Q&A | Paloma Dawkins is The Illustrator Behind NFB and Casa Rara's Museum of Symmetry

Q&A | Paloma Dawkins is The Illustrator Behind NFB and Casa Rara's Museum of Symmetry

Filed under: 
Arts & Culture

Feast your eyes (and ears) on this one. 

Museum of Symmetry is the explosive feel-good alter-universe of cartoonist and animator Paloma Dawkins—a room-scale VR experience with 2D animation in a 3D playground as never been seen before.

This young illustrator, who graduated from the prestigious NFB HotHouse program, has moved from comics and animation to video games to which she applied her fantastic landscapes and adorable creatures to create a surrealistic experience brought to life by the NFB and the rising Montreal’s studio, Casa Rara.

We got the chance to ask a few questions so we could help you all immerse yourselves in the ideas behind the project and potentially get the game which is available on Steam and Viveport platform.

How would you describe your world under 140 characters? 

I only need like 6 or 7 characters to tell the story. It's not much of a story, more of a series of colorful landscapes designed to elicit feelings in the player 
 
When did you start getting involved in video games, coming from an illustration background?

Well I've always loved drawing since I was a kid but I'm kind of a minimalist/poor person and I could never get my hands on the right supplies or have enough space to store them. I started drawing digitally pretty much always using a tablet and a desktop computer because it gave me so much control over the result and virtually unlimited storage. I'm more of a quantity makes quality kind of person.
I wished I could just have everything in one portable device though, so I saved every penny for a year and bought myself a Cintiq Companion (which costs as much as a shitty car) It changed the way I worked and allowed me to draw on the road, so I went to Toronto and did a workshop in game making at the Hand Eye Society and I made my first game 'Dream Warrior'. I've been making games on the road ever since! 
 
If you could describe your art using a gif, what would it be?

Favorite artist, Cyriak 



 
What’s a typical day in your life look like? 

I start with a maca smoothie! For the libido. Then I draw for a while. When I get bored of that then I'll hit up a museum or park or something, always with my sketchbook or iPad so I can draw what inspires me. Then I'll either get dinner with friends, go to some art opening or just go home and watch/make cartoons. 
 
In what type of circumstances were you when you came up with Museum of Symmetry?


I'm always kind of inspired by the projects that artists never got a chance to do but have talked about in interviews and stuff, like Jodorowsky always wanted to make something that'll hypnotize and enlighten people. Basically I wanted to make Museum of Symmetry to be like that. Ashley Opheim and I designed an experience that'll balance you out using color theory and geometric shapes. I don't know if it enlightens people, but people have reported feeling relaxed after playing so at least its doing something. 


 
Could you describe the process you took to produce the work we get to see in Museum of Symmetry?

The backbone of the project has always been the same - its a journey through the elements. You start in fire, go to air, earth, water then ether. Each elements get a color and a few feeling keywords. Each artist just went off to interpret as they wish. Ashley would write poetry about it, Caila Thompson would make music about it, and I would animate about it (TVPaint -> Unity). We later added characters and assigned poetry to them and gave them a role and voila, easy as pie :P jk, it was hard and we iterated a lot, but it was a fun process! 
 
Positivity is the main theme throughout the experience. What inspired you the most? 


Actually I'm not a big fan of positivity tbh, but sometimes a little lol. Almost every character in my game is having some sort of crisis but they go through a transformation, which is what it's all about. We aren't all going to see the world the same way. Like the 'Garden' level for example: In one part of the Garden, watering the plants helps the character, in the next part of the garden, watering the plants makes the character angry and sad.  It's all about perspective. 


 
What are some of the reactions you've gotten from the project? How did it make you feel?


People generally like it!!! Kids especially, it's really sweet. But it's more interesting when people don't like it. In the early stages while I was playtesting it at the NFB, someone from senior management at the NFB got angry and stormed out of the VR lab cursing something about people isolating themselves from reality. A lot of the older NFB crowd think VR is a symptom of a sick society, which I kinda agree with to an extent. I think society has taken the wrong direction at some point but VR isn't the problem. Being in VR is like being in someone's dream, there's nothing wrong with that. 
 
Any upcoming projects you can tease with us? What’s to come? 

Right now I am working with Ken Perlin at NYU's Future Reality Lab on their VR project called 'Cave'. After that, I'm not sure. In the words of Natasha Bedingfield "Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten"
 

#

Read more about Museum of Symmetry right here

Get the app right here

Share this article

Comments

Content Stream

Our homeboy idkcharlie just dropped a new tune, more specifically his own rendition of "Just a Dream" by Nelly - The production was done by fellow producer Deegs who gives it a modern-day twist. Listen to the track right here:
Young emerging artist Ruben Young is kicking off 2019 with a new track. Hailing from Calgary, Ruben’s raspy timbre and modern soul- crooner vibe will hit the spot at the right tones. His latest synth-driven R&B track titled "Golden Hell" is one you will be playing on repeat as your mind drifts...
Montreal's nightlife scene is notorious for its eclectic crowds, avant-garde fashion, and wild times. People travel from all over the world to come party in this city. Whether it is to hear good music, watch good looking people dance the night away, or to end up at one of those wild afterparties...
Montreal's nightlife scene is notorious for its eclectic crowds, avant-garde fashion, and wild times. People travel from all over the world to come party in this city. Whether it is to hear good music, watch good looking people dance the night away, or to end up at one of those wild afterparties...
Montreal's mona on the radio is back with a fresh new single and bright colored visuals to accompany it. I spent way too long being super sad over this 1 girl…. instead of dwelling over all these “what if’s,” i just realized that it’s ok... for so many reasons, some things don’t last forever. We...
This autumn was a turning point for Les Louanges . Named Breakthrough artist of the year at the GAMIQ awards last Sunday, the young singer-songwriter won over critics and audiences with the release of his debut album, described in VOIR as possibly one of the best Quebec albums this season. Today,...
Another one. idkcharlie hit us up recently to make us listen to his latest single off his upcoming EP titled Bootleg Prince dropping on December 1st. The song titled "Wassi" showcases a more eclectic and aggressive side of idkcharlie , and we livin' for it. It comes accompanied by a music video,...
"Big Bag" is the first collaboration that VNCE CARTER , Dead Obies' producer, will release in the next year via Make It Rain Records . Watch the video above.
Fake Shark just released their new album Walking Through A Fantasy and we can't get enough of it. Written from a place of pain and isolation, the 7-track album explores the darkness of escapism and delicate space between sleep and being awake. Though filled with up-beat, danceable melodies, the...
daysormay have been captivating listeners across the globe with their epic sounds and impressive songwriting chops since the release of their debut EP, Talk Peace To A Wolf . Today, the group gives fans a first taste of new music, with a video for their brand-new track, "Role Model" . It went...
It takes two. Montreal artist Maryze just dropped a new single titled "Men Like You" - a collaboration between her and Vancouver-based producer and singer Ciele . It addresses sexism and sexual abuse in the music industry in particular, but serves as a message of solidarity and support to all...
After taking a few months off, Dead Obies are back with "Run Away" , the first single off their upcoming third studio album, DEAD ., to be released on February 15th, 2019 via Bonsound. Run Away is a return to our initial instincts with a more solemn perspective in the lyrics that reflects our...