Here it is—part 5 and the final segment of Madame Sidler’s interview with Nicholas Kole. (Here are parts one, two, three, and four.) Thanks for sticking with us as these interview snippets rolled out!
Madame Sidler: Moving away a little bit from Wingfeather—Jellybots! Tell us about Jellybots and what else you’re currently doing.
Nicholas Kole: Jellybots is a little project I’ve been—what is it called when a mother hen sits on her eggs?—I’ve been trying to foster and grow that gradually. It’s a science fiction story project I’ve been chewing on for a number of years at this point, and finally this year as Wingfeather was wrapping up I got up the courage to kick off a Patreon and try to make a go of it a little more directly, rather than just trying to take care of it in the background.
What specifically would you like to know about it?
MS: We were just wondering—this question is from Vekka Youngbeast, which may be my favorite name in the world—wondering what your plans are.
NK: Well, the plan right now is to develop that through the Patreon to the point where we have enough content to create an art book. And the desire with an art book is to have a physical object that says yes, this exists, these designs exist, and to have a concrete thing that can then be used to pitch and move forward with the story and the world. I find that I really love worldbuilding. I really love populating the world with creatures and characters, and figuring out what’s the nature of this space and the different powers and how they relate to each other. And if you leap too quickly into just trying to get the story out there, I think opportunities get missed to more thoroughly envision what that world’s going to be like.
So right now it’s primarily a worldbuilding project. I’m pretty wary, though, that I don’t want to dither too much on all the details before committing to trying to make it a real thing with a story that’s working and a script that moves the way you want it to, but it’s been a personal project and testing ground where I vent all of my energy that I can’t spend on the professional projects I have. So the weirder designs and wackier stuff that I want to do and I can’t, I pour into Jellybots.
MS: Cool. Jellybots are super fun. 🙂 Another fun question: Bronze the Sling asks, “Are there any chances for students to learn from you by internships, tutoring, or even online tutorials?” And we have actually had one or two other people ask whether some of the artists from the Wingfeather design—either from the books or the animated series—would be interested in doing online drawing tutorials.
NK: Tutorial posts, yeah, for sure! That’s actually been a part of the Jellybots Patreon—getting together a monthly tutorial to walk through that stuff. And, slowly, my plan is that that continues and a book kind of exists, or at least does online, apart from the Patreon. So right now those are locked behind the Patreon, but eventually I think they will not be. I do try—on Twitter sometimes, I’ll go off on little rants to explain visual principle or put together a short tutorial for people struggling—
MS: I’ve seen those; they’re really cool.
NK: Thank you! People seem to really respond to those. I really love taking that opportunity to teach and give back, because none of us arrived in the place where we are professionally without people teaching us to begin with.
MS: Are there other artists you learn from?
NK: Definitely, yes, definitely. And professors and mentors, and people along the way. In terms of influences, I would say Kazu Kibuishi, who does the Amulet graphic novel series, has been a huge inspiration and influence. Jake Parker does a lot of great breakdowns and stuff like that, and just makes stellar work, and watching his trajectory has been cool. And he’s just a really nice guy, too, so that’s always fun. Those are the two that spring to mind right off the top of the head. Being involved in online art community has been a huge part of my development.
MS: Awesome. We have reached the end of our very long list of questions, and I really appreciate you talking with me. Is there anything else you would want to talk about?
NK: Well, I’m an open book, but I can’t think of anything that springs to mind.
MS: Okay, well, thank you very much. What’s next for you? What’s exciting you right now? And we’ll wrap up with that.
NK: Okay, yeah. Right now—well, I’m about to get married—
NK: —so that’s pretty exciting; I’m pretty pumped about that. I just signed a lease for our future apartment. So getting all that squared away has been really fun—and nerve wracking, but great! And I’ve been involved with the new remasters of the Spyro the Dragon game—so I don’t know if that means anything to anybody, but I’ve gone from dragons to dragons. So my whole life has been very, very dragon-focused for the last couple months, and those are coming out in September. We’ve just [in April] begun to announce things and drip out screenshots, and that’s been really exciting to get people’s response, so that’s been really fun. I think that’s going to be a really enjoyable time. And for the person who asked about Wingfeather game stuff, give the new Spyro games a try! [laughter] It’s not the same. But there are dragons, and I did draw them!
MS: Cool! Well, thank you very much.
NK: Absolutely! Happy to talk.
MS: Yeah! So, greetings from the Featherheads, and I appreciate your time.
NK: Absolutely. Right back.
MS: I hope the rest of your day is full of colors and dragons and all sorts of wonderful things.
NK: Absolutely! And yours as well.
Since this interview happened way back in April, I am pleased to report to you that Nicholas and Erika were successfully married last weekend! Congratulations, Koles!
This week, Madame Sidler will be reading chapters 40-46 in The Monster in the Hollows. Check back on Friday for an excerpt—and head to the forum for art and writing challenges and all manner of fun conversations. 🙂