Almighty CtrlZ

Tell us a bit about you guys? Who are you and where you are from?
We are an an international collective of visual artists who goes under the name of Almighty CtrlZ: Lucía Guirado (from Spain), Julia Robin (from France) Celia Kaspar (from Germany), Valentina Millosevich (from Italy), Tatiana Cherniychuk (from Russia), David Ardinaryas Lojaya (from Indonesia) and Ramon Dela Cuesta García-Vaso (from Mallorca).

Who started this collaboration and why did you set up Almighty CtrlZ originally?
Ramón was the one who started it all, he met Julia on the CDC and together with Lucía, Valentina, and Celia (who were already his friends), we created Almighty CtrlZ. Actually it was a group of friends having fun more than any other thing.. The main purpose of the group was to learn and have fun together, moreover, making the characters fit into a story it was good for us to improve as character designers. Then David and Tatiana joined us and we felt the pressure to be even better! We didn't want to be left behind! Another of the reasons of doing this came up later, we all have big dreams for this industry and is a long way to walk so is great to have people that can help you personally and professionally along the path.

How do you organise and coordinate your projects?
Valentina: After the subject is revealed we do a bit of conversation, usually we try to stick to a clear idea but we always try to remain as free and creative as we can.
Ramón: We have a private group in Facebook full of stupid jokes where we all talk and decide together what we are going to do.
Julia: It usually starts with the most motivated one by the new theme writing in our FB group "Soooo guys what do we do? Brainstorming ? I wanna do a sexy girl with big boobs!" (well ok... most of the time, I'm the one saying that...)

What was the strongest influence you guys had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, comics etc.. ) ?
Lucía: I grew up watching tons of animation movies, especially Disney movies, and now it's obvious they were my biggest influence. But I also read a lot of comics and mangas (like Clamp or Masakazu Katsura) and that was my first attempt to learn how to draw.
Julia: Mostly Japanese animation, and later I tried to discover new things. The Metamorphose Collection by Barbara Canepa regroups a lot of artists who influenced me a lot too.
Celia: That's a pretty hard question. When I was growing up (and still today) every piece of art I saw influenced me in some way, so it's hard to name all the influences without eventually forgetting some very important artists. I'm kind of a sponge and there's influence everywhere, also a lot that's not even nearly related to drawing but influenced my style anyway. But I think the very first pieces of art that I intensively observed and studied in detail as a kid, to find out why I fell in love with them, were the dark and enchanting illustrations of Ilon Wikland in Astrid Lindgren's book "The Brothers Lionheart". And I can definitely remember how my mind was blown away when I saw my first Ghibli movies. Love at first sight.
Valentina: I had a lot of influences outside the animation field, growing up I always ended to be in classes in which animation is not considered much. So even if I’m personally a huge fan of the genre my influences come from live action movies, books and photography.
Tatiana: I always was in love with animation . I´m still in love. Also I watched classic art a lot. I like good stories no matter if it is movie or book. I think different kind of art have similar structure. Such as composition and story. So I admire to observe and learn watching a movie or imagine how it can looks like when I read a book (my favs Ray Bradbury, russian poetry , Alice in Wonderland). There are a lot of artist who blow my mind such as Eyvind Earle, Cory Loftis, Manu Arenas, Carter Goodrich, Nico Marlet, Mary Blair.
David: Disney and Ghibli haha ;)
Ramón: Disney movies, Dragon Ball and One piece shaped me not only as an artist but also as a person, with thee years I've learnt that animation is a powerful tool that may help us to educate the kids of the future to be better persons and more respectful with their dreams, other people and animals.

From the initial idea to the final designs: Who is in charge for creating the stories for your characters? Is there a specific pattern you follow when you write about them? 
Ramón has a big role in it. Most of the time we all have a little idea of the kind of character we wanna do. Then, he finds a general story to gather our characters and creating links between them.

Are you using a consistent rendering/designing style to link your characters to each other or every artist is completely free to create them in the way he/she likes?
Julia: I think we all keep our own style. For the gangster theme though we had to follow a fashion style to show they all belong to one same group.
Valentina: Usually the stories for the characters are written by Ramon, but then everyone is free to create their own character within those lines. I don’t specifically follow a pattern in my works, I prefer to let the creativity flow especially in these kind of project in which I’m allowed to experiment more.
David: For me, I usually just do whatever I like and enjoy at that moment, and that’s the fun things of the challenge.
Lucia: What I like the most about this group is that each one of us has an unique style, so it's the perfect place to explore new things and learn from each others.
Ramón: We like to keep it fresh, and is fun to see how everyone of us uses a different style for the same story, actually sometimes you can learn from other ones choices to implement your own style.

What part of the creation process for your characters is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
Lucía: For me, the best part is when I already know my character, who is he or she and how he is going to look, and I have to find him in the paper. I'm not drawing him anymore, it's like he has always been there. At the same time, the hardest part is when I still don't have the character in mind and I keep trying and trying and I wanna quit drawing forever hahaha
Julia: It's difficult to say... I think it differs from one drawing to another. They all represent a different challenge to me.
Celia: Finding the basic idea I would say is the hardest part but simultaneously the most fun. When I got that figured out, the rendering is easier and still fun, but my brain mostly switches to autopilot.
Valentina: For me the best part is the first thumbnails and sketches, I almost feel like I’m discovering something new while giving shape to the characters. It’s the stage in which everything is possible. The hardest part is rendering and fixing poses, sometimes it takes a while and I find it less exciting.
Tatiana: I would say that it works a bit different for me. There is characters that goes easy and fun and with others I can get stuck. The hardest part it is always the idea, because if it's not working, a cool render will not save it.
David: Brainstorming the idea is hard, but drawing it is so much fun!
Ramón: I love writing the story and sketching, but I’m so lazy about coloring :P

What are some of the things you guys have learned from this experience? Is it always easy to work together or it gets difficult sometimes?
Lucía: I'm trying to challenge myself every month and leave my comfort zone since I have a group of great artists willing to help me and give me feedback, so I'm always learning. Also I think the point for all of us is to have fun so it's really easy to work together.
Julia: The most difficult part of a teamwork from distance is to be able to all produce something at the same time. We all have work or other projects beside this group. I discovered the importance to have a motivated leader to keep the group going.
Celia: Working together makes it all easier. There are other people to motivate you, give input and feedback and it's also motivating to be included in the working process of others.
Valentina: The thing that I learned is how hard is to manage time to be an active part of this group. I’ve not been active lately due to a really busy year but I hope I can come back soon.
Tatiana:  I have no problems with work together. It's fun and so cool when you can ask someone's feedback to your work before it's ready. Such a fresh eye.
David: I’ve learned that we all are crazy. It’s fun to have art buddies! :p
Ramón: I've learn that receiving feedback is hard but giving feedback is even harder! Those people are really awesome! I think only Tatiana is able to find a way to improve every drawing! The rest of us are just fanboys of each others xD
I find it pretty easy to work together, actually the hardest part is finding one month when all of us have enough time to join the challenge hahaha

Is there a series/line up of characters that you designed that you guys are most proud of?
Lucía: It´s difficult to choose only one, but I think the Gangster theme is my favorite. I really liked the story and the characters Ramon created for us and we all had fun with that crazy-colorful style.
Julia: When it comes to my own design, I'm most proud of my necromancer witch. But when it comes to a line-up, I think we've been more productive for the gangster and jedis theme.
Celia: I liked the gangsters and detectives most.
Valentina: One that I really liked was the private detective challenge. I love drawing animals and when we decided to go with it I was super happy. It was a really fun challenge and I like how my officer came out in the end.
Tatiana: I liked gangster theme. But I wasn’t in the group at that time.
David: I’m kinda proud of my Kungfu Jedi.
Ramón: For me, even if my favourite design is my first one, the pirate Leon Carter, It's the detective month. We all joined the CDC, we all got satisfied with our designs and our little Celia won! First challenge won by our team! Cheers Celia!

What is the long term goal for this project (if you can tell us)?
Julia: To keep having fun with everyone, talking about boobies and pizzas!:D (and pizzas on boobies, that's even better).
Valentina: For now is just to keep it going and have fun, hopefully bring some good new ideas out there.
Ramón: Right now we are just joining together the CDChallenge because we are all really busy but we will love to do something else together. Actually, they still don't know but making a 3D animated short has been in my mind for a long time, and I think that Almighty CtrlZ would be an awesome Art deparment hahaha

What advice would you give to someone who would like to assemble a collective of artists such as yours?
Lucía: Some wise man said: "be always the dumbest person in the room". Don't be scare of being surrounded by people better than you and embrace the opportunity to learn from everybody. If you are the smartest person in every room, you will never improve.
Julia: Motivation is the key! And fun! :D  It's important to make sure it doesn't become an obligation.
Celia: I absolutely agree with Julia. Motivation is everything. You need at least one person to kick everyone's butt. :D
Valentina: I think the best advice is to take it easy and have fun. We all have busy lives and no one gets mad when one member is gone for a while.
Tatiana: Stay positive and have fun!
David: Be crazyyyy
Ramón: Find people you´ll like to share some beers on a pub,  do it for the fun, not for the results. And listen to everyone opinion, for a movie is necessary having a director, but between a group of friends freedom is awesome ^^

Will you look for new members in the future?
Lucía: We never know hahaha
Celia: In my opinion, accepting too many members would be a little bit too difficult to manage. But the leader is the one to decide!
Tatiana: Why not. But not sure that our group should be too big. There is not enough time to read all our messages sometime.
David: It’s not up to me haha. Ramon is da boss
Ramón: As I said, we are a group of friends, so as any other group of friends, we don´t look for new members, but probably someone will start hanging out with us and suddenly he/she will become family too. Actually I think the girls from the group want some sexy boys, they think the proportion boys/girls is not fair, although David and I are more than happy with having a lot of girls in the team. And our girls are awesome artists!

If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
Lucía: I would say "The art of Tangled". This art book and this movie have so much appeal...this is a must-have for anyone who appreciates the animation and character design, and of course Glen Keane's work.
Julia: I love the french artbooks "Café Salé". Gathering many different artists and styles.
Celia: I loved the book "Acting for Animators" by Ed Hooks. There's a lot you can learn about story and characters and even though it's about animating it gives you a better understanding of storytelling and character development and that's very useful for the design process.
Valentina: I would recommend the graphic novel Unastoria (author Gipi). Beside the story that is written in italian, I find his illustration an endless source of inspiration.
Tatiana: 100 tuesday tips by Griz and Norm.
David: Ben Caldwell book is amazing!
Ramón: As Animator and as character designer/illustrator I’ll recommend “framed Ink” by Marcos Mateu, I´ve never learn so much with one book. You’ll learn a lot about composition and the use of light on it.

Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there? 
Lucía: There are tons of artist that I truly admire, but I will say Jin Kim. I really really like the life he gives to his characters.
Julia: I have a thing for Jérémie Almanza artwork!
Celia: I admire Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi (check out their absolutely awesome schoolism course)! Their designs for "The Dam Keeper" are unbelievable. Also one of my greatest inspirations is Glen Keane. And again there are so many incredible artists like amazing JungGi Kim (his skills are not humanly possible, I want his brain), "Elioli" (Elena and Olivia Ceballos), Mingjue Helen Chen, Brittany Myers, Brittney Lee, Stephen Silver…
Valentina: The artist that inspires me the most right now is the sculptor Andrea Blasich, I really love and admire his work.
Tatiana: I watch Carter Goodrich. All his characters are gorgeous.
David: I really like Cory Loftis artworks at the moment, He’s a senpai!!
Ramón:  There's a lot of artists I love, any of the senpais my friends said are really awesome, but if I have to pick one, I´ll pick Bluesky´s artist José Manuel Férnandez Oli. All his characters have a lot of charisma, he’s amazing with shapes and with colour and I think he is not known enough! That´s a crime!! 

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about it? Is there any plan to animate some of your characters in the future?
Lucía: I love hand drawn animation, I wish I could be an animator in the Disney from the 80-90s. And yeah, of course I would love to see some of our characters animated, maybe in the future we would do something about it hehehe
Julia: I would to see more of it too, finding a balance between this and other kinds of animation. I plan to be a character designer one day, so yeah, it would be cool to see my characters animated in the future!
Celia: I have a soft spot for hand drawn animation as well. Besides being a character designer for animation my future plans include starting a little animation studio with my partner in crime/life/art. Hand drawn animation never dies!
Valentina: I’m planning to do a 2D animation short film for my graduation project, so I share the soft spot for the medium.
Tatiana: My dream is to work as a character designer for animation. Of course I will be half dead of happiness if someone would animate my characters one day.
David: I like to watch animation, but I’m not good at animating lol.
Ramón: I love hand drawn animation, and yeah, maybe I´ll animate one of them coz I miss 2D animating  sooo much, but again... time! Maybe we could do something together with the Character Design page with other animators in the CDC group ;)

Finally, Where can we find you online and get in touch with you? How can we support your work?
You can find us on Facebook at ( ) but you can also get in touch with us individually at:

Lucía: ( )
Julia: ( ) )
Valentina: ( ) )
David: ( ) 
Ramón: ( )

Thank you so much guys :)