How do you start creating characters? Do you start drawing out character designs or do you start with a set of character traits that you want? or other things?

It depends. Generally it starts from a visual place for me: sketches in a sketchbook. Personality traits come out of that, or they're formed at around the same time.
Something I do a lot is design characters in pairs or trios. Like, John was designed specifically to contrast with Olivia. and Carl (particularly his size and flowing tail) were sketched out specifically next to Olivia. If you've seen my characters for "Internet Famous" or "Living Space" on Tumblr, those characters were designed as groups as well.
Until recently I never really put as much time and effort into crafting the characters as I probably should have. Sometimes plot/themes come first and I whip up characters quickly just to have something, but I'm slooooooowly getting better at brainstorming. I hope I can create characters a little more thoughtfully in the future, especially in terms of personality. The Soul Symphony cast's personalities have mostly been sculpted over the years of doing the series.

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