I sat down for an interview with one of my co-conspirators, Vi-Dieu Nguyen. Vi works at Dreamworks, so you know I really have to like him to collaborate with him on Nail’d.
Austin: would you say nail’d fits into your vi-oeuvre?
Vi-Dieu: the adventure aspect yeah
should I say more?
Austin: no, that’s fine
how do you go about designing a character?
what do you find most appealing about adventure stories?
Vi-Dieu: I like that the stakes are high and it’s all about going into the uknown. That sense of wonder, mixed in with anxiety. Exciting, but scary. The unknown, in a nutshell.
Plus, there’s an episodic quality to adventure.
Austin: like the character’s adventures preceded the story and will go on after.
Vi-Dieu: Like…it’s one set after another. New characters to be introduced, new situations.
Austin: i think i know the answer to this, but what is your favorite adventure story?
Vi-Dieu: Hands down, Raiders.
You knew that didn’t you?
Vi-Dieu: But, I also like Lord of the Flies.
Austin: that one definitely mirrors our story! what do you find appealing about LotF?
Vi-Dieu: I like islands and survival…and savagery.
Austin: yeah! instant drama!
I like kids being forced to find a power dynamic right away
I like a good power struggle story.
And the creepy reality of how alliances form.
How we turn against each other.
And that one boy…
the smallest one
the one who warned about the lord of the flies
Austin: i don’t really remember it that well
Vi-Dieu: There was this one boy who was the wisest of all, but he died too, and he warned about a monster lurking in the jungle…the monster turned out to be themselves. bum BUM!
Vi-Dieu: i like the morality tale
Aesop’s fable like lesson at the end
Like if you sow wild oats, you’re gonna pay for it
Austin: yeah, and i’ll work on getting more savagery in there for you
Vi-Dieu: people wearing skull caps, shrunken heads…animal hide
all adventure stories are racist in nature
if they have aboriginals
Austin: crocodile dundee is good about it
there are a lot of dynamic aboriginal characters
Vi-Dieu: i should check that out
i lost $50 to a friend who was able to hum the crocodile dundee theme
Austin: how do you approach designing a character from scratch?
Vi-Dieu: I start with absurdity. Draw like a child and let myself go - have no rules. Make myself laugh or surprised….
I start with the absurd and then start shaping it into a certain reality with rules
Austin: do you focus on shape, or try to put the character into a scene or narrative context?
Vi-Dieu: I start with…well for me, yeah, I start with a dynamic shape…often in facial expression
I like to start with the eyes
Austin: the eyebrows are the hands of the face
Vi-Dieu: but yeah, having fun with the shape in the face
Austin: lastly, who is your favorite artist (not just character designer) and why?
Vi-Dieu: oh uhh…
Because of how…animated and alive his characters are. And they speak truths by their actions.
When we recognize that truth, we laugh!
he has a great minimalist approach to scenery, too
it’s all there to support the action
thanks for your time
i may or may not edit the racist bit
i’m not white