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Founders of the first black-owned anime studio take inspiration from Japanese culture

04 Jul 2020
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 Jul 2020
04 Jul 2020

Amin Abbas Dubai

Arthell Islom, CEO of the first black-owned anime studio, D’ART Shtajio, told Arab News Japan the goal of the studio is to bridge the story concepts between the west and the east, with a major focus on telling diverse stories for a global audience.

Talented black artists Arthell and Darnell Isom and Henry Thurlow established D’ART Shtajio in 2016.

Speaking to Arab News Japan, Isom, art director of the studio, said that they started out working on “commercials, music videos, short films, feature films.”

He said they also assisted a number of Japanese anime studios with popular anime series.

“One of the biggest productions we’ve worked on recently is the Netflix original Sound and Fury,” Isom said.

Isom explained that D’ART Shtajio’s long-term goals were to discover creative and visual differences.

“Right now, I think who we are distinguishes us as a studio,” he said.

Isom said he visited Japan for the first time in 2005, to study and work in the animation industry. He moved to Osaka and visited places like Kobe, Kyoto, Nara and Wakayama.

The founder of the black-owned anime studio told Arab News Japan that seeing the film ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ inspired him to get into the anime industry.

“Most people like the characters in an anime, but I was more interested in the look of the animation. Particularly the backgrounds,” Isom said.

“I studied animation at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. Actually, I created the concept for D’ART’s ‘The Doll’ animation there,” he added.

Isom explained that the Japanese terms ‘ganbaru’ and ‘nintairyoku,’ which inspire hard work, were things he incorporated into his daily life.

“I was really impressed by how hard my senpai* worked and their drive to be better artists. They used the term ganbaru for everything,” he said.

Speaking of the challenges he faced throughout his career, Isom said he felt that his biggest challenge “is grasping the process fully to be a great enough artist.”

Isom said aspiring animation artists should “practice, draw daily and study the craft.”

D’ART Shtajio’s YouTube channel also includes vlogs in which they discuss various topics around the anime industry.

*Senpai refers to all of the senior workers at Ogura Kobou.

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