Robot Artist Spotlight - Dacosta!
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Dacosta works under the studio name ‘CHOCOLATE SOOP®! He is an illustrator with 18 years of experience creating countless apps, animations, character designs, and toys. Several of his clients include Nintendo, Nexon, Sony, and Hasbro.
First, Let’s talk about your March of Robots Kickstarter project, what’s the scoop?
MoR! is a community daily sketch challenge I started in 2012 after being inspired by Jake Parker’s INKtober a few years ago. I decided to focus on robots as the theme so that’s why It was originally called Botober. I like working with themes or concepts when I’m trying to come up with ideas and this one felt perfect. The idea was to challenge myself to see if I could do it. It’s been good fun but after finishing the most recent one last October, I didn't want to wait an entire year before doing it again. October is actually a little crowded with INKtober, Drawtober, Monstober, Sketchtober, etc. So I decided I was going to find another month to do it, and March seemed like a good opportunity to do something interesting away from the crowded space.
I quickly realized that it could be more than just an IG challenge while I was planning things out, and thought that doing an artbook on Kickstarter at the same time may be fun. I LOVE artbooks! I can get lost in an “Art of” book or an artists portfolio. It’s very inspiring to see the way they think and approach a theme or concept. Friends have been telling me for years that I should make an artbook of my work and I thought ‘MoR!’ was a good chance to push forward on actually making that happen.
When did your fascination for robots begin?
I’ve loved robots since I was a little kid. I so badly wanted a robot for a friend, someone like Astro boy. I grew up in the 80’s watching a lot of Japanese animation. I spent countless hours in front of the tv absorbing it all. Macross Plus, Gachaman, Yamato, GaiKing, Spaceketeers, Grandizer, Astro Boy, the list goes on. Roll those in with the sci-fi films like Forbidden Planet, Star Wars, The Black Hole, Blade Runner, Batteries Not Included, Short Circuit, etc. and you have a bottomless well of inspiration.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I was born in the Caribbean. Barbados West Indies. Moved to Canada when I was a wee lad. Spent my formative years in Mississauga, Ontario. Moved to Edmonton, Alberta in my teens where I went to high school. Discovered I had ADHD in my early twenties, which explained a lot and was a major shift in understanding myself and getting a handle on the “chaos dragon” as I like to call it. From there I moved out to Vancouver, BC where I now live. Worked at various design jobs in the film industry and web design houses, then into the freelance world for a while. 2005 I convinced my wife that Urban vinyl could be fun. It was. I dropped DCTO (Dreams Come True Object) My futuristic robotic version of of Daruma, an ancient Japanese good luck doll. Managed to hold the first ever custom vinyl show in a museum JANM (Japanese American National Museum) in LA just before DKE hit us with the epic Vader show. Then started getting calls about consulting for game and toy companies which has been a ton of fun. This brings us to the present moment where I’m making apps, character goods and my first book about robots.
What is a typical day like for you?
07:00 Out of bed (no alarm clock. Hatem')
07:10-07:30 email (hate it - rather talk on the phone)
07:30-08:00 Skype call with the Dev team. Making sure projects are on track.
09:00-09:30 Pinterest for some inspiration
09:30-00:30 Drawings and writing - interjected with Skype chats, Power walk, 4 venti cups of tea. (Only herbal tea after 21:00 or my brain won’t calm down)
00:30-01:30 the cool down.
What are you rocking out to while drawing?
That all depends on what mood I need to be in. I find it absolutely impossible to create to the wrong piece of music. My music collection runs the gambit from classical - mainly Baroque, Jazz, DnB, Chiptune, Glitchhop, ChillStep, Dubstep, Atmospheric Downtempo.
Got any cool robot toys in your space? Which is your favorite?
Most of my stuff is currently in storage but I have Sketchbot by my good friend Steve Talkowski, 12” CANTI by Jesse Hernandez, Combat R Zero by Robert De Castro, Astro boy, the Kaniza I designed from ToyQube, 10-Doh by Nate Mitchell, a Bodega (Punch Drink) by KaNO which isn't a robot but I like to think of it as one, and some prototypes of an upcoming toy project of my own.
Who would you say are your biggest inspirations?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
You have a huge body of work, you're a machine! What keeps you so fresh and motivated?
Haha thanks. I don’t think anyone’s ever called me a machine before.
The big thing that keeps me motivated is the desire to try new things.
I’m also writing story elements for ideas I want to push out there in the near future. I can be completely self with those right now.
Talking with other indie artists and sharing thoughts and project ideas. Being able to get feedback helps to keep thing moving.
Your work definitely has a very fun and unique style. Can you talk about your process?
I generally start with a lot of research, written and visual. I pull all that together into a project folder and go from there. After that it’s just straight forward exploration while keeping in mind the story I’m wanting to tell, which is ultimately about the “why”. Why this function, shape, size, material, etc. The other side of that is I draw until it feels right. The feel of a line is very important to me. It has the flow from point to point in the right way. As I add more and more elements, the relationship between those elements and the overall image should continue the flow nicely together to tell the story.
What advice do you have for young aspiring artists?
This path is all about expression of ones voice through your art. Keep your eyes, mind and heart open. We take in all this information from the places we go, the people we meet, and those experiences shape us. Be open to opportunities that present themselves. Seek out those who would share the knowledge and be appreciative. Use that knowledge to hone your skills and then share it openly with others. Be honest with yourself and true to your voice.
Thanks again Dacosta for giving us a glimpse into your life as a designer and robot mastermind! Make sure to support March of Robots and hashtag your sketches #marchofrobots and #robotenvy.