An Interview With Disney Character Designer John Jagusak

Narrative Designer & All Ages of Geek writer-producer Rohil Aniruth got in touch with the accomplished and highly versatile Character Designer John Jagusak for a quick interview about his work in the world of animation, encompassing both 2D and 3D design, illustration, and modeling. Jagusak provides several gems of helpful industry insight for upcoming artists and discusses his process.

Jagusak worked as the lead character designer on Disney’s T.O.T.S, earning him an Annie Nomination for Best Character Design for TV/Media. He’s also worked on Disney’s Goldie and Bear, and the iconic Betty Boop.

Rohil: Could you share a bit of your personal journey from realizing your passion for illustration to honing in/focusing on character design? 

Jagusak: Art was always my favorite subject growing up, so I knew I wanted to pursue some form of art as a career. I majored in cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York, but it wasn’t until years later that I decided to focus on character design. I worked many jobs in the art field prior to that, including graphic design, illustration, and tattooing.

Rohil: What are your core design values when it comes to character design OR what, to you, makes a successful character design — what are you trying to achieve with each work? 

Jagusak: I believe the most successful character designs provide the viewer with an understanding of the character’s personality solely through the design. Aside from that, it should be appealing.

Rohil: What tips do you have on letting go when working on an IP you don’t own? What good-mind practices do you implement to find peace amidst design changes you disagree with or potential project cancellations?

Jagusak: Whenever I work on a project I have an understanding that I am being contracted by the client to help them realise their vision. If you feel strongly about a design choice, there’s nothing wrong with pushing back at times, but ultimately the final decision lies with the client. I think it’s important to understand this. It will save you from coming off as difficult to work with. It’s always possible a project will be cancelled at any time for a multitude of reasons. You just need to focus on what you’re doing at the moment.

Rohil: What are your methods for fictional world management? For example, how do you juggle multiple projects with different aesthetic guidelines OR transition from months/years illustrating one world into illustrating the next? 

I ask this question because I primarily work in narrative design, and I’ve caught myself bringing the tone of one IP into another. A sort of, “Wait, this character is starting to speak like my protagonist in the other project…” realization. Curious if you’ve experienced this on the illustration end?

Jagusak: Sometimes, transitioning from one style of working to another can take time, especially if it’s a new project that’s in development. The client does not always understand this, so I just try to do my best and follow style guides where applicable. 

Rohil: Could you speak on projects like Disney’s Mira Royal Detective within the context of responsible character design — what steps do you take to ensure authentic representation and a dismantling of stereotypes?

Jagusak: I worked on very early development on Mira. When I was doing concepts, I was provided with a lot of references to help with authenticity. It’s important to be aware of stereotypes when designing, and by default, that will help avoid them.

Rohil: Building off the previous, what are some character design tropes or ideas around character design you find especially mind-numbing and exhausting?  

Jagusak: I think the idea that style somehow dictates good design is particularly mind-numbing.

Rohil: How often does a submitted character design end up changing the original personality or intent of the written character? For example, the studio has a particular idea of a character, sees their design, and is inspired to take a new direction with the character — rewriting the character to fit the illustration, instead of having the illustration reworked?

Jagusak: It’s possible the design could affect the personality of the character early on in production. Specifically when working on poses or expression sheets. At that time, the designer is essentially acting through the character and trying to pull the personality out through the illustrations prior to a voice actor stepping in. In many ways helping to create the personality.  

Rohil: What are some essential things to keep in mind when concepting a character whose final form will be 3D — moving in a 3D space?  

Jagusak: This is something that I seem to have a very progressive opinion on. I would say it doesn’t matter whether the character is designed for 2d or 3d. Anything can be translated into 3D. I would be hard-pressed to find a design that cannot be translated from 2D to 3D. I’ve seen it done with even the flattest-looking designs. To illustrate my opinion, just go to any toy store and find the toys for your favorite 2D show.

Rohil: What do you consider the most important things to keep in mind when stepping into an already established, beloved franchise like Betty Boop? 

Jagusak: When working on a pre-established project, it’s important to stay true to the style, follow the shape language, and have a good understanding of the character’s personality.

Rohil: What new character design trends have you started to notice, and what sorts of characters/illustration styles will dominate the industry in the next few years? 

Jagusak: The design trends tend to differ between studios. I’ve noticed Disney has been leaning towards a manga-influenced style for a little while now, and I don’t see that changing in the immediate future. 

Pixar tends to push the shape language, but it’s rooted in realism or heavily influenced by the character’s personality. Dreamworks and Sony take the biggest risks as far as design goes, in my opinion. Their designs are very shape-heavy and interesting. For example, Dracula’s head in Hotel Transylvania is literally a coffin. It’s difficult to say where things are headed from here. 

Find more on John Jagusak’s work on his  Instagram and website. 

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to Allagesofhr@gmail.com

An Interview with MaximumPanic: YouTuber/Artist

For those who may not know you, who are you?

Well, I’m MaximumPanic! My subscribers call me Manic as a shortened form of the name. I’m a gaming/art YouTuber who uploads Let’s Plays and a variety of games where my friends and I goof around and have a good time. I’m also an artist, and recently I’ve started uploading speedpaint videos where my close friends and I talk about our creations and stories we’ve made together over the years.

Speaking of gaming and art, what inspired you to make YouTube videos?

Oh gosh, where do I begin? Growing up, I was the weird kid in school who spent most of my time drawing in class and playing video games when I didn’t know how to make friends very well. As I got older, it became clear that finding a job that utilized my skills was a very hard thing to find, let alone hold onto. In the summer of 2018, I took notice that people like me could make videos doing whatever suited their fancy and it could serve as an income, if not a way of life. Specifically, I’d have to say my biggest inspirations for starting YouTube were people like Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, VanossGaming, and H2O Delirious. It was so reassuring to see millions of people enjoy their brand of loud, crazy, enjoyable type of humor, which is something I not only exhibited but retained to this day.

What is your favorite style of video game and artwork to do?

My favorite style of game is the kind that allows me to go wild and play out the story as I see fit. Things like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 catered to my tastes perfectly in that regard. As for art, I love to experiment with bold colors and lighting, specifically in similar styles to those of RWBY and The Wolf Among Us. Because I’m running my channel solo, I’ve drawn approximately 99% of the video thumbnails you see there. With so many different games to choose from, there’s always room for experimentation and testing my creative limits.

Have any big projects that you are excited for?

Yes! I can’t divulge much information, but at the moment, I’m writing and illustrating a superhero style comic series. There’s still so much to flesh out, but I’m excited to keep working on it and bringing my creative ideas to life!

What advice do you have for people who want to become a gaming YouTuber or an artist YouTuber?

Honestly? If you want to start your own YouTube channel, just do it. It doesn’t matter what your first video is like, how polished the editing is, or what kind of content you make. You won’t know what fits your style until you make that first video. From there, you can create new ideas, take on new skills, and ultimately carve out a clear path to walk on.

MaximumPanic’s YouTube Channel

MaximumPanic’s Twitter

MaximumPanic’s Instagram

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An Interview with Francesca Baerald

I came across Francesca Baerald through the map she created of Xadia for The Dragon Prince. I decided to reach out to her to learn more about her work.

About Francesca Baerald

“Freelance Artist and Cartographer with years of experience happily working in the game and publishing industry for companies such as Square Enix, Games Workshop, Paizo, Fantasy Flight Games, Penguin Random House and Dark Horse.

My favourite media are traditional. Watercolour, ink, acrylic and oil are my daily work tools. But I also work with Photoshop on daily basis. I love to bring worlds to life through my detailed maps and lively paintings and I’m always looking for new challenging projects!”

1. What inspired you to start making art?

As many others like me, drawing has always been a way of expressing myself. This passion has grown through the years inspired by games, books and wonderful people who influenced my way of looking at art. In time I found a way to transform making art into a job and I couldn’t be more happy about it

2. Do you have a favorite piece? If so why?

I do not have a favourite piece among my works. For me each project I work on is special and is linked to a specific moment in my life. In my mind they are all unique in their own way.

3. What other artist inspires you?

I find inspiration from many artists and it would be impossible to list them all. I have a quite full library of artbooks from all times and of all kinds of art. For me inspiration doesn’t come just from other artists’ works. I can find it in places, things, words… I always try to keep my mind and my eyes open wherever I go.

4. What struggles do you face as an artist?

As an artist, sometimes you feel like you are not heard, especially at the beginning of your career. It takes a lot of will to go on despite the rejections, but perseverance pays off in time. Another struggle is to establish a connection with your clients. Sometimes it’s not easy to understand and translate their ideas into images.


5. Advice to other artists?

I made it as a rule to keep pushing no matter the struggle. For me luck is not an essential factor in success. You have to find a way to create opportunities. If one in a hundred of your works gets noticed, it’s a success. It just means that you need to make more works to get more opportunities to be seen.

6.What are your plans for 2021?

Luckily I have a rich and full agenda ahead of me. Most of the projects I’m working on are under NDA so unfortunately, I can’t share details. This year I’m working on some projects that have been in my dreams for a long time and I’m looking forward to sharing the work I’m doing with the world, as soon as I can.

Sumi-e Style Illustration

7. How did you come up with your ideas?

Most of my works are made for published projects so I usually take inspiration from the description of the setting I’m working on. I do a lot of research and try my best to identify with the setting I’m exploring. I think that it’s vital to create a connection with the setting to be able to truly communicate its message.

Discover more HERE

Follow Francesca Baerald


Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to Allagesofhr@gmail.com

Tatiana Stec is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Twitter @Tatiana_Stec

Why You Should Be Supporting INDEPENDENT Creators!

thumbnail image from Tumblr

There are many independent creators YOU can be supporting right now. It has been known that many corporations have been using art without the permission of the artist for years now. There are many companies that do this including Urban Outfitters and Dolls Kill. Instead of going to an overpriced corporation All Ages of Geek recommends you to shop from independent creators.

Where do I find them?

There are MANY websites you can visit to buy products from independent creators. The first website we recommend using is Etsy. “Etsy is an American e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies.” On Etsy you are able to search for what you want! For example, let’s say you are looking for a new print to hang up in your bedroom, Etsy will have the product you are looking for. You will be able to find one-of-a-kind art while supporting independent creators.

The next website you can visit is Redbubble although Redbubble takes a significant amount of profits from the artist it is still a small way to support independent creators. On Redbubble you are able to choose from products with the design you want. T-shits, prints, stickers, water-bottles, Redbubble has it all!

We also strongly encourage you to go on Twitter and Instagram to search for independent creators. Many times the creator will have their website linked in their bio. This way you will be able to support your favorite artist!

Why should I support Independent creators?

There are many benefits to supporting Independent creators. Not only will you be able to communicate directly with the artist you will also be supporting the artist’s careers. Let’s say you need a new t-shirt with your favorite anime character on it. instead of visiting companies that may or may not have the design you are looking for you can contact an artist who creates custom designs! This way you will be able to communicate with the artist and tell them exactly what you want!

Art is not cheap. So with every purchase, you give to an independent creator the chance to continue creating their art.

All Ages of Geeks Top 5 Independent Creators of the week!

Here are some amazing artist we came across this week! Be sure to check out their work!


2. Nuri

3. Sif Savery

4. Amborg


Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to Allagesofhr@gmail.com

Tatiana Stec is the Co-founder and Creative Director at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Twitter @Tatiana_stec. If you ever want to be featured on our podcast about independent creators be sure to email us!

We Interviewed Artist 2xlee!!

How long have you been an artist?

1. I actually can’t remember not doing art, to be honest. I never had that “click”-moment, that might have started it. However, I began pursuing the fundamentals of anatomy around 4th grade, after I saw the “Love Manga” How-to-draw-book in a Winx Club Magazine, haha. (My mom had to order it for me of course.)

Favorite piece of art you’ve made?

2. Good question, hard to answer. I think, the one that I’m still the most attached to, are the two illustrations with Revali and Link about there being no good in mourning the dead. They’re visually compelling and subtle. I also really love the drawing of Link and The Great Fairy. These two should be my favorite.

Advice to other artists?

3. Don’t lose the fun of it all. I believe, that everything you pursue in life should be done because it makes you happy.

Plans for 2021?

4. Not to get crushed by my university assignments, haha! I also want to start working on bigger and more official projects, being part of something more, that would be nice.

We Interviewed Illustrator Io Kay!

1. How long have you been doing art and what inspired you to start?

I’ve been doodling since diapers, but I started teaching myself at 13. Around that time I discovered the Internet and fandom spaces, and all the wonderful artworks created for my favorite series prompted me to try getting better at art.

2. What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

To me, it’s the perfect way to unwind! I am a very emotional person who has problems expressing my feelings, so it feels good to channel them into something productive. That way I have something to do with all the inner turmoil and scattered thoughts, and it feels even better if I like the results.

3. Advice to other creators?

Do what you love and what feels right to you! It goes for everything, starting with your themes, medium, or posting online. Draw for yourself first and foremost, and don’t poison your love for your craft with expectations or an illusion of success.

4. what are your plans for 2021?

I aim to get my bachelor’s degree in arts this summer, and pass the exam to qualify for master’s program as well!

An Interview with Eleanor Bick – Freelance Author and Illustrator

For those who may not know who you are, who are you and what do you do?

Alright, so, I’m Eleanor Bick and I’m a freelance author and illustrator from Germany! I started publishing children’s books in 2017, about tiny dragons camouflaging themselves as flowers in our gardens. With the Gardendragon-book series I want to teach children about the importance of insects and their preservation. But online I am most known for my Pokémon Comics! I kind of accidentally created a whole webseries about the Alola region from the Sun and Moon games in my free time, and now “El’s Alolan Adventures” has become one of my main projects next to writing my books.

What inspired you to write/draw?

I think I’ve been drawing since the day I could hold a pencil – which comes to no surprise if you know my family. My mother is a freelance artist herself, so she always encouraged my creativity. And writing stories I began in grade school, where I got my first taste of how powerful a good story can be. I will never forget the day when just for once I wasn’t the shy wallflower of the class, when I had to read a short-story I wrote and made them all genuinely laugh. It still took me some time to realize, that writing stories was one of the main things I wanted to do. I think the internet helped me a lot in that regard, when I made another fancomic in my teen-years and switched from deviantArt to tumblr.

What is your favorite thing about El’s Alolan Adventures?

I think it’s the fact that the comic has forced me to get out of my comfort-zone, in more ways than I expected. First it was a challenge for me for the simple reason that drawing humans is one of my weak-points. Then there came new challenges, from complex backgrounds to trying new shading techniques, but it also became a journey of personal growth. I am finally learning to use short-cuts for my work and reuse assets, something that for some reason a lot of artists such as I thought were a form of “cheating” and felt guilty for doing. Which is nonsense, because when you already drew something, what’s so wrong about reusing it to make your life EASIER?
Writing my comics also made me reflect on myself:
El’s Alolan Adventures is a comedic slice-of-life series, but at it’s core it’s about relationships and personal growth. And the more I explored these topics as I kept writing scripts, the more I reflected on my own growth and what I value in a relationship, be it platonic or romantic.
When I look at the effects the comic has on my community, I really appreciate it for how it apparently is encouraging others to make their own comics, but also be as self-indulgent about their art as they want to be.
The Protagonist “El” actually started out as my “Trainersona”, which means the character is basically the Pokémon-equivalent of myself. The comics started out as simple shorts about my experiences with some of the games I played, but then I got very invested in the character of Guzma in Sun and Moon and made more and more comics about him and El interacting. When I noticed I was apparently turning this into a series, I just rolled with it and El became her own character as the story continued.
Over time I’ve gotten a lot of messages of people telling me that they’re now less afraid to just draw their Sonas interacting with their favorite characters or to publish stories about them, which I think is awesome!
Self-inserts have a rather poor reputation on the internet, so I’m glad if I can somehow contribute to their image in a positive way.
I think that if your story is good, it shouldn’t really matter if your main character is based on you or not. In some way we always put part of ourselves into our characters anyway.

Are there any plans to have El go to newer regions, like Galar?

Currently no, the story will continue to play in Alola, but we’ll still have a change of scenery within the region, since the majority has played on Mele Mele Island so far, but there are a lot of places in Alola we haven’t explored yet! Especially Ula Ula will be interesting, but that’s still a long way ahead of us…Though on the note of other regions, if I have to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of Pokémon Sword and Shield – Galar left a rather weak impression on me, so if I’d send the characters on a short trip somewhere else, it might be Kalos or Hoenn instead. Though again, there aren’t any plans for this yet…

What would you tell someone who wanted advice in writing or drawing?

Have fun. Have fun no matter what you do. It’s incredibly general, but I think its the most crucial part. Learn what you enjoy doing and keep doing it. It will lead you on the right path eventually. If we want to be more concrete, I’d say go watch a lot of film-reviews and essays on YouTube if you want to improve on writing – they helped me a lot over the years to figure out what makes a story work and what doesn’t. If I’m allowed to make some personal recommendations, “Just Write”, “Sideways” and “CriticalHit” are one of my favorite channels, the latter being painfully underrated. “Sideways” is actually all about musical scores for movies, but still gives you a fascinating insight into the world of storytelling from a musical standpoint. And if you’re stuck on a story and you’re waiting for a strike of motivation, do take a break, but if motivation doesn’t come back, try to sit down and work on it even if you still feel stuck at the moment. Sometimes we can break through a blockade just by starting to type / draw again and you’re back in the flow. But in the end it all comes down to if you enjoy your work or finding out how you can make it enjoyable for you again.


We Interviewed Voice Actor Zac Elliot!

All Ages of Geek is always looking to hear the creative journey of artists from around the world. Today we jumped into the world of voice acting and interviewed Zac Elliot all about his voice acting!

1. What started your voice-acting journey? 

When I was 8, I use to do impressions of cartoon characters like Spongebob or Ed from Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy. I didn’t think much of it then, but as I got older, I realized that voice acting was really fascinating! Especially seeing Tom Kenny performing Spongebob in the booth on a DVD I have! I originally went to college to study film as my major. But I still had an interest in voice acting. So after I graduated, my dad and I built a VA booth and I’ve been recording from my home studio ever since.

2. Any inspiration from other voice actors? 

My first was Mel Blanc for his diverse delivery of a pleathers of different Looney Tune characters! Next is Steve Blum! As we both started off with little to no acting training and learned as we worked! His favorite performance would have to Spike from Cowboy Bebop! After that, Frank Welker! He has such joy when he’s in the booth! I enjoy seeing him having a great time and shows that Voice acting is exciting! My favorite role from him is definitely Fred from Scooby-Doo! Then there’s Cristina Valenzuela @CristinaVee  Seeing her start with doing online projects and now in the professional scene is truly inspiring and happy to see her success! Favorite role from her: Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon! Lastly, it’s Robin Williams! His performance and recordings of him in the booth as the Genie from Aladdin are truly magical and he will always be a great treasure to the VA world!

3. Advice for newer actors? 

 My advice? Give it your all! If this is something you truest want to do, then be sure to give all you’ve got your performance! Help bring the character to life and give your 200%!

4. Plans for 2021? 

My plans, eh? I’m hoping to audition for more projects, get to voice in an animated work, produce my own content for YouTube, and eventually start doing VA full time.

5. Your ultimate goals with voice acting!

My dream is to help other VAs starting out grow! I believe anyone has the chance to be a voice actor! Never give up, make friends on your journey, and give your 200%!

We Interviewed Artist UsagiBaka!

1. How long have you been doing art?

I’ve starting drawing when I was 4 years old and right now I just turned 20 last Feb 5

2. What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite part of being an artist is actually interacting with other artists, especially those people who compliment my art… I don’t usually get complimented and being told that my art is pretty makes me really happy

3. What inspired you to start?

When I was young I really looked up to my 2 older sisters, when I saw that they know how to draw I immediately joined the wagon until I realized how fun it was actually and continued to draw even when they stopped.

4. What advice would you give to newer artists?

Practice is literally the most cliche but correct thing to say to new artists. Don’t be afraid to look up references and take criticism like a pro

5. Do you have a favorite piece. Is so why?

My favorite non-commission piece atm is this one probably because my art is usually all pastel or have light colors, I really like how this turned out looking all edgy.

My favorite commission piece is this one because It was the first time I got commissioned to draw a full-body furry illustration.. I don’t really get commissioned to draw furries and I’m not the best at it but I’m really proud of this one!

6. What are your plans for 2021?

My plans for 2021 is to try new stuff especially in my art, I want to discover new art styles and coloring techniques as well since I don’t really see much difference between my art style these past few years/months

socials/sites: https://twitter.com/UsagiBaka1 https://patreon.com/UsagiBaka https://ko-fi.com/usagibaka https://hazelpinote01.wixsite.com/usagibaka

An Interview with Illustrator A.G. Nonsuch

What made you want to become an illustrator?
It sort of just fell on my lap. Always drew when i was younger but I stopped at one point. One day 4 years ago I drew something and people liked it. So I drew another. And another. Grew from there.

What is it like being a professional illustrator?
I feel like I am far from one. But that’s just my insecurities talking. I think there is constant pressure for me to call myself that but I guess I’ve become more or less that when I’ve partnered with bigger things than myself.

What is your favorite thing to draw?

What words of advice would you give people who want to become illustrators?
Just keep at it no matter what skill level. You’ll get better. And just be kind.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AG_Nonsuch?s=09

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/ag_nonsuch?sr=a