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Featured Artist of the Month

Alan the leopard

One of the TLKFAA's most intriguing members, Alan the leopard, is the recipient of the spotlight this time around, and as a part of the community for very nearly a decade it's certainly well deserved. He's a prolific creator with a highly unique and personal style, plus a distinctive sense of humor that pervades all his work. Always acutely conscious of the dynamics of the TLKFAA community and his role in it, Alan the leopard has become one of the mainstays of the site, and with excellent reason.
*checking out the email address...*

Me AotM!? WOW! Ô.Ô *blink-blink*

Well, eeerr... I guess that there is nothing new that I might add to what previous partners have already said about the surprise and honour of been awarded this prize, so better if I try and summarize my story over here as much as I can... although we all (or most of us) share something in common: that it was this site that awakened our fondness for drawing. So it did with me.

It was back in 2005 that I came across this wonderful site, and I was thrilled at the pieces of art that I began to see here ever since. Originally was I googling for images on Nala, and- well, you know how does the internet work: you keep pulling from the thread you picked and you get to the most unexpected places...

As with so many of you, it was thanks to this site, of which still today I keep such fond memories, that my interest on retaking drawing LK-related stuff awakened from its "hibernation" state, and it did with great passion, by the way. More than it ever did, without a question.

Tima, Audrey Cosmo, Katikut, Hyhlion, Tailbrush (Sarafina-Saffy back then), Kourukon, FireLemming, Dolphy (Dolphiana), Katikut, AnnieHyena,... these and works by some other artists became a must to me; galleries that I checked daily. That was how everything started (but eventually, it was doomed to expand)

A whole new world opened to me then. A whole new world that demanded to be explored. Incredible pieces of work of such an awesome quality that at first I believed they came from some LK-related movie that I missed! Hilarous works with such a fantastic sense of humour I had so much fun with, various interesting theories and stories concerning LK canon characters and others, eye-catching new characters with designs I never saw before... and so on.

But I was also ashamed of myself because, as it happens to at least some of us, I suffered certain lack of self-esteem and considered my drawings not worth-showing publicly... Thus, for about two years it sufficed me to behold art by others while remaining in silence in the shadows like a leopard, reviving my skills on drawing cartoons on my own as I was inspired by what I saw over here...

But one day, in 2007, I gathered all the will necessary to make the definitive step forward, and as Julius Caesar would say, "Alea jacta est!" It would have been pointless to keep those pictures for myself; better if I shared them. I only needed to find my own style. That was all: enjoy drawing, and for sure that many people over here helped me a great deal over the years.

My first files essentially consisted of LK-related stuff on canon characters, and if I'm not wrong, most of them featured Nala, my favorite LK character shortly after having seen what still today is (and will quite probably remain) the animated movie I have the fondest memories of. But I knew that it would be absurd to draw Nalas all way long. Overtime there grew in me certain tendency to depict funny-related stuff on our beloved Disney characters and others (including your own characters!), and overtime too I learned new words like "fursona". That was my next step: creating characters of my own.

And- can you guess which animal saw the light as my first personal character?... A spider (!?) And better if it was a large one. Yup- with Bui my aim was trying to make such an unpopular creature like spiders look more sympathetic to people. Whether I succeeded or not that's something that only you can say... Other "strange animals" (a bizarre bat, an alien leopard and a meerkat, for example) followed later on. So, Bui became my first "fursona", until it was clear that a spider had its own limitations too, and I needed some feline...

Thus was Alan born; the first out of a series of crazy big cats in my gallery, most of which were leopards. But why leopards? Basically because I love them, but also because there was (almost) no leopard in Disney's official LK releases, as you know...

And the rest is history, as some would say.

From here, I'd like to greet and thank, first, Brian, for having worked that hard in creating and keeping alive this site (I think that we'll never be able to thank him enough for all that he has always made for us- thank you very much, Brian), to anyone else involved in keeping TLKFAA alive and, finally, to everyone that I met over here (both those who didn't get the AotM prize yet and AotMs themselves), and who one way or another plucked courage up on me so as to go on, and whom I wish were here with me to enjoy the privilege of having been awarded such a prize. There are many blank gaps to fill in the AotM list, you know- if only could I choose people to fill those gaps with... May those of you who still dream of this title be here with us too. And the sooner, the better!

Anything else from me?... Mmm... Nope. I don't think so...

Well- see you around and thank you very much not just to those who voted for me but also to all those who at some moment supported me one way or another in these nine years of crazy art of mine. I'll try to make it something reciprocal (while my messy agenda leaves me some free time... :P)

See you all around!

-Alan the leopard-
Completely aside from the (remarkable) sense of humor and inventiveness that Alan the leopard exhibits in his work is the technique he uses. I believe it's safe to say that no other artist on the site does anything quite like it.

Each picture starts as a hand-made drawing, which is scanned into an ancient piece of Mac software called Aldus Superpaint, dating back (believe it or not) to 1991. Once it is imported into that software, Alan the leopard colors the piece digitally, then prints it using an inkjet printer. At this point, he re-scans the printout (or sometimes even photographs it) to import it into his more modern laptop for finishing touches and to reduce the visible pixelation of the printed version. A few lighting effects and judicious blurs complete the transformation to the final product, which reaches the TLKFAA as a hybrid of physical and digital media quite unlike anything any other artist produces.

This uniqueness of execution is a big part of what gives Alan the leopard's work its personality. It's not every artist who can imbue his or her art with a texture that feels at once modern and like a kind of throwback; if anything were to convey the feeling of a piece of art dedicated to a property that debuted in the mid-1990s, it's creating it using the same kinds of tools that the first digital artists had to use, long before Photoshop or tablets or even full-color displays were popular—to say nothing of the Internet as we know it. I personally can attest to feeling a kinship with this process, which is certainly a conscious choice for its artistic integrity and tradition rather than a matter of expedience: some of the first art I ever did myself was a sketch on a Post-It note that I scanned in a campus computer lab and processed using an early version of Photoshop into a design for a t-shirt, years before anyone considered such things as producing t-shirts and other merchandise on demand via the Web. We used what was available to us, back in the day—and sometimes it feels as though all the ease of use of modern tools has spoiled us, even taken us away from some of the purity of the process and the inspiration of the subject matter.

UPDATE: The artist has posted a demonstration (warning: potentially NSFW due to nudity) on his DeviantArt page of the process he uses to create his pictures.

I've been intrigued by Alan the leopard and his highly personal, idiosyncratic creations ever since he first started contributing to the TLKFAA. It's been a fascinating experience watching him develop his skills as an artist and seeing how he has continuted to incorporate his unique brand of creation into the newer works that show off what he's capable of.

Congratulations!


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