ARTIST INTERVIEW: Jazyl Homavazir
Profession: Animation Director, Webcomic artist, Character Design
Tell us a bit about your work.
First off, thanks for selecting me for this interview. So a little about myself, I’m an animation professional from Mumbai India but in my spare time. I also work on my own award-winning webcomic series titled the Beast Legion(www.thebeastlegion.com), which is labeled as the first manga style webcomic to come from an Indian artist. As for animation, I’ve been in the field for over 7 years now. I’ve had the chance of working on everything from character designs, comics, advertisements, toy design & Animation. I’ve worked on several independent creator-owned projects & also for corporates including Autocar India, Aegon, pre-production for Lego Friends Season 2 & more. Currently, I’m freelancing.
It’s been a thrill ride filled with mostly ups & a few downs but hey that’s what makes life so special. Beast Legion has been a consistent project that’s extremely close to my heart that I started in 2010 & I have been updating the comic almost every week & intend to do so for a long long time.
How did you get into art/writing?
Warning!!! this is going to be long. 😛 I’ve never really been much of a writer until lately but I’ve been intrigued by art for as long as I know. I grew up surrounded by He-man figures. My elder brother was a terrific traditional artist, dare I say a prodigy from a very young age. I use to do a lot of scribbles & character drawings in school which I use to gift to one friend each day (sometimes wish I had kept all those rough books preserved) but I never really thought of pursuing it as a career.
However back in 2003, Mattel came up with a new He-man series & I was totally in awe of it. I joined one of the biggest He-man communities & started posting MSPaint fan art & sometimes fan fics there as well. They have still preserved all those MSpaint drawing there. Suddenly I started getting requests from fellow He-man fans which really boosted my confidence level & I got my first commission from there in 2005. I actually never knew you could make money online through art back in the day so this was a huge surprise & confidence booster. I had also entered a character design competition where one of my characters won & got made into a statue which added momentum.
However, everything changed in 2007 when I first started watching Naruto. I will always stand by the fact that Naruto played one of the biggest roles in changing my whole perception about being an artist & giving your 100% to whatever you do. I was actually completing my BSC.in I.T during that time but after watching that series I knew animation was my calling. It inspired me on so many levels. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I joined an animation institute, started experimenting with the anime style & the moment I started posting anime style art on Deviantart, commissions just started popping up one after another & I totally realized that this is a style that I have to blend in with my own. I did a fan animation of Naruto on Youtube which crossed over a million vies in a month. You can find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhy2aMJXlUM
Also During 2007, I created the first Beast Legion scripts for the Animax Pan Asia Writing Contest along with some very initial drawing. Although It didn’t make the cut but it got a lot of appreciation on the forums. I went & made several iterations to the first 4 episodes but I was determined to get it out for everyone to read one way or another & I thought comics would be the best medium even If later on I had to pitch it somewhere. I started reading manga with full vigor & before I knew it I got completely immersed.
In 2010 I launched my site www.thebeastlegion.com . My only aim for making the web-comic was that I could share my tale on a global platform so everyone can enjoy it & surprisingly things worked out & in the very first year the comic received the Comic Con award for best webcomic & the Drunkduck webcomic award for best fantasy. The rest is history. Thoroughly recommend everyone reading the article to give it a shot & follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/thebeastegion
What are you working on next?
Well, I have several projects on-going simultaneously. I’ve been associated with designing characters for American based mini-figure toy line called Mystic Warriors of the Ring(www.mystwarriors.com ). I’m also working as a line artist & character designer on two other webcomic series titled ‘a Song of Heroes’(www.facbook.com/asongofheroes ) & upcoming series ‘NekoQuest’ but those are mostly freelance projects. I’m right now working on series of Youtube Exclusive Animated Shorts called Aadi and Friends’ (www.youtube.com/aadiandfriend) aimed at educating kids about moral values & important life lessons. It’s a complete contrast from the regular fantasy stuff I do but I think it’s for a great cause & it’s working out for me.
In the coming year, I will also be conducting a few workshops in partnership with Wacom to Help convince parents to support their kids in pursuing art. It’s something really special as Wacom is an integral part of my life as a complete digital artist. Art, in India, is still not considered a mainstream platform by many & hence we are losing out on talent every year. I want to hold these workshops to enlighten both parents & kids that in today’s age with growing social media & technology you need not only look at India to pursue art as a career. Most of my clients are based abroad.
Secondly & I know that it may seem like a tall claim but I really want to do my best & try to break the current notion that ‘Cartoons are only for kids’. That mentality in my personal opinion is literally pulling India away from creating quality content on a global level. Channels don’t accept animation content that goes beyond the 12 year age bracket, especially if it’s made in India. As a result, there is no financial backing for projects that aspire to break the norms with more complex story lines & character development. Producers would rather spend 50 crores on a movie than spend 10 lakhs for an animation. Our government provides 0 supports to this sector & that’s a sad thing. I say that from experience where we were almost set to launch a series when the deal fell through at the last moment.
However the challenge for animators & creative like me who aspire to bring change is going to be long & hard but I don’t believe it’s impossible. It’s not a job that one person can accomplish but I believe even if a few talented animators come together & give a few days of their busy years to create even one breath-taking short I’m certain that we can break through the chains especially now with broadcasters like Netflix & Amazon Prime coming into the picture. Not sure if I moved off topic, but I had to mention this.
Any advice for younger artists?
Never give up on your dreams of pursuing art as a career. Prospects will grow over time. In today’s world, there are so many platforms you can showcase on something that wasn’t there until early 2000. There are 4 things an artist needs to keep in mind, observe, practice, persevere & promote.
Observe: It’s simple. There’s inspiration all around you… right from the watchman sitting under your building, to kids playing in the park to the favorite cartoons/anime you watch. Get inspired. Reference but don’t ever trace.
Practice: Lift that pen, pencil, tablet whatever you have & start sketching. Daily for 3-4 hours. Be honest about assessing your own work. If you feel it’s not up to the mark tear it up & re-draw. That’s the only way you’ll start assessing your strengths & weaknesses. Today you find tutorials from some of the greatest artists online as well as books. Very few people can be good in every department. See what you are strong at & enhance your skillset.
Persevere: A lot of people expect amazing responses in a very short time. Don’t! It takes time for people to appreciate art. If you keep posting practice sketches on well know art sites, people are not going to take you seriously. You can post those on Instagram & Facebook. But only post your final art ( art that you are at last 80%) satisfied with on sites like Artstation, Behance or Deviantart. You will only get better with time & good art will not go unnoticed. Just don’t give up if things don’t go your way right away. Eventually, they will.
Promote: Probably one of the most important phases but often ignored. People cannot appreciate your art until they know it exists. Today with Social media & especially Instagram using the right tags you can promote your work to people who you’ve never met even once & convert them into fans. Be sure to have a very solid portfolio on at least 2 or 3 art sharing sites where you can divert people to from your various social media channels. However, promotion isn’t a one-way thing which a lot of artists in India take for granted. You need to go out there & like, share & comment the art that you like. I single share or comment is equivalent to 50 likes, that’s what I believe. If you show interest in someone else’s work over time they will share the same enthusiasm towards yours. Unless you are a Super talented artist.
Lastly, Make sure you are 100% passionate about drawing & learning if you want to succeed in the field of art & animation. Don’t take short-cuts like cut out animation like most of the stuff these days. Focus on frame by frame drawing is nothing will build your fundamentals stronger than that.
What are your inspirations?
I take inspiration from a lot of things…from instances in my life, the books I read to the tv /animated shows I watch. But as mentioned earlier my biggest influences are 80s shows like He-man & Thundercats followed by anime like Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist etc. As for the people who inspire me, it comes as no shock the Misashi Kishimoto (Naruto) as well as Ttite Kubo (Bleach) are two of my biggest inspirations. But along my journey as an artist & connecting with so many professionals there’s a lot of people I look up to including Thomas Perkins (Ben 10/Avengers Assemble), Daniel Norton (New Thundercats), Dave Wilkins, Emiliano Santalucia, our very own Krishna Balram Banerjee (Batu Gaiden), Phil Bourousa, Josh Corpuz, Jeff Wamester… the list just goes on.
For more on Jazyl Homavazir please follow the links below
You can also help Beast Legion by pledging as little as $1 towards www.patreon.com/jazylh in return for exclusive digital art prints & process videos.
Disclaimer: All the Artwork and the Images showcased here belongs solely to the individual mentioned above. It has been put up their permission and Men Of Comics holds no rights over it.