A brony by the name of Industrial Breeze recently interviewed Rebecca Dart, a character designer for MLP:FIM and the person responsible for designing Queen Chrysalis. Rebecca agreed to do a 22 question interview with Industrial Breeze through e-mail (confirmation). The interviewer first submitted the interview to Equestria Daily but now also to us. Thank you!
You can find the it below the break.
1) What inspired you to become an artist?
While watching cartoons and Godzilla I drew in front of the TV a lot as a kid and once when I was about six-years old I drew “Monsters from Mars” on a piece of copy paper then drew “Plants from Mars” on the opposite side. That was it, I was hooked, you could draw anything from your imagination. You could forgo the tyranny of reality and I have ever since.
2) How did you get started in a career [in freelancing or otherwise]?
Trust me I have worked many a poopy jobs, quite literally, I worked on a farm once cleaning rabbit hutches and cow pens. I didn’t start working in animation until I was 26. A friend of mine recommend me for a layout job at a small animation studio here in Vancouver. I got the job despite not having any art school education and now I’ve worked in animation for 15 years.
3) Was being an artist something you knew you’d become from a young age, or was there something else you aspired to be?
I knew from a young age that I would probably work in some creative field. There were youthful fluctuations from special effects artist over to wildlife photographer all the while drawing and painting, pouring over the work of artists I admired. My earliest influences were Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Brian Froud, Wayne Douglas Barlowe and during my teen years it was Love and Rockets.
4) What sort of difficulties have you encountered in your career?
Almost all the difficulties I’ve encountered in my career have been caused by myself; lack of self confidence, not pushing myself hard enough, not taking advantage of opportunities when they come my way out of fear of… of something. However , these are all things that I’ve gotten better at dealing with as the years have gone by.
5) What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
All the cool and talented people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I’ve learned so much from them.
6) Any advice to others who wish to pursue the same career path as you?
Work hard, get good, surround yourself with people that are more talented than you, put yourself out there and persist despite the obstacles life throws your way (and trust me it will), find your own voice and to do that you must speak in it.
7) Battle Kittens: For those who don’t know, can you summarize what it is?
Basically it’s me having fun with barbarian genre tropes and cliches. It’s ruthless barbarian ladies that ride giant kittens into battle, either with each other or against fantastical beasts. I started drawing lady barbarians on post-it notes at work, and then realized they needed a mighty steed. First I though of a giant boar or a musk ox, but then it occurred to me the most vicious animal I’ve ever come in contact with were kittens, and everyone loves kittens. They added a little sugar to the babearians salty.
8) What was the inspiration for this particular comic and what were you trying to portray through it? Are you trying to change and/or oppose what society sees as what a woman should look like, and are there other deeper meanings you are trying to convey?
They are a direct response to the way I was seeing women portrayed in a lot of contemporary art. Women and girls often shown as skinny waifs staring blankly into nothingness, and this didn’t jive with me at all. Most of the women I know personally are intelligent, dynamic people that are doing cool things and going places, they don’t have time to stare into space with big, dewy eyes thinking about how thin and waif-like they are. My Babearians, as I like to call them, are women of action. Mind you, I went the complete opposite side of the spectrum, which is also not a realistic depiction, but I’ve always found showing woman being violent is more of a taboo than showing them being sexual and it’s fun messing around with these social prohibitions. On a more personal note, they allow me to blow off some steam and frustration, so I can shake my tiny, little fist at the world.
9) How well received has the comic been? What sort of feedback have you gotten from fans?
I’ve received very positive feedback, mostly from female fans, but a lot of male fans as well. They seem to enjoy seeing women of a different shape being portrayed in cartoon art… and cute kittens.
10) Are there any sneak peeks you can give us about what else you are working on (non-pony related)?
I’m working on a Battle Kittens graphic novel right now. It’s a bit slow going as I work on it between animation contracts. It will be about 150 pages of epic babearian action.There are a couple of rough pages up on my Tumblr.
11) How often do you attend conventions, for comics or otherwise? How feasible is it for you to attend pony-centric conventions in the future, and is that something you see yourself doing?
I mostly attend local comic conventions here in Vancouver, which have gotten better over just the past year, but I’d really like to go to TCAF in Toronto or the one in Calgary. A pony convention? Hmm… I don’t know.
12) What has been the overall reaction to your work on MLP:FiM (from both fans and non-fans)?
The reaction from fans has been overwhelming, the vast majority have been very positive encounters, however there are a few that are only interested in you within the context of Pony, and that’s fine, but that’s not all I have to offer. I’ve struck up some Twitter relationships with a few Bronies and have found them to very funny and smart.
On the other side, there are people (such as family members) that have absolutely no idea what MLP:FIM is and have no interest in it what so ever, couldn’t care less what I do, and this helps to keep me grounded.
13) Where did you get the idea for Chrysalis’s design and are you pleased with the overall result?
I was greatly inspired by the work of Junko Mizuno and Hideshi Hino. When I read the script I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the character to look like. She was described as a gangly, black pegacorn with a gnarled horn, but with a name like Chrysalis I though she should be a bit insect-like, thus the carapace and transparent wings. Her moth-eaten legs came from me originally drawing spots on her legs and then thinking, “What if these were holes?” I like the way they made her look decayed. I was quite happy with how she turned out and received very few revisions, which was a relief.
14) Was the concept of Chrysalis as a Changeling something you knew about before her design, or after?
I believe it was written in the script.
15) Did you have any influence besides character design in MLP?
Very little. If I have an idea or a joke in reference to a character I can run it past the directors and they can either shoot it down or give the thumbs up, but nothing outside of that. When it comes to story changes the storyboard artists have a lot more influence.
16) Do you watch the show, partially or entirely? Would you consider yourself a brony?
I’ve actually seen very few episodes. We don’t have cable so that makes it more difficult. Once you’ve seen how the sausages are made it’s kind of hard to look at it objectively.
Isn’t the “bro” in brony short for “brother”? Isn’t that gender specific? So, no I would not consider myself a brony, how about a “pegasister”?
17) Do you have any involvement in the fandom, even if it’s just observing content or posting anonymously on boards or forums?
I have very little involvement with the fandom, when bronies approach me either in person or on-line I try to be polite and accommodating, but I would never post anything on-line anonymously. If you can’t stand by your words, maybe they’re not worth saying.
I’ll admit to checking out Equestria Daily once in awhile. I like to see all the fan art and crafts, there are some very talented and engineering Pony fans out there.
18) Without giving anything away, will you be working for Hasbro and on MLP in particular in the future?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
19) This is a hard one. Do you have a favorite pony and if so, who?
I don’t know if he has a name, but I designed a bespectacled, old pony that I’m fond of.
20) What is one thing you would like to see the fandom do for you?
Just an appreciation for all the hard work everyone on the crew puts into it.
21) What other hobbies and interests do you have?
I love to read good books, cook Mexican food and collect striped socks, although not at the same time. I also really love watching Film Noir movies and Italian Westerns with a ceramic mug of tequila. I also love riding around on my BMX cruiser with my beloved husband.
22) What are the names of your kittens?
They are Marvin and Herbie. Named after Marvin Gaye and Herbie Hancock, a couple of cool cats.