The following is an interview we had with Blotch last Saturday 15 during the Further Confusion furry convention, who for those who doesn”t know, Blotch is the collaboration name of two very talented artists: BlackTeagan and Kenket.
They have made very popular works like Dog”s days of summer and lately they”ve made cover art and illustrations for Kyell Gold”s books (Out of Position, Isolation Play). They have captivated the furry community”s interest with their unique watercolor style and fantastic sense of animal anatomy. If you are a furry and haven ?t heard about them, you have probably been living under a rock.
They were kind enough to give us some minutes from their dealer”s room table at Further Confusion and this is what we asked them:
Red Furros: Who or what is Blotch?
BlackTeagan: Oh, it”s just collaboration between the two of us, you know, when we work together and I do the sketching and she does the painting”
BlackTeagan: And it is easier to work under one name when you do stuff together than doing it separately, so”it”s less confusing.
Red Furros: You two met on the fandom?
Kenket: Uh” yeah.
BlackTeagan: We met through friends who were in the fandom.
Kenket: Two furries” but not in like, a convention, so we met camping in the middle of the desert.
Red Furros: “you met camping in the middle of the desert?
BlackTeagan: Well” there were different camping groups, we were camping out with friends.
Red Furros: Oh, you like outdoor sports.
BlackTeagan: Yes, we have mutual friends that we met each other and after that, years later, we met together on a furry con.
Red Furros: So, when did you realize that you made a good team?
BlackTeagan: That”s kind of a funny story. We were house-sitting for a friend of mine and told us their dogs were there, and her dog is a big, crazy and scary dog like he”s used to run ten miles a day.
Kenket: A Labrador husky”
BlackTeagan: really it”s like some kind of deer, I mean it”s a crazy dog, anyway, so we wanted to go down to the town to get something to eat so we leave her a couple of soup bones to keep him entertained for like” 30 minutes while we went get food and come back, so we come back and he is EATING the couch”
BlackTeagan: It”s just this pile of stuffing and”
Kenket: All over the house”
BlackTeagan: Yeahí? so we are like” “wow, she”s going to be home in a couple of hours, what can we do to say we are sorry for this”? so I said “I can draw something” and she said “Well, I can paint it” so that was actually the first Blotch picture, so it was sort of based on an accident.
Kenket: So we left the painting on her fridge with a little “I”m sorry”
BlackTeagan: “I”m sorry about your sofa!” “.she forgave us. And in the end we realize we really like working together, and I can”t finish the paintings very well and she doesn”t like the sketching part as much.
Kenket: I much prefer the painting”
BlackTeagan: So it was sort of natural.
Kenket: It was really fun so, we kept doing it.
Red Furros: So, how did you found about the furry fandom?
BlackTeagan: For me”I guess I was just sort of google-image-searching for a wolf or something in high school, images by Golden Wolf, the artist, came up and I”m like “Uh” a wolf person” and so I followed the link and just kept following the links through the webring ages ago so I sort of found it through the images and then I ended up meeting some other artist in a camping thing and sort of fell into the whole furry”
Red Furros: How about you Kenket?
Kenket: I actually, I found the furry when I was living in England still, and I was using the MUCKs (Multi-User Chat Kingdoms) online and I was role-playing in the Lion King MUCK, so that”s how I found the fandom, haven ?t used in years but that”s how I found the furry , and I actually went to Eurofurence and met a bunch of local Lion King buddies there, and eventually I ended up going to the US to an American Con ” and ended up here.
Red Furros: That”s something we didn”t know about you, that”s pretty cool! I”m a lion king fan myself. So you do Watercoloring, it is something very unique to find in the fandom, because not a lot of people do it.
Kenket: Yeah, I think people are moving towards digital, it”s easier and less expensive because you don”t have material cost and I guess a lot of colleges and stuff are now teaching digital stuff.
BlackTeagan: I think it”s that people want more digital art more than other art fields, like animation and stuff.
Red Furros: Have you ever been tempted to go digital?
Kenket: Actually I”ve tried to do digital a couple of times and it”s so tempting because the colors are so vibrant and you can do like, lighting, so”
BlackTeagan: The Undo button”
Kenket: But, I mean, our computer it”s so slow and it lags a lot and quite often it crashes and we lose everything.
BlackTeagan: For me, I really enjoy working with pencil and paper because” it feels” it feels better, it feels like you”re making something. For me it”s like” if you are creating a piece of art or anything, that can be erased from existence by one click, and it”s gone forever, then it doesn”t really feel like you actually made it, does that makes sense?
Red Furros: Yeah it does.
BlackTeagan: It”s not actually physically there, it”s not there
Red Furros: Yeah, and with watercolors, you can”t go digital on that.
Kenket: No, I love it, the randomness of it, with the watercolors, because it”s never really predictable.
Red Furros: What happened with the Dog”s days of summer project? We saw one issue or well, I guess it was like weekly panels or something like that”
BlackTeagan: Well it”s started like with issues of the web comic online, we would update it every week and we would put a vote and what would happen next, and that took SO long, I mean, it took every moment of our waking life to get that together every week and we just kind of got tired after six weeks”
BlackTeagan: We worked on it constantly, and we would decide you know if we should wrap up the story and then, you know, print it”
Red Furros: So that”s when you took control of the story”
Kenket: Yeah, we got to a point when we had two voting options and we were like” “if people voted for option one we would finish the online comic in one more segment and end it, but if people voted for option two it decided that people obviously cared a lot about the characters and well, they did, and then we would commit the time to basically double the length but, in order to do so we would not do the voting”.
BlackTeagan: Well we didn”t say that”
Kenket: Yeah, that”s what we decided in our head, and people voted for option two so we decided to make a book out of it instead and double the length, and sort of wrap the character”s story by not leave it hanging, so”
Red Furros: Yeah, it kind of had a random feeling in the first half”
Kenket: Yeah, it was very hard, because we never knew what people were going to vote and they always voted for what we didn”t think they were going to vote”
BlackTeagan: Actually they often voted for the opposite of what we thought”
Kenket: “So we were never quite prepared and we had a very limited time schedule”
BlackTeagan:It was not written beforehand or anything so it was something like” moment to moment”
Kenket: Yeah, so we ended up making the last part ourselves to make it more like a story and Sofawolf showed interest in publish it, they”ve never done anything in color before so it was kind of their pioneer color project to see if a color comic would sell and if it was feasible for them to make more in the future.
Red Furros: How was it?
Kenket: They did very well, that”s how they jinged the ”
BlackTeagan: “the Nordgard thing out. Because also Dog”s days was also trying to see if we could even work our comics together”
Red Furros:…without killing each other in the process ”
Kenket: Yeah, we wanted to know if we could finish that thing.
BlackTeagan: If we could do Dog”s days then we could do anything. So that”s why we are very excited about Nordguard in a lot of ways in light years, way better than Dog”s days because, you know, it”s written beforehand, an entire story you know, the artist actually can take the time and make the art really nice and it”s getting, you know, better.
Red Furros: What inspired you to make the Nordguard story?
BlackTeagan: Well, uhm” We got a lot of ideas for stories and we had a bunch that we were like “which one are we going to start with”? and we both really like the arctic exploration theme and we both fancy Jack London and that sort of thing. So we thought “what are we going to start with”? We are going to start with something that we are pretty sure we can sell and that would be kind of easy just to ease into the whole fully-painted thing, it”s sort of like the arctic doesn”t have very complex background and it”s just kind of like, blue, and monotone, and huskies”
Kenket: We”re trying huskies this time”
Red Furros: Is this an adult story?
BlackTeagan: No, there”s no sex in it or anything, although there is violence.
Kenket: There”s violence and there”s some swearing I think, even when it”s like 19th century swearing.
Red Furros: Tea and crumpets!
BlackTeagan: Yeah, exactly! It”s more like an action/adventure so there”s no sex in there or anything, there”s some romantic tension but it”s not like explosive or anything like that.
Kenket: One of our goals with it is trying to make something that would do well outside of the fandom as well in attempt to, I don”t know, make it more feasible to make large projects because if we can make money as well and people enjoy it in and outside the fandom, for everyone I think. And if people be more accepting of furries the more we can stop being ashamed of being furries.
BlackTeagan: It”s like… if you had something mainstream that isn”t Disney or that CSI Episode”
Kenket: I think every time furries make something that is then also mainstream, you know, that”s just better for the fandom in general.
Red Furros: This leads me to my next question; we”ve seen a lot of your work with Kyell Gold”
Kenket & BlackTeagan: Yes!
Red Furros: So did you guys just met here at the con?…
BlackTeagan: We actually knew him for quite a while before we knew he was a writer and then just one day said “Hey! Do you want to make illustrations for my book” and we were like “You have a book”?
Kenket: *Laughs in the background*
BlackTeagan: So we were like “sure!” and then ?
Red Furros: And then you told him you were going to need a dog and a couch!
BlackTeagan: Yeah! We really like working with him, he”s just easy to work with.
Kenket: He”s very easy to work with, because he”s a cool guy and he”s also very open to ideas and stuff.
BlackTeagan: Yeah, he lets us sort of go with what we want to do instead of being like “you have to do this, and this”.
Kenket: He trusted us to bring his characters to life visually based on his stories, it”s cool.
BlackTeagan: It”s a good working relationship with him.
Red Furros: Actually when we were recording his webcast earlier today he kind of mentioned that when he asked you to make the illustrations to the second part of his book “Out of Position”, you were sort of waiting for him to do it, and if he didn”t you would be mad at him for not doing so”
Kenket: Yes! Well we got kind of attached to the characters because I guess we basically designed them visually based on his writing.
Red Furros: You are going to present Nordguard today right?
BlackTeagan: Yeah, we have our panel about the graphic early process for making graphic novels.
Red Furros: When is it going to be published?
BlackTeagan: It”s going to be finished this summer and we are shooting to have it out and ready by Anthrocon or Comic-con at the latest it”s just”
Kenket: It takes a lot of time”
BlackTeagan: It”s really tiring because its, you know each page Is probably around 20 to 50 hours of work” per page, and it”s you know, a hundred and plus pages and”
Kenket: Plus we have been working on other things like the sequel to Out of Position, Isolation Play, we did the art for that, so”
BlackTeagan: We”ve put so much time to it already that it wouldn”t be right for us and the project to try to rush it, so we are just going to work on it until it”s finished now but I”m not a 100% sure how long it”s gonna take.
Kenket: It will be this year!
BlackTeagan: Yeah, it will get done.
Kenket: We are going to work as hard as we can to get it on time.
Red Furros: We are all waiting for it.
Kenket: I”m excited to see how it does.
BlackTeagan: It will be great when it”s on print.
Kenket: It”s very different than Dog”s days.
Red Furros: Well, you are making quite a good reputation in the fandom so we really hope you are making enough prints for Nordguard.
BlackTeagan: Well the other thing is that Sofawolf, they are very excited that Dog”s days did so well that now they are doing offset printing for Nordguard, which means that it”s cheaper for them to produce and they can sell it for less.
Kenket: And in a much larger run.
BlackTeagan: And they are talking about making a hardcover edition that is going to be numbered and limited and then also a soft cover edition.
Red Furros: We are going to need to subscribe to your newsletter to get a hold on one of those!
Kenket & BlackTeagan: Yeah!
Red Furros: So, every artist has someone they admire artistically, who do you admire?
BlackTeagan: There are a lot of people that artistically I”m inspired by, growing up I really liked Don Bluth, you know stuff like All dogs go to heaven, Secret of Nimh, that sort of thing, and more recently when I moved into graphic novels I really like the Blacksad artist (Juanjo Guarnido).
Kenket: Yeah, that”s one of our inspirations for Nordguard, he set very high standards. And I”m a very big fan on James Gurney, he did the Dinotopia books, and Robert Bateman, he”s a Canadian wildlife painter (http://www.robertbateman.ca/), I sort of learned to paint from him, you know, trying to capture that kind of realistic look in things.
Red Furros: And speaking of all this stuff about the fandom going mainstream, where do you think this is going? I mean we see Kyell writing books that win awards outside the fandom and your work that you are trying to make it for everyone else, where do you think this is going?
BlackTeagan: Well if you look at it the furry fandom reflects in a lot of ways what the science fiction fandom originally went through in the 40″s and the 50″s which is sort of, like, for the longest time people shown it and people thought “this is just for kids” or just for people who want to have sex with green women, and you know, it took some major projects to really make it mainstream an make it ok to like things like “Star Trek” or “Star Wars”, actually “Star wars” was this big thing that everyone likes it. I think the fandom is waiting for some of those big projects.
Kenket: I think it”s a bit different with the fandom because there”s a lot of stuff that is technically furry, like for example The Lion King and all of those animated movies Disney made. All these tons of animal movies they”re making these days.
BlackTeagan: I think that when the fandom starts producing these things for itself, then I think it will just become part of that mainstream.
Kenket: I think the thing is that, the cons keep growing and more and more young people are coming into them, I think the face of Furry is changing. For instance when I started going to cons there were practically no females, they were like 9 when I started going to them, and now almost half of the convention at least if not more are girls so it”s obviously changing, and I think it”s going in the right direction.
BlackTeagan: It”s going to be very positive, I think.
Kenket: And everyone likes animals! So” I mean *laughs* I mean I think it”s pretty acceptable to a lot of people, even though a lot of people think it”s not.
BlackTeagan: I think it”s just furries who are afraid of what people think of furries; for example, I”ve shown our art to a lot of people who”ve never heard of furries you know, on the internet or whatever and they are not offended by it and they are not like, shocked or horrified and they were very positive and pleased, you know? It”s like “this is very cool, this is a very cool illustration, dog people! It”s awesome!”
Kenket: “I like Dogs””
BlackTeagan: Yeah! “I like dogs! This is cool!” there”s nothing weird about it to them.
Red Furros: It”s easier to relate to them.
Kenket: Yeah! It”s easier than aliens!
Red Furros: Yeah! And I think we ran out of time, I really thank you girls for this chance to talk to you and I hope to see you later in your panel
BlackTeagan: Thank you! It was fun.
Blotch on Furaffinity
Blotch, Screwbald Spotcat LiveJournal
Blotch (Screwbald) on DeviantArt
Further Confusion anuncia el tema “Furries Gone Wild” para su edición 2011