MFF 2010 GoH interview: Vantid, Redstorm, Kipper
Midwest FurFest 2010's guests of honor – Vantid (Amber Hill), Redstorm (Alexis Rudd, aka The Blue Hyena) and Kipper Otter – kindly allowed me to record their answers in the "meet the GoH" panel, hosted by MFF chairman Takaza. So here they are!
When did you first become interested in drawing/your art?
Kipper: For as long as I can remember. I took some art classes in high school and that got me more into it.
Redstorm: I was 16 years old in England, and nobody did Halloween there, so I decided to make a mask for it with a 15-year-old friend. I was always drawing in school and I got really angry if there was anyone else that was better than me.
[to Redstorm]: Do you work with prosthetics vs. fursuits?
Redstorm: Nowadays more prosthetics. I used to have a theatre supply company in the UK.
[to Vantid]: Late at night, you tend to draw layers in your artwork on LiveStream that people never see [in the final work]. What's the most interesting one?
Vantid: I can't take myself very seriously . . . we were talking about purple Care Bears, and I draw one doing a purple Care Bear stare into a tree and setting it on fire, with Vantid looking on in horror. It's all about entertaining others.
What got you into furry fandom?
Kipper: I was part of Yerf for a while. People kept mentioning the fandom and I thought it was a forum for the art. A couple of guys visited me from Los Angeles and introduced me to it.
Redstorm: I used to be very heavily into LARP in the UK, I always played an animal or a goblin. A bunch of Hamilton LARPers were also furries and they invited me to AC in 2007.
Vantid: I always drew animal-headed people; I thought humans were rather boring. I started looking around, found Elfwood and Yerf, and the rest is history.
[to Redstorm]: What made you move to the U.S.?
Redstorm: I came over as Head of a Leatherworking on a TV show, Monster Smash - but there was some catastrophe during editing. The guy producing it had lots of furry friends and I kinda got into the scene, and got more into it at AC.
How many furry conventions have you been to?
Redstorm: A few MFF and a lot of FC.
Kipper: A few shy of 20.
What was your first convention?
Several of you mentioned Yerf getting you into the fandom - do you feel there is an equivalent site today?
Vantid: I liked the sense of community there, to me there's no real equivalent.
Kipper: ArtSpots, because it's clean.
In what ways is your professional life a hassle in being part of the fandom?
Kipper: [It's hard to get to places.] I work driving a truck, and I really don't like it.
Vantid: [Explanation of how furry art currently is. her professional life.] The biggest hassle is planning it out and handling deadlines.
Redstorm: Time and money. I only have so many days off, since I primarily work on the puppet stuff.
[to Redstorm]: Have you done any professional puppeteering?
Redstorm: I worked for Artem in the UK, the UK's 2nd biggest special effects company. Now I'm working on Life of Leopold, which has some great puppets.
[to Redstorm]: How did you get into Folkmanis?
Redstorm: I was living in the east Bay Area, and was just about to move out when I got invited for an interview. So I showed up with my mask portfolio. They called me back for a meeting and said they really liked my stuff - had me design a wolf and they loved it. So I got hired full time.
I've done a wolf design, a jester and two monsters, a housecat, a cheetah puppet and I'm working on an anteater next.
[to Vantid]: How did you start with that magazine you work for?
Vantid: I started uploading work to Painter magazine, and after a year and a half the editor asked me if they could feature my work, and if I'd write a small article for them. I worked for them for about a year before they changed to Digital Artist magazine [...] - I'm in there almost every month.
[to Kipper]: Were there any interesting differences between drawing and making fursuits?
Kipper: Figuring out how to sculpt. I'd been doing it a before so I know a little bit, but I learn something every time I do a suit. I've always liked to build, so it's always fun for me.
What's the biggest challenge of being part of fandom?
Vantid: Pass . . .
Redstorm: There's a fine line between hobby and career. I worry a bit, have to be careful what I say about it in the workplace. Been trying to bring Folkmanis in a bit more. One of my major challenges is dedicating time to it but keeping a professional . . .
Vantid: Marketing my own kind of work - not really furry, just fuzzy animals - as something acceptable. I am happy because I'm able to make a living off of it; something I've really greatful for.
Kipper: Trying to fit everything in.
Vantid: Is Lex going to be active with puppets in her 70s?
Redstorm: I want to be retired on a desert island!
What is the strangest thing you've seen in the fandom?
Redstorm: I'm trying to think back . . . for me, I'm a costume maker, I see a lot of strange creatures and fantastic stuff. Some amazing costumes made out there, don't want to pick any one.
Kipper: Hard to say . . . at FC there was a drawing like Ronald McDonald and the Wendys girl having babies.
Vantid: How much can I say . . . a fellow getting chipped to be the next number after his dog - he was really inebriated and had a needle in his back and a large chunk of flesh came out.
What's the next big challenge in art for you?
Vantid: What I want to go to do.
Redstorm: Like where I am as a job, I did the Life of Leopold but I've been approached for another big time project.
Kipper: I've got two suits that I'm making for other people, so it's going to be a challenge.
What was your most challenging project?
Kipper: My first fursuit, trying to figure everything out.
Redstorm: I got a commission for a full realistic lion costume for a TV show in Spain. It had to move the eyes and ears about while still allowing vision. It was a huge challenge, but I guess I got through it and they seemed to like it.
Vantid: That goddamn saxophone [on the MFF 2010 conbook] and its keys. I don't think I ever cussed at a drawing more.
Between physical media and digital, which do you like best and why?
Vantid: I like coloured pencil, more for color, and I like to work with digital - it's a lot of fun but I just don't have the control I have in real mediums.
Kipper: Both have their perks - digital I like ctrl-z [undo] and color fill. Traditional I like because it's more personal, physical. Sometimes I combine them.
[to Redstorm]: What do you like to do most?
Redstorm: Right now, puppets, because I've been doing masks and costumes for 15 years, and puppets for only 1.5 years. I guess it varies . . . ask me next year and might be something else.
[to Vantid]: Have you ever been in a fursuit?
Vantid: In a cut-up St. Bernard's joke suit.
[to Kipper, Vantid]: Have you ever experimented with other artistic styles?
Kipper: I tried doing the realistic look, and it did look like what I was trying to portray.
Vantid: I tried doing cartoons, looked OK, but not really successful. Loose painterly style was very successful, and I started doing heavy inking from ?kami and that was wildly successful - has landed me a few jobs.
[to Redstorm]: Lex . . . I hear you like to do art . . .
Redstorm: I have a sneaky old gallery. I like arylics, pencils. I have a couple of works I was kinda proud of.
We get each guest a gift basket, and your baskets were most interesting - could you tell us a bit about them?
Kipper: A 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, mochi candy and dehydrated squid . . . I'm half-Japanese, though I don't look it, so I got a taste for things like that. Went to the Mitsui restaurant and got a different dehydrated squish.
. . . and Vantid and Lex got tea . . .
Redstorm: PG Tips is like a classic tea . . . the longer I live away from the UK, the more I miss it.
Vantid: Monkey-picked oolong. Floral, delicate, deliious. I use super-caffienated tea for art - I'm such a snob, can't use bags.
Vantid: I made up my name for a killer whale character [...] I used it as a test name when joining a forum, and I'm stuck with it forever.
Redstorm: My fan name Redstorm . . . red is for the colour of my hair. I had a friend who kept trying to hit on me; I was trying to be polite, but then his sister came up to complain to me: "Lex, you're like a storm - you come into people's lives and wreck them!"
Kipper: I like all these disgusting fish things. I have a pack of kipper snacks and it ended up sticking.
At this point, Aura Fox came in and declared himself chairman and guest of honor, deposing Takaza. The panel dispersed shortly afterwards.