Dive into more of this month's Focus-artist journey:
Alex Ahad: Hello, my name is Alex Ahad. I’m primarily known as the creator of the characters, world, story, and artstyle of Skullgirls. I was also concept lead on the action RPG Indivisible. Currently, I am doing freelance and pursuing future personal projects.
DA: How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it?
AA: I suppose it’s heavily influenced by anime but with a lot of cartoony elements to it as well.
DA: So let’s take it to the beginning. What’s the first piece of art you remember drawing that you were like, “Oh, I want to be an artist!”
AA: Ever since elementary school, I’ve taken a deep interest in art. I’m not sure when I seriously decided to try to pursue it as a profession. One thing a friend and I would do back in school is make up hypothetical Mega Man bosses in the format of the boss select screen from those games.
DA: What was the hardest part of going from that moment to when you first found success as an artist?
AA: I think convincing my parents that this could be a viable career was certainly a huge obstacle. Nevertheless, they were still supportive of my pursuits, which I’m eternally grateful for and lucky to have. Also, convincing myself that this could be viable was another factor. This is especially because when I was going to classes and just in general, the type of art style I had wasn’t the type that could get jobs or be as accepted. Now, it seems like there are more opportunities and venues for the type of style I use, but it was less common back then.
DA: What did it feel like to have success as an artist?
AA: I’m not sure what would exactly define success, so I guess it's ongoing. I still feel like I’m trying to establish myself further, and I have a lot to learn.
DA: You create a lot of monster girls. What is it about the balance of beauty and horror that pulls you to that genre?
AA: I’ve noticed the trend of beauty and horror increasing more these days, which is neat! I think the contrast is inherently fascinating; it helps lend to some fun design quirks too. When I was younger, I wasn’t very good at drawing people. I ended up drawing monsters more to distinguish myself from some of my peers. However, I eventually would still keep drawing people, and the two elements would combine.
DA: As the Art and Story Director for Skullgirls, what went into the roles outside of illustration and design?
AA: Learning how to manage and communicate with people was certainly new for me, and I’m still learning in general. Also, knowing how to confidently make a decision, knowing when and what to cut where and how. I think just by going through the process, I ended up honing a lot of art skills overall, such as anatomy, animation keyframes, timing, color, composition, visual storytelling.
DA: What is the challenge (rewarding or otherwise) in pivoting from art on paper to art that appears in a game? What considerations must be made?
AA: Gameplay always comes first, so that has to be the top priority when creating art for games. This could mean anything from having to push the pose further for readability, cutting frames from an animation to make it more practical, or even just cutting something out entirely.
DA: What was it like seeing your characters brought to life? How did that feel?
AA: Something about hearing a voice or sound along with seeing the characters move really does make it feel like they’ve come to life! It’s almost surreal but certainly inspiring. I think it’s a factor in that feeling that a project can potentially grow beyond the initial vision and become something communal.
DA: For artists that may want to get into game art, what skills are most important?
AA: Knowing your fundamentals will always be crucial for any art career. In terms of game art, the more familiar you are with the other aspects of the process (programming, design, animation, story, etc), the easier it would be to help in those parts or at least be able to communicate with those in charge of those processes.
DA: You’ve also worked for clients like Gaia Online, WayForward, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, and more. Those are some huge names! What has that journey been like? Was there ever a “dream” client you were able to work with?
AA: It’s been an interesting journey of both doing work in an office and freelance. I think they both have their pros and cons, but I’m glad to have done both styles of working. I don’t think I’d have a dream client to work with. It is neat to be involved with various projects and names though.
DA: The oldest piece you have uploaded to DA is this. Looking back at that time, how has your art changed since then?
AA: Oh wow, is this my oldest piece here? Though, this is considerably deeper in my artistic journey, all things considered. This does bring me back though, I love Cave Story. I hope Pixel is doing well… Also, I haven’t done a lineless piece like this in a while. This is actually a rather ambitious picture. I think it’s worth noting that humor is a fun element to have in a piece. I should try this more painted style again just to see how that feels.
DA: What role did DeviantArt play in your artistic journey?
AA: I’ve gotten a few freelance/job opportunities through DA, actually. There was one company whose representative did actually reach me through there. Aside from that, DA has also helped me meet friends with similar art styles, interests, or just new and inspiring pieces in genera, as well as fostering a sense of a community.
DA: How do you see art and art communities changing? What do you feel is important about them?
AA: I think it seems like resources are becoming more available to those who might not have had access to them before, meaning there are more people able to bring what they have out to a wider audience. It feels like there are so many variations and potential projects out there, it’s hard to keep track. But I guess it also means people can find like minded communities out there if they keep looking.
DA: You’re currently working on a commissioned piece for the month of May. Tell us about what you’re making.
AA: I saw photos of the skull of Mary Magdalene and was inspired to make this sort of undead Catholic-aesthetic astronaut character. It was just some sketches in my sketchbook at the time and I didn’t follow up on it. The idea of a soulslike in space, or perhaps a literal metroidvania, with some sort of dark sci-fi space-cathedral vibe sounded interesting to me. Seeing that this commission was an open topic, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to poke at that idea and explore it further.
DA: You’ve put up several polls already, and really brought the community in on the process with you. What has that been like? Any surprises?
AA: I was kind of surprised with how consistent the percentage held, in terms of the decision on which initial choice to go with. I am curious if different platforms would have different results. In terms of the thumbnails for the composition being chosen, the one that ended up getting favored by the audience made me wonder what about it they liked the most, or if it could simply be its placement in how the poll was arranged. It also made me really think about which illustration would fit it better.
DA: What do you hope the community learns from experiencing your process?
AA: I guess just seeing my process in general and the kinds of steps I do. Hopefully it is insightful on my thought process and priorities.
DA: What’s next for you as an artist? Where do you want to go from here with your art?
AA: I want to develop further personal projects, similar to how I did for Skullgirls, and hopefully build that up into some sort of product as well.
DA: What is one solid piece of advice you would give to up-and-coming artists?
AA: Expect to fail a lot, more than you succeed. You just have to go through that — in fact, it’s better to know what failure feels like, so you also know what success feels like. It’ll always be an ongoing process though, even when you succeed. Just keep at it! We’re all in this together m(_)m Ganbatte!
DA: Are you doing any cons this year? Where can people spot you in the wild?
AA: I’m going to Fanime! That will be in San Jose on Memorial Day weekend. I’ll also be at Anime Expo in LA and SDCC in San Diego, which are both in July.
Conventions do seem to be picking back up again this year. I’m still wearing a mask; make sure to be safe out there!
Thank you so much to @oh8 for sitting with us and chatting about their journey! Make sure to follow Alex's work all month long as they create a new piece as the DeviantArt Focus artist!
Many of the Daily Deviations have less than 500 favourites. These features are from the last few days! Congrats to all who received a DD!
The number of views for each Deviation are at the time of posting this journal. They may have more than 500 favourites.
Featured by @DrZime | Given on 2022-05-16 | 93 Favourites
Featured by @Astralseed | Given on 2022-05-16 | 161 Favourites
Featured by @Moonbeam13 | Given on 2022-05-17 | 95 Favourites
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Other Daily Deviations that deserve attention
Featured by @Ellysiumn, @Moonbeam13 & @Astralseed on May 19, 2022
Featured by @pullingcandy, @Ellysiumn & @Astralseed on May 18, 2022
Featured by @Malintra-Shadowmoon, @DrZime & @Astralseed on May 17, 2022
Featured by @ElyneNoir, @lovelessdevotions & @Ellysiumn on May 16, 2022
Lately, several groups have been hacked and vandalized by some douchebags. Some groups that have been vandalized include, but are not limited to, @FanArtFoodAndDrink, @SuperMario-UltraClub, @Kirbys-Fan-Club, and a Mario & Sonic fan group. Each of these groups has been flooded with vulgar imagery to the point where the true admins have had to completely gut the galleries and start all over.
The best way to prevent this happening to your group is to check "Manage Members" in the admin area. Under "Founder," "Co-Founders," and "Contributors," make sure that join requests are either "Not Allowed" or "Subject to Vote..." That will prevent the vandals from becoming admins of your group and causing severe damage to it.
I'd tell you to block the assholes who are doing this, but they keep changing accounts, so just be on the lookout for them instead. Report them when you see them, and hope that they realize the error of their ways soon.
Curse the trolls, peace to everyone else.
If you are reading this, SuperMario-UltraClub has been hacked. The hackers behind it were posting nude and offensive photos on my group. If you are reading this, please rejoin the group.
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic Adventure 2
Shadow The Hedgehog
Sonic Riders Zero Gravity
Sonic Free Riders
Sonic Rivals 2
Sonic Mega Collection
Sonic Gems Collection
Sonic Classic Collection
Sonic 4 Episode II
Sonic Rush Adventure
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic Lost World
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed
Team Sonic Racing
Sonic Forces Speed Battle
Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Sonic Advance 2
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
Sonic Jump Fever