Ep.106: Devon Cady-Lee shares awesome tips on how to design characters

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Feb 06, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Devon Cady-Lee, a freelance Character designer and Concept Artist living in Seattle. He has worked for studios like Warner Bros Turbine, Wizard of the Coast, and latest being Motiga games Gigantic!

Get in touch with Devon

Key Takeaways

“You will always have to sacrifice part of your integrity for commercial projects, but draw for yourself, be an artist for yourself, not the other people!”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Devon for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Devon Cady-Lee, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists five days a week. My name is Iva, and my guest today is Devon Cady-Lee. And in this episode, you will learn some awesome tips on how to design characters and why it’s important to work hard, especially at the beginning of your art career.

Devon Cady-Lee  

At that point, I was like, yep, that’s what I want to do. So I was like, full full steam ahead in that direction. And I would spend like, like, like I would stay late doing things and you know, definitely over time, you know, it was just trying to like basically prove that I could work in a professional environment.

Iva Mikles  

Everyone is a freelance character designer and concept artist living in Seattle, United States. Most of his career, he has been in games as a character designer and illustrator for studios like Warner Brothers turbine visited of the coast, 38 Studios in St. Boston, and latest being multiplayer games on the title gigantic. So please welcome them on Katie Lee. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome, everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Devin here. Hi. Hi. Diamond join us here.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Thank you for thank you for contacting you. And

Iva Mikles  

let’s just dive right in them to your background story. And maybe you can share some of your artistic creative adventures when you were a child or what was like the first creative thing you remember.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Oh, sure. Oh, man, the first thing I remember. So when did I start drawing, I mean, I was drawing since I was little, but I always have like a lot of paper lying around. Because my dad kind of worked as a, as a, like a doctor’s, he he wrote, he wrote, he wrote down, he translated things for doctors. I don’t know how to write what his job was. But basically doctors don’t know how to write. So that so his job was to take what they is audit their audio scripts and, and transcribe it essentially. So he had a lot of paper lying around, like a lot of just copy paper. And I would just take reams of his paper, and, like, doodle on them for like hours. And there’d be like comic books, almost. It’d be like, I draw one panel, and then next paper, one panel next, and he hated it. Because I would use I would go through like a whole ream of paper with just like one tiny drawing on it. Yeah. There’s like stuff like, yeah, like ants. Oh, like, like, are things hatching. So it’d be like an egg. And I would just draw like a circle. Next piece of paper. And it would be like, now the egg is cracking. Next piece is like a piece of paper. Oh, there’s like that.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. I was wondering like, what stories did you create?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, they’re just sort of like weird, nature evolving stories, like creatures growing and changing and things like that, how you come into cat?

Iva Mikles  

What are your parents expecting that you will become an artist or what was like the conversation when you told them first time, okay, I want to take this professionally.

Devon Cady-Lee  

There was, I mean, they were accepting of it, pretty much, I was not doing very well in, in school. At the time, I was pretty, I was pretty bad student. So art was kind of the only realistic option for me, honestly, you know, it’s just like, I had to get good at it, or I was not probably going to have a job. So because I was getting left behind in school and things like that. It was actually kind of sad at the time. But, you know, basically, my parents were like, we’re both my parents are artistically inclined. So they were, like, open to it. But they weren’t. They, they weren’t, I don’t think they were super confident I could I could get a job yet. As an artist, until basically I proved I can, I could get into an art school. And, and they didn’t really have a lot of money. So it was also kind of difficult to find, you know, a way to like, you know, it was hard for me to get to a private school or, or, or, you know, any big college so I really had to work hard to get more on my portfolio ready. So I could like, you know, try and get scholarships and things like that. So it took some convincing, but I think eventually when I was able to get into an art school, they were like, okay, he can do it. And then they were like, they invested.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. Yeah. And so her Do How did you find the scholarship, though? Or how did you prepare for applying for a scholarship? Because maybe some people don’t even know that their options are many options for scholarships and how to find them.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, sure. I mean, it really depends on on the art school to I mean, cuz you some art schools are much skinnier with their scholarships, and they’re much more, you know, they can be skimpy with their scholarships, and some some providers provide like a full ride, if you if you qualify. I mean, like, you know, Cooper Union used to have a free tuition until recently. But yeah, I mean, this is in the States. So, I mean, the government doesn’t really pay a lot of money towards art schools. So the art schools are pretty much like, you know, a lot of them are funding themselves. And so art schools can be pretty expensive in the US, unfortunately. And yeah, it’s difficult to find a scholarship, especially now, this, I think, US is going through some pretty hard times, I’m pretty envious of like, you know, you know, now that I’ve, like traveled outside of the US, like seeing other countries where they have, like, you know, real, you know, money invested in their art, you know, is really, like, really cool to see. I really liked that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so there are different areas where you can even study for free or in, but now there are also options, you know, to study online. So that’s a good thing for every starting artists as well. And so, which were kind of the big decisions, you know, you had to do in order to get where you are now, like the applying for the school and getting there, as you mentioned, and what are the other like, biggest points for you?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Well, for me, I mean, at the time, it was just like, I was more concerned about I didn’t, I’m from New York City, and I didn’t want to really move too far away from New York at the time. So I was really looking for a school on this coast that was going to, I just want to make sure that I could see my family regularly, and my friends and things like that. So for me, that was really important. And there’s there were a few schools I applied to, I applied to Parsons, I think I tried to play Cooper SVA and Rhode Island School design. And I got into I got into Rhode Island School design. I got into the other schools as well. But from what I didn’t really know a lot about colleges, or art schools or anything like that. So it was recommended to me that I go to RISD from my, my, my guidance counselor, she was one of the she was one of the first people who was like, Oh, you can get it to an art school. And I was like, I can’t. Like, I didn’t really even think I could qualify because my grades were so low. So I didn’t really know if I could even get in, like through the front door. So she gave me the confidence to be like, Yeah, you should apply. And I did. And that’s basically what what happened. And, you know, outside of that I was just trying to practice and be good on my own. I would just get like tons of that’s like, basically, when I started taking art seriously, I really started ramping up and like, you know, getting books about dynamic anatomy and, you know, drawing and rendering and painting like I never really painted before I went to foreign went to art school. So that was that was like a learning experience for sure. I’m still learning. So it’s yeah, it’s been it’s been. It was it was it was like a really hard time but I think at the end it was rewarding because I ended up being able to get into a school. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. And can you maybe recommend some books you like you know, the something you learned from you know, as you mentioned, like anatomy, or do you remember some names of the books, which kind of like stuck to you?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Ah, I remember getting a lot of burned Hogarth’s books when I, when I first started burning, yeah, he was, he did a lot of he did a whole book on dynamic lighting dynamic anatomy. No, he was just he was he was an illustrator for like Tarzan and things like that. So he was like, come on. And at the time, I was really like, really into comic books, like comic books is like kind of where I was. I was like, kind of gearing towards which is another reason why I was like, Oh, I’m never gonna be able to get a job because comic book artists are really hard to it’s hard to make a living as a comic book artist. But burn, Hogarth gave me some hope, because it was like a master draftsman I really aspired to just drawing and like, he was like, an amazing drawer, you know? So I was like, I want to be that guy. So I got like, at least three of his books. When I first started and I pretty much like was like married to those books for a while, like they’re pretty worn out. And yeah, I think that was the Definitely the, like, my, my jump off point was burn Hogarth. I mean, there’s definitely like later books that I found interesting and useful. But he was like the guy that really made a big impression on me.

Iva Mikles  

Really cool. And in How was it to find the first job from the university? Or was it also during the time you were studying that you may be good, like, first commissions or how was it you like putting your foot in the industry?

Devon Cady-Lee  

First, the first thing, the first kind of professional taste I had was it was at a publishing company called Hyperion publishing, which was really not anything close to what I was interested in. But it was the first time kind of being in a professional environment with like, you know, other artistic people like doing artistic stuff, but um, it was more oriented towards a book cover graphic design. So it had absolutely nothing to do with what I had. But it did prove that I can hold job and like be useful in a social space, which is important, like, being able to, like communicate with, you know, superiors and like, you’re being able to have co workers and things like that, like, that was like a new thing for me. So it was like, it was it was good to, to have I mean, outside of that, you know, the only, you know, things that I had were like odd jobs. But otherwise, it was just like, yeah, it was like the first,

Iva Mikles  

how did you find this first job? Did you just apply to like,

Devon Cady-Lee  

I just applied to anything? Yeah, pretty much. And this is when I was still in school. So it was like, it was like, it’s kind of like a scholarship thing. I got scholar, I got credit for doing it. So. Yeah. So the school provided, like, you know, like lists of like people that might be interested. And I was like, Hyperion publishing, things kind of connected to Disney very, very disconnected Lee, but it is. So I was like, Okay, I had no idea how to do that work. So I was like, alright, I’ll do it. And then this, but the first time I actually got into, into, like, something I was interested in doing was after right after I graduated, I applied to turbine games in Massachusetts. At the time, they were working on Lord of the Rings Online, and they needed contract artists to do texture work. So it was just like taking models that already existed and painting, like new like, basically creating characters with textures, essentially, what is what it was. So that’s kind of what I was doing. Pretty much for like, six months. And then, and then then that was my first job was like a 2d contract artists. And then after a while, they started having me do a little concept work. I was still in contract. And I was still technically a 2d contract artist, but they were having me do some concept on the side because my art director had faith in me. And he yelling at us, he was from China. He was a he’s a, he’s an interesting, man. But yeah, he but he gave me my first chance to do some concept artwork. And it was just like, you know, minions and things like that. I mean, MMOs require tons of content, you know, more than more than most games. So it was like, they just need bodies and seats making stuff. And I was like, both bodies. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So what was like the best advice maybe you received during the time you were just starting out to the concept art?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Mm hmm. Okay, well, okay. Well, I mean, Jiaming specifically, it was like, yet that was like, you know, I want you to impress everyone, I want you to make a really good impression. So that I can, I can basically back you up, essentially, is what he was saying, like, he was, he was encouraging me to, like, really kind of, like, show off of it. And just like kind of like work. Even though I was doing contract to, you know, work on, you know, expanding basically what I could do and show it, and that’s why he was giving me some opportunities to do concepts. So I took them very seriously. Because pretty much at that point, I was like, yep, that’s what I want to do. So I was like, full full steam ahead in that direction. And I would spend, like, like, like, I would stay late doing things and, you know, definitely over time, you know, it was just trying to like, basically prove that I could work in a professional environment. I was asking a million she was actually super annoying if everyone around me. I remember I was asking so many questions like my, the Assistant art director at the time very easily, because like, I was bugging him constantly. We’re really good friends. But I mean, is I was just at the time, I was just like, this annoying kid in his ear being like, you know, what’s this? Do? I don’t know what this does. Can you help me with this thing? And yeah, so that was that was kind of like how first started with just like asking you as many questions as possible, and getting ramped up as quickly as possible. So that’s yeah, I wouldn’t say that I necessarily had anything specific that someone said to me, it was just sort of like things I slowly learned, I guess, just like, doing it a lot. And being like, Oh, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t like, you know, like, working in a professional environment, you have to just like, you have to talk differently, you have to speak differently, you know, it’s like, these are other human beings that you have to see every day. So kind of getting used to that. And like, understanding being a professional is like, was really important. adjustment for me. Yeah, as opposed to just being this like, solo guy. Just like working in a basement, you know? So.

Iva Mikles  

So what would you advise someone like starting artists who if they want to do something like what do you do now? Or, like developing even their own game in the future? What is maybe like, the best or most interesting things you learn over time of your art career, you know, like, at least some tips when you’re starting out, and it’s like, okay, maybe you should do this, or shouldn’t do this.

Devon Cady-Lee  

I mean, it’s, like, pace, I definitely learned like, from burning out like that, that I had to pace myself. And like, you know, like, you really have to meter, how much investment you have in a project. Like, if you, if you really love a project, you know, like, going ham, and like really investing yourself into it is like really important, because it’s really like, especially projects of love, like, projects that you really love, you really have to invest your, your everything into it as much as possible. But the problem is like, sometimes that can backfire. And, you know, it’s very hard to, it’s hard to make those kinds of investments all the time. So you really have to, like, kind of pick your battles, I guess, and like, really monitor how much time you’re taking on things like, I think, I think one of the things you learn over time is your speed, and what you can do with your speed, and everyone has everyone, I think people work different at different speeds. And knowing what your limits are, and knowing what your advantages are, like trying to get familiar with, like, what why do people look for you? Like, why do people seek you out? You know, why are you Why do you stand out? Why do people not look for you, you know, like, what, why are, you know, are people like if I have a contract for a while, and if they’re not, they don’t give me another contract, like, well, it’s probably because I was too slow, or probably because I didn’t mention style, or maybe I wasn’t listening to the art director. So being very, especially when you’re working, like right now and doing a lot of contract work. Being self critical is really important. And if you can’t, if you’re not good at being self critical than having a, like a group that you can rely on, like a small team of like artists, just like colleagues, is really useful to have as well. So like having a circle of like, you know, tight art friends, which is fortunately, you know, you go into art school, that’s one of the advantages is you get to become friends with a bunch of artists. And a lot of a lot of my friends are, are amazing. Artists, fortunately, so I can always, you know, ask them for what their experience is with, in a business, I can even ask them, you know, you have you had this client before, you know, what’s the workload like, you know, like, things like that, it’s very useful to be able to network. I don’t, I’m really not into schmoozing. So I’m really, it’s, it’s, it’s hard for me to necessarily make new connections. So I like to just stick with the, the solid friend groups that I have, and like, you know, being able to just trust those people. And eventually, like, over time, like when you work in multiple jobs, like you just become friends with like, a lot of different artists. So another thing I would say is, if even when you’re first starting out, it might be good to at least hold the job for a year, and then move, but I stayed at turbine for three years. But, you know, get around like, don’t, don’t become embedded in one project for too long, because you’ll learn way faster by circulating yourself among other projects. That’s true. Like that’s it, I I didn’t realize that in the beginning. And now when I hop around and I do more contract work, because of the amount of variety and like different challenges that I’m faced with I get I feel like I improve myself at a faster rate. Yeah, so that helps. Yeah, definitely. throwing yourself under the fire, but that’s a greatest fight. But it’s kind of like just yeah, just throw yourself into the fire.

Iva Mikles  

And then you have also more connections and a more like bigger group of friends as you mentioned. So Definitely, that’s really good. And do you do networking also in a different way? Do you also go for conventions maybe or, like through social media, or it’s mostly through your colleagues, and yeah, working within teams

Devon Cady-Lee  

at this point, so I’ve had the weird, I’ve had the weird history of working for a lot of studios that had a lot of incredibly talented artists and people, and then the studios would shut down. So what would end up happening, but not because of the art it was because of like, whatever it could have been bad management, or the game didn’t even function or whatever. But as a result, I know a lot of like, amazingly talented artists, and now all of them are in a lot of very big, high profile companies and things like that. So now, it’s, it’s actually really easy, because as a result of that, to just like, hit them up and be like, Hey, what’s going on? And like, you know, I can find out what’s happening at their major company. So it’s not really, you know, and I’ve never really, I’m definitely still seeking to do personal projects that are more like what I what I want to do. And it’s harder to do with big studios, but I’m still willing to work for those big studios. It’s just, you know, not necessarily full time. So because I still want to have space I want I really want to work on projects that embrace my own art style, and it’s harder to do in a bigger studio. So at the moment, yeah, that’s, I guess that’s kind of what I’ve been doing is, and I guess, social media is important. I’m really bad at it, like promoting myself, I’m just really bad at promoting myself in general. So I mean, I just try and post as much as possible on like, Instagram, and Tumblr and things like that.

Iva Mikles  

And you mainly you mainly work with your, like, digital works, right? So like Photoshop, and then Cintiq, or Intuos, or other tools like that.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yes, yes, I have a Cintiq and 21 inch UX, which is like the most expensive thing I think I own. Like, if that gets damaged, I’ll be really sad. Actually, I got it refurbed. Another advantage of working in a bunch of studios that closed down is they sell all their stuff really cheap when they go out of business. So I got a Cintiq it’s normally like, $2,000 they got it for like, $800 Oh, that’s cool. That’s 800 that’s a lot. It’s a big discount. Yeah, and I just got a new computer recently, actually. So we’re just we’ll see how that turns out. But I’m transitioning right now I’m transitioning to doing full contract for a while. So I’m like, even like getting a new setup, essentially. So I can handle the workload at home.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so how was how was the transition for you, you know, what was going in your head, you know, when you decided, okay, I want to do more stuff on my own and more contracting, as opposed to working in a studio.

Devon Cady-Lee  

It’s just, it’s just a matter of, like, you know, when you work in a studio, you get a little burned out on the project sometimes. So it’s, it’s good to, it’s definitely good to sit and be embedded for a while to really, like, get into a good groove. And like, you know, over three years, like, I worked on Lord of the Rings for three years, and I worked on, you know, gigantic for three years and Infinite Crisis. So it’s, it was having enough time to actually build a look. And like, the fine and a aesthetic is actually what people are looking for. When you’re trying to get hired is that you can, like develop a look that has its own, you know, feeling and flavor, and it’s part of you. So you can’t really do that if you don’t spend enough time on one project, like you really get your voice like, into into the game, and then you can really, really kind of like show people this is what I do. And then hopefully, it’s the closer and closer you get it to what you actually want to do. People will hire you for that. So you know, gigantic was great because I love the style of working in gigantic and now I get contract work based on what I did. And I get that kind of thing. So it’s like that kind of thing. Or it’s i The where now now that I’ve worked on a project where it really matches my kind of an aesthetic that I really enjoy. Now I can get hired for it because my this portfolio of three years of work doing it so people know for sure that I can do it. Yeah. But yeah, contractors, I’ve just started doing contracts. So it’s pretty it’s pretty overwhelming. I mean, taxes are different here. Gotta do taxes quarterly. Yeah. And you got to Michelle’s like laughing at me because I’m really bad at taxes. And, and also just you have to manage your own time, things like that. You have to like you have to negotiate your rates, which is you know, pretty, pretty. stressful, but you know, whatever.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you do that? Like, do you ask the company to give you the budget? Or do you give them like, this is my rate? Or how does it work? The negotiation?

Devon Cady-Lee  

It’s never straightforward. It’s, I think it’s different with every company that I’ve been at. So yeah, like bigger companies, they ask for, like, a lot of, they ask for, like game companies, like big game companies, they have like a lot of nondisclosure agreements, you have to sign and things like that. I’ve worked for animation studios, and that’s a whole different process. And actually, a lot of them pay less. So like, right now, videogame companies pay more for concept artists, in my experience, unless you’re probably an embedded artist, you know, if I was working at what it would be different, but But yeah, but if you’re doing like, if you’re doing like, like, thinks for just like an effects studios and things like that, you know, they have their own kind of thing. And there’s no, there’s no really defined rate. So sometimes they’ll come up to you with a rate. And they’ll say this much. And then I’ll be like, No, I can’t really afford that. And then they’ll be like, Okay, how about this much. And then I’m like, okay, that’s usually how those conversations go. If they asked me for a rate, then I’ll give them my rate. But and then you know, whether or not they take it is fine. And then they might give it, they might lowball me or say, Oh, we can pay you higher, depending on the budget, but But what usually ends up happening is if there’s a company with like, a lot of money, and I know that they have a lot of money, I will probably charge them more, because that’s just how it is, because they can afford it. And they’re totally fine with doing that as long as you provide quality service, you know, so you’re just providing you’re providing a service, you’re also providing the equipment that comes with all of it, like I have to pay for Photoshop, I have to pay for the Cintiq you know, all that stuff has been paid for. So I can mark and my health insurance and dental and things like that. So I markup. I basically base it off what my salary was, and then markup from there. So that’s a good way to do it is like just find out what you’re being paid. That was an advantage of me starting full time doing in house studio work is that I had a salary and I could I can kind of like just kind of rate myself based on that. You know, it’s like starting off.

Iva Mikles  

Exactly. Just calculate like, how many hours you work, then how, what is the monthly salary, then you divide and all of that? Yeah, definitely. That’s a good idea. Yeah. And yeah, because as you mentioned, as well, like, Lord of the Rings, I also work the Lord of the Rings, but Lego, so it’s a like, different, different style, but it was fun. So yeah, and how is it with your art style? Yeah. Lynne, maybe if you can mention, like some of the things which are always there, like, what is kind of recognizable part of your art style.

Devon Cady-Lee  

I usually ask other people that because it’s hard for me to always know myself. But I mean, I do a lot of I do. Like when I was working on the last few projects I’ve done, I’ve gotten a lot more shapeE I’m trying to do a lot more things that are just more about strong silhouette design. I’m really, gesture is really important for me. Like having good line of action and things. And I do a lot of pinup, I do a lot of fancy stuff. I do a lot of sci fi stuff. And that’s usually my favorite. And recently I’ve been getting a lot more into, like outside of outside of art, I practice a practice dance, like you know, dance. So I’m part of dance culture, like, like hip hop and house music, and everything. So I’m trying to get into more like, you know, urban culture design and things like that, and like trying to help my community in that in that sense. So I’m sure it’s like, not everybody knows me necessarily. One thing I think if you look at my portfolio kind of have like a stylistic add, I can’t really stick to like one style for too long. Because I kind of I call I like the I like experimenting with different styles and like different levels of realism and abstraction and things like that. So I don’t Yeah, it’s kind of difficult to actually, for me to nail like, what my style is right now. But I mean, I have a general themes that I’m attracted to, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And when you are creating a character, is there something which is always important for you? Or maybe you can share some tips when creating like a fantasy character?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Oh, I think that’s a really important when you’re designing characters in like, tropes that already exist, like fantasy Fantasy has a lot of tropes is to really kind of expand outside of your, what the expected reference material would be, I guess, like, I feel like a lot of any problem As with a lot of game art, is that they don’t really look outside of game art is like the gamer, it’s kind of No, it’s, it’s kind of incestuous. You know, there’s no, it just kind of feeds into itself, like people are looking at other game artists in, you know, and like using the referring to other games for their Game Arts, you know, and the problem is, it’s very circular and like, it doesn’t really leave the boundary. So I feel like you, like my advice to people that really want to, like stand out is to really take, you know, ideas from outside of that world, like, get outside of the studio, you really got to get to a museum, you got to read some books, you know, you got to go online, you know, try and travel as much as possible, because a lot of the inspiration for a lot of things is from the real world. It’s not really from other games, because games or games or games, you know, it’s just like they exist because of rules that were set up. For no reason, you know, so it’s like, like, you know, like, a lot of the like, you know, the whole like, mage and, and fighter and like, cleric and like all these things are just from Dungeons and Dragons, like everything is a reciprocal of like, you know, Dungeons and Dragons. And then Dungeons and Dragons is just like, you know, straight up Lord of the Rings Online, I mean, straight up, Lord of the Rings, the floor of the Rings, I’m like, Shut up Lord of the Rings. So it’s like, a lot of these tropes are just like perpetuated. And it’s really important to try and branch out of that. Yeah. Like refer to refer to other things.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely, they have you had like, favorite characters, well, would you ever created or some other characters from something else?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Well, my favorite, my personal favorite has been tyto. A lot of the characters I designed for gigantic, are more my favorites like, woo, woo and tyto, things like that. And those are like, those are probably characters that reflect, like, what I really like, enjoy doing the most is like creating, like, characters that kind of feel or give you the impression of things that you know about. But, you know, it’s hard to nail necessarily, like, one thing, I think those are very, those are successful characters to make, like, I’m not like, super creative. I’ve just, I just like to, I have a lot of memories of things that I used to, you know, experience, like, video games growing up. And I would just said, don’t refer to video games, but you know, TV shows, movies, museums, you know, just like, all the things I had when I was growing up, and I was fortunate enough to have, like, experiencing all those things. And just like, impression in the memory of those things, a lot of them get lost, you know, depending on the generation. So it’s funny, like, I’ll make things that like for me is it’s like, oh, well, this is clearly a Cabbage Patch reference. And everyone. Everyone’s like, what the hell with cabbage patch, I don’t even I don’t even know, like most people don’t even know what that is. So it’s like, it’s pretty fortunate, I guess that I was exposed to a lot of garbage when I was younger, because I have a lot of like, reference material to, like, draw from. And that sense, I was like, really obsessed with like reading novels and watching television when I was younger, like, on media. So a lot of the characters I want to design are sort of like homages to all this, you know, storytelling, stuff that I had experienced long, long before. Yeah, I guess that’s what it is.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you kind of take or approach observation, you know, if you see some character somewhere, or you have it in, like your mental library, so what do you use from it? Or is it like the outfit or the hair you like, or the the behavior? And maybe you can mention some of these characters? What you just talked about, if someone haven’t played the game, or if they don’t know, your, your characters are about, you know, like, what is it?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, I mean, like, for instance, or it will title for instance, like he was the was one of the is the first character design for gigantic, but he’s still like, one of my favorites for it. But at the time, I was the assignment was basically as create a mysterious warrior guy with a pet companion. Right. So there, it was pretty open ended. So it was so the character, you know, he has a mask, and he has a cape. And he has a little pet ferret and he has a sword. And that’s kind of like his theme. So for me, what I was the two things that drew the most from Where’s Batman? Because I was like, I want to make a dude with a cape. That’s like mysterious, right? Who’s better than that is Batman. Right? And then, and the other. The other part of the puzzle was the company minion, but you’re supposed to be a master swordsman. So the thought process there was, well, if it’s going to be if most of the fighting is going to rely on his skill as a swordsman, then his companion really can’t be the main source of damage. Like it can’t be like, can’t be on a mound, right? Because in the mountains doing all the work, it’s not really a store, like who would laugh giant tiger or something like that and use a sword. Like, that doesn’t make any sense. So I was like, yes, to have a pet that’s kind of like a companion that’s kind of like, he’s like, where the guy is still the highlight. But the pet is sort of like, you know, still there is like a peripheral pet. So I wanted something that could kind of like right on his shoulder, like a, like a monkey or parent or something like that. And then there’s a movie called Beast Master. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these master, but there’s two ferrets. And that stuck with me for a really long time, because they were super useful, but they weren’t like combat necessarily, they would just kind of like, go and get stuff for the guy, or they would like, I think at one point, he’s like, they rescue him from a mud pit and stuff like that. So I liked those, like, you know, I just wanted like a cute little character to be able to do that. So um, that’s, that’s kind of, like, where that inspiration kind of came from. And then was another reference I was making. And I was super, I’m also really into like,

Devon Cady-Lee  

like, currently, like Mesopotamian, and like, you know, like, really old art from sort of, like, Middle East, but and, and around that area, that region, like a lot of a lot of the details like the headdresses and things like that are really inspiring for me, like all the different jewelry that they wear, so I wanted to take that aesthetic and kind of like, bring it in to the character. And between those things. Now, of course, the owl, because he was he’s, so I wanted the character to be quiet. Like he didn’t speak. So I was like, well, and he’s just because he’s mysterious, right? So it was like, Well, it’s a quiet animal. Owl. I was there and actually that quiet, they’re pretty loud sometimes. But you know, they when they are fighting, they’re they’re pretty quiet. Fly. They’re

Iva Mikles  

quiet. Yeah,

Devon Cady-Lee  

yeah. When they’re flying, they’re hunting. They’re very quiet. You know? Otherwise, they’re like screeching. Yeah, but I don’t know, it wasn’t like, you know, in my head, that’s kind of like what I was going for. So it doesn’t really make sense in the bigger span, you know, I mean, PacMan is like, you know, completely blacking, like, dark and stuff like that. And my characters like bright red, you know, so, some things don’t match up. Oh, and also I was, I was also very inspired by that. Sorry, I chose red because I was just gotten off playing journey. And I love journey. I was like, oh, man, I want to I want to keep that as like, a bright red thing that was like they were making makes him stand out in the environment, kind of. And that’s so that’s kind of like the, like, I was like, I want it like, here that’s like mysterious, but like, still, like when he shows up. He’s sort of like Zorro, like, everybody knows he’s there. Right? He’s not like hiding, you just kind of like, bam, and he just, like, eats everybody up. So I wanted to have Yeah, he still should have some, like flourish. You know, he wasn’t like a guy who just like hides in the back. He like, once you see him, he’s like, Oh, my God, that guy. So that I kind of wanted to give him that kind of, like iconic look, were kind of like diamond and sorrow where they, you know, they show up and it’s like, oh, man, it’s that guy, you know, that kind of feeling. So that’s, that’s kind of how I that’s kind of how I use inspiration. I guess it’s kind of like the feeling impression that things leave on me. And that can be conscious or conscious. Like I can do that. Knowingly or unknowingly, because things will just be like, back here. And they’ll just like, I’ll just draw something. And I won’t even realize why I did it that way until I’m like, oh, yeah, that’s because this thing made an impression on me when I was like, you know, 12 years old. I can’t get up. Okay, that kind of thing. So I’ll come I’ll realize it later.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, yeah. So so your creative process is not like that, you kind of sit down and you do like, brainstorm, like, I want to like these from here, these from here, but you mostly do the sketches, and then something will come out and then you do different variations. And then you have something that you like,

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, I mean, it’s very, like feeling based, unfortunately, which sucks sometimes. Because if you don’t have the feeling that it’s just like, not there, right. So you just have to keep drawing until the essence of the character until you catch something that’s, you know, has charm to it. I think it’s really important for me to have charm, like the characters have to really, to be able to connect with them in some way, in a very, very human way. Even if they’re not human characters, you have to be able to be able to connect with that character very well. So, you know, charm is really important. And, you know, unfortunately video games it’s very difficult to have like different kinds of charm. Usually everyone in games wants the same kind of charm. You know, when you work in animation, everyone’s like, you know, it’s more story based character serve more of a, you know, a storytelling function of like, you know, this character is good guy and this character is bad guy, but you know, it’s not straightforward and like, you can Tell because he has a scar on his thing or whatever, like small details like that it’s harder to convey that sort of thing. In, in video games, and the story, the story in video games is usually a function of the characters. So usually, all my decisions revolve around what the function of the character is doing. So it’s, if it’s a fighting game character. That’s a bad example. If it’s, if it’s a I mean, I mean, whatever the purpose of the character is, all of all of my details, and my decision making try and revolve around making that clear and better. So, and that helps me edit is basically like taking a character being like, okay, yeah, like, like, with title, like, having those, those bullet points mean, and, and really, you know, trying to edit myself to make sure that it’s as clear as possible. And it’s not like, this convoluted thing with like, giving you details. You know, if you had like, Oh, he’s got a scar here, and he’s got, like, all these like little details, you can get kind of muddled. Because, you know, when people look at something like that, they kind of just see the impression of the whole thing at once. It’s not really like they’re looking at all these little details. So I want that first overall impression to me. Really good. I don’t know if that answered your question.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. And I think it’s really good. You know, and I was wondering as well, maybe, how do you connect the characters? Like, what are maybe the trades if you’re creating a cast, you know, of the characters, because everyone needs to be unique, right? In the in a game. And so but maybe you have, like some mark, everyone has on the shoulder, or they have some color, which goes through the cast. So how do you connect the cast of characters?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Like when you’re like, oh, Stickler, and things like that? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Same thing, I guess. Because, yeah, I mean, like, usually, like the overall tone, like, the clearer the project you’re working on, like, the clearer the writing is, and the clearer the actual gameplay is, it’s much easier to design characters for for me, because I know it gives me a much more honed, objective to work towards, so I can, you know, really just kind of focus on making that the star of the show. Like, like, okay, for instance, if there’s a character that, like it leap up walls and climbs, you know, it’s, that’s, that’s the story of that character, in a sense. So it’s like, everything, everything I do to design, that character is going to serve the purpose of that, like, Okay, well, I mean, some, like obvious, like, some more obvious things would be like, Oh, it’s like a bug man. You know, for instance, you know, he’s a bug, you know, so that way that, you know, if there was like a dude, it would still make sense, you can still have a guy like running up the wall. But if you have the ability to make to work in an IP, where they let you do anything, then yeah, I’m going to choose like an animal guy that can like climb up walls, because it’s, for me, it makes more sense that, you know, you see, you see a character that is a bug or a cat, or something that can climb very well, and you’re like, Oh, he’s gonna climb, you know. So it’s like, it seems really obvious. But like, you know, trying to kind of hone everything around that storytelling is really important for me, like the characters evil, like or not evil, like, let’s say he’s like a protagonist, that or, if I may, if I’m designing a protagonist and an antagonist, like trying to make them related to each other, like, if the bad guy has like, some sort of connection to the, to the, to the, to the, to the good guy, or something like that, I’ll try and make that visually clear, rather than relying on the storytelling. So like having some sort of like color connection or color contrast, is really like think about those like things in context with each other. You know, if this character is really like, loud and talks a lot, I’ll make his mouth bigger, like literally straightforward details like that is what it is like what I think about, it seems really simplistic, but you know, at the end of the day becomes pretty hard to do. Because when you’re editing down, and like, trying to really boil it boil down the essence of what you’re trying to do it, you start running out of stuff, and you also start running out of ways to make it look unique, because it’s you’re dealing with very little. So and especially when I was working on gigantic that was like probably the biggest challenge is like working on trying to design characters that were minimal. And still were very, like bold and charming, for you to be attracted to. So it was very difficult to balance that out in my experience, but that’s kind of why it’s fun. I guess that’s why I like doing it because it’s like puzzle for me. So, yeah, like what, like, especially if I’m designing a cast of characters. I’ll draw all of them at once and see like, what’s the unifying theme of these guys? What’s the unifying theme of these guys? And that’s usually driven by like things I’ll read about in their story, like if they’re noble, or they’re chivalrous, or if they’re like corrupt and evil, like I want to be able to visually show all of that. And it’s not always easy. But, you know, the more the more I study about shape language and things like that, and making things, where it’s like, the initial impression of shapes is enough to tell you what that character is about being the better service I’m doing, I guess. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely, yeah. Because if you have like evil characters, or whatever, everyone can have like sharp something on them on their outfit, right? Or something like that.

Devon Cady-Lee  

As, like, that will say, like, that will say something different than if it’s a bad guy. And he’s entirely circular. Like, what if there’s this? Like, you know, like, what is, you know, what is a circular character? Say, even you want to make that evil? Like, how do you how do you do that? No, it’s like, how do you do that without spikes? Like, what if we take a take? I like to, I like that. So those are kind of challenges I like to do is like, you know, okay, this is the obvious route for what this character is going to be. So how do I, if I want to make it a more subversive, like, you know, that’s like, not as obvious design, like, maybe the character is like a reveal character, or later, he becomes a bad guy, those are my favorites. Like, where they make like transitions, like, you know, how do I show that and just shapes, you know, I, you know, like, design a character where he would get really big, colorful hands. He was like, an alien. And he would like, talk with his hands a lot and be like, he was like a salesman, almost. And then, you know, the way I tried to show that it was kind of like two faces that he always had a second pair of hands, I was always over here doing this. And like, that was just that enough, by itself was enough to make him creepy. And also being like, a little like, you know, hidden and like, you know, subversive, without straight up saying, Oh, this guy is, you know, the bad guy. It’s kind of like, just trying to do a more subtle way of showing that this character is like that, I guess?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. Because then you start thinking about the like, Oh, is it? Or is it not? Or? Yeah.

Devon Cady-Lee  

What is this character? What is, you know, what is this character choosing to hide? And, you know, what is this, you know, if you get into the head of the character, and like, what decisions he would be making, that’s like, a great way to show like, what they would wear as a costume, like, you want to get into that character’s head and be like, well, they’re not gonna be running around in like, a metal bikini? That doesn’t make any sense. Why would they be doing that? Or, you know, maybe it does make sense. You know, it really just depends on like, how the character is thinking. So if you can think if you can basically be the character for a little bit, if you can put your head into the head of the character, as far as costume goes, especially, you know, you’re making decisions for yourself, what kind of life decisions did that character make, you know, to? Where they, are they overweight, you know, are they? Are they are they gone? Or, you know, what’s the haircut, like, you know, who they’re going to their haircut, you know, who’s cutting their hair? Like who, like, you know, like, in medieval times, like, you know, it’s like, we didn’t they didn’t have gel, you know, like, you know, what’s going on? Like, like, what, what happens to their hair, you know, things, things like that, where it’s just like, kind of thinking of things in terms of the context of everything else around it really helps me narrow and frame. What I’m trying to design better. Yeah. Perfect. Sorry, if I’m, like rambling and like, I feel like I’m really being really tangential here. But

Iva Mikles  

no, but I think this is perfect. Because if someone is just starting out designing their own characters, and they’re like, Okay, where should I start? Because it can be overwhelming, you know, you have to learn the fundamentals of drawing the in. Yes, story, and all of that. So, this is like, really good. Like, place to start thinking about everything. What do you want to design?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah. Yeah, sorry. No, no, sorry. Just. Oh, cuz I feel like it’s, yeah, I agree. Because I think it’s like, when you’re first starting out, even on a new project, you don’t have any context or anything. It’s like, blank space, you know, it’s like really intimidating to be like, Okay, there’s no, there’s no rules, I can do anything. How am i Sister? How do I impress people? How do I, what do I do? So it’s like, giving yourself some boundaries is really important when you’re working on a new project, okay, like, you know, what’s, what’s the demo? You know, if the demographic you know, what’s the, you know, what’s the tone of the game? What’s the storyline of the game? Having all those specificities really gives you some rails to go on and having having, it’s really good to actually have limitations because that’s kind of what makes specific ideas come out. It’s almost like pressure cooking. You know, Diamonds is kind of it’s kind of the process. You’re it’s kind of like, having having really weird rules. For instance, like, no one in this game has eyes. You know, it’s like, just like really weird stuff and like, Whoa, yeah. How do I work around? Sorry, how do I work around that? You know, so like, Giving yourself really weird off the rails limitations is actually a really cool way to come up with ideas too. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And also you will design a character in different way if it is like for 10 year olds, you know, for kids, or for adults, right. So you can use different references and different styling and all of that.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, the audience, you know, like, what, like, what are kids looking at right now? And how do we stand out from that? Like, how do you like, how do you? How do you appeal to kids in other countries? How do you appeal to, you know, how do you appeal to both? You know, boys, girls, everybody, how do you how do you appeal to a wide audience? Yeah, so that’s this is this is like, in its in itself a very difficult challenge.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Also, colors have different meanings in different countries and cultures. Yeah.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. Symbols. It’s very difficult. Yeah. I’ve run into a lot of those situations where I’ll be drawing something that’s like, oh, no, that’s actually like, the national flag of so and so on with dammit. Yeah, yeah. You really don’t want to use that symbol of like, Oh, why? And then they’ll like, show me some terrible, terrible internet thing. And I’ll be like, Man, what is it? Why do people have to ruin everything? You know? So it’s like, yeah, you have to be pretty, especially when you’re designing things for like mass entertainment, you really have to be like culturally sensitive to like, everything, everything and

Iva Mikles  

do a research and yeah, all of that. Yeah.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah. In a way, it’s like, you know, when you’re working in entertainment, it’s like, you know, what you’re doing is is, is going to be digested by people. And it’s going to inform them, you know, like, no matter what, so you have to be responsible. You know, when you’re doing that, you can’t, you can’t like leave out an entire group of people or make someone feel isolated, you really have to be inclusionary. When you’re doing everything, when you’re doing things for like, mass entertainment. So, you know, the more specific your ideas are, it’s fine, but you just just know that you’re working on a more niche. You’re working towards a more niche appeal, essentially. So yeah, I guess I guess that’s, that’s what I have to say about that.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. And so going back maybe to your like daily life and how you draw and, you know, creation and motivation, inspiration, how does your normal day look like now, even though you are now in a transition and setting up and all of that, like, how many hours that they do spend like creatively? And do you do something maybe daily, which contributes your sectors like meditation or sport or playing with CAD or user dancing?

Devon Cady-Lee  

I mean, I yeah, I mean, I dance, I dance like three times a week, I have like, a really weird schedule. So yeah, I mean, I still, even if I’m working from home, I’ll still try and work eight hours a day. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m drawing for eight hours a day, because that’s very difficult to do. That’s a lot. I did that. And it’s a pain on your hand. And like, literally, it’s a pain. So most of the time I spend just researching and thinking and like looking at stuff and comparing things. And then after I’ve like, absorbed all of it, I’ll put all of it away. And I’ll just sit down and like just try and draw based on my impression of all those things. That’s kind of like how my creative process works. But outside of that, yeah, it’s really difficult to keep my own schedule right now. So, you know, I’ll have I have off days, but it’s not necessarily like scheduled, you know, it’s not like on taking Saturday off. For me, it’s now just just like, well, you know, you’re, you’re taking in all these nice contract jobs. So it’s like, you just really have to have a work life balance. That, you know, like, it’s fair to me, you know, and, you know, I don’t want to overwork and I don’t want to under work and, you know, maintaining that is really difficult without setting times for yourself and being able to really manage, not just not just work time, but personal time, like, you know, I have to hang out I have pets. I have a girlfriend not in that order. But but you know, it’s just like it’s really difficult. You know, and, you know, dance takes up a lot of my time too. So I do I run a lot of community a on that I wear a lot of things, but I run I run community events in the dance scene that I have i i host hustle, hustle dance like disco. I practice that a lot in my spare time. So I I want to make time for those things. And those are equally important to me as drawing actually I don’t make money off a dance. I don’t make some money, but I don’t really make that much money off of dancing. It’s not like a career choice, but it’s really important for me mentally and for Basically, that I do it. So I still have to make sure that I keep time for that, like, make myself available to doing this.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you make yourself focused, you know, when you’re at home and Okay, so now I create something, you know, like, they put on headphones and use like focus, like the whale music or something like that.

Devon Cady-Lee  

That’s something I’m constantly working on. Working especially at home is is very easy to get distracted. So right now what I’m doing is I’m just like turning off all media around me until until I sit down and start drawing. And then once I start drawing, I will play music, but I can’t play dance music, or otherwise, I’ll stop drawing and starting dance. So I have to play like a specific kind of music that’s just sort of like low energy, but like really, like, you know, cerebral and stuff like that. And then I can kind of trick myself into going into work mode is like how I’ve been doing it so far. I don’t know how successful it is. But it’s also really helpful to have a lot of food handy. So that I don’t have to leave, like, because once I leave, I might, I might stay outside, you know, I might stay in a coffee shop for a while. So I don’t want to do that either. So having a lot of convenience around me is really important for me to stick in one space. What else making sure my workspace is cleaner. Like until like I recently just cleaned everything that I had up because I’m a very messy person. So I don’t know, I know, you see, you can see the back here. There’s like a lot of stuff back here. But the

Iva Mikles  

Okay, I will cover it.

Devon Cady-Lee  

I’m just gonna just gonna do that. But yeah, it’s just like, it’s just a lot. And, yeah, it’s, I’m trying to try to really just organize my personal space and organize, like my schedule in a more meaningful way where I can actually like, do it by myself. Yeah. I don’t have a lot of advice. Great advice for self management.

Iva Mikles  

Have you tried to focus at will music? Have you heard about that? No. It’s like they have, I think they invented this, like level of music, which is not distracted, and it makes you more focused and just being on a point. And you can choose like different Yeah, you have to try it. Okay, we can put the link for under this interview as well about that. And yeah, because you can choose like Cafe noises without like people speaking really, or just like classical music or whatever. So you can actually choose what type of music you want, without distraction or like high and low points.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, that sounds like awesome. Cool, cool.

Iva Mikles  

Something to try out. And what about maybe the projects you’re like working on now something which is not confidential, or something which you can share or coming up in the future, or maybe something you worked on recently, every everything is confidential, then we can move on to something else.

Devon Cady-Lee  

I mean, I just worked on gigantic. And that was a really, that was like one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on, personally. So I really loved working on gigantic cuz I really got to do a lot of characters I wanted to do a lot. I’m working on a lot of contract stuff right now. So I’m gonna solve it’s pretty much NDA. But I’m trying to do my own prints soon. Because I’ve never done that before, either. So I’ve been wanting to for a while I do. I do like a lot of like, you know, pinup and like cheese cake stuff. And like, you know, just like random, random drawings that I’ve thought of doing. I don’t know, if I’m going to do an art book, maybe we called to turn our book. But those are kind of the projects that I really want to work on right now. It’s just kind of getting so you see what that’s like, is like, you know, printing process and things like that. I’ve spent most of my career in studios, so I haven’t had a lot of freelance experience yet. And so it’s like, pretty much nap now. I’m just trying to like ramp up and like, you know, what’s that? What felt like maybe I should go to start doing table conventions, you know, and things like that. But that’s, it’s like a big investment to start to start that. So I really have to like plan that out. You know? Yeah. Take some time.

Iva Mikles  

Is there something you wish you knew over the whole time of your art career? You know, like, advice you would give the young self you know,

Devon Cady-Lee  

yeah. I wish I learned when I was younger, to not be comparing myself to other artists, and other people in general, but I mean, that’s one of the things I’ve really had to deal with is like, you know, it’s it’s really, I think it’s, it can be toxic to be comparing your ability in your situation. To other people, whether you’re better than them, or worse than them, you know, because by doing that, you’re not really thinking about yourself as much, you’re just thinking about yourself in the context of this bigger thing, and then that’s not very rewarding. You know, like, if you think you’re, if you think you’re the best, then you know, it’s good to have, it’s very good to have confidence, it’s good to know when you’re good at something. But if you, if you’re comparing yourself to other people all the time being like, oh, this person has more followers, or this person has less followers or something like that, you know, it’s really not, first of all, it’s not really an honest view of like, how well you’re doing. It’s really not, like, there’s amazing artists, famous, influential artists, you know, they’re not even on Instagram, like, you know, it’s or it’s or it’s like, you know, like things like, things like that, where it’s just like, comparing yourself to something that’s really has nothing to do with you, even if it’s art. So I wouldn’t get discouraged by that, I wouldn’t get discouraged by being like, oh, this person is more popular than me, or, or this, or I’m doing, I’m, I’m at this level of an artist, you know, because if you think of yourself, you know, like that, it’s just, like, just not good for your ego. It’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s very difficult for me to not do that. But it’s, or, and when I was younger, I was doing it more, more intense scale where I was, but on some degree, it’s useful to have, it’s definitely good to have like peers and colleagues to share work with and be competitive with. That’s, that’s great. But it’s not good to, but you have to always remember that you’re working towards making yourself better. And it’s not important for anyone else, to, you know, do you not, it’s, it’s for you, it’s not for other people, you’re doing all of this for you. So that’s why you’re an artist, like you’re not doing it for other people. So it’s, you know, being an artist is not easy. So, you know, working artists is like very hard. So, you know, if you’re gonna do that, like, make sure you’re doing it for yourself and that other people? Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, definitely. I totally agree. And let’s talk about the about the future. And I have like, two last questions. And I would like to know, where would you see yourself in like, five to 10 years. And, you know, like, if you cannot fail, and you have like, your dream scenario, everything is how you want.

Devon Cady-Lee  

You know, it’s kind of it’s, you know, it’s lame, but like, when I was younger, being a professional artist was about as far ahead as I was, I thought, you know, it’s like, I wasn’t really thinking that far ahead. So now, now that I’m like, doing it, I’m like, Oh, well, what’s my next goal? And I think a lot of people actually come to that realization is like, you know, after they achieve their, their thing when they were like, 16, it’s like, well, Am I alright, I did it. Now. Now. Now what I do, like, what’s the next step for me? So, I mean, for now, it’s just like, um, I think, for me, I just want to get better. I just want to be better artists. That’s right. Now I just really want to work on that. And I think, I think for me, being able to, I have the privilege of being able to do contract work now, comfortably, I’m not doing it. Because I’m like, surviving, I’m doing it because I’m, I get to pick projects now. So that’s a really big advantage that I have right now. And that it’s very useful to me. But I can also gives me time to work on my own projects. So now that I have all this, now I have more of a now that I’m more comfortable in where I am, I’m just trying to figure out like, you know, what, what my next step will be as far as like, you know, maybe I should branch out to other kinds, maybe I should go more into animation. Or maybe I should go deeper into video games, like so those are kind of like the next steps. For me just deciding, you know, what, what next big thing I’m going to be doing? I think probably animation would be really cool to get into, like, more. I mean, I’ve done some of it like more for for high budget films, but I haven’t really like that at full time, like as a contract artist. And so I would like to do that. Because it’s more story oriented than in video games. You know, video games can get a little repetitive thematically, so you know, either finding a game that’s not like that, or getting into animation and things like that would be great. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

I’m curious whether you will do in a few years. So yeah, looking forward to see. And yeah, and my last question would be about like far, far future. This one is the hard one, like what would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years or more?

Devon Cady-Lee  

Now Cheers. I want to be a cool guy. I just want to be like, Oh, that guy was cool.

Iva Mikles  

Good.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Just like you’ll find me in an art book and be like, yeah, he’s pretty cool. Or maybe it may be a little with the bio. Yeah, that’s all. That’s all I care about. Just one I just, I just want to be remembered is in court. So, that’s working on that every day. Yeah,

Devon Cady-Lee  

definitely. That’s important. So we are nice to each other and just, you know, like, building this cool community, you know, so, yeah. I think when I was younger, I was more, I was more obsessed with that idea of like, oh, I have to be like, I must be remembered, I must be immortal. You know, that’s why I’m an artist. So I can make my stain on the world and like, be influential forever. But, again, that comes down to caring what other people think about me. So it’s, you know, if, you know, eliminating fame, is, you know, seeking fame is really kind of detrimental. You know, it’s kind of like, because you have to make choices that, you know, are for that, you know, so I don’t know, it’s not necessarily like, everything makes me happy, doing like, you know, trying to be famous. So I don’t know if I’m, if I necessarily need to be remembered. But it’d be great if people do I mean, yeah, maybe I should make some art books. So people have a physical copy of what I mean, in their homes. I guess that would be cool. If I had a physical copies of myself. So I can be inside people’s homes. That’d be great. It sounds really crazy. I try to Robert like, a book. Yeah. Yeah, it’s a book, it’s a book. Oh, perfect. And maybe before we say goodbye, you can share the last piece of advice or key takeaway, and then we will slowly finish.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Man, it’s a lot of pressure. Draw for yourself, draw for yourself, don’t try for other people. Being artists for yourself, I think that’s probably what I would take away from this, hopefully, is try and make sure to keep your keep your eye on the prize, which is, you know, making yourself happy and being satisfied and like, don’t, don’t make art, you know, to mean, you’re always gonna be sacrificing a part of your integrity as a commercial artists, like you just have to, because it’s just, you’re always gonna be working on something that’s not necessarily yours. But if you can, if you can really make sure that what you’re doing is rewarding for yourself. And like really thinking about, like, Is this making me happy? And, you know, I think if you can find that work balance, where you can compromise a little bit, you know, just to be just be happy, you know, because a lot of the times, you know, artists can get caught up in kind of torturing themselves to be like, you know, I’m a tortured artist, and I have so many things, you know, I think that’s, it’s, eventually you have to find a balance where you’re happy. So, you really, there’s really no point in being an artist unless, and like working as an artist, and if, unless you really enjoy what you’re doing, because it’s really hard work. So, you know, be dedicated to that, like, stick to that. I don’t know, like, that’s terrible advice. I guess. I don’t know, maybe it’s bad advice. But I just think there’s a lot of people get distracted or, or they can get misled by what the, what the industry is telling them to do what other people are telling them to do what their parents are telling them to do. You know, a lot of people can just be misled into thinking a certain way. And you have to really, really be really self be self aware and kind of like try and really reach down deep down inside and be like, what are my actual goals? Like, what am I really trying to do to make myself happy with art and on general? And that’s Yeah, so I mean, yeah, thing focused, being having the right focus, really thinking about what you’re what you’re focusing on?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so the goal is, well, what do you want to do? Right? That’s you mentioned like, either they’re working for like studios, or for games for animation for yourself.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, all those comes with different kinds of compromises. Yeah, almost. Everything has to compromise everything else, like work life balance, everything. You know, everything’s not 100% But if you can get like 90% out if you can get like 50% and you’re already doing very well for yourself,

Iva Mikles  

I think. Yeah, awesome. Yeah, I totally agree. And yeah, nothing comes for free. We have to work for the goals right? We want to achieve or Be happy and it’s not to like the destination, right to be happy, but just deciding that this makes me happy and just enjoy the journey.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Yeah, and if if drawing doesn’t, if, you know, if working professionally as an artist doesn’t make you happy, then, you know, pursue art and just don’t do it for a living. I mean, it’s not like, like bad. I mean, you should always be, you know, if you, if you feel that artistic inclination, you should pursue it, that doesn’t mean you always have to be making money off of it doesn’t mean that you always have to be like, make living off of it, because art is really there for you. You know, art is like, therapy, all art is kind of that way, you know, you know, when I’m dance, that’s a different kind of, like therapy for me. So I, you know, I rely on these different things to make myself feel better. And if they’re not doing that, you know, if they’re, if I’m getting distracted with all this other “beep”, then it’s not serving my purpose. Right. So it’s like, I have to make sure that I’m drawing for the right reasons and dancing for the right reasons.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s a really good way to just like end this discussion, because it was really inspirational and a lot of tips and thank you so much for being here.

Devon Cady-Lee  

Thank you. Thanks for Thanks for dealing with my rambling. I feel like I went on so many tangents there. But thank you.

Iva Mikles  

No, that’s perfect was my pleasure. And thanks, everyone for joining and see you in the next episode.

Iva Mikles  

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our site of life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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