Welcome to Vanilla Star

I am a professional illustrator and crafter. I’m married, and my husband and I have five very artistic children. I started drawing at the age of 6 years old. My oldest brother was heavily into comics, Japanese animation, and manga. He’s 11 years older than me, but he taught me and our younger brother everything he knew. He is also an artist. My mother had served in the Army and spent some time in South Korea. That’s where I was conceived.

Take her Asian inspiration and my older brother's admiration for the Asian culture, and that’s how my journey began as an illustrator. My mother was also a crafter and made sure she provided me with the materials I needed to create. I started making miniatures out of the dough my mother made from scratch. I would make miniature angels and food items.  

While in middle school, our younger brother Miguel and I created Studio JS, where we could make comics and illustrations. Fast forward, and I’m still making comics, short stories, illustrations, and miniatures. 

The outdoors has always inspired me: the animals of our neighborhood (squirrels, raccoons, cats, chipmunks), classic anime and manga of the 80s and 90s, Studio Ghibli, Marvel and DC comics, miniatures, and video games.

What's the story behind the name?

My younger brother Miguel and I adopted two cats while in high school. There was so much going on then that it felt like I was running a daycare center. I decided to create a story and named it Kat Daycare. This story combines two worlds. One is about a college student named Kat who was short on cash and decided to start a home daycare for cats. The other part of the story involves a squirrel living just outside Kat's bedroom window in a magical tree. In this tree, he owns a café or coffee shop named Vanilla Star Café. The main cat of the story, Champion and Mr. Wal the squirrel, meet at an unexpected time as they both take on some great adventures!

This story is set to release in the Fall of 2024. Since the making of comic Kat Daycare, I have begun making miniatures that will appear in the comic from Mr. Wal’s coffee shop, Vanilla Star Café.

^_^ - Michelle