Samby Sayward, the artist who manages to contain ‘boundless’ ideas on paper, battled her way through the hurdles of perfectionism and procrastination to reach greater heights and thrives for more! Her works are living proof of majestic works. The quirky and ambitious soul has worked on various projects and gained popularity with her ongoing comic series “Daughters of Grimm”.
Samby Sayward or more commonly known as Boundless Bard creates comics focused on female empowerment. She is a dogged person when it comes to working and does not fallibility as a reason to stop and suggests the future artists have a similar attitude towards their work. Sayward hopes her work inspires people from all backgrounds to be proud of who they are and to strive to make their wildest dreams come true.
What was your childhood like and what made you, you?
Samby: I was such a quirky, scattered child! Constantly curious. Constantly jumping to the next “shiny” thing. I’m extremely lucky to have parents that tried to facilitate my exploration, while also teaching me to focus and direct my energy.
My mom is a pretty curious person herself, so she’d take my sister and me on themed library runs. Sometimes we’d do crafts like building a radio in a shoebox. We had to wrap the wires around the sink faucet to catch a signal, though it was still pretty garbled.
My dad always tried to facilitate any interests with tools and instructors. When I latched on to comics, he took me to the bookstore and offered me any book I wanted. And when I wanted to go to college to make comics in Japan, he said, “OK!”
I never moved to Japan, but it just goes to show how incredibly supportive my family is. I changed my dream career multiple times a year for most of my childhood, and as long as I had a game plan for it, my parents cheered me on. And with all these different experiences to go off of, I think comics ended up the perfect industry for me. I don’t have to change careers every time I’ve got a new interest. I just explore it through my characters!
Tell us something about yourself. About your journey of being an Artist.
Samby: I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember, with pretty much anything I could get my hands on. It started on scrap paper with crayons and markers. When my family saw my enthusiasm, I got sketchbooks and paint sets and colored pencils, anything “artsy” they could think of on every gift-giving holiday.
When in class, I drew my notes in the margins. When out to eat, I drew on napkins. When I entered the general workforce, I spent the minutes between shifts scribbling on receipt paper or paper plates in the breakroom. What’s more, my mind has always been my cinema. In grade school, I would spend months crafting serial stories in my dreams, watching the next part unfold each night as I drifted to sleep. And now I have the pleasure of crafting those stories during the day and sharing the finished products with the world. I’ve had a variety of aspirations throughout my life, but I think I was always meant to make comics. Now, I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else.
What or who is your inspiration?
Samby: There are a lot of people, stories, experiences, art, and philosophies that have inspired me over the years. But if I had to bring it down to my top two inspirations, I’d say the combination of seeing people live and create authentically, and hearing that people reading my comics feel inspired to be themselves.
As much as I’ve had supportive influences in my life, I’ve also had people tell me I’m too much, or that my ideas are stupid, impossible, or too idealistic. I’ve even had people judge me to the point that I felt I needed to hide an integral part of who I am.
So seeing other people share their stories, inspires me to keep sharing mine. And when others accept my truth and resonate with it, it keeps that cycle of inspiration going — both to them and back to me.
What inspired you to make comics on Badass Woman?
Samby: Honestly, a lifetime of stereotyped representation. With a few exceptions, I often had trouble getting into media that was marketed to girls and women. It always felt like a caricature that I couldn’t even relate to. When I turned to men and boys’ entertainment, I got stories that were more my speed, but the female characters were still parodies from a male perspective, or a fantasy “ideal”.
When I was younger, I thought that was just the way things were. I even took my action-packed story ideas and changed the protagonists to guys, since that’s all I saw in the stories I liked. But college did a lot to help me spread my creative wings, and around the time I started seriously pursuing comics as a career, I thought, “Screw it. I’m going to make the stories I want to see. With BADASS WOMEN.”
I think a lot of other women had the same epiphany because soon after, I was finding all sorts of movies, shows, and comics with badass female protagonists I could get behind. It’s awesome to see the plethora of stories and experiences that have been represented since. The media’s really heading in a cool direction now.
Is there any specific reason why you make Badass woman comics?
Samby: It started out just as self-indulgence. I wanted to see myself in stories and genres that, historically, I had not. And I wanted to flip the script. To call out the tropes that belittled and objectified women.
I think my motivations have grown from that though. Seeing so many people relate to my work, and their excitement at feeling represented adds fuel to my creative fire. There’s a real need for diverse representation without stereotypes. And though my main focus is badass women, I really hope that over time I can give everyone that joy of seeing themselves in a story they love.
What’s your comic “Daughters of Grimm” about?
Samby: “Daughters of Grimm” is a coming of age story about five young women aiming to be heroes in a world that thinks them better as damsels. Set a few generations after the original Grimm fairy tales, each Daughter follows in the footsteps of a hero they idolize until a “Grimm” vision weaves their narratives together for a larger quest.
There are action and intrigue, swords and sorcery, and a cute goat to balance all the badassery. And if women breaking the mould to fight monsters, rule kingdoms, and become heroes intrigues you, you can read the full story to date for free on Webtoon! The introduction is wrapped up and I’ll be launching the first story arc in the spring.
Are there any real-life experiences in your life where you considered yourself badass?
Samby: It’s funny, I don’t think I’ve thought about it before. But I think the times I’ve felt most badass are the big milestones of my career — printing my first comic, tabling my first convention, participating in my first panel, and receiving fan art for my comic series. Each achievement just reinforces the fact that I’m doing it. I’m really a comic pro!
Do you always work on your personal projects or do you take clients’ work as well? If yes, what is it like to work with a client and how much freedom do you have in such projects?
Samby: When it comes to comic projects, I tend to stick to my personal work. But I have done some illustration work and variant covers for other comic creators. Honestly, those projects have been a blast! All my clients have given a lot of creative reigns, just giving some character references and a concept to work off of. And as fellow creators with similar goals, we often end up vibing and helping each other out with cross-promotion afterwards.
I’ll add though, I’m absolutely open to doing comic page work for the right project! I’m pretty hyped about a project pitch I got the other day from a client. It’s all the genres I’ve wanted to do and haven’t gotten to yet. We’ll just have to see if our schedules line up when the script is done.
What’s the strongest female protagonist you have ever created in your comics and what’s the inspiration behind it?
Samby: So far, I think the strongest protagonist I’ve created is Emil from “Daughters of Grimm”. Not only can she take down a sea dragon solo, but also, she’s managed the task of posing as her brother for years! I think it takes a lot of internal strength to hide such a large part of yourself for so long.
Her character and struggle are largely inspired by my own experiences, both with gender roles and with the broader sense of trying to be myself while fitting in with others’ expectations.
What are the projects you are currently working on or looking forward to work?
Samby: I’m currently writing the first main story arc of my fairytale series, Daughters of Grimm! Until now, the series has been made up of little short stories that introduce the world and characters. So it’s really exciting seeing all the characters and plots coming together. I can’t wait to finish it up and share it!
I’m also working on a YouTube channel and book to share some of the story planning and production techniques I’ve picked up over the years. Though I’ll be honest, I’m not sure when it’ll be ready. It’s a passion project I’m building between comic and commission work. But I’m definitely hoping the YouTube channel will be online soon(ish)!
What is one tip or advice would you give to upcoming comic artists?
Samby: My advice is two-fold:
Don’t be afraid to get started, but also don’t be afraid to ‘finish’.
I think beginning artists get told that first bit a lot. “Make something! Just do it! You’ll figure things out along the way.” But in my experience, starting is much easier than finishing. And it’s finishing a project that really levels up your skills and lets you learn something.
My art leveled up more in my time outside of college than in it because in college I got so focused on perfection that I never finished anything. I never learned how to get that polished product.