Conventions still remain a great place to bring people together from different backgrounds to celebrate common interests. In the case of geek conventions such as ToyCon 2019, it’s a great place to geek out about, well, toys. And these conventions continue to become a great way to meet interesting characters hiding among convention attendees and exhibitors.
And in this year’s ToyCon, What’s A Geek!’s Chad met quite an interesting toymaker. In fact, he’s also an animator. And what better way to introduce such a person but through his passion? For this Who’s A Geek! entry, we’re exploring toymaking and indie animation.
Dennis Sebastian: Architect, Animator
People who look at Architect Dennis Sebastian might see an architecture graduate and a teacher. Students of Sir Sebastian might recall him from animation courses in the College of Saint Benilde. However, people who truly know Dennis Sebastian will see a storyteller, an animator, and a creator. Animation remains his favorite medium of telling stories. He’s been in the animation industry, in fact, for 27 years.
Across those two (almost three) decades, Sebastian has worked on TV shows, commercials, and indie animations. A lot of them turned out to be works he himself has written, directed, and animated.
He’s worked on Milo and Rexona commercials. He’s done an animated video for band Mojofly for their song Tumatakbo. He even worked on a full length animation, Hoodwinked, as a modelling and animation supervisor.
Kaleh the Hornbill: Toys and Indie Animation
If you look at Dennis Sebastian’s #ToyCon2019 booth, you’ll see toys of a hornbill character. At first glance, you’d think this hornbill might be part of an upcoming toyline.
However, when you look at the booth in its entirety, you might be surprised this hornbill is actually part of an entire animated piece. Sebastian’s hornbill toys is actually Kaleh the Hornbill.
“It’s about a very hungry Hornbill that bugs his busy master, the Shaman, to feed him,” Sebastian said, “When it is ignored, the Hornbill resorts to other ways of catching it’s master’s attention but things take a turn for the worse.”
This project took Sebastian three (3) years to complete, and he’s done all the work by himself. And it’s not just animation. Other pieces of artwork and material can surprise visitors of his booth.
Sebastian had comics that he said gave him more opportunity to explore his creations and their characterizations. And while Kaleh is animated, Sebastian said animation in general takes him more time to characterize and explore his characters. He mentioned going about this process solo will especially take him more time to accomplish this. And that’s why in an upcoming project, he’s collaborating with a friend, who’s supplying 2D art to Sebastian’s writing.
Aside from comics, Sebastian featured toys of Kaleh in different sizes and colors. According to the creator, he likes to start with toys of his characters first before making animations and comics featuring them. Sebastian said it’s easier to sell toys and can make for great market research.
Sebastian On Animation: Modern Tools, Easier Access
If there’s anything animators know, it’s that animation can be very hard. And despite the many tools out there for animators – veterans or newbies – can use, the craft in itself can be daunting. For Sebastian, he wants to see the indie animation scene grow. And for him, this can be very possible thanks to modern trends.
Technology nowadays, he says, can be very empowering for independent artists. Tools and software can be bought and purchased for artists and animators to improve their skills. They can also use free and open source programs and applications to make digital art – 2D or 3D.
For instance, indie toymakers now have the means to 3D-print toys for prototyping and molding. The Internet makes it possible to market and sell personal art and creations.
Sebastian has been utilizing these tools himself. For Kaleh the Hornbill, Sebastian made use of a ton of tools and software at his disposal as well as using 3D printing for the molding process.
The Struggle In Indie Animation
Sebastian proves animation doesn’t necessarily need a huge budget to succeed. However, he also says indie animation has its own struggles.
“It’s hard to compete with all of this,” he said, gesturing to toys from big companies that can be found in the convention center. “But that’s why we have to work hard. And that’s the goal. [You need to] have your character be[come] so recognizable that people flock to it.”
And despite the difficulties in the field, Sebastian advocates for artists to never give up on their dreams. Instead, despite difficulties, artists should continue to believe in and do what they love.
“One of the common questions you hear is ‘what is the secret to success?’ And what they really want to know with that question is, ‘what’s the shortcut?’ There is none. There’s a lot of trial and error, but if you persevere and do everything in your power, you will rise.”
And Of Course: What’s A Geek?
We at What’s A Geek! try to make it a point to emphasize how different people have different ways of geeking out because, well, there’s no one way to geek out. And whenever we get the chance, we ask random people – and especially guests in conventions and events we attend – the same question. For them, just what is a geek?
“A geek is someone who loves something that isn’t cool,” Sebastian started. “But eventually, people will realize it’s cool!”
Sebastian also emphasized how generational differences really set apart the way people geek out. And how perhaps today can be the best time to celebrate geekdom.“My generation, Gen X, was the first to never give up on our childhood,” he said. “Our parents and older generations would always say – ‘ay pang-bata ‘yang comic books, [at] cartoons.’ [But] look at where we are now – it’s (geekdom) a huge industry!”
And for Dennis Sebastian, what truly matters is how we celebrate that geekdom.
“It doesn’t matter if people don’t like it (your interests). Who cares?! You like it,” he said.
Let’s Share The Love For Geekdom!
If there’s anything to learn from Dennis Sebastian’s tale, it’s that pursuing our interests and passion can really pay off into a craft. And if you’re just starting out your journey as a geek, don’t give up and just keep on enjoying what you’re doing. And if you’re on the path of creating out of your passion, don’t stop!
If you want to have us feature you or geeks you know, feel free to give us a message on our Facebook page. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram!