VCD Professor Collaborates on Video Game and Children's Book Illustrations

'Zed' Depicts Magical World that Engages the Mind and Heart

Enter the new magical world of “Zed,” and discover the work of a fine artist, professional illustrator and painter. Doug Goldsmith is an assistant professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State.

Goldsmith was invited to collaborate on a new video game, “Zed,” by its creator Chuck Carter. Goldsmith’s role was developing concept sketches for the game’s central characters: Charlotte, Zed and Moe.

Zed is targeted for virtual reality headsets and will be released by Cyan Ventures in Spring 2019. There will also be a children’s book featuring Goldsmith’s sketches.

Q: What was your motivation for collaborating on this project?

First of all, Chuck Carter and I have been friends for 30-plus years. We’ve collaborated on several projects together. More importantly, this is the first project considered “entrepreneurial" and totally self-driven. We’re not working for a company; therefore, all the decision-making comes from us. For me, this was a great opportunity to create my first children’s picture book to accompany the digital game. It also gave me the opportunity to continue my research and passion for character design and concept art.

Q. Who inspired your artwork?

Some of my big inspiration for the children’s book comes from Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”). He created these hybrid animals, which I tried to do in the design of Zed.

Q: What type of impact would you hope for this game to have?

The game Zed is non-violent and introduces the gamer into a world of true-life experience. The dreamer in the game suffers from dementia, losing his memory, as so many do battling Alzheimer’s and dementia. ... It’s my hope that this project may open the door to new investigations into game content that is not in the mainstream, but still engages the mind and heart.

Q: Talk about the little touches of your own personal life you sprinkled throughout the book.

I grew up in the 1960s, and cartoons were a staple in family life. I had a wonderful childhood growing up with a brother and sister who I still call my best friends. There are many visuals throughout the book that honor my brother and sister. My wife and other personal friends are also featured in selective ways throughout the book.

Q: You also honor one of your former colleagues from Kent State. Can you talk about him and how he’s represented in the book?

One of the most significant personal touches to the book was a spread to commemorate my colleague and friend, Professor Christopher Darling, who passed away unexpectedly last year. The image shows Charlotte creating a mural in a downtown cityscape. A significant portion of Professor Darling’s creative research was based on bringing members of various communities together, collaborating on murals promoting unity, self-expression, ultimately enhancing public spirit. Christopher was a true humanitarian, and his presence is deeply missed.

Q: What would you like your students and young artists to know about the creative process?

I’m still learning each day and will continue to explore until my time is up. I would hope the same for my students and other young artists. Not every illustration in the book is perfect; there are passages I’d like to redo, but the most important thing is finishing the project on time! Tomorrow, there may be a new project to tackle. Stay fearless, be aware of what you have to offer, create work that you are passionate about, and never be afraid of change and trying something new.

POSTED: Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 2:56pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 3:01pm
WRITTEN BY:
Christiana Ford, '19