Dominic Cellini is an artist and the creator of Emmy the Robot. A story about the perfect robot in the world. Since Dominic was young, he has a passion for illustrations and comics. In this interview Dominic talks about his passion, artworks and Emmy the Robot.
How did the passion for making art and illustrations started?
I’ve been drawing my whole life. Literally as far back as I can remember. My earliest memories of drawing were, when I was 3 years old and my dad brought home big sheets of posterboards from work. At that time when I was little, I was really into Halloween haunted house type imagery. I still love Halloween. So, I would draw haunted houses and things like that. My mom was a little bit concerned. But then I had my phase that I draw birds and different kinds of that. I always had some kind of fascination for a thing to draw. I’ve always loved playing music, I learned the guitar when I was about 12 years old.
I always wanted to do this. Once I learned more about an artist career and the things I could be doing. I think when your young, your idea of art is just fine art; there is nothing wrong with that. When you started to realize like people with the same sensibility. Love the same things as I do and made the things I grew up with. I always had a feeling I would do something with art. I didn’t know exactly what, but I will figure it out along the way.
Do you remember your ever first artwork?
No, hahaha. I was probably 2 years old. But I have some old stuff and remember some of the first ones that I did as an older kid; were I’m really proud of. I did some street scenes and I’m very proud of that, I thought they were so detailed. It was kind of me getting into my serious art era. Where I was thinking about this, like shading, composition and perspective. That was new to me, so that was a lot of fun. I was about 10 years old when I created characters. It was loosely based on a game that my friends and I played on school. I drew all the characters and showed it to people. I was so excited and proud by that.
Why do you love to make illustrations and to design something?
It feels right, maybe not a super interesting answer. Like I said, I’ve been doing it my whole life. It just comes to me and I enjoy it. It’s a great way to express your ideas and yourself. I think every artist can relate to, when they have something in their head and they need to get it out. But you want to get it out there in the way you see it in your head. That’s what all artists struggle with. It should be like this and that’s why we constantly better ourselves.
What kind of art do you make?
I primarily make comics right now, that’s what I hope to be doing fulltime. I’ve started out as doing commission work mainly. I’ve always loved animation, comics and games. Character design is always a lot of fun to make. Coming up with new characters all the time. When I sketch, I draw people and can’t stop :). Comics are just a great way to take it to the next step. You’re drawing characters but you’re also telling a story.
I never had a great thing for fine painting. Last time I did a lot with painting, was in school and working with acrylics. Which are good for a beginner, but it’s not the kind of detail work you can get out of an oil painting. Most of the fine art I did in school were sketches, charcoal and lot of life drawing.
What’s the style that comes back in your artwork?
The style is influenced by animation and comics in general. But specifically I referred my art style as a mix of Classic Disney style (2D era animation) with UPA style from the 40s, 50s and 60s. For those who doesn’t know UPA. It’s called United Production Artist. It’s a style of cartoons that were originated in the late 40s, that kind of break away from the studio system. That had very limited time and budget, so they had to do much more graphic style.
The characters background is more abstract and not fully illustrated as a Classic Disney short. UPA has kind of an impressionistic feeling to them. Some of the famous one is Madeline. I’ve watched those comics when I was young and it influenced the style of my art. Style is what happens organically. It’s a certain thing were aiming for. What makes your style ‘you’ is kind of the mistakes you make. The habits of the way you draw. It can happen and manifest in unconscious ways. Someone can say, oh you draw it always like this. You weren’t even aware of that. If I look at my old artwork, I think I can do it better now.
Where are the ideas coming from for your artworks?
People who read my comics can definitely spot the influences and references from movies and tv shows. It can influence you even in ways you don’t realize. Movies you grow-up with or movies you just seen a month ago. I think when you’re creative and in an active state of making something. Everything you see goes in the mind, so when you are making stuff and you think, oh wat was that? Maybe I could use that in my artwork.
In 2019 Dominic created Emmy the Robot. The perfect robot who loves humans and wants to make people happy. Dominic made a story about Emmy where you can follow her adventures. Emmy the Robot is loved by the fans and readers!
How did you create Emmy?
Emmy is a perfectionist; I came up with Emmy as the idea of the perfect robot. In some ways I can be a perfectionist to. There is a little bit of me in Emmy. She loves humans, to please and make people happy. She has some naive ideas of the world. Emmy’s design kind of drove me nuts. I worked for months on her design. I didn’t had like an exactly picture of her in my mind. Every time I drew her, I thought this is not right. It was close but not right. When you draw a character, you nailed it in the first or second time. That’s what I had with the family where Emmy works for, the Delaire family. With Emmy I had full of sketch books and try to draw her face over and over again. She is a simple design, you wouldn’t think that so much time will go into it. But sometimes simplify something is more complicated. I eventually got it down and the first drawing is the one we see on the character page I put out on summer 2019. Then I thought, that’s her this is right. And some of her prototype sketches ended up as her robot friends, the other characters.
What’s the story about?
Someone who believes they are so defined by their purposes. The course conflict of the story comes from what happens if you separated from that purpose. How do you adapt with changes that are out of your control. To explore that idea with robots makes sense. Everyone may identify with a purpose when they grow-up. I meant to do this, this is what my life is supposed to be like. But you end up quite differently that you thought. Hopefully happier and much different they imagined their lives. And that’s the beauty of life and what the characters learn in the story.
Emmy is definitely going have some adjustments. She is going to learn a lot from Darcy and her new friends. I’m not going to spoil anything but I definitely looking forward to show my readers all the stuff that’s going to happen.
Emmy became very popular, did you ever expect that?
Well, I was hoping that people would have a good response and taking interest. I was not expecting it would happen so quickly. I thought initially, I would make some comics. To give my audience some context. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the characters. When I made her, it will be a good portfolio piece. I make these characters and have the story. There was such an overwhelming interest and positive respond to Emmy. I thought, you know what, I can do this know, I wanted to do this know and my audience wanted to see more. So let’s do it and I continued making comics and the story of Emmy.
Emmy has many characters besides her, do you have a favorite?
Hard to pick one, they are all a creation of me and very dear to me. I have a soft spot for some of the characters. Emmy, she is important and the main character. There are some characters that I really enjoy drawing them. Molly is one that I find fun to do. I have a soft spot for Darcy. I really enjoy her and Emmy’s dynamic, as well her and Madeline. I’m looking forward that people getting to see more of the outmode characters, we spend a little time with them now. Emmy is going to learn a lot, as well as her friends. We going to get the characters known a little bit deeper. Now we get to the fun stuff and more side adventures. In lots of fun ways.
You also made a book. Where is that book about?
That was my first children’s book, Twenty-One Terrifying Monsters. I love to draw silly little guys and put that in a book. I was really inspired by books from Shel Silverstein, like A Light in the Attic. Those are collections of funny and sometimes creepy poems. I loved those as a kid. I wrote the book, thinking what are the funny books that kids really want. It’s a book about all kinds of ways in life that people can be terrorized by. it’s not always the scary stuff. Sometimes it’s someone who won’t stop talking or chews with the mouth open and it’s gross to sit next to them. In the book that’s a monster who is really hard to deal with.
How was it to work on that book?
It was self-published, and I thought, let’s just get it out there. I wanted a book and to hold it. Everything is done by you when it’s self-published. You don’t have an editor or an illustrator. I learned a lot about books and putting it together. It’s a rewarding experience. I still get pictures or hear from people, that their children or nieces and nephews love the book and loves this monster and reads it over again.
What are your plans for the future? Do we get more of Emmy or new stories/illustrations?
Emmy is my primary focus right now. I hope to do it fulltime. If I can, we will be seeing a lot more of Emmy. I want to give the people what they want. I want to conclude her story and love to tell different stories besides that. Maybe do more comics or cartoons. Who knows :). I would love to have a book that is a bestseller. To have more people find my work and enjoy it.
What for advice do you have for others?
First of all, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That means, don’t worry about every artwork or every sketch getting perfect as possible. You always going to look back at old pages and think, I could do that better. Just go for it, don’t worry about it being perfect or not. Let it be good enough that you are happy to share it with the world. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there. People aren’t mind readers, you can share your stuff and people may connect with it. You only get what you are willing to give. Sometimes things are very personal or uncomfortable and can be a little daunting. Especially if you are a beginner. People can be rude or not get things, but you would be shocked that people do get you and do like what you have to say. You never know unless you go for it!
You can read the story of Emmy the Robot on: https://www.webtoons.com/en/canvas/emmy-the-robot/list?title_no=402201. And we will be seeing more of her in the future! If you want to know more of Dominic or his work, go to: https://www.dominiccelliniportfolio.com. Buy the book Twenty-One Terrifying Monsters on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Twenty-One-Terrifying-Monsters-Dominic-Cellini/dp/1082246808