Hi, gay geeks and gaymers! We had the pleasure of talking to Daniel Root aka Red Alchemy.
What’s an embarrassing moment you’ve had?
Not really a single moment more like a collection of moments. I tend to listen to music when I work and I get a little too carried away while enjoying the tune. On more than one occasion people have tapped me on the shoulder and told me I’m humming too loud while I work. One particular time the entire class turned around to stare at me. My only statement, “You don’t know what you’re missing”.
Three interesting facts about yourself.
When I was a kid one of my best friends was a retired Springfield college dean we called Sean. He was a professor of Philosophy, History, and Geography. I learned a lot from him
I used to weigh about 235 pounds when I was 16, In one summer I lost weight and became a comfortable 135, nobody said anything
Had a family business and worked there since I was a kid. The customers and neighboring businesses became my extended family.
Are you into anything nerdy/geeky (video games, anime, cartoons, TV shows, comics)?
I’m into a lot of nerdy and geeky things. Specifically Japanese games, comics, anime were very important to me growing up, the weirder the better. Later Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Legend of Zelda, SMT Persona, and anything that offered a deep world with philosophical ramifications became some of my favorite brands.
Do you have an educational background in art?
Several years of Art education at CSUF for Entertainment art and Animation
What got you into art?
When I was younger there was one game that became the driving force in how I approach art. I played Final Fantasy IX as a kid and I remember thinking how amazing it was to not watch but live a story. Each character had a strong character design with their own history, the way they look and feel come from a culture or a personality that transcended the visuals. So whenever I create something I think, who is this person? What is this place? Why would they have a personality like that? How did they get there? When did it start? Etc.
My sister bought me the art book, and I treasure it to this day. A book of vehicles, places, NPC’s , and characters that helped bring a world to life.
Noteworthy mentions of your art (museums, galleries, design companies)?
I don’t have much in terms of accolades yet, but I have done some various work for productions. The mascot Eri for CSUF TitanCon was one. Work on a stop motion animation short for SDSU which won an award for animation. I also interned at Stoopid Buddies the guys behind Robot Chicken.
For aspiring artists like yourself, what kind of advice can you give them?
There is something in art that is often swept under the rug. To get better at art you have to enjoy life.
I remember there was once a classmate on critique day and I accidentally made her cry. She did beautiful work… but every sentence she uttered was about finding a job and how she must get better at art, never saying anything about the work itself. I mentioned in a quiet moment, “You know… its okay to enjoy working too”. Tears ran down her face, but I knew exactly what she was feeling because I went through it before. An artist should always strive to improve their work, but not at the cost of the love they get from doing it. Do art for yourself, make silly things, serious things, anything you love. If it doesn’t look the way you want it to, that is when you should learn.
*Note: We still became friends afterwords
How has your practice changed over time?
In the last few years my work has become increasingly digital for multiple reasons. Compared to when I began a few years ago, I can now do illustrations in a fraction on the time and I now know enough to keep an economy of elements. I also now keep a variety of styles in mind when communicating with a client on what art direction they want to take.
What’s your strongest memory of your childhood with art?
My sister… I will never forget that smile on her face while she painted
What art do you most identify with? What other artists inspire you?
To be honest I don’t think of myself as an artist, more of a writer who tells stories with art.
But with that said the works of Akihiko Yoshida, Hayao Miyazaki, Alphonse Mucha, are excellent artists I continue to learn from. Musical artists like Nobuo Uematsu, Koji Kondo, and Joe Hisaishi inspire me while I work.
What was the scariest experience?
Strange as it may sound, I feel like that time has yet to come… Though I think our Kickstarter for Halcyon Plume will be one of them.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
This may or may not be called a real-life situation, but it was a powerful moment. I was playing Metal Gear Solid and after defeating Ocelot you are cued to find a radio frequency to contact Meryl. The game mentions, “Its written on the back of the CD case”. I wondered for ages what it meant. Then suddenly I looked on the back of the game case, found something and thought to myself… “No way”. Turns out that was the code I was looking for…
That moment permanently changed my way of thinking. Since that day I’ve strived to think in unconventional concepts to keep things interesting.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Having someone cosplay as one of my characters and she not knowing I was the artist saying, “I love her so much, its like she is real”. It was a very happy moment.
What superpower would you have and why?
The power to bring out the best in someone. Everyone has something to offer, but life sometimes pushes them into a dark corner or fear stops them from doing what they know is best. A good teacher can bring out someone’s potential, do more than what they think is possible. It makes people happy, it makes them less afraid, and makes people want to help others grow.
What are you passionate about?
Culture…. When I was a kid I loved learning about mythology, different rituals, origination, philosophy, concepts, and language. This evolved into world building and storytelling. I love to tell stories and my art is fueled by that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Something a friend told me which I wish I knew when I was younger. The biggest difference between a beginner and a professional is that a beginner adds more, and professional adds less. What this refers to is an economy of elements in a work. Sonic, Link, Mario, and many iconic characters/ places/ stories are all made with a few key elements placed very well. Put too much into a character/ place/ story with no purpose and it becomes white noise… Its still quite possible to generate a complex concept or visual, but greater care is needed when considering how to balance it.
I try to remember this when designing something.
Where can fans get more of you (social media, websites, etc.)?
Currently my main hub is Tumblr, but I’ll be developing my website soon as well.
My friends and I founded the indie company Polygon Pixel and we have been in production on a video game called Halcyon Plume for some time. Inspired by PSX/N64 generation games its a combination of StarFox, Metal Slug, and Legend of Zelda gameplay with Megaman Legends style visuals. We hope to bring it to Kickstarter soon bringing a new take on a classic style.
Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Your comments, support, and likes help keep me going. Without great people to share my art it would be lost. Thank you all!