As a storyteller, I believe that a genuine story comes from past events lived throughout life. I recapped my memories of visiting Florida every year to see my grandparents. Being from Ohio and escaping the winter cold for sandy beaches and sunshine was what I lived for. In my sketchbook, I jotted down each memory I had and started to develop characters I ran into at some point on my vacations. Each character had a special significance to my time spent there. I always wished I could have lived there, so I based this story off of a whole summer spent with three strangers who become best friends and have countless adventures together.
Schools out and Summer vacation is in the air. Young Kip is excited to see where this summer takes him, only to find out his mom booked a surprise plane ticket to visit his grandparents in Beachtown for the three months. Kip has never been one to go outside much, so being in the sun everyday seems a bit overwhelming. As soon as his feet land in Beachtown, Kip slowly realizes the city seems to be a bit off. From kooky tourists, to endless seagull attacks, Kip feels doomed to a summer of endless tourcher. That is until he meets his soon the be lifelong friends, Sam and Andy. All three being total opposites, Sam is attending a Space summer camp, while Andy is a local to the wacky town. Their lives change one day on the beach when a brutal storm sweeps into Beachtown. Forced to take shelter in an abandoned cove, they soon discover multiple bottles filled with maps and hidden secrets about Beachtown. These clues could be the reason why Beachtown is so backwards. The summer may be young, but Kip, Sam, and Andy are ready to unravel the secrets of this small, tourist town in Florida.
Early development: Beachtown
Beachtown was a project that originated from my passion of the ocean and visiting my grandparents in Florida. My very early sketches were from doodles of typical people you see at the beach, from tourists to surfers to lifeguards, and all the in between. As I was sketching, a kid I drew trapped in an inner tube struck me as funny. It gave me ideas of who this kid was and if he had friends. Then I started to sketch out more detailed drawings of him, adding in other characters to his world. This character would later become Andy, a kid who is local to Beachtown, lives on the beach, but can't swim. Having kids portray a story like this came from my childhood and how I felt in Florida.
character design: kip
Kip's character is shown as the unexpected hero. A kid that follows the rules, yet somehow ends up in trouble. He's a bit shy, and likes to stay indoors. Since living in Beachtown, he's slowly come out of his shell and has a new sense for adventure outside.
character design: sam
For Sam, I wanted to develop her character more. She's an outgoing individual with alot of personality and brains. Her love for Science and Space led her to space camp in Beachtown. I tested out hair color, styles, ethnicity, and outfits.
Florida has an iconic environment with rich Spanish culture and humid weather. For the feel of the story, I went with an imaginary city on the Gulf called Beachtown, and it's setting is based off of typical spring break areas like Tampa and Panama City. I wanted to include a unique boardwalk based off of my time in Deleware one year at Rehobboth beach. I researched different building structures and landscapres to try and start to bring the story to life. I experimented with different colors and compositions to find a balance.
I had a vivid memory of visiting Tampa when I was young. The amount of crazy colorful beach cars that scattered across the beach parking lots intrigued me. Some of the cars even had an insane amount of bumper stickers on the back.
snowy cone design
Known for their Mega Blast Freeze, the Snowy Cone franchise is something every kid and adult crave on a hot day at the beach. No matter where you look, there always seems to be a Snowy Cone stand near. Maybe it's because the Corporation owns forty percent of Beachtown.
backstory: Aimi and the ancient beast
This visual development project was inspired by the idea of a child's imagination. My original idea of this came from a drawing I made in the forest of a girl and a large creature interacting with one another.Being a kid with an overactive imagination and a sense for adventure, I began to develop characteristics and personality for this little girl. Thus Aimi, the main character came to life.
When Aimi, a fourth grader from a small suburban town in Detroit, suddenly moves to Washington due to her moms relocation at work, she finds herself alone and confused. Always shy and keeping to herself, she finds comfort in drawing and documenting her life in her journals. One day after school, she takes a shortcut through the woods, only to stumble upon a friendly giant. Only she can see this large furry forest spirit, so she starts to document her interactions everyday. She soon realizes that some of the spirits in the forest may not be as friendly. With her unique ability, it is up to her to save the creatures of the forest from the evil that lurks in the dark.
When Aimi moved to Washington filled with huge forests, she never imagined that it would be alive. The swirl symbols appear on the trees and in her everyday life, connecting the two. When a spirit is near, they start to glow and give off an energy that's static.
CHARacter design: aimi
Being from a suburban outside of Detroit, Aimi grew up in a nicer part of town. Her personality is a bit shy, but she has a passion for being creative and finding new adventures. Her dad died at an early age, so it's been difficult for her and her mom to get by. Not having many friends in Detroit, Aimi was hoping to get a fresh start in Washington. Little did she know her friends would turn out to be spirit animals from the forest.
Aimi never goes anywhere without her backpack. Even with all the rips and tears from age, Aimi refuses to buy a new one. It holds all of her personal journals and favorite snacks.