Four college students acquire super powers through a professor’s experimentation. What they didn’t know was that in gaining this new-found strength they were also given a brutal virus that would kill them in 5 months. The only way to get the cure is to do a seemingly impossible task for the professor who thinks he’s found the secrets to becoming a god.
My name is Kota Robles, and I am the creator of SMOOTH. This project began in 2011 and was completed in 2015; but the real beginning of my love for art started to take form at age 3 or 4 when I got my first set of crayons.
Growing up I always found art to be a fun way to drift off into a dreamland and build my own universe. I had so much fun creating and bringing my imagination to life, and in the 6th grade, I won a national… I don’t remember what it was called, so we’ll just call it the ‘Save the Earth’ art contest. The objective was: to create a work of art that portrayed the message “Protect the Earth”. I drew a lion hugging the world. When my Art teacher asked why, I told her “lions protect their kind, and they aren’t scared to challenge anyone”. My teacher contacted the judges of the contest to elaborate on the meaning of my painting and I ended up winning 1st place. The school called my mom in, and my mom had this ominous scowl that almost looked to be tattooed on her face. Almost as if she knew I had done something dubious and obnoxious. She just wanted to hear it so she could give that classic “wait til we get home” speech on our way out. She got to the office, and they told her I won the contest. She gave me a kiss on the forehead and said “I’m so proud of you”.
Years later- and I still never told anyone the truth… That I didn’t mean to win. The night before the assignment, I was watching The Lion King and I just wanted to draw Mufasa. So, in class I painted Mufasa hugging the earth. In all honesty, there was NO serious thought process behind the painting. Paint to save the world? No thanks, I’m a kid, I do what I want. Whenever the teacher called my name, I almost always cringed because usually I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing, but not in art class. In art class it was always paradise.
Life in the art game was beautiful. I just used to copy cartoon characters from the TV to the paper and try my hardest to get the drawings anatomically correct. I was really heavy on the Batman, and Spider-man cartoons. The character designs were: powerful, different, and fed my imagination. Later, I was introduced to Anime, specifically Dragon Ball Z. Not only was the character design just as extravagant as many of the American cartoons, but man… I was in love with the: motion, the fluently flowing, detail oriented, and over-all vibrantly colored animation. This was A turning point… not THE turning point… but definitely A turning point in my way of thinking as an artist. Growing up, my only reason for creating nice pieces of works was to not necessarily showcase my work, but more to show off my skill, to brag to people and say “look what I can do”.
I was always the small kid in school and never really had any way to impress anyone. As I got older, I recognized my talents and realized I had something special– I could draw, I was damn good, and I wanted everyone to know it. but I would later find out that drawing for the sole purpose of pleasing other people was something I had to learn to stop. When I got to high school it happened all over again. I took up graffiti. People would ask me to tag their names on big sheets of paper so they could put it on their walls. After a while I stopped that. Although learning graffiti was not without it’s merit, it taught me that it was OK to be crazy, and OK to be free on the canvas– even if the canvas was a wall most of the time.
I pretty much quit art in it’s entirety during the eleventh grade in 2002 and picked it back up again (lightly) in 2006. By this time the passion for my craft was almost non existent. Don’t get me wrong I still loved super heroes, to this day I still geek out when going to watch them in film, but I had close to zero motivation on where to take, or what to do with my art. The Biggest Problem I Had To Face as an artist was a problem most artists have figured out when they’re kids. It was that I didn’t know I needed a direction, a subject, a personal project- something to remind me that art isn’t just about showcasing how talented you are and saying “I am”, it’s about spilling your mind onto a blank world and saying “this is”. Sure I had teachers, some amazing ones, but teachers can’t teach an individual to manifest their interest in a subject. The individual has to want that for him or herself.
I went to college in 2008, and in 2010, I found my fraternity (LSU). From that moment on, I no longer felt the need to impress anyone. I was just happy. The level of support from my family and my fraternity (my other family), was much greater than I ever thought it would be. When that happened, I had that good old moment of clarity; one day I sat down and read a graphic novel with some horrible illustration and thought to myself “Hey, this is really bad, I can do better than this”. So I drew up what is now the first page of my Graphic Novel. I then gave the art some dialog and from there my way of thinking for my little experiment evolved from: “I wonder if I could” to “damn, I can’t stop myself now”. That’s when I found THE turning point in my way of thinking about art. That’s how I found SMOOTH. You know… it’s ironic, when I was a kid, I wanted to bring the drawings from the TV to the paper… and now as an adult I want to take them back from paper to the TV.