Book creator

In conversation with digital creator Derek Domnic D’Souza, ahead of Comic Con, Bangalore

Derek Domnic D’Souza, a artist and creator who created quite a buzz for himself, has now caught the eye of Comic Con – one of the most popular events celebrating comics, design, art and more. This year, the artist is actively participating in Con, organizing workshops and attending major events in Bangalore and Delhi.

Comic-Con India are back for their 11th year in Bangalore. Although the main event will be held on November 19 and 20, event organizers have planned workshops and experiences before the big day.

On November 6, a workshop called Digital art 101 was organized by one of Bangalore’s famous digital artists, Derek Domnic D’Souza. The workshop took place in Vapor, Indiranagar, where D’Souza took the stage in front of over a hundred enthusiastic spectators.

Comic Con 2022 in Bangalore and Delhi, India.  (image via Instagram/comicconindia)
Comic Con 2022 in Bangalore and Delhi, India. (image via Instagram/comicconindia)

At the start of the workshop, Derek led a presentation detailing his journey as an artist. Those in attendance had the opportunity to view some of his early portrait work and humble beginnings. D’Souza began his artistic journey with what he calls the “traditional” method. He referred to this stage as a “copycat” stage in which he drew photorealistic images of his favorite artists, cartoons, anime characters, and more.

Derek Domnic D'Souza live during workshops for Comic Con (image via Sportskeeda)
Derek Domnic D’Souza live during workshops for Comic Con (image via Sportskeeda)

To tell our readers more about him, Derek was chosen as an intern when Disney India traveled to Srishti (his alma mater) to recruit interns for their IP development program. After six months as an intern, he was hired full time as Animation development Associate artist and producer at the age of 21. He never returned to Srishti to complete his studies.

After the workshop, D’Souza sat down for a candid conversation with SK POP Julienne James. Not only did he open up about his personality and creative process, but he even shared some industry tips that would benefit an up-and-coming artist.

The Business of Art, Dealing with Impostor Syndrome, and More with Bangalore’s Beloved Digital Artist aka Derek Domnic D’Souza

Q: Hi! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Derick: My name is Derek Domnic D’Souza. I am a 26 year old digital artist. I’m an illustrator/animator and previously worked at Disney. I now run Sideline, a design and animation studio with a few friends.

I love making art for a living and working in the entertainment industry. I love working for big production companies like netflixDisney, etc., on the pre-production side.

I was born and raised in Bangalore, India. I have two older sisters, one of whom is an editor and the other a fashion designer designate. Moreover, both my parents never finished their studies.

Q: Can you think of a time in your life that made you decide you wanted to be an artist?

Derick: I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but my thoughts have changed dramatically over time. Even in the art the industry, there’s so many different things to do, so I can’t say I just wanted to do that because when I was a kid I was drawing portraits and cartoons, and now I’m doing my own thing .

I was always drawing. Growing up, my parents just gave me paper and a pencil to keep me busy. I also drew throughout school, and I felt like I was the only one drawing, but when I joined university (Srishti Manipal), I was extremely inspired by the people around me because everyone was an artist.

When I started college at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, I was introduced to the digital medium of artistic creation. Until then, I relied on traditional methods. College definitely exposed me to a whole new world.

In less than four years in college, I found myself wanting to become everything from a CGI artist to a 3D designer to a book illustrator. I finally started doing what I do, but it wasn’t until I tried a lot of things.

Q: Do you feel supported by your family?

Derick: My parents never finished their studies and just did what they wanted. So they never really had a problem with what I was doing. They said I could do whatever I wanted, but I had to make it work.

Q: Could you talk about that moment when you felt like an “impostor” and how you handled it?

Derick: In my second year of college, I did some illustrations for a book and submitted it as homework. One of his teachers, unbeknownst to me, sent the illustrations to the book’s author, Alan Lightman.

Alan republished his “Song Of Two Worlds” using these pen and paper illustrations five years after its original publication.

Some of the illustrations for Alan Lightman's Song Of Two Worlds by Red Hen Press, USA (image via Behance/Derek Domnic D'Souza)
Some of the illustrations for Alan Lightman’s Song Of Two Worlds by Red Hen Press, USA (image via Behance/Derek Domnic D’Souza)

At first it made me feel like a impostor as I did duty the night before it was due. Getting such a big opportunity was overwhelming, but in retrospect, I think it was my talent that gave me this opportunity. Therefore, I would advise everyone not to wait for opportunities, but to create them.

Q: What or who is your inspiration?

Derick: In terms of inspiration, I have different sources in different areas. But my biggest inspiration is how I see myself in a few years. It’s like I’m in competition with myself, so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Q: What is your current artistic goal, at least for the next five years?

Derick: My primary objective is to make my studio a total success. This is my priority. I also want to create a source of income that allows me to work from anywhere without having to be tied to a specific location. I want freedom. Money is not my goal, but it is a means to reach them.

If I want to go to London for two months I just want to be able to do this without fear. I want to be able to work remotely and on anything I want, like my own personal projects, that’s why I stopped working with clients and freelancers. I’m just doing original work.

Q: Do you have a theme that your art gravitates towards?

Derick: I’m actually extremely introvert in life. I can’t handle social gatherings and I’m not overconfident when it comes to public gatherings. I still consider myself an artist. If you look at my works, you will notice that most of them have an elaborate background and a character that is on its own.

I usually post my personal art on social media. As an artist, you have to focus on who you are. I think I’m a single person, not in a bad way. I am, and that’s what I use in my creativity.

Q: What don’t you like about what you do?

Derick: This is a difficult question. I don’t like the fact that India doesn’t have a strong art industry and people here don’t understand what it is. If I have to talk to someone new and tell them I’m an artist, they immediately assume I’m a starving artist. This trope exists.

I always find myself telling them more than the word “artist”. I hope it gets to a point where when I say I’m an artist, that’s okay.

Q: What else do you enjoy besides creating art?

Derick: I mentioned that I’m usually introverted and lonely, but I like the vibe of going out, even if I’m alone. I love visiting cafes because even though I’m alone there are people around me.

I like sports, basketball to my heart. I like swimming, cycling and any type of physical activity. I like to stay healthy and go to the gym. I also really like to read and cook.

I also walk away from what my job requires me to do. I spend time drawing. Work can get quite hectic, so it’s very important to separate work from play so that I don’t start to hate what I usually love to do.

Q: Do you have a philosophy, whether personal or professional? Do you have a favorite quote?

Derick: Yes. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

My favorite quote is from “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S Clason:

“Where is the determination, the path can be found.”

Q: Which of digital and physical would you give up if you had to?

Derick: At this point, physical, because digital brings the bread home. But I find myself going back to the physical.

Q: What would you say to someone starting out as an artist?

Derick: Do not rush. Take your time. Don’t compare yourself to the best in the world because there’s a reason they’re there. Get to work, learn the basics, and don’t get too carried away with software. You are going to have the most fun learning more than anything.

don’t aim perfection because if you strive for perfection at 21, what are you going to do at 30? Perfection means nothing.

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Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson