Q&A with Resident Mack Mayo

 
Mack Mayo.jpeg
 
 

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?
My project is a concept for a TV show I’d like to pitch to Adultswim. During my time at 212 I will be developing the story, the characters, and the world, to a point I have a cohesive and polished pitch for it.

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?
I use a lot of mediums, I think limiting yourself to any one medium also limits your possibilities to explore. For example you might be an illustrator, you draw everything you need, but if you create a small 3D sculpture of your character that you can hold and look at, you can get a better understanding of what your character looks like. You might discover something about their design that doesn’t work, maybe from one angle a strand of hair looks great, but from another angle it looks awful. By using multiple mediums you give yourself more tools that can take your work to the next level.

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?
Having a mentor with experience in our field I think is the most important thing 212 has offered. There’s a lot of resources out there that can tell you all sorts of “how to”s but those aren’t personalized and can be hard to digest on your own. This is a very simplified metaphor but let’s say a “how to make a hot dog” tutorial had instructions on what to buy, you buy everything you need to make your hot dog, and start following instructions. You get to an instruction that says “put ketchup on the hot dog,” do you put it in a straight line? A squiggle? To the side of the hotdog? Straight down the middle? Which is the best way? What if I don’t like ketchup? Do people want to see ketchup on my hot dogs? You check other sources, some say ketchup is mandatory and people will hate you if you don’t have it, others say ketchup is optional, and some say you should never put ketchup on a hot dog. How do you know what you should do? Having someone with experience to guide you and help you understand where you need to put your ketchup and how you should use it makes all the difference than just getting the ketchup. The mentors provide this, and I expect my project and myself to benefit from the guidance and advice of my mentors who have experience writing TV shows.

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?
As previously mentioned, I believe my mentors will provide me with guidance and advice that will help me understand what my project needs to grow into a fully realized pitch. I’m excited to get a glance into the process of building TV shows in the professional world. The only anxiety I have is standard surface-level self-doubt. I imagine my mentors will affect my process by enriching it with options I never considered, and knowledge I don’t have.

In what ways do you think working in a shared space with the other residents/artists will affect your process?
Very positively. Working in a shared space with other artists can be intimidating, but it also is inspiring. You’re surrounded by creativity, by others who are going through the same struggles you are. I remember going to an animators get-together, there was a point in the event when everyone got up and showed animation projects they were working on, just because they wanted to. Being in that environment and seeing everything everyone was accomplishing and just enjoying the art of it was inspiring, it made me want to go home and create my own art to share. I think it’s crucial for artists to be in the presence of other artists, and enjoy the art of creating together.

In Fruits & Veggies, plants and humans are switched - personified fruits and vegetables inhabit a fleshy world - which is excitingly bizarre, and definitely a pertinent reversal at a moment when the relationship between ourselves and our planet is frustrated. Can you speak some about your thought-process behind this inversion?
You bring a layer of eloquent depth to it that did not cross my mind until much later in the development. The birth of this idea was much simpler and half-witted. There I was, 5 or so years ago, sitting at work on my break. I was thinking about what I should doodle. I’d recently seen a pineapple somewhere. For a long time I had been in denial about my love for pineapples, due to the fact I’m not crazy about how they taste, but I absolutely adore how they look. I decided it was time to put my foot down. Who cares if I say I love pineapples for how they look not how they taste? In that moment of rebellion I drew a character with a pineapple for a head, who would become the main character of this series. As I sat there on break I thought of other possibilities for characters with fruit-heads. Eventually I came to the thought “what kind of world would they live in?” Sure they could just live on Earth, but then it hit me, what if they lived in a world where plants and humans are switched, a grotesque fleshy planet inhabited by personified fruits and vegetables. Then I thought, THAT’S HILARIOUS, laughed my ass off about it, and logged the concept in my story-idea bank. 5 or so years later here we are.

 

Q&A with Resident Beth Brokhaus

 
Beth Brokhaus.jpeg

What do you find alluring about your medium?

I’ve always been drawn to film. It’s the ability to tell a story or document an event in compelling visual scenery. Think of your favorite film. What is it about it that makes it your favorite? The first time I saw The Sound of Music I fell in love with it. The songs, the sweeping shots of the rolling hills, and the love story that pulls you in. I couldn’t imagine a better medium to work in.

 

What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

The goal of Impaired is to allow the viewer to experience hearing loss through the visual story of those that have experience with it. For a person with hearing disability the visual becomes of the upmost importance because depending on the severity of the disability the individual might not be able to take in all the sound.

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?

What I was hoping from 212 is exactly what they’ve given me. They’ve provided a space I can step into and shed the expectation and distractions of everyday life, a mentor to help guide me along, and art community that I’ve had been lacking.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your progress? 

I’m incredibly excited to be working with Jack C. Newell, he has an incredible body of work and experience and I’m looking forward to his advice and direction. I think any opportunity you get to learn from someone that has had success in your field is a fruitful opportunity. It’s important to open yourself up to new processes and perhaps look at things from a newly learned perspective.

 

In what ways do you think working in a shared space with other residents/artists will affect your process?

I don’t think it will affect it at all, I think it will enhance it. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a local art community so I’m looking forward to interacting with creative and artistic minded people. 

 

Disability is a complex topic with many different ways to approach it. What facets of hearing disability are you planning on exploring/addressing with Impaired? What structures/techniques are you planning to use in addressing these different things. 

Yes, Impaired is a documentary that focuses on hearing disabilities but the core of the story lies in the people who are living with these disabilities and how hearing aids and proper devices affect there lives. It’s those stories and issues that will hopefully foster a connection between the viewer and subject and hopefully facilitate change.

 

Q&A with Resident Robert Sassone

 
Robert Sassone.JPG

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?

My project is Milton, a fantasy graphic novel about a young wizard who struggles with family issues while simultaneously trying to save the world. While I began by publishing this comic online, I’m hoping to ultimately make a book out of it.

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

I’ve loved drawing ever since I was small, and began reading comics seriously in my preteen years. Comics are both flexible and accessible; as long as you have an understanding of how the medium works, you can tell any story you want with visual power rivaling that of cinema- without spending millions of dollars on a movie camera. Comics also naturally lend themselves to telling personal stories, which is appealing to any artist. There’s nothing quite like seeing your thoughts drawn out on a page in a way anyone can understand.

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?

My hope is that 212 will provide me with the confidence, knowledge, and guidance I need to make the leap from comic hobbyist to comic professional. I have faith in the panel of talented artists and producers who’ve put the program together, and I’m very excited to be working with my experienced and incredibly gifted mentor.

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

I’m enthusiastic about being able to work so closely with someone else who understands where I am in my career, and is able to articulate what actions I should take to move forward. It’s always somewhat disconcerting to share your work and expectations with others, but we’re all artists here and we’ve walked the same path. Being able to share with a professional is something that helps me focus and gives me a better sense of direction, which is always vital for the creative process.

Can you share some about the artists that inspire you?

I’ve got an extensive list of artists from all fields whose work inspires me. To limit myself solely to comics, I’d say I’m inspired by Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith, Doug TenNapel, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Geoff Johns, John Buscema, Kurt Busiek, Matt Fraction, David Aja, Gary Frank, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Alex Ross, Lora Innes, Tracy J. Butler, Johane Matte, Vera Brosgol, and David Petersen. That’s just to name a few! There’s many more where that came from.

What about magic and wizardry interests you and inspires you to create? And in what ways does magic interact with the themes in Milton?

I’ve always been a fan of wizards. They always wind up being the coolest characters no matter what story they’re in: everyone loves Gandalf, Harry Potter, and Dr. Strange. I’m writing a story that has wizards, magic and fantastical elements, but the story’s main theme is about family- as far as I’m concerned, the familial theme is the cake and the wizards/magic is the icing. I enjoy reading a thoughtful piece that reflects on real-life situations like father-son relationships and filial strife; I enjoy it more if it has people shooting fireballs from their hands.

 

Q&A with Resident Cory Kerr

 
Cory Kerr 2.jpg

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?
I’m telling a Japanese fairy tale called Shita-kiri Suzume or The Tongue-Cut Sparrow. It’s a children’s book about greed, selfishness, kindness and friendship. I’m sticking as close as I can to the original telling of the story without sanitizing it. There are many great stories from cultures all over the world and we’ve been fixated on so few of them for so long. I’m seeking to shed some light on some lesser-known tales from around the world.

In the Tongue-Cut Sparrow, a poor man reaches out and helps a creature different than himself who, it seems, cannot offer him anything in return. As a result, he gains a friend and his poverty is ended. He is contrasted against one who chooses selfishness over kindness and loses everything. Of the three characters, the sparrow is the most symbolic. She symbolizes everyone that we could reach out to that has little to offer us in return.

I feel strongly that a lack of kindness is at the root of all of today’s major suffering. I feel like much of this unkindness stems from ignorance and selfishness. If only we were all a little kinder to each other, if only we extended a little humanity to those we disagree with, if only we thought kindly of those who come from different backgrounds and make different choices... if each of us was a little kinder, it would end poverty, hunger, racism, war, hate, etc. The helpless, the needy, the “others” in our lives in fact offer us more than we could imagine, the biggest treasure we can gain in this life: peace and contentment. I know this sounds lofty for an old tale about a little bird, but I believe strongly in the power of stories and the need for kindness.

What do you find alluring about your medium? 
I'm find ink fascinating. I have spent the last few years learning to draw, maybe someday I’ll learn how to paint, but there is still so much to learn about this one value. I collect comic pages because I find it fascinating how much people can do with so little. There is no hue, only the binary black and white; yet they are able to coax out the impression of gradients, emotion, motion, symbolism, story, etc... All from putting black die on bleached wood pulp. Seems a bit overdramatic to put it that way, but you can hide a lot with color. 

I also love the challenge of line weight. There’s a permanence to inking traditionally. The slightest change in pressure or angle of the brush while you’re putting a line down can drastically change the mood of that line. A quick movement of the brush translates into an energetic line. Add a little hand shake and slow down a little and the line takes on an erratic natural feel. All of these little choices have to be made while you’re moving and, because of that, inking must be a bit instinctual. You have to make these choices quicker than it takes to think about them so they come from something deeper than your mind.

Digital is great for its speed and ability iterate at any stage, but there’s a tactile loss when you’re not physically touching something. There is a connection that triggers deep-seated instincts when you drag your hand across paper. I think it has something to do with the reason we feel peaceful walking in the forest or climbing a tree. We’re not meant to be constantly surrounds and encased in plastic, glass and metal. We’re meant to have some kind of contact with dirt and trees and water. 

Digital is constantly seeking to mimic traditional with little tricks, but it is, by its nature, very precise. There is a risk to inking on paper because it can easily be ruined. There’s also a bit of randomness added from the movement of your arm to the hair of the brush to the texture of the paper. In a world where more and more things are being automated, each of us is impressed with things done by hand. We each relate to and love the imperfectness of the human touch in something. There’s a greater value in people’s mind when something is made by hand.

What capacities does it offer that complements your project?
Well, I’ve probably gone on too much about it already. I am telling a traditional, ancient, Japanese fairy tale. It just seems appropriate to do as much of it as possible with brush and ink.

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?
I work in a small town with very little connection with other creatives. I’m hoping to get some good critique and refinement through this process. I’ve also found that I need a sense of accountability in my personal projects. I’ve mainly done this through youtube, but I’m looking forward to some more one on one accountability.

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?
Honestly, I’m not sure how it will affect my process. I’m fairly confident in my choices, but not so deluded to think that I don’t need outside feedback. I imagine that I’ll get sent back to the drawing board a few times and that the project will be all the better for it. I’m looking forward to a professional and trained eye on my work.

Popular fairy tales have been told and retold so many times that modern retellings are drastically different than their source material. As an artist dealing with lesser known tales, what responsibilities do you feel towards the source-material?
That’s an interesting question. I think that there’s a balance between scrubbing things so clean that they lose all meaning and a hyper-focus on the prurient and gory that distracts from the core story. In either extreme, there’s some power lost to the story. A few examples come to mind. There was going to be a local production of Les Mis here a couple years back. The theater set out to edit some of the more unseemly parts out of the story and they lost the rights to perform the play. That story is about broken people being redeemed. It’s about people sinking to their lowest points and being saved. The power of the story comes from how much they were saved from. It’s like the people who said, “That Jesus guy is alright, but he hangs out with prostitutes and tax collectors.” Or trying to explain Lincoln’s place in history without mentioning all that icky stuff about slavery.

There’s an infamous guy named Thomas Bowdler who set out to censor Shakespeare so that it would be appropriate for women and children. He felt that these stories needed to be scrubbed clean. Disney did the same thing with the fairy tales they’ve told. They’re still okay stories, but I think it’s important to see Hamlet die and know that the evil stepsister’s were blinded by crows at the end because there are lessons there.

Stories are important. Humans don’t have many instincts at birth and almost no survival skills. We spend the first two decades of our lives learning to survive and thrive through the lessons we learn in stories. Deep down we know that the world is an incredibly beautiful, wonderful, terrible and ugly place. Being honest about that allows us to navigate the world authentically. 

All of that is to say that these stories were told these ways for a reason. People needed to know about kindness, giving, love, hate, greed, murder, etc and the results of choosing to act in specific ways. 

And what responsibilities do you feel towards your creative process?
I don’t know that I’ve thought about this much, but I try to follow my gut. If something feels off or wrong, I try and figure out where I’ve gone wrong and fix it. There isn’t a lot of details to some parts of these stories and characters. In telling it to a modern audience, I add a little here and there, but I try and understand the characters enough that I don’t make them do anything that feels forced or changes who they are.

What is your process in discovering and interacting with these lesser-known fairy tales?
This is the first one I’ve tried to adapt, so I can’t speak from the experience of someone who has the experiences that comes with creating a huge body of work. Everything I put down on the paper is informed by research. For example, I called a buddy of mine who has a degree in architectural horticulture to discuss Japanese Wisteria. It’s this beautiful pink flowering plant that has an ethereal mood to it that I first came across in Hiroshi Yoshida’s woodblock prints. In this book, I use it to indicate to the reader that things are about to get magical. I spent some time researching images and descriptions of the Jomon period of Japan, looking at their clothing, buildings and technology. The home, dress and vehicles are what I like to call, “authentic plus,” which is to say that they’re rooted in historicity, but mixed with fanciful elements. For example, it seems that they did have wind-powered carts with Junk ship-styled sails back then, but they didn’t have floating islands…

What about them interests and inspires you as an artist?
I love reading and listening to stories. I love ancient cultures. I love how different cultures all throughout history use stories to teach their kids how to be a good member of the tribe/village/family. Mostly though, I love drawing and telling stories and fairy tales offer an excellent foundation for me to build something on.

 

Q&A with Resident Gabby Metzler

 
Gabby Metzler.jpg
 

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project? 

My project is a comics series follows Becky a girl bent on righteousness and comforted by her twisted love for Jesus. Her faith tested by a new group of friends. Together they leave their church youth group to enter the world of drugs, sex, and doubt. It’s a mix between an after-school special, “Napoleon Dynamite,” and “Trainspotting”.


What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

Comics are powerful. They hide everywhere, in memes, instruction manuals and movie storyboards. There’s a lot of beauty and strength in huge projects made by teams of people, like films or video games, but people crave the intimacy of art straight from the mind of one or two people. Almost anyone can print 100 floppy comics for something like $70 and sell them for $5.
That clandestine nature makes comics the birthplace of new ideas. They enable people to be as nasty and id-based as R. Crumb, or as thoughtful and academic as Alison Bechdel.

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?
I hope I can learn how to speak to an audience, getting people hyped and engaged is its own art form. The next step is to get people to leave their identity and enter my little love club.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

My main anxiety is being heard. This country and the art world have a habit of tyrannical code switching. If you’re talking to a Stanford conceptual theory professor or a pressman in a print shop you have to speak in their language otherwise the divisive alarm bells go off and instant divides go up. Getting on another person's level is a precious rarity and my work needs that so I can fix problems that are holding me back not just personal style differences. In terms of process it’ll be beneficial to add steps to my process like better tuning my audience and promoting myself and pitching to publishers and cut unproductive steps like changing my style 4 times or drawing before a script is finished.

 


The Fat Girl Love Club deals with many different outsider identities that are not often represented in popular media (at least not with much depth). What attracted you to these characteristics?

The term “outsider identities” is perplexing, because it’s founded in the framework of the quiet media lie. Becky might as well be an American Girl doll. If we break Becky’s identity politics down, she’s overweight and so are 21% of American teens, she’s bisexual that’s something like 15%, she smokes weed that’s anywhere from 22% - 44%, she’s a Christian that’s something
like 70%, her family makes less than 30k a year that's 50% of America. If you mix and match your identity no one is an outsider. But that doesn’t stop people from feeling like one. Most of my friends have said something like, “Yeah my parents don’t have any friends. Will that happen to us?” This kind of loneliness is an epidemic. If we allow our characters to be problematic and
challenging catharsis will happen. Catharsis should be the goal not escapism. If we champion work like that the loneliness might break. The Fat Girl Love Club is a story about isolation and fighting to make the community you have habitable.

 


Your character Becky has an arguably radical and often humorous relationship to her religion that is excitingly interesting and unique. What influenced you in the development of this relationship? And how do you approach this detail of Becky’s identity?

Gosh. So when I was a kid I listened to a Christian radio show called “Adventures In Odyssey” something like 3 hours a day until I was 16. It’s a huge radio series with probably close to a thousand episodes by now. I would sit and play with my toys and imagine Harry and Hermione running around Hogwarts. I’d dig in the backyard with Indiana Jones, and I’d play in the creek with Daniel and Moses and Mary and Jesus. They were an active part of my imagination. As I got older this innocent view of religion turned, not like Becky’s sexuality based turn. I got something I later learned is called scrupulosity, a kind of OCD where the obsession is sin. There were whole years I’d lay awake trying to control my thoughts and fight off any thoughts from the devil. It was terrifying and painful. The only way it ever stopped is when I broke the belief system. My thoughts were the problem. I had to think my way out of it. This gave me a sense of the duplicity of religion. So Becky’s religion isn’t ideal. She’s isolated. No one loves her and she hyper judgemental. She needs someone perfect to love as she grows, that’s Jesus. Her relationship with Jesus is more than a gross hook. My approach is to never show her being overtly sexual towards Jesus. I maintain a sense of affection for my own personal Jesus and don’t want to be mean to him. He was never the problem. The work strives to help people understand the intimacy of religion and still be critical of it. When Becky’s scared, Jesus is there, when she’s mad, she’s mad at him, when she is full of love, it’s for him, until she gets out of the house and finds a group of friends. The story  focuses on that transition. Can Becky survive much less be righteous without God?

Q&A with Resident Crystal Smith

 
crystal.jpg

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?

Day of the Mermaids is going to be an illustrated adult novel and interactive app that takes place fifty years in the future, where all of our predictions have come true and the world is fighting a battle with the environment. Lack of resources and a growing divide between economic classes leaves many at the mercy of climate change.

The story follows two sisters who have been displaced when their city sank under rising seas, and now scavenge on the beach to survive. They’re shocked to discover a mermaid on the shore, and soon discover that mermaids are showing up all over the world with a message: Stop destroying the ocean or face a war.

With a one day deadline, people are forced to find their voices, choose sides, and face the consequences of past generation’s actions.

 

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

I’m really excited to tell a story as an interactive and somewhat immersive experience. I think that novels and stories for adults (and YA) can be visual without being considered juvenile, and that the illustrations can enhance the story.

Interactivity gives the reader a chance to discover details and side-paths in the story and characters that may not fit into a streamlined novel, and hold more meaning when they are “stumbled upon” rather than given point blank.

As soon as a story is in an app or online, there’s the opportunity to blend it with other platforms such as social media, news, etc. Creating parallel stories, experiences and information through secondary outlets such as these can really complement a story and characters.

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?

I hope that working with 212 will help focus the ideas, provide advice and experience that I don’t yet have, be a sounding board along the way, and help me to set realistic goals towards finishing this project.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

Having someone with experience and knowledge to help me develop this project can make all the difference, and I’m excited to have the support and realistic-vision of a mentor. My work and career is mainly in ‘being creative’, so having someone to help me attempt to focus that into a project, that is both viable and pushes boundaries, is invaluable. It will probably affect my process by making me more accountable and giving me motivation to work harder, as I will feel more accountable to the project.

 

Day of the Mermaids seems to be a narrative that largely focuses on resiliency, hope, and altruism. Though climate change has not yet progressed to the point of devastation presented in Day of the Mermaids, can you speak some about the importance of cultivating those sentiments in environmentalism and creative production today?

 

I’m wouldn’t say I’m a radical environmentalist, but living on the west coast of Canada has kept me aware of the state of our environment and it’s very much a part of our culture here. Recycling, green technologies and biking to work are presented as part of everyday life and expected to stop global warming. If only…

I think because it’s happened so slowly, with subtle changes rather than life-altering events for most people, we’ve put climate change on the back-burner of our minds and agendas. It doesn’t appear life-threatening at the moment, so we’ll get to it later. Like knowing we need to change the oil in our car, but since it’s not smoking quite yet, we’ll leave it until next week.

Day of the Mermaids asks the question, “What would it take to make us change right now?” If we were faced with the consequences of another civilization being destroyed (and ultimatum of war) would that be enough to make us change our actions, point-of-view and minds?

And even if we do, as a nation or united world, decide to change…will it be too late? In Day of the Mermaids we’ve pretty much destroyed an entire race of people we didn’t even know existed. Is it realistic for us to try to “fix” the oceans at that point? Even if we’re faced with war and other consequences, will we actually have the abilities needed?

In the story, I break people into two groups. Those who are still trying to fix the world despite it’s deteriorating state; and those who have given up because they don’t know what to do, feel powerless, or have just decided to ignore the problem.

Day of the Mermaids is really about an event that starts to give some people hope again. If mermaids really exist, outside of children’s imaginations, then what else is possible? Believing is the real game-changer because it’s the first step towards action. Apathy and hopelessness are the real enemies in the story.

Whether it’s today or fifty years in the future, we have to believe in what we’re doing (whether it’s environmentalism, creative endeavours or anything else) because that’s the real magic. Kids will often carry that flag of hope with them, long past when adults have given up. Mermaids are a symbol of believing in something beautiful but kind-of impossible.

Although it may seem extreme to say that in 50 years cities will be sinking, there are actually quite a few examples of it happening right now. (Not just because of rising sea levels but also because of shifting ground, land subsidence, storm surges, withdrawal of groundwater, changes in ocean currents etc.) Jakarta, Indonesia; areas of Louisiana, US; Manila, Philippines; Newton, Alaska; Caterate Islands in Paua New Guinea. Oceans are predicted to rise 2 feet by 2060 which will flood coastal areas. The background for this story is not far-fetched or make-believe.

To continue working, or fighting, for something that we may not see all the effects of - takes a measure of hope, resilience and altruism. We never know who is going to be effected by our work, but we hope that someone will. In environmentalism that may mean future generations that we never see, and when creating artwork and stories that may mean nameless people that we never meet. Even if it’s just the mermaids, we need to keep believing.

 

Q&A with Resident Nikki Hines

 
Nikki Hines.jpeg

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?
“MRR” started as a goofy story I made up during early college that I developed a little bit before setting it aside for awhile, then getting back to it a bit my senior year, and ultimately shelving it again until I dusted it off to pitch here. It’s about a handful of quirky animal characters attending an academy - and the story is like a wad of Christmas lights: it’s messy, tangled, a few lights are burnt out, but it exists, haha.

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?
I highly enjoy traditional mediums, but something about digital I just really love. Maybe it’s just the fancy equipment and programs. While seeing “MRR” in stop-motion would be adorable and quite the sight, digital seems more realistic of a goal whether it would be an animated series or a graphic novel. Honestly, I’m open to anything.

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?
212 is providing phenomenal mentors and a fantastic lab to work in - two things that I would otherwise have no access to. It’s not just what I expect from 212 but what they can expect from me (cheesy, I know). Having the lab itself is great; there’s something so invigorating about working in that environment that (at least for me) doesn’t come from a personal home studio. Being around an art community is honestly the best thing; it’s something my home town didn’t have.

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?
I’m really jazzed about working with Laura on this! Having a mentor to work with is great - especially one as excited about the project as I am! It’ll be cool to see where this whole thing goes, and watch it evolve over the next few months. Anxieties? Mainly disappointing people and letting them down, haha. Having someone who’s been down this road before is so invaluable; someone who can push you and help guide you along.

In what ways do you think working in a shared space with the other residents/artists will affect your process?

Working in a shared lab with other artists is one of my favorite parts about doing this; even if you don’t necessarily collaborate with them, there’s something so invigorating about being around like-minded working people. It’s something I’ve missed dearly after I started working from my home studio.

The character design in Monster Rehabilitation and Removal is diverse and fantastical. What is your process like coming up with such creative designs? What are some of your inspirations?
Haha, well, for the character designs my brain just kind of says: “what if a goat wore a pirate outfit” and then my hands just spit it out. I wish it was a more involved process that sounded professional and awe-inspiring, but instead my brain works more like a random-word- generator for this sort of thing. I absolutely love designing creatures/animals/monsters and such, it’s always been a passion of mine. It may have come from years of gaming, especially when I was young; I was always drawn to monster designs in games, and it must’ve stuck with me all these years. I believe my childhood dream of being a zoologist also played a part into why I draw so many animals.

 

Q&A with Resident Suzanne Rhee

 
Suzanne Rhee.jpg

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?

My project is a graphic narrative about my grandfather: a German-Jewish immigrant fighting as a U.S. soldier during World War II. The narrative is based on his war letters and supplemented with recorded interviews, newspaper articles, and anecdotes from family.

Unlike many German Jews during that time, Lothar was not a direct victim of Nazi violence. Instead, he served as an instrument of justice, first as an army interrogator and then as a handler of evidence in the Nuremberg Trials. This story is really diving into what it would have felt like to be him, the emotional heft of escaping a fate that many others did not—and then how it drove him to action.

Ultimately, it’s a story about the challenges of ethnic oppression and the immigrant experience and how Lothar overcame them. I look at it as one way of humanizing an issue that’s still a hot political topic today.

 

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

Comics, because they are primarily images, are a very accessible form of storytelling. The visual aspect of a narrative can enrich characters and the space they inhabit in a way that words cannot. One of my favorite things about comics is the human face and the complex array of emotions it can portray. There is no replacement for seeing the weight of emotion in their eyes or their posture. It invites the audience to interpret and participate in the emotional work, not just receive it. Leaving the heaviest things unsaid is such a beautiful thing, and I think comics do that really well.

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?

I’ve jumped into comics on my own but haven’t had other people to guide me in this journey. Working in physical and professional isolation is hard, and I think 212 is a great way to remove those barriers.

What I think 212 will do for me and my work is provide structure, education, community, and an audience. Continual practice and production is essential for developing as a creator, and often I need outside accountability to get things done. More importantly, this arts incubator provides a community network with resources when I have questions that a search engine can't answer. Being so new to the world of visual storytelling, I need a little help navigating publishers and platforms. They will guide me and work with me to make sure this project actually gets seen by people outside of my family. Everything I learn from this project in terms of artistic and professional development, I’ll ultimately be able to take with me in future solo projects.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

I look forward to working with someone who has that industry knowledge. My mentor, Ken, is actually an animator, but he has so much experience in visual arts that I have no doubt that this mentorship will be extremely beneficial. 2-D graphic narration is different from animation, but elements like character design, frame composition, and viewing angle can be related and translated between the two. Having a mentor will push me to develop as a professional and learn essential skills that wouldn’t even occur to me if I continued making art on my own.

 

In what ways do you think working in a shared space with the other residents/artists will affect your process?

This is part of what excites me so much about 212. I think simply creating in the same space is going to generate energy and excitement to make good art. I’m looking forward to the community of creators. Not everyone is going to be working in the same vein, but unexpected insights come from creators working in other media. When someone looks over your shoulder to offer compliments or advice, it helps you get outside of your own head—the project takes on a fresh angle. That's incredibly beneficial during the creative process.

 

My Dear Folks is based on the experiences of your grandfather – as both a family member and an artist, how is it interacting with his story? How do you approach the creative handling of such personal material?

It’s been challenging, but so rewarding. My grandfather passed away in 2005, so I can’t just call him up and ask him questions. My biggest fear is that I won’t represent him correctly. Everything I create has to come from his letters, from research, and from asking my family questions. I’m not a history buff, and doing the researching footwork can be difficult. I know that as much as I aim for accuracy, I’m going to get some things wrong. That's something I have to wrestle with.

However, it’s been beautiful because as I read through his war letters, I feel like I’ve become his friend in a way that I couldn’t be when I was his 10-year-old grandchild. I’m in my twenties now; going through 75-year-old-letters penned when he was about my age, it feels like we are experiencing some of the same things together. His personality really shines through in his writing: his humor, his inquisitiveness, his love of languages and the arts. I think if I can at least capture that, I’ll feel at peace with how I’ve represented his story and experiences with accuracy and truth. I hope that his story is as compelling to others as it has been to me.

I come from a multi-ethnic home, and every side of my family is very proud of their heritage. That can get confusing for my sense of self, as some of these cultural identities are incongruous. Diving into my Grandpa Rhee’s life and letters, I’ve really been able to take pride in the Jewish side of my identity and honor it. It’s made me feel more rooted in my family.

 

Q&A with Resident Gabby Cosco

 
Gabby Cosco.jpg

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?


City of Sirens is a comic book series. It is a crime noir drama mixed with mythology, adventure, romance and a bit of horror.

The story follows Elizabeth Carver, a 27 year old, vigilante serial killer hunter and the estranged daughter of the re-known serial killer, Lilith Carver, the Crimson Rose Killer. El has been on the run for the last seven years trying to escape the past that haunts her and the dark legacy that awaits her. Until she is called back to where it all started, her home town, New Port City, the City of Sirens.


What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

I love the combination of art/illustration and storytelling in comics.

With a comic you can really take in a scene when you are looking at the artwork on a page. It’s like getting a really in-depth version of a movie or TV show storyboard.

I also love that you can create a world, or an entire city such as a Gotham, a Metropolis, a Sin City or a City of Sirens and it carries a sense of realness that wouldn’t necessarily work if you were writing a novel.


In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?


I hope to learn as much as I can about my medium and field, that will set me on the path to writing and creating the full story/vision of the City of Sirens. As well as, marketing and time lining a project, collaborating with mentors, other professionals and artists and taking in feedback and applying it.

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?


I am excited about getting some different perspectives, ideas and concepts for the story and marketing it through social media and such. As well as, having someone to hold me accountable to deadlines and timelines.

It’s always a bit nerve racking to let people see the ideas that have been rolling around in your head in a very unedited way, like just viewing your notes and such.

I imagine it will have me incorporating working on this project in an everyday kind of way. I hope it will bring me to the next level of professionalism and pushing the project forward, making it a real tangible book I can hold in my hands.

 

The City of Sirens mixes mythology and crime drama in a modern-day setting. Can you speak some about your influences from mythology? From the crime genre? What is the process like bringing those influences together?

I have always been drawn to tales, stories, movies and TV shows that centre around the idea of light versus dark, good versus evil. I find crime noir and crime dramas dive into the theme in a gritty, realistic, smaller story kind of way. Representing that battle as more a struggle within an individual person and the choices they make and the circumstances that drive them to make those choices, rather than an actual fight between say dark orcs and white wizards on a battlefield. Books such as, White Oleander, Silence of the Lambs and Heart Sick were my inspiration in terms of the crime aspect of the tale. Also, comics such as Batman: Year One, The Joker, Catwoman: When in Rome, Black Widow: Homecoming, Frank Miller’s Sin City and TV shows like Arrow, Criminal Minds, Law and Order and CSI.

When I started idea forming, knew very little other than that I wanted to tell a story about a female private eye type character and I wanted to create with that story a scene between the private eye character and the serial killer who has information that needs to be revealed to solve the crime. I thought it would be a great dynamic if those characters were also mother and daughter and the whole story started rolling from there. I came up with the concept for El, as our protagonist and then Lilith, her serial killing mother, as the antagonistic force. Reilly was created to create a rift between El and Lilith and to give El something to fight for. El could also act as a CI to Reilly instead of a private eye.

The mythology part was inspired by my love of mythology which I got from Wonder Woman comics and books like Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces and American Gods and TV shows shows like Supernatural. I also love the urban fantasy genre and books like Bitten, Dead until Dark, The Harry Dresden tales, which combine fantasy with a bit of sleuthing. I did, however, want to keep it as grounded and based in reality as possible. I didn’t want it to be all lightning bolts and glowy eyes. I wanted it to be subtle but evident. So I used the mythology in the City of Sirens to give it that something extra that made it different from other crime noir dramas. I gave New Port City, a rich, dark history that incorporated it’s corrupt nature with the mythology of the story and I gave El a dark destiny to fight against and a dark legacy to try and rise above which became an integral part of her character arc. It also gave Lilith her motives for doing what she does. It just all seemed to fall into place and work together into a story I wanted to tell and write.

 

Q&A with Resident Kurt Roembke

To whatever extent you’re comfortable, can you share about your project?

SoundWalk is an app that will allow artists and composers to create both spatial music compositions and audible narratives for real world public spaces.  The idea came to me when walking through Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne.  I often use physical objects and locations as inspiration for music/sound pieces, but I thought, “What if I could create a music piece for a physical location and connect the listening experience of the piece directly to the landscape that inspired it?”  So, I got some funding from Fort Wayne Soup, a local micro grant fundraising event, and used the money to have a local company Elemental Spark develop a version of the app for experiencing my compositions in Lindenwood.

With 212, I will potentially develop the Lindenwood app further, but mostly focus on developing a full program/mobile app that will both allow composers and artists to create and also allow the public to access these creations.  I hope for a day where there are multiple sound experiences to walk through in Fort Wayne, and also hope for them to spread to other cities or even countries.

 

What do you find alluring about your medium? What capacities does it offer that complements your project?

The medium is totally new to me!  I’m growing as an artist and am constantly challenged by every new project that I start, but this one has definitely brought the most challenge.  Composing music that doesn’t have a linear form, that transitions from piece to piece depends on the actions of the listener, is pretty tough to figure out!  I’ve been practicing making music for video games and that has definitely helped with thinking about music that doesn’t necessarily have a defined start and end.  I’m getting better, but I still have a lot to learn.

For my 212 project, it is nearly impossible to separate the medium from the project itself.  The experience is completely unique to the landscape around the listener and the technology that is delivering the experience, and the artist who is interpreting the landscape. 

 

In what ways do you hope/expect 212 will help to develop your work?

With 212, I will potentially develop the Lindenwood app further, but mostly focus on developing a full program/mobile app that will both allow composers and artists to create and also allow the public to access these creations.  I hope for a day where there are multiple sound experiences to walk through in Fort Wayne, and also hope for them to spread to other cities or even countries.

I’m hoping that my mentor can help me keep a realistic scope on the project, and also help me with the logistics of how to go about this type of project.  Because, it is more than a composition project, it is a project that hopes to bring other artists into the mix, and hopes to build an app for the mobile marketplace, and it is an attempt to get people to experience something outside of their usual routine.  That last one is a huge challenge on its own!  I really hope that we can convince people that this experience will be worth checking out and being a part of.

 

 

Part of the 212 program is that you are assigned a mentor who will help guide you as you develop your project. What excites you about working with a mentor? Do you have any anxieties about it? How do you imagine it will affect your process?

I’m so excited to work with a mentor.  I often feel pretty isolated when working on my endeavors and I think just having someone to bounce ideas off of that will give me credible feedback will be great.  I am not at all anxious about my mentor.  If anything, I’m just anxious to see where this project will go and where it will take me professionally.  I hope I can handle it all, but I’m excited to try.

 

In what ways do you think working in a shared space with the other residents/artists will affect your process?

I love working next to people, but I’m also incredibly private about my creative process.  That being said, I’ve worked with a few of the people who are also taking part in 212 and I might even be helping their projects with some sound elements which is very exciting.  I love being around others who are working hard at their art, so I’ll tough it out and wear headphones when I need to hide my working compositions from outside ears. :P  I have a bit of an imposter syndrome, so I definitely don’t want people to hear my compositions until I at least think they’re listenable.

 

As a first implementation of SoundWalk, you propose to create a soundscape for Lindenwood Cemetery. Will your application be solely musically based, or do you imagine other implementations?

I really want to consider opening up the option for people to plot storytelling audio experiences onto physical landscapes.  Like a choose your own adventure style delivery of a narrative, different areas triggering specific historical memories of the space… that type of thing.  I want that so bad!