Welcome to the first Worldsmith Roundtable, where I interview creators about the worlds they’ve created.
Our first world Tales of Three is a wonderful collaborative project, combining the works of three visual storytellers: Ânia Marcos, Frederic Daelemans and Lise Sofie Hopland.
Their Kickstarter is coming to a close on October 12th, so make sure you run over and lend them your support! Today we’re chatting with team member Lise Hopland:
Blue Cat Co: I know that your team consists of members from multiple countries. How on earth did you meet and end up as collaborators?
Lise Hopland: First, I just want to say thank you so much Abrian, for having me along here today, it means a lot!
So, how I met Ânia and Fred? Well, about two years ago in May I signed up for the Magic Box, a self-taught art class by Chris Oatley over at The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling. And that’s where it all started for us. Frederic was hosting an unofficial hangout for us Magic-boxers where we could sit and paint, give each other feedback and generally be sociable despite distances. My introverted self was quite curious about meeting other artists, but due to my shyness I had firm plans on staying quiet and just observe the first time around. Ânia however, had other plans. She bombarded me with questions and dragged me out of my shell. Our friendship just took off from there, really. Connecting with other like-minded artist has been truly amazing!
About 6 months later everyone else who were regulars were heading off to Los Angeles to participate in CTN, while the three of us were stuck in Finland, Portugal and Norway. We also wanted to join in on the fun! When everyone came back super motivated and ready to work harder than ever, Ânia, Fred and I felt we had to somehow try and make it to the next one – and that’s when Emanuel Daniels had the most brilliant idea! He suggested we make a collaboration project together – and it took us about half a second to think about this before we jumped on the gun. And that’s the short version of how we met and ended up working together.
BCCo: And you seem to make a great team! But collaboration isn’t easy, especially on such a big project. How did you split up the creative tasks between each of you?
LH: This is quite a question to answer, it’s a little complicated. During our world building and storyline creation we all worked passionately about the story we all participated equally. If one of us didn’t have a chance to check Facebook messages in an hour the risk would be to read back up on 200 messages or more. Our first challenge on dividing the tasks came when our storyline was fleshed out enough that we could start writing. Having the story somewhat fleshed out and written was essential before we could start illustrating the scenes of the book. We played with the thought of having a chapter written by each of us, and then we played with changing the roles of the characters. It all became more and more complicated as we looked into the different solutions that we could work with. So we decided to de-complicate things a tiny bit: Each of us wrote a draft of the first chapter and then we voted. Well, it wasn’t much of a vote really. Fred and Ânia decided I was going to write. I felt quite humbled by this!
Next, we had to create character designs. We each made thumbnails and sketches. And we each did colour designs. It was so much fun, and we learned so much by this process. All of us had something to bring to the table that we could learn from. We continued like this for a while. All of us doing all of the sketching and thumbnailing. And we would meet every week to decide which panel to work further on – and which changes it needed.
Eventually we broke down the workload a bit and we each got more specified worktasks: Ânia did thumbnails and composition. Fred took care of the lineart, Ânia and I worked on the values. Then I continued and made colour compositions – and started painting. Fred then continued the painting and Ânia added the finishing touches of magical texture. By doing it this way we all got our voice into the painting, we all had an essential part of the book that couldn’t be done without. We believe that by doing it this way we’ve made our project even more special.
BCCo: So what is the story that you all came up with and what does it mean to you?
LH: I think our tagline describes best what our story is about:
An Ice-Witch who’s desperately afraid of melting teams up with a girl made of fire and a stubborn stone golem, and embark on a dangerous adventure in order to get their one wish granted.
We put a lot of thought into what our book should be about, we wanted it to have meaning. We have all read great stories that left us with an impression while growing up, and we would love it if our story would do that for someone else as well. Being inspired by Brian McDonald who says the best stories are the ones written by things we already know. So we chose to go deep, to write about our own personal fears. Each of the characters has to face their fears in order to overcome them and have their one true wish granted, just like we all have to.
BCCo: Ah yes, the three main characters are based off of each of your personal struggles. So you started with characters, then you crafted a world that they could all exist within?
LH: Yes, that’s right. Lise is based off of me and my fear of not being enough. Ânia’s fear is hurting the people she loves and Fred’s fear is stepping out of his comfort zone to explore new exciting options in fear of them being the wrong choice. Ânia’s character was the easiest to nail, but for Fred and Lise it was much harder and we kept going back and forth, changing things until they were what we wanted them to be. The world was more of a puzzle, but still here we took inspiration from our own lives. Lise is from the freezing North Mountain, representing Norway. Fred living alone in the midlands were more representing Belgium’s position on the map. Belgium is where Frederic is from by the way, and Ânia’s place of origin isn’t yet known in the book – so I can’t talk much about that part yet. The world is still our own, and it holds surprises within. We have created the world more openly than we did the characters, should we decide to expand in the future.
BCCo: You’ve all put a lot of work into this project! Where can people find the team and the project?