Next-LVL: the intense strokes

Today we meet one of the most prolific artists of the Wakfusphere: Next-LVL! I’ve always felt a lot of passion in their drawings, probably thanks to their technic mixing vivid colours and intense strokes. I really wanted to know what was hiding behind such determination and love for WAKFU. If you are wondering too, I invite you to read this new interview!

  • When and why did you start drawing?

I always liked cartoons, but never was passionate about drawing before I saw Sailor Moon. I was around 10 when I started scribbling sailor warriors everywhere. It was mostly silly copying from various goodies I had (stickers, coloring books..) and I didn’t even know the word “anime” until 15 or so. Yes, I used to draw a lot, but it wasn’t anything serious until 18 or even 20, when I found out that I could become a professional artist all by myself, if I try hard enough. I met someone who pursued their dream, who inspired me to follow their steps. Earning for a living through art was a challenging task – and still is, – but I’m glad that I picked this way.

Sadly, I don’t have the oldest drawings on hand, but here’s one that’s close enough! It’s even dated.

  • What tools (paint, crayons, graphic tablets) do you master and what are your favorites?

I’ve been using a graphic tablet since 2012. Safe to say that I started slowly drifting away from traditional tools at the same time! Digital medium is more forgiving since you can always cancel the last step(s) or edit any part of the drawing. Although traditional art can look awesome too! I’m thinking of re-learning it and doing some traditional drawings as a leisure.

  • Have you studied art or are you self-taught?

I never attended an art school, all self-taught. I’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot ahead.

  • What do you like most about your activity?

Hmmm. Probably the satisfaction that comes with the completed drawing, especially when it turns out just like you imagined in your head.

  • For some pieces, you have kind of a sketchy style (which is very charming), why that? How would you define your style?

There’s a saying that you have 10000 bad drawings sitting inside you. What are you waiting for, start pulling them out. That’s part of why I picked quantity over quality. It helps me focus on practice without locking myself on big, but still imperfect drawings. That’s one thing, but also I lack patience and endurance! *laughs* Can’t work on something that takes more than one workday. Also I just like the liveliness in sketches. I prefer to express myself via quick and strong lines and strokes, and must say, people do receive the message.

  • Why did you start playing Wakfu and what do you like most about it?

A buddy showed me the Wakfu game trailer back in 2012, I instantly fell in love. I watched the show first, a couple of months later downloaded the game. It was my first MMO, which was hilarious and awesome at the same time. I spent my first months alone, wandering around cluelessly, everything was new and exciting for me. Then I joined a guild and came to tumblr, both of these things allowed to meet people who stay with me to this date. The social aspect kept me engaged. Nothing can be better than sharing the joy of defeating a hard boss or getting a rare drop. Some of my Wakfu buddies are artists as well, so we kinda kept each other in game because we love people’s art and characters based on this universe. It sorta extended the game for us, making it more than just “log in, play, log out”. We lived and breathed Wakfu even offline.

  • Why did you decide to create Wakfu fan art?

I didn’t decide, it happened by itself! When you can draw, you draw everything that you like, that brings you joy. You get attached to your game characters inevitably, and then there’s the game world and adventures that sometimes inspire you to draw a silly comic about it.

  • You often depict characters with modern clothes, why that?

I like playing dress-up dolls! If seriously, I’m just trying to come up with original, stylized outfits, and sometimes alternative outfits because you can’t wear the same shirt all the time. Can’t help if it looks modern, it might be just a part of my vision. I like casual clothing.

  • I see many Sadidas, why do you love them so much?

Honestly, I thought there’s more Pandas than Sadidas! Both classes allow a huge room for customization, at least I can imagine a lot of differently shaped and colored characters. They also have this green, planty, natural vibe, which is incredibly relaxing. I’m often doodling Pandas and Sadidas during breaks from other, more complex drawings.

  • You did several dark pieces featuring an Eniripsa, why? And why only with this character?

He’s my most developed roleplay character, i.e. he’s come through a lot of things. Sometimes you just gotta draw a darker theme because it’s a great change of pace. I enjoy doing it occasionally, you can call it my guilty pleasure.

  • I saw a series about Wakfu heroes adventures (with Ullu, the nun, the Tofu, Crocoburio and such..), what made you start it?

That one person who probably is my most loyal fan. Every piece is commissioned by them, and I’m looking forward to continuing this series because it allows me to picture ideas I otherwise wouldn’t come up with. I’m so proud of each and every drawing made for that commissioner.

  • I spotted Aketan and Zoeduhu in your creations. It is funny how we can link your galleries between each others. Why did you decide to draw their adventures?

They’re one of those buddies that I met back in my early Wakfu days, how can I not include them in my drawings. 😀 Aketan is also my roleplay partner, which means our characters live, interact and grow only thanks to the other person.

  • What are your favorite creations and why?

A hard question! We can assume that every picture I included in this interview is something I’m proud of. If I absolutely have to pick my personal best, it’d be this one. It’s cute, it’s a panda, it has bright colors and intense strokes, things that I might be famous for.

  • Do you have any new projects for 2017?

I wouldn’t say “projects”, that’d be too loud. I’m just hoping to keep drawing Wakfu stuff and maybe finally make some short comics about my characters. I have a lot to tell, but currently I can’t afford doing comics since work takes most of my energy and time.

  • What are you looking forward the most : Ouginaks, Wakfu season 3, Dofus 3 ?

Dofus 3, then ouginaks. I already have an idea for my own ouginak. And Dofus 3… Many people around me are curious about it, and starting a new game together is by all means an amazing adventure. I’m in. Not sure what to expect from the game, but the art style makes me happy. I already made a fanart!

  • Do you have any particular idols or inspirations?

Xa, Tchokun and other Ankama artists, first of all! But that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. I’m also looking up to Nargyle, CT (ctchrysler), Amiamid, Gashi-Gashi, Amei Zhao (seventypercentethanol), Cosimo Galluzzi (poolsofchrome), redbeanviolin.. The list goes on! These people have either a very lively, cartoonish style, or use colors and lighting in a completely outstanding way. Sometimes both!

  • Where can we find your work?

I’m most active on Tumblr, however I put more of less finished drawings on DA as well. Tumblr is just more friendly for quick posts, sketches, or when you want to post many pictures together.

  • You have a Patreon, would you like to talk about it a bit ?

Why not! I understand that I’m one of the artists who keep Wakfu fandom alive, many people want me to continue drawing Wakfu stuff, and perfectly, I want to draw only what I like. Instead of working on something that I -have- to draw because I’ve been paid, I could dedicate my entire time to favorite fandoms and characters. I mentioned that I’m looking into starting comics about my characters’ lives and shenanigans, it’s a big task, but if we reach a certain amount on Patreon, it’d untie my hands and I’ll finally be free to do that.

  • Something to add for the community?

Ankama’s art style is remarkably vivid, whimsical, childish, although always fascinating. I’ve met many, many people who love this franchise wholeheartedly, and if I stumble upon another Wakfu/Dofus fan, I can be sure that we could find a lot of common between us. Most of Ankama fans I know have a good taste in games and art, a decent sense of humor, and generally are cool, positive people who live inside their own colorful world. It’s like they haven’t grown up completely. Keeping your inner child alive is super important, even if you’re about to hit your 40’s! Keep being amazing and never stop playing games!

Click on the pictures to see the other slides.

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