Most fans of English visual novels know Deji-chan’s work…even if they don’t ‘know’ anything about her. A native of Chile, M. Beatriz Garcia has been doing commercial work since 2009 and her incredible skills can be seen in some of the most noteworthy English VNs of the past two years.
Currently she is working on the third game of SakeVisual’s Jisei series, the sequel to The Flower Shop from Winter Wolves and several others VNs as well as professional commissions. We are honored to have her here as part of our monthly interview series!
VNs Now: So how did all begin for you and visual novels? Where you always a fan or was it a fan of your work that pulled you in?
Deji: I just loved the art of Japanese Visual Novels! I remember hunting for pretty CGs on gallery websites and looking at the pretty character designs when I figured out how to get to the official websites. Never got around to play one, though, since I don't know any Japanese and I wasn't thrilled about click-festing the entire thing.
One day, an artist I watched on deviantART posted a journal looking for a volunteer colorist and assistant artist for an English VN in the works called "Flight of Twilight". After that, doing research for the group, I ended up in Lemmasoft Forums and learned about Ren'Py and about people working on their own VNs, so I wanted to give it a try! I started working on art for a VN that would be my diploma project at college, and got involved in the community, where I met most of the people I've worked with since then.
VNs Now: Normally you design the characters for the visual novels you work on. What all goes into that? Do you have to look for inspiration before you get started or is the design for a character something that just spills out of your head?
Deji: Sometimes I get initial sketches and/or references from the VN creators, and then I try to redraw them my way and add a thing or two here and there. When I'm given complete freedom, I think of characters and people I like and then sketch away. I always look for clothing references, since I'm pretty bad at coming up with outfit designs by myself. I try to look at as many things as I can, though, so I don't end up just plainly copying things.
I'd like to think that, while I'm not good at coming up with 100% original things, I'm good at mixing at matching things that end up in a satisfactory result.
VNs Now: The games you work on seem to vary a lot. You’ve done art for mystery games, dating sims and, well, I’m not sure what Ripples qualifies as but you did that to. Is there any particular genre you like working on or is it all pretty much fair game? And what are some of the things you look for in a project before you take it on?
Deji: My tastes are pretty eclectic, I think. I'd say the only things that decide if I work or not on a project are the characters seeming fun to draw and that the story doesn't go to places I particularly dislike, since it's hard to work on something you *really* don't like or that makes you uncomfortable and find yourself struggling and going "I don't want to draw this!". The idea is to have fun working on the project and putting the extra work that sometimes is needed because you just really like drawing those characters and what happens to them. I have a weakness for schoolgirls in uniform and fantasy settings, though.
VNs Now: Knowing what you know so far about visual novels, where do you see it going in the future?
Deji: I wouldn’t say I know that much about Visual Novels. On the graphic side, developers are start taking more risks with GUIs and effects, to create a richer and more visually enticing experience than just static image of character A standing against static background C. I really like how some groups are doing that right now, and I'm looking forward to see where that takes them. On that same vein, I think adding extra gameplay elements (besides the usual stat raising and similar mechanics) without detracting from the traditional VN experience will help expand the market.
VNs Now: Just between you and me (and the hundreds reading this) what are some of your favorite characters that you’ve designed so far?
Deji: From The Flower Shop and its upcoming sequel, Susana, Steve and Natalie are my favorites, definitely. The girls from The Parasol Festival (still under production) with all their folk-ish clothes are also among my favorites, and Chance from Jisei series is also a character that has been fun working on.
Now, I wish I could take credit on the design of some of the Sakevisual characters I adore drawing, like Kuu (from Ripples), Kurara (Sakevisual's mascot) and Li Mei (Jisei series), but they're originally Ayu's designs that I just redrew, so credit goes to her!
VNs Now: Shifting gears just as little bit, what are your personal goals as an artist? What are some of the things you want to accomplish with what you do?
Deji: I want to get better, so I can transport people to places and moments with what I draw. I want people to be fond of the characters that I get to draw. That's what I like about art, myself, so I want to be able to make people feel what I feel when I look at art done by artists I admire. I feel really accomplished when somebody tells me that what I do has inspired them.
VNs Now: I was legitimately surprised when I found out where you were from. Did growing up in Chile influence your art?
Deji: Why is it so surprising? xD
In Chile, we look up to a lot of other countries and people, but it feels like we've yet to be able to do great things ourselves that people will look up to. That makes one think that everybody else from more artistically developed countries will be better than you, no matter what you do.
On the bright side, we tend to draw influences from different places and things. While anime/manga art is not regarded very fondly, teachers don't look down on you as much as I've read they do in the United States, for instance, so I never had a hard time working on that kind of things while I was studying. Now, you could argue it didn't drag me out of my comfort zone and that I could have used being forced to draw other things, though ^^;
A Doodle #2
VNs Now: For all of the aspiring artists and visual novelists who are reading this right now, what would you tell them to help them reach their own goals?
Deji: First, practice a lot. Second, we all have that big dream project we want to do, and we never feel we're good enough for it. You know, it's better to work on smaller things that you can do right now and finish them. If what you just did is not that good (even if it's the best you can do right now), you can always learn from it and make the next one better. And then the next one, and so on... and then you'll look back at all those things (it may be embarrassing!) and see this ladder that has helped you get you to where you are. And you know, at some point that ladder will lead you right to your dream project, and you'll be ready to tackle it and make it awesome!
VNs Now: Thank you very much and good luck on your new projects!
Deji: Thank you for interviewing me! It was a pleasure (:
Follow Deji on her Tumblr, Twitter and her DeviantArt Page!