The Internets love a good mash-up, which is why Draw2D2 is such a great idea for a site. This artist collective mashes together two geek topics every two weeks and a host of artists compete to put out the best drawing. We spoke with one of the site founders, Jason Welborn, 30, of Portland, Maine about getting ahead in the geek space.
Gamma Squad: What inspired you to start Draw2d2?
Jason Welborn: Well mainly I wanted something that would force me do more illustrations. It started with a combination of 2 things. Ian Brauner (from Draw2) showed me the website comictwart.com which has these awesome artists drawing different characters every week. I thought this looked like so much fun just doing drawings with your friends.
The 2nd factor began when me and Andy Hunter (another Draw2 alum) started doing these monthly mash-up drawings for Comic Book Resources. They used to have a section called the Reader Art Gallery that was a spin-off of their Line It Is Drawn. The main difference being the Reader Art Gallery was open to anyone. Their mash-ups were always comic book related and something else, which after a while Andy and I had started talking about other mash-up possibilities. Good thing we did because they’ve since gotten rid of the Reader Art Gallery.
The more we talked the more I thought it would be pretty easy to start my own blog and do whatever mash-ups I wanted, as long as it was geeky of course. I did the initial site design on blogger, but since then our very own Adam Carlson has taken it upon himself to design and maintain our new site.The initial name was going to be CaptainsBlog, but the domain was taken so I came up with Draw2D2 and the rest is history.
GS: How did you meet the other artists on the site?
Jason Welborn: Most of them are college buddies and coworkers. I am a lead animator at an animation studio called Sputnik Animation and we have lots of great artists here. I also graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design, so needless to say, I have lots of talented artists friends. Since the initial start we’ve picked up a couple other stellar artists who are friends of friends. That was another factor in starting the site, keeping in touch with good friends!
GS: I notice you sometimes have guest artists, are you seeking new recruits?
We are always on the lookout for new talented artists. They either come from friend recommendations or they have one hell of a portfolio.
GS: How do you go about picking the topics? What have been some ideas that have gotten rejected?
Jason Welborn: When I started the site I wanted the mash-ups to be fair so everyone felt they were contributing. So I had everyone submit four random geeky things and I put those in a big pool. From that I’ve gone through and paired them up with what I hope turn out to be interesting mash-up illustrations. We are still drawing from that pool even now.
For the summer we also had specific mash-ups, like Star Wars month. That was a case where everyone in the group submitted mash-up ideas and then we voted on the best ones. An idea I’ve been thinking about implementing soon are viewers voting on a mash-up as well.
One recent reject I can think of was Captain America / House M.D. It certainly would have been an interesting challenge, but in the end I think we made the right choice with Cap and The Rocketeer!
The Great Escape by Jason Welborn
GS: Which as been the most popular mash up so far? Why do you think that is?
Jason Welborn: Its hard to say what the most popular has been. In terms of hits to the site it was definitely the Harry Potter / Doctor Who mash-up. Those are two huge franchises so its no surprise those would have an audience. The Tars Tarkas / Pixar and Pokemon / Dr. Seuss mash-ups also got us some recognition on the web, with sites like io9, Kotaku, and others.
One out of the blue plug came from Kevin Smith himself on his new radio show. He somehow came across my Batman / Star Wars piece and started talking about it on the show. That was pretty surreal, to hear Jay and Silent Bob talking about your artwork!
The biggest success has been seeing the site grow and find an audience. Some of our artist have been approached about using their illustration on t-shirts, in magazines, or even a book compilation of mash-ups. Its also doing what I hoped it would and forcing me to draw more. I’ve drawn more finished illustrations this year alone, than in the last 6 or 7 years. I call that a success!
Our site is constantly expanding and adding new content. We are also hard at work creating a storefront where you can purchase prints, possibly even originals from our artists.
The main goal of the site it is to have fun with a little healthy competition from friends and produce some killer geeky artwork!