will feature various artists during the ArtWalk from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.

Sydney said she started drawing in anime style in the third grade, "But I never really thought I'd perfect it." She searched books and the internet for sketches and studied them to develop her technique.

"The first time I ever started drawing anime was when I saw my first Japanese cartoon," she said.

Initially, she traced over the sketches to get a feel for the style, but she didn't have confidence to draw them freehand.

"Then my stepmom suggested I try drawing without tracing, and once I did that, I never traced again," she said.

The Kennewick High junior has developed a cast of characters, all drawn in black and red ink, that she hopes one day to turn into a comic book series.

"My characters all have a darkness to them," she said. "It's kind of a morbid story that's evolving right now about the Cirque du L'enfer (Circus from Hell). The boys in the circus are demons with weird powers and they allow one girl to join who is a contortionist. I find contortionists so fascinating."

With interest in the dark side of life so rampant among young people today -- as seen in the Twilight series of books and movies -- Sydney doesn't see her fascination as a dangerous thing.

"It's just imagination at work," she said. "I can't even explain why the morbid story line interests me. I just know I love drawing these characters and dipping into the darkness of hell with the story."

Sydney said she has drawn 25 to 30 pages of anime characters a day since middle school.

She said music has been an important part of her creative inspiration.

"I listen to music of all types, from hard rock to classical and foreign, like Japanese, Russian, French music and Disney," she said. "Everything I listen to has its own story and it can be about almost anything.

"I may have been drawing since elementary school, but when I discovered the cello in fifth grade, it was incredible."

Typically, when she sits and draws at the public library or at home she has earplugs in for a mp3 player. "I listen to music 99 percent of the time when I draw," she said.

While some may worry about a young person dipping into dark art, Sydney said she's just testing the waters of self expression.

"I'm lucky because my parents have always encouraged my creativity and not senselessly worried that I was weird because of the darkness in some of my characters," she said. "I'm still a nice person and I care about people."