ANIMAL’s feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their original “idea sketch” next to a finished artwork or project. This week, sixteen-year-old artist Terrell Davis talks about his cover artwork for Yoshi & Komono, inspired by Googling cat cafes, “Japanese snacks, old games, Ramune soda, tamagotchis,” and social media feedback.

This is a piece I did for Yoshi & Komono’s ‘Cat Cafe,’ out now on Maltine Records.

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Now, I do all kinds of art, but the desktop/tabletop thing is my specialty and/or the thing people know me for. When I start out, I almost always have to find the perfect gradient for the occasion. I usually have the lighting arrangement done beforehand and then I’ll change it around as the piece progresses. The colors and overall theme for pieces I do for others always has to represent them and what they’re trying to do. In this case, the piece had to be real cutesy, as it had to give the feel it was taking place in a cat cafe or something like that. I didn’t really know what cat cafe’s were like so I looked them up on Google.

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Once I gather info and inspiration from those images, I usually scour around Tumblr or even the person I’m working for. In this case, they wanted to have things like Japanese snacks, old games, Ramune soda, tamagotchis, etc. The ramune soda was real interesting to research and model because I’d never heard of it or seen it until then. They’re these cute sodas that come in all types of flavors but what really stuck out to me was how over the top the packaging was. So I tried to recreate it in my vision. Although my version wasn’t as extravagant, I still like it.

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The first model that started the piece off was the Hello Kitty Dreamcast I modified. I got the original model off Turbosquid but it was low quality, so I touched it up and made it into this. (It looks nice when rendered)

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Usually from there I work around it and add my usual things to see if they work. Some recurring themes in my work are technology (old and new), plants, drinks, etc. I like to think of it as an actual tabletop, so I usually include things we normally see in real life like iPads, CDs of games and music, drinks that can range from Fiji Water to something alcoholic like Moet or Vodka. In this case, I used a little bit of all that. And then once I have a little bit of something I’m proud of I’ll share it with the person and then they’ll comment on it and send it back saying they want something put in or taken out. It’s a continuous process until both me and the person I’m making art for are happy with the results.

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I also usually put my progress on Facebook or on my personal Tumblr so others can see what I’m working on. It’s just become something I do regularly with all projects nowadays.

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When all is said and done, I render it and from there I modify it in Photoshop. When it comes straight from Cinema 4D (the CAD software I use), it’s usually real bland and pale, and so I add saturation and vibrance and other various filters in Photoshop to get the final result.

Nine times out of ten it’s really fun to do work for other people, and I definitely had a lot of fun making this one. Shoutout to Yoshi, Komono, and Sarah from Kero Kero Bonito because she did the drawings of the cats.

TERRELL DAVIS, “CAT CAFE EP” (2014)