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Brian Kesinger: Character Driven

Wed Oct 22, 2014, 10:39 AM
Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 4.28.13 PM by techgnotic

Disney Artist Brian Kesinger on Creating Story through Character

Foreword by techgnotic

It is with great pleasure we welcome BrianKesinger as a guest writer to the Today Page Editorial Team. Considering his authentic citizenship within the deviantART community, his thoughts and insights will be of great value to all aspiring artists, illustrators, writers and others involved in any creative endeavor. For over 18 years, Brian has worked for Walt Disney Studios on films like Big Hero 6, Winnie the Pooh, Tarzan, Tangled, Wreck It Ralph and Bolt. Brian is author and illustrator of his own octovictorian creation, the wildly popular Walking Your Octopus, featuring Otto and Victoria, about a young turn-of-the-century London lady of distinction and her pet octopus.

Take a moment and think about your favorite movie. Now imagine that movie without the main character, as you know them, in it. I think it is important to make a distinction between the plot of a story and the arc of your main character.

The plot is a series of events that result in a character going through an emotional arc. You can briefly define a character arc as how a character feels and acts at the beginning of the story versus how the feel and act in the end. In Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and at the end he loves it. That is an oversimplification of his arc. The plot is there in order to provide obstacles and choices to show the the audience who they are and what their attitude toward their situation is. A good plot keeps you interested in the story but a good character will make you want to rewatch the movie over and over again. I am personally a fan of movies that have very simple plots as those films leave much more room for character development.

One way to look at a story is a series of choices made in creating the main character. As a storyteller, the more time you put into your character, the easier it will be for you to make those choices for your character be truthful.

Truthfulness is talked about a lot when discussing character creation. Fictional characters are, of course, not real. They do not exist in the real world. They are made up. You must give them reality with relatable traits. Let’s say your main character is a farm hand. How does he feel about that? Does he enjoy the hard labor, or is he bored out of his mind? Let's choose the latter. Note that we are not talking about plot, just discussing character. Does this farm-boy get along with his parents? Let's add mystery by making him an orphan. So we now have the highly relatable story of a bored young man with a decision to make. Should he continue his duties on the farm or answer an inner calling to explore the rest of his world? We know this character. Some of us are this character. So when Luke Skywalker makes his choice, it rings true, because his character has already been established as someone we understand, someone who wants more out of life. We can all relate to his situation. His story will be a bit more exciting than most tales of fugitive farm-boys, but even Star Wars might have bored us had we not been pre-invested in such a relatable character by skilled storytellers.

As an illustrator, my job is to create believable characters. At Disney it is not uncommon for us to start drawing before a writer has even been hired to write a script. Animation and art are a visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Drawing your character is one of the best ways to kick off the generation of those words. It is all in the details. How your character dresses, what sort of hair they have, are they big or scrawny? All these questions can be answered and explored through the drawing process. When we work on our films it is common for the character designers and story artists to work at the same time because one department constantly informs the other.

I love this part of the process, as you draw your character and you explore all aspects of them and the ideas start to gel. You put one image next to another and suddenly a story starts to develop, to talk to you. It is very exciting. We had an interesting challenge in creating the character of Baymax for the up coming film Big Hero 6.

I asked Joe Mateo, head of story on the film to talk a little about the difficulties that arose when creating a character without traditional features.

We knew that Baymax was going to be a challenge given his limited amount of facial features to express an emotional range. It's amazing though, what you can achieve with those charming dot eyes combined with a subtle head tilt, a well timed blink, and body gestures. These things plus line delivery can be very effective in expressing different emotions. We're careful though how much emotions we want Baymax to show given that he is just a non sentient robot... or is he?”

Joe Mateo, Head of story on Big Hero 6

On the film Frozen we were tasked with taking a fairy tale “princess movie” and putting a fresh spin on it. One way that we did that was by exploring the characters of Anna & Elsa and creating a believable relationship between the two of them. Paul Briggs, head of story on Frozen speaks more about that here.

One of the great things we had working for us was the tropes of princess films we had done in the past. Audiences already had an expectation we would deliver the familiar romantic love story... a romantic kiss from a prince/knight in shining armor would save the the day. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck knew they wanted to deliver something fresh and different and took the idea from the original Snow Queen story that "an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart" and coupled that with a story about two sisters. The movie really started to focus more about family love than romantic love. The challenge was crafting two siblings that couldn't have that love between one another. We had Elsa, who was hiding a power that she thinks will hurt or kill her sister. So she lives in fear and is afraid to share her love towards her sister. We developed Anna as being fearless but she lives in a world where we she wants to give her love but it is never reciprocated by her sister. She holds onto that true love for her sister though and it's ultimately the thing that saves the day and protects and saves her sister. Anna makes the biggest choice in the movie which is she sacrifices her life to save her sister—an act of true love.”

Paul Briggs, Head of story on Frozen

Interviews Brian Kesinger's Q&A with the Following Deviant Artists


In creating your Lost Kids graphic novel what were some ways that you made your characters believable teenagers even though they are inhabiting a fantastical world?


Felipe Cagno

It's all about really turning your characters into real people, people that you could walk past in the streets and that means tons of research and world building. For every character in the Lost Kids comics I have these extensive character sheets with dozens of questions ranging from their family background, their homes, where they grew up in, the environment around them, to their biggest fears, their hopes and dreams, their psyche, etc.

All that comes into play and you must know your characters better than yourselves, you really must ask the tough questions and come up with interesting answers. A kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, will most definitely talk and behave very differently than a kid growing up in Orange County, CA. Do they come from a rich family, a blue-collar one, from poverty, where do they go to school, are they outgoing or shy, do they use slang, or perhaps they speak perfect English, are they popular or outcasts, what are their deepest secrets and so forth.

And the most interesting task I had to go through was actually finding a way of these very different kids that should not get along, get together for this adventure. Good storytelling comes from conflict and there is nothing more boring than seeing characters agreeing on paper or screen, you want them to duke it out, you want them to have completely different opinions about the stuff that matters so you can exploit different points of view on a given subject and let the audience choose sides.

Believable teenagers have very strong opinions and views of their world, I just made sure to get all that right even before writing a word of the script.


Can you talk a little about how your characters developed from random sketches to the storylines in your web comic?


Der-shing Helmer

I don't actually sketch randomly and home storylines come out, it's pretty much the opposite... I come up with story elements that I find interesting and work to develop a character that might fit into the scenario in a unique way. For example, in The Meek, I wanted to write a story about a girl who doesn't care much for societal pressures. She started out in sketches as several types of girl, but with the goal of a story in mind, eventually developed in the my character Angora who is introduced as not wearing clothes (that portrayal is pivotal to her essential nature). I don't think the character would have been quite as effective if I had just been drawing naked women, and then tried to mould a story around that visual.

For the new comic that I am making (and will be posting more art of to deviantArt as well), I'm doing something similar; trying to create a certain vision of the future and the people who live there. With the future in mind, I get to create characters that represent my hopes and expectations, vs just randomly hoping to strike gold. My general advice is always to give a context to your sketches, even if you don't ultimately use them... it will help your characters develop into living people who feel like they might really exist somewhere.


When creating your character Veloce Visrin, what were some of the choices you made in designing her look and outfit to help tell the reader what she is all about?


Shilin Huang

I've given Veloce outfits meant for show, as well as casual outfits for the story she is in. The more story-oriented decisions were made with her casual outfit. Naturally, her look should immediately convey her character, because insignificant details on how a character chooses to dress himself/herself are usually a good reflection of their values. I've kept her outfit casual and unimpressive,despite her being the main character, to match her preference for staying away from the spotlight and blending into the crowds. Her clothes are also kept loose fitting rather than skintight, her hair kept free and not diligently kept, giving her a more relaxed air. However, she did come from a respected/feared family, and a hint of the fact that she is supposed to be an upper-class lady still comes across through the halter top, which is the same top/dress featured in her other, more extravagant and impressive outfits, covered up under the guise of her hoodie and otherwise unassuming look.


Your character drawings are so expressive. What are some tips for drawing animal characters with such human emotions while still maintaining their animalistic anatomy?


Tracy Butler

Thank you! Foremost, I’d say it’s important to get to know the subject matter. Gathering some overarching observational knowledge about anatomy, gesture and expression is pretty vital to drawing convincing pictures of such things. It also applies to the ensuing Frankensteinian drawing experiments that I would recommend as a generally effective approach to designing characters that fall somewhere between human and animal (though I’d argue that distinction is mostly philosophical).  Do a lot of sketching, in other words.

Human capacity for self-aware emotional complexities aside, it’d be difficult to mark a clear distinction between human and animal emotions. Among other mammals in particular, there’s quite a lot of overlap in the way we express basic things like fear, dejection and excitement, in fact. Whether human or wolf, a lowered head, fixed stare and curled lip is unmistakably aggressive.  That sort of thing can certainly work to the artist’s advantage when drawing an animalistic character meant to emote in a relatable human fashion.  Further appending the expression with the animal’s telltale posturing - raised hackles, pinned ears, bared fangs - can be mixed in to varying degrees of bestial and dramatic.  The more minute facial features add a layer of human nuance and specificity - the smallest adjustment can put an entirely different spin on an expression. For the given example, downward angled “angry” eyebrows would be well in line with the straightforward appearance of aggression, but simply arching one of the brows higher than the other can turn it into an expression of calculated anger.  Symmetrically high arching brows could make the expression more excited or crazed; furrowed brows could be used to convey a sort of consternated anger, and so forth.

Of course, species that don’t communicate in ways that are especially decipherable to humans and critters with physiognomies that don’t lend themselves well to forming human expressions can present design challenges that might require some careful finagling. To use a popular example, note the dramatically shortened heads of My Little Pony characters as compared to realistic equine heads.  Much of the animal appearance of the face is sacrificed, clustering the features together into an alignment more closely resembling a (cartoon-like) human.  This way, the expressions are eminently readable, never inadvertently shifting from cute to awkward.  In other situations, preserving the animalistic mien might be the greater priority over rendering consistently appealing human expressions. If you ever find yourself trying to draw chagrin on an anteater, consider that in some cases, embracing a bit of the awkwardness might not be a bad thing.  It can make for some defining, memorable characteristics.

My advice overall is to approach whatever abstracted combination of anatomies are at hand as an advantage rather than a limitation to building an expressive character.  The human and animal aspects each bring a toolkit array of physical features, gestures, behaviors and idiosyncrasies to utilize and draw inspiration from - all the more resources with which the character may exude life and emotion, presence and personality.


What led you to pick Korea as the location for your fish out of water story of frankie*SNATCH? And how does that specific location inform what situations your character goes through?


Lynsey Wo

When I initially came up with the concept for frankie*SNATCH back in 2001, I wanted to base it in a large, modern city in the Far East. At the time, Japan was experiencing a huge popularity boom (certainly within the target audience I was wanting to reach) and I wanted to avoid following that trend. After a little bit of research, Seoul seemed to contain the fast pace, bright lights, cosmopolitan scene I was looking for. In these early stages, a strong visual setting was all I was after, and Seoul fitted that need perfectly.

Frankie*SNATCH has always been a character-driven plot, and whilst the location had never been hugely influential as a whole, as the story developed darker, controversial issues, I still needed to make sure it was still appropriate. For example, a major theme of substance abuse within the story lead me to research the sort of healthcare and treatment available for those suffering with addictions, and how this sort of issue is perceived and handled by Korean society as a whole. This research directly impacted on how the character(s) confronting this issue would handle it, particularly from the societal angle. This idea of such an old-fashioned taboo against the backdrop of an otherwise modern, diverse city was something I found interesting, but it also made me realise the importance of making sure the characters were believable enough for them to address the issues presented to them with as little help from the outside as possible.

Questions for Brian Kesinger

  1. Brian has volunteered to answer any questions you might have in a series of video updates we will post soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for a shout-out from him.

    Leave your questions for Brian in the comments below.

Holiday Card Project 2014

Wed Nov 12, 2014, 6:23 PM

The deviantART #HolidayCardProject is back for its 8th year!  With the goal of bringing a bit of holiday cheer to patients in the hospital during the holiday season, the Holiday Card Project connects artists from around the world, applying their tremendous artistic abilities to designing and creating uplifting holiday cards.

In 2013 alone, the Project received more than 5,000 cards sent in by more than 2,000 deviants from 60 different countries/political regions. Cards were then divvied up and distributed by deviantART members to local Los Angeles hospitals, with additional cards given to various hospitals in the U.S. and abroad for deviantART volunteers and hospital staff members to hand out to patients.

The idea behind the Holiday Card Project is simple: do something nice for others. However, if you're looking for even more incentive, every deviant who sends in a card will be given a free one-month Premium Membership to deviantART.

Read below to see how you can join in on the holiday cheer!

:holly:  What is the deviantART Holiday Card Project?The purpose of the Holiday Card Project is to have deviants create physical holiday cards for people who are hospitalized during the holiday season, helping to bring a smile to the faces of those who may need some holiday cheer.

:holly:  Who receives the cards?The cards will be distributed to both U.S. and international hospitals. Some cards will be delivered in-person by select deviants in the areas of the respective hospitals, while other cards will be distributed by hospital staff members. The patients who receive the cards age in range from children to seniors, and have illnesses or injuries that vary from mild to terminal.

:holly:  What should I write in a card?Be as creative as you'd like, but remember, the degree of illness for patients will vary from mild to terminal, so it is important to be cheerful and stay positive. Some suggested greetings include, "Best wishes," "Thinking of you," or "Have a nice day." Stay away from phrases like "Get well soon" and "Hope you're feeling better," as it might not be appropriate for all patients. Be sure include a message of "Happy Holidays" as the cards will be distributed for the holidays!

:holly:  Can I make a card myself?Of course! An 8.5" x 11" (21.59 cm x 27.94 cm) sheet of paper folded 2 ways to a total size of 4.25" x 5" (11.43 cm x 12.7 cm) works nicely. Though, there is no "set" size for cards. Use your best judgment. You can personally design and decorate cards by drawing, coloring, or painting. Construction paper, cardboard, markers, crayons, colored pencils, ribbon, etc., are all great to help make your card as special as possible.

:holly:  Can I use holiday cards purchased from a store?Absolutely. Store-bought cards are great for the Holiday Card Project, but be sure to add some artistic flair and pizzazz by drawing on the inside of the card or including a few doodles. Use color to brighten up the presentation; be creative!

:holly:  How much is postage for sending a card?If you live in the U.S. and are sending an average-sized card, it will probably cost one first-class stamp ($0.49). If you live in a country other than the U.S., the best thing to do is to check with your local postal agency for rates.

:holly:  Can I send more than one card?Please do. You can even put more than one card in the same envelope or package to save on postage. However, remember that quality is better than quantity. Sending one quality card that you put time and effort into is better than sending two cards that were thrown together.

:holly:  Can I share my cards on deviantART?

That's part of the fun! The cards we receive are often so impressive that we want to share them with the world. When you're finished with your creation, upload a photo or scan of the card and submit it to deviantART using the #HolidayCardProject tag.  Sharing your inspirational artworks with others online also helps spread the word about the Holiday Card Project, which leads to more cards being created and shared!

:holly:  Will patients know who made their cards?The only way a patient will know who made a card is if you sign your name, which you are welcome to do. You may also include your e-mail address and/or deviantART URL in hopes of getting a reply, though that can't be guaranteed. If you wish to send a card anonymously, you may.

:holly:  Can non-deviants participate in the Project?Definitely. The Holiday Card Project accepts cards from all participants who are willing to contribute to a good cause. The Project is a great way for schools, clubs, church groups, or family and friends to get together and work on a fun activity. No deviantART affiliation is necessary.

:holly:  What do I get out of this?The idea behind the Holiday Card Project is to try and bring a little cheer to those undergoing a hospital stay. The patients and their families are deeply touched by the kindness and caring from those who take time to create and send cards.

Additionally, once the Holiday Card Project has been completed, all registered deviantART members will be given a free one-month Premium Membership just for sending in a card. In order to be awarded a Premium Membership, please include your username on a piece of paper separate from the holiday card. Premium Memberships will be distributed no later than January 31, 2015.

:holly:  When is the deadline for the Holiday Card Project?All cards should be received by December 17, 2014.

:rudolph:  Where do I send a card?Please use the following address:

deviantART, Inc.
Holiday Card Project
7095 Hollywood Blvd., #788
Hollywood, CA 90028

Please remember to include your deviantART username on a separate piece of paper when mailing in a holiday card. To ensure that you successfully receive your free Premium Membership, it is vitally important that your username be written legibly!

:holly:  Can I help hand out cards?We're always looking for dedicated volunteers to hand out holiday cards. If you're interested in handing out cards at hospital local to you, please send a note to madizzlee

:stare:  Rules and TermsLimit one one-month Premium Membership per participant. DeviantART reserves the right to deem any card contributed to the Project as unacceptable and therefore ineligible for a Premium Membership.

:megaphone:  Spread the WordShare your #HolidayCardProject involvement across the Internet!  Write a Journal or Status Update, post to Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. We can't do this without you and getting the word out helps this great cause get boosted to more people — resulting in more holiday cheer!  Thank you.

:note:  Past Projects

Holiday Card distribution this afternoon by Lou-in-Canada     Holiday Card Project by madizzlee


:holly:  Where do I direct questions and concerns?Please note that many common concerns have already been addressed in the above questions and answers. Take care when reading the Project's description because there's a good chance it already contains an answer to your question. For any remaining issues, please leave a comment in this journal.


Wed Oct 22, 2014, 8:20 PM


I hit 4000 watchers you guys!!!! 8D You know what that means? A giveaway, of course!! Heehee~!!!!! I will be splitting and giving away 4000 points to 12 lucky winners! <333333


-YOU MUST favourite the journal.
-YOU MUST NOT tell me you entered or you're 'done', ect in the comments, it's annoying ;^;
-IT'S OPTIONAL, but if you make a journal or poll advertising the giveaway, and comment it below, you get an extra entry!

The awards go in this order:

1st - 1300pts
2nd - 900pts
3rd - 700pts
4th - 400pts
5th - 200pts
6th - 100pts
7th - 100pts
8th - 100pts
9th - 50pts
10th - 50pts
11th - 50pts
12th - 50pts

-Yes! It is possible for you to win more than one award, though unlikely TTvTT
-You don't need to be watching me, though I'd greatly appreciate it ;v; <3
-The giveaway ends on Tuesday 28th of October, at 6pm GMT, at which point I will pick the winners using
-If you comment with an advertising journal/poll, I will reply with a number. This is me marking the comment so I can find it easily later (I will be away for a few days between now and the deadline so might not respond immediately).
-Don't be offended if I hide your 'congrats' comment, it's for neatness, so I can get to the journal/poll comments easier TTvTT;

  • Mood: Pride
  • Listening to: Coldplay
  • Watching: The new FNAF 2 trailer!

Guy Fawkes Day

Tue Nov 4, 2014, 7:07 PM
gunpowder treason and plot by TheStink411

Burns one man's vendetta on fires of drunk delight while Heaven's rainbows burn and sparkle in the sky.

The fascinated coo while boredom freezes cold and watches while his breath fades steaming into night.

The pennies for the guy jingle in their tin while he a traitor burns, his Cath'lic soul in Hell.

The animals run scared, not from fireworks, but from th'unholy sound of Guido's punishment.

He screams a silent scream that no-one else can hear, save God and pets and Satan's wailing hordes.


Give the Gift of Art Challenge

Wed Nov 12, 2014, 2:10 PM
1 by SpicyGingerrHow Would You Express Your Feelings Through Art? DeviantART and Wacom have joined forces to inspire you to give the gift of art! To participate, create a piece of art that illustrates a precious possession-whether physical, emotional, or spiritual-that you would like to share with someone special in your life. ifty semi-finalists will be selected by designated members of deviantART, and all semi-finalists and winners will receive prints of their entry to share with friends and loved ones. Top entrants will receive even greater prizing!
Wacom Give The Gift Of Art Challenge

How Would You Express Your Feelings Through Art?

DeviantART and Wacom have joined forces to inspire you to give the gift of art! To participate, create a piece of art that illustrates a precious possession—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual—that you would like to share with someone special in your life. Fifty semi-finalists will be selected by designated members of deviantART, and all semi-finalists and winners will receive prints of their entry to share with friends and loved ones. Top entrants will receive even greater prizing!

Visualize a very special person in your life. What do you dream of giving them?

Create an original piece of art that depicts your precious possession as a gift for a special person in your life. That possession can be something physical, emotional, or spiritual. You may use any visual medium for your entry. The deviation description for your entry must include: the tools used to create your art, and details about who you're giving the precious possession to and why.

Submit your entry using the ENTER NOW button below.

Your entry must be at least 2000 pixels in its shortest length and either be a single .JPG or .PNG file.

The First Place winner of The Give the Gift of Art Challenge will receive the following prizes:

  • $2,000 USD
  • 10 rolled deviantART prints of your winning entry
  • 8,000 deviantART Points
  • 1-Year Premium deviantART Membership
  • A New IntuosPro Medium Pen Tablet
  • $1,500 USD
  • 10 rolled deviantART prints of your winning entry
  • 4,000 deviantART Points
  • 1-Year Premium deviantART Membership
  • A New IntuosPro Medium Pen Tablet
  • $1,000 USD
  • 5 rolled deviantART prints of your winning entry
  • 4,000 deviantART Points
  • 1-Year Premium deviantART Membership
  • A New IntuosPro Medium Pen Tablet
  • $500 USD
  • 5 rolled deviantART prints of your winning entry
  • 2,000 deviantART Points
  • 1-Year Premium deviantART Membership
  • A New IntuosPro Medium Pen Tablet
  • 1 rolled deviantART print of your winning entry
  • 3-Month Premium deviantART Membership
  • 1,000 deviantART Points

Contest begins at 12:00 AM Pacific Time (PT) on November 12, 2014 and ends at 11:59:59 (PT) on December 15, 2014.

  • Entrants must be at least 13 years old as of November 12, 2014.
  • Entrant may reside anywhere in the world.
  • Entries must be received by 11:59:59 PM (PT) on December 15, 2014 and be submitted through the contest gallery on deviantART;
  • Membership to is required to enter the contest;
  • Membership to is free;
  • Entry may originate in any visual medium and must be submitted at the contest site as a single .JPG or .PNG and must be at least 2000 pixels in its shortest length.
  • Entry may not include any characters, logos, symbols, or titles of any third party.
  • Entry must include in the description what tools were used to create it, who you would give your art to, and why.
  • Read the Official Rules carefully.

50 semi-finalists will be selected by a judging panel of deviantART staff members. The three finalists will be selected from the semi-finalists by a judging panel of three prominent members of the deviantART community. Judges will not participate in the contest as entrants. The Honorable Mention will be selected from the remaining semi finalists by a Wacom creative director after the winners have been selected.

All of the judges will use the following criteria to judge all of the entries in whatever degree the judges believe appropriate:

  • Creative interpretation of Theme
  • Originality
  • Technical Skill

Find Special offers in your region:

Take the kernel of your ideas and expand it, explode it. Boost your ideas with the right tools. For a limited time, Wacom is offering you a discount on the tools you need to boost your ideas.


Journal Entry: Sun Nov 9, 2014, 2:51 AM

Pursuit of a Dream

Fri Nov 7, 2014, 7:48 PM
Lost Kids Contest Entry 031 by FelipeCagno

Felipe Cagno’s Long Journey to “The Lost Kids: Seeking Samarkang.”

Many deviants know well…

…“The Lost Kids: Seeking Samarkand”, the 200+ pages graphic novel written and created by Brazilian storyteller FelipeCagno.

What few know is the story of how it took him almost a decade to bring this story to the public between script re–writes, production setbacks and more than three years of working with a team of artists spread across the globe.

Although “The Lost Kids” started as a feature length screenplay developed during Felipe’s Master’s program in film production back in 2007, the initial idea came to Felipe years earlier—in the darkened back of a school bus speeding home through the night after a field trip to the planetarium. Alone in the dark and lost in thought, Felipe imagined the bus suddenly vanishing from this world and showing up in a Final Fantasy sort of world filled with magic, airships and a sense of wonder.

For many creators ideas hatched in childhood can steer many of their creative storytelling endeavors for years to come.

For Felipe this particular idea stuck with him all the way through film school and his graduate program where he finally put it down on paper. He believed that this particular story stuck with him so long because he never grew out of it creatively, for if it would stick with him it should hopefully stick with others.

Felipe’s Teachers took interest in his tale, encouraging and shepherding him. The screenplay placed in several competitions. Now he knew he had something special.

After graduating Felipe reached out to several producers and creative executives he interned for. Taking their advice, Felipe began adapting his “Lost Kids” into both a new foreign format and a new medium: the Graphic Novel. But where to start?

It was then that Felipe discovered the deviantART community and started a new journey with his project.

Having a warm welcome from the community gave him the confidence to follow down this new path. Knowing little about making comic books, and being a writer not an artist, Felipe had to go back to studying. By observing and reaching out to other dA members who have successfully established their original characters, like DJ Shwann, Artgerm, and Dan Luvisi with LMS and many others, Felipe began to navigate the same waters. First came the “Lost Kids” art book and partnership with Ben & Joey Vazquez, followed closely by an Art Contest open to all artists. Soon after, it was time to start production on the actual Graphic Novel.

Everything was done within deviantART and alongside the community. Every artist that collaborated on the Lost Kids, from all over the world, came from relationships made possible through the DeviantArt community. Felipe gathered together artists and members from the  US, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Scotland, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, China, Japan and many other countries to work on this single project, which spanned over three years.

Felipe recalls,

“There were many moments of deep despair, several setbacks along the way. This was still an independent project put together by a single person behind it, organizing and streamlining all the creativity every artist was bringing to the table. I found the best artists to work on the ‘Lost Kids’ and was keen to take in their creativity to better the project, even if it meant the project might have to adjust to accommodate the new ideas. And that’s the beauty of it, when you welcome constructive criticism and good ideas, the original project evolves into something better. It’s important to absorb the set backs, the challenges and failures, and then turn them into something positive.”

A lot of authentic citizens in the deviantART community became aware of Felipe’s effort and passion for the “Lost Kids” and what he was trying to build…

…and decided to lend a hand with a cover or illustration. Artists like Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Genzoman, Sayagina, ElGrimlock, Todd Nauck, Liol, Loish and many others all played a part in setting up the “Lost Kids” as a viable graphic novel series.

“Lost Kids” finally became the successful comic book series it is today: a sold out hardcover edition kickstarted in Brazil to much acclaim and digitally distributed in the US and Europe through Comixology, the leading digital comic book distributor.

Felipe Cagno’s Advice to Serious Dreamers

It’s important you take yourself seriously before anybody else. You must invest in yourself and in your work both the time and money it demands because if you don’t do it first, how can you expect someone else to do it for you?”

Put yourself on the line and people will take you seriously. Take risks. Learn from others as much as you can. That’s what the dA community is for, to support each other in the betterment of everyone’s art.”

There are no shortcuts in life and either you work harder and better than the next guy or you will be just another struggling artist with a hobby.”

Nothing beats that sense of wonder when a professional you admire sees your work, compliments it and eventually reaches out to collaborate. Publishing the Lost Kids gave me a new career which I was at first only passionate about as a fan.”

321: Fast Comics Cover by Lucas Leibholz

Following up on the Lost Kids, Felipe is working on a new comic book project called “321: Fast Comics”,

A collection of short stories illustrated by top comic book professionals and dA members which must always follow the same formula: three (3) pages, two (2) characters, one (1) twist ending, hence the title. With those rules in place, anything goes.

Below is a FREE preview for the book that is available now on MadeFire:

“The Lost Kids: Seeking Samarkand” single issues can be found in digital format on Comixology under Felipe’s banner Timberwolf Entertainment, a publishing label created to distribute this first graphic novel but is now moving to his second title 321: Fast Comics—and three more to be released in 2015.

Felipe is also running a comic book contest on his DeviantArt page that represents a fantastic opportunity for all of the storytellers in the community.


Your Thoughts

  1. How many years do you think should be budgeted to working on a single project before maybe calling it “completed”?

  2. Do you have an artistic idea you’re so passionate about that you keep returning to it over and over again?

  3. Have you ever reached out for help to an artist you admire and received real help with your work?

  4. How many other artists are you now in collaboration with or have you collaborated with in the past?


Journal Entry: Sat Nov 1, 2014, 7:59 AM

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Christopher Carrion by CliveBarker

His Books of Blood in the 1980s established him as a premier master of the horror narrative, on an equal level or even surpassing Stephen King, who said of him;

I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker.

Stephen King

Like King, Barker’s works of horror have been adopted and adapted for movies, his stories becoming the basis for the Hellraiser and Candyman series and many more. Beyond his stories being used as source material, Barker has worked as screenwriter, producer, actor and director in the film world.

As with Stephen King, many of Clive’s fans have found him through enjoying his horror tales used as source material for films. (Sadly, such is the decline of the “reader” in the internet world.) His “Pinhead” character, a collector of souls, emerged from the pages of The Hellbound Heart to become the iconic focal nemesis of the Hellraiser movie series. His face full of nails has almost become thought of as Clive Barker’s alter ego. Clive has had a love-hate relationship with the movies. He directed the original Hellraiser and his “butchered in studio re-editing” Nightbreed has been recently re-released on Blu-Ray. He had his best luck with Lord of Illusions and Candyman.


Clive’s writing has taken several directions since being born in the most hardcore horror narratives. In 2002,the first of his self-illustrated Books of Abarat series received the Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers.


It was also chosen by the American Library Association as one of its “Best Books for Young Adults.” Inspired by ideas coming to him in dreams, Clive’s 825-page magnum opus Imajica explores the themes of God, sex, love, gender and death through the prism of Barker’s “dark fantasy.” His more recent writings have turned more toward contemplative fantasy than his earlier exercises in relentless horror.

It’s instructive that only his success in powerhouse horror stories eventually gave Clive the creative space to explore the many spiritual and existential themes that his more recent works have continued to develop. His expert blurring of the mental retaining walls separating  the concept of Heaven and Hell, or his recombinant conception of pleasure and pain principles, suffuse his “dark fantasy” works with a societal subversiveness far more profound than the shocks of his “straight horror” earlier works. His early tales can be read for fun. His later work requires some contemplation of the evanescent nature of personal reality.

Never content to rest on his laurels, Clive is also an accomplished visual artist, and has long been a gallery-quality painter in the fine arts world, illustrating more and more of his own books.

Marapozsa Street

As an ‘artist first’ creative, all of Clive’s works, no matter the medium, begin with a painting. His artwork has been exhibited at Bert Green Fine Art in Chicago, at the Bess Cutler Gallery in New York and can regularly be seen at the Century Guild gallery in Los Angeles.

DeviantART is currently running multiple challenges for deviants to turn the table and write a horror or fantasy short story or poem to tell the tale behind any of the several Clive Barker original paintings he has provided from his private collection.

He has, as well, submitted both an unpublished short story and a poem to his gallery that we are spotlighting. Clive’s writings are like nothing that ever came before them. As you study his paintings, you will find that his visual imagination expressed in his brazen brushstrokes is just as unique and forceful as the audacious voice of his literary inventions.

Christopher Carrion

Gan Nug

Deetha Maas

The really exciting news is that Clive Barker’s Books Of Blood, not having been published in 25 years, have been released today as Madefire Motion Books here on DeviantArt. Don’t take our word for it, take a look at the gorgeous preview below of the first installment, Books of Blood adapted into motion by writer Mark Alan Miller (Next Testament, Hellraiser) and artist mister-sam, The Books of Blood pushes the limits of the motion comic platform and the boundaries of terror. The motion book was produced by Clive’s nephew, Gareth Barker.

Paintings and Drawings, Volume One

Clive's art can not only be seen on his DeviantArt page, but also in two gorgeous new books of his art. The first can be purchased from the Century Guild website.

While the most recent, which has already surpassed its Kickstarter goal, has only a few days left in its campaign.

25 Years Later: The Director’s Cut

You had to be there. Watching Clive Barker talk about the restoration of his fantastical vision, the audience sighed as he brushed tears aside to thank everyone who helped complete his picture. The film took on a whole new life as the monsters assumed their true role as the heroes of the tale. Executive Producer Mark Miller led a tireless campaign to find and restore the forgotten footage and quite rightly shared Clive’s standing ovation as the curtains closed.

The newly completed restoration is now available on Blu-Ray.


How did publishers first react to the submission of a “Young Adult” book by Clive Barker? How difficult was it to get The Thief of Always and Abarat published?

I had the greatest difficulty, actually, with all of those books. There is a great reluctance amongst publishers to give successful genre writers the freedom to travel somewhere a little distance from the genre where they’ve been most successful.

The Thief of Always (1992)

I had to beg, steal and borrow; and say please, please, please.”

But eventually I actually sold The Thief of Always, which I had written already, for a dollar to Harper Collins in England. This is a somewhat reduced sum of money by comparison with my usual advances for a book. But, it was the only way I could get them to publish the thing.

Commexo Kid

I said to them, “Alright, you publish this for a dollar and I understand that you’re going to do your best by this book but I also understand that you don’t have much expectation, but I also understand that you purchased it for a dollar and you’re risking very little. But I have faith that if you give it the chance to perform in the marketplace it will do very well for you.”

They put it out there and they packaged it very well. There were some reviews that said “Alright, why is Barker doing this?” But then there were a lot of reviews that were very friendly toward it. And the book ended up very successful. Not immediately, mind you, but it gathered momentum. I think there is a certain sense that I’m not a horror author, and I’m not.

I’m an Imaginer, as I’ve said many times before.”

There are certain books in my oeuvre that preceded The Thief of Always, books like Weaveworld for instance, which are fantasy books. They’re not horror books. I thought, in some ways, Thief of Always fell into the same style as Weaveworld.

Candy Dressed for Abarat (Triptych)

Abarat (2002)

Abarat was a thornier problem, because I had told Harper Collins a long time ago that I wanted to write something that was in the same style as the Narnia books. To add to that idea, I had started to paint oil paintings to illustrate the books, and in fact that’s where the books were coming from narrative-wise. They were originating in my paintings, which is an odd thing for anyone to do, but it sort of worked for me, because it was a way for me to surprise myself.

There are are now many hundreds of oil paintings for Abarat, and not all of them by any matter of means will be published within the five books of Abarat. But, because I have Century Guild looking after my work and representing my work and publishing my work in various forms, I think the world will be able to see everything that I’m painting.


You executive produced Gods and Monsters, the marvelous film about James Whale's last years. How much of an affinity do you feel with Whale?

Interesting question, this. The initial conversation with Ian McKellen, to have him play James Whale, happened in the room I’m sitting in right now. He didn’t want to play the role. He felt that it was a somewhat melancholy depiction of what homosexuals were like, and he felt that as an out homosexual who had been very political in his recent life, he didn’t feel like he wanted to engage in a somewhat melancholy vision. But, I sat with him here and we compared notes on some things. One of the things was how much our lives were similar to each others’ lives, and how similar our lives were to James Whale’s life. We, all three of us, are northern English lads. We were all born within probably 70 miles of one another. We’re all homosexuals, obviously. We all had difficulties with the world around us in many ways, and yet at the same time found power and strength in our homosexuality.

And we found strength in using the ways that the universe says no to us as a way to say yes to art.”

Self Portrait

So, the conversations that Ian and I had here, comparing notes, was what got Ian to say yes to the movie and, finally, got me to feel closer to James Whale.



How do people react when they find out you are also a “fine art” level painter whose artworks are as notoriously audacious as your literary works?

This is a hard one to answer. I do this stuff without really thinking about it too much. People often don’t know that I paint. Recently, though, with Thomas Negovan of Century Guild having taken hold of my work in a major way, and put out the first volume of the Imaginer book, people have begun to understand what I’m doing a lot more. Thomas has become my great apologist and has really made people understand what I’m doing in a way that I never could. I’m really not that great at talking about my own art.

I’m not particularly good at talking about anything I do, generally. Because I do it with my gut, not with my head.”

I’ve had situations, with both Mark Miller and Ben Meares, in my writing room where I’ve started a conversation and I’ve started with an idea and within 5 or 10 minutes we have an entire script planned out. That’s happened to us a lot. A lot. That’s how I work, really. Ben and Mark have the closest vision, the closest understanding, of what it’s like to be in my head, because they watch me go through that creative process of linking one thought to another, and that to another, and watching it grow exponentially in front of us.

And I do it essentially without having that solid a grasp of what I’m doing, I’m just doing it. So, really, I can’t talk too much about that because while I know when people react to the art, they react pleasurably, but I don’t think I’m very good at being able to explain what I’m doing to them. I can leave Thomas to do that.



The Itch


How are your satisfactions as a writer and as a painter different? And how are they the same? How do you know in the morning whether you must express yourself on the keyboard or the canvas?

Of course they’re different. Utterly different. For one thing, a painting can be finished in a night; a book takes a year, or at very least 6 months to complete. Writing is fucking hard, and very seldom is it pleasurable. Now...

I destroy a lot of paintings. A lot of paintings. But then, I also destroy a lot of text.”

I’m a very self-critical son of a bitch. I work fast, I think, and that allows me to throw out a lot of things. If I don't let things go, they sort of constipate the whole process and then I can’t move forward, so it really is important to me to not get overly besotted with one particular idea, but to instead simply move on to another one and let that happen.


Right now, I’m working on the last two Abarat books and a couple of other things for young audiences. I’ve been working on a lot of paintings.

I’ve done over 400 paintings in the last 6 months. It’s a race now, really.”

I’m a 62 year old man, and I have a lot to do. I’ve been very sick the last few years. I had a period of being in a coma, and that left me sick for a long time afterwards, and I’m only now just coming out of that sickness.

So now, I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and a lot of people to love and a lot of dogs to raise and parrots to adore and all that good stuff. I have life to live, in other words, and that’s important. But, the satisfactions of writing and painting are very, very different. They are not really, in any way, the same. I suppose you could say, “Well, they’re the same because there’s a blank piece of paper or a blank canvas at the beginning and at the end there’s a finished thing.” But, that’s honestly the only similarity. A finished painting is not anything like a finished novel in any way shape or form. How do I know in the morning whether I must express myself on the word processor or the canvas? Well, first of all, it’s a handwritten process so there’s no word processor at all. But, I usually do both in a day. It isn’t ‘either or.’

Mater Motley


How much of a help has it been in having a fan base in online worldwide communities like DeviantArt? Has the support been genuinely palpable and benefiting to your good spirits?

It’s been wonderful! To have the deviantART folks help me touch base with people all over the world, it’s been very affirming. The support has been genuinely palpable and absolutely benefiting to my good spirits. There have been dark times of late and I’ve been so grateful to have people from all over the world who are able to tell me what they like and don’t like.


Is there anyone special project you’re currently working on, or planning, or dreaming about doing, that might eventually become a future reality for your fans to look forward to?

Yes, there is. And I ain’t going to tell anyone what it is. It’s one of the things I’ve learned over time: don’t tell anybody what your sweetest and dearest dreams are creatively, because that’s the way to kill them stone dead. So, yes, I have a couple of things that are very close to my heart, and that’s where they will stay, until such time that they are published or painted.




Poe, Lovecraft, Barker, King. How do you feel being added to the to that exalted honor guard of horror masters?

I can’t answer that. I want to be reasonably humble here.”

I do my thing, they do their thing. It doesn’t sit well with me to elevate myself in that way. It’s hubris, and it’s totally inviting someone to kick the legs out from under you. So, rather than say, yes, I am in the same ranks as Mr. King and Mr. Poe.

I’ll say this: I do my thing. I imagine, and sometimes I do good stuff and sometimes I do shit stuff and I’ll continue to do it. Whether I belong with them or not is up to someone in the future to judge, not me.


Finally we’d like to ask you to select your top five Deviant Artists from the community.

It's an impossible thing you ask. How can a man choose his favorite artists from such a wellspring of creativity. I can only offer 5 names that have recently inspired me:

  1. Does it please or disappoint you when an artist with Clive Barker’s imagination and superlative talents of expression chooses to explore the darker side of human existence?

  2. Once a writer (or artist in any media) establishes him- or herself in a specific genre (e.g., “Clive Barker: Master of Horror”) do you feel betrayed or intrigued when that artist tacks to a new course (“Clive Barker: Fantasist Imagineer;” “Clive Barker: Young Adults Author”)? Do you welcome or resent joining the artist in this evolution?

  3. Do you think any of the cinematic treatments of Clive’s fiction (e.g., Candyman, Hellraiser” have succeeded in capturing the essence of his original (written) medium? Or are movies and books apples and oranges that defy comparison; each having unique attributes deficient in the other; and each having deficiencies easily resolved in the other.

  4. Would you like Clive to occasionally revisit his full-tilt horror writing in the future, or are you well-satisfied with his current works of his ever-expanding consciousness, like Imajica? (Are you hoping The Scarlet Gospels will be a return to hardcore Barker horror?)

  5. Who are your favorite writers and artists on DeviantArt who explore a darker tone in their works?

  6. What is your favorite Clive Barker book or film and why?