Artists on ArtCorgi: Joseph Lee on Writing & The Dark Crystal Project

We’re happy to announce Joseph Lee, one of ArtCorgi’s artists, was just recently selected to become a writer of a new YA series for Penguin Young Readers Group and Jim Henson Company. In celebration of our artists’ many talents, we switch the subject from art to writing with this recent Q&A with Joseph on winning the writing competition, the Dark Crystal Project.

ArtCorgi: When did you start writing? Joseph Lee Headshot

Joseph: I started writing short stories in grade school, with intent to finish my first full-length novel by high school – which I did, in eighth grade. Looking back, it was not a very good novel. But it was finished. I went on to start an online play-by-email RPG where we did a ton of writing for many years in my mid/late teens. I’d say that ongoing exercise in a wonderful and collaborative environment really honed my writing abilities and prepared me for my foray into professional writing.

A: Do your writing and illustration pursuits ever become intertwined?

J: Yes. I’d say at a casual level, they’re always intertwined – I always have illustrations of all my characters and I love sketching and illustrating my favorite scenes. Sometimes I worry that my illustrations will influence how other people see my characters in their minds – but maybe that’s not a bad thing? As for combining the two at a more complex level, I’ve always wanted to do a graphic novel but I have a lot of problems with paneled art. I’m a lot better with character design and portraiture… environments, scenery and paneling are very difficult for me.

A: Do different factors inspire you writing and your illustration or are all of your creative pursuits inspired by the same general activities and sources?

J: I’d say they’re mostly inspired from the same place, though illustration for my personal projects is almost always inspired by my written ones.

A: How did you hear about the Dark Crystal Project?

J: My agent forwarded me the call for submissions. The Dark Crystal was a classic film from my childhood, that inspired me both from a storytelling as well as a visual perspective, so I felt pretty well-fit for the task.

A: Did your winning submission in the contest, “The Ring of Dreams,” just come to you, or did you develop it over a long period of time?

J: I actually took a very strategic approach to the contest. I did a lot of research on the publishers, the judges, the project, and the contest guidelines, and then formulated a story I thought would bring together all the aspects that were being sought. I’m an outliner, so I like to know where I’m headed. Once I had a plan, writing the original submission went pretty smoothly and probably only took me a week or so, spread out over a couple months.

A: What is the opening premise of  “The Ring of Dreams?”

J: “The Ring of Dreams” (later retitled “Shadows of the Dark Crystal” for the e-Book anthology) takes place prior to the Dark Crystal film. It features a young Gelfling girl who leaves her remote homeland in search of her missing cousin. In doing so, she finds more than she expected – including hints of nefarious deeds going down in the Castle of the Crystal, where the Skeksis Lords reside.

A: Can we still expect illustration from you in the future? Or is it all writing from here on out?

J:  I’ll absolutely keep illustrating! I think for the Dark Crystal project, they’ll be bringing on some heavyweights for the cover and potentially for the interior pieces – the more artists the merrier, I think – but illustration for my personal projects and, of course, the great commissions coming in through ArtCorgi, will continue to be a steady happening if I have any say about it.


Congratulations again, Joseph! We look forward to seeing how the project turns out as well as seeing what you get commissioned for in the future.

You can commission art by Joseph here and if you haven’t already. :)

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