Armaine Dela Cruz
Category: 2021 High School Winner

Armaine Dela Cruz

As a child who grew up with many cartoons, I thought I would eventually grow out of them. Then as I got older, my love for the medium never dwindled. Little did I know that the world of cartoons I had grown up with was facing the motions of a blossoming Golden Age—beginning in my youth and still persisting today. The same cartoons my child-self thought I would grow out of really grew up with me, and as I thrived off of these cartoons, there was not a cartoon that had more impact on me than Steven Universe.

For more than half a decade, my complete adoration with Steven Universe often highlighted how the rest of my week would be, and I would never know the kind of impact this show had until now—with its end being a year ago today. What started as such as a simple cartoon developed into this deep-dive pool where I swam into daily to learn not only this show’s intriguing story and characters, but the influence and process behind it all as well.

And that’s how I fell in love with Ian Jones-Quartey. Beginning with popular shows such as Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time, Ian Jones-Quartey was co-executive producer of Steven Universe, as well as a storyboard artist. He would then move on from Steven Universe to create his original show OK KO: Let’s Be Heroes. Reading countless books and interviews on the animation team, I learned the many intentions of the creators behind them and no less was Ian Jones-Quartey a big influence behind Steven Universe from beginning to end—even while he moved onto making OK KO.

Ian Jones-Quartey never shied away from making a cartoon a cartoon, which at first, I thought was a silly ideology. However, his unique animation-style radiated the love he put in his storyboards. He tended to make the character look wacky, eccentric, and bold. Old, fast-paced movements and actions of old cartoons translated into his works, and while it may seem daunting at first, energy flows with the characters as much as everything else.

In an interview discussing OK KO, he stated: “Make this funny and wrong on purpose…it’s difficult, but it’s worth doing.”

Ever since I had read the interview years ago, I use this same idea as a suit to play to get the creative process going, and when I allow myself to be messy, life comes from whatever I do. In a world where perfection thrives, Ian Jones-Quartey taught me that true perfection is in the imperfection.

As a creator of color, Ian Jones-Quartey showed me I am not only allowed to create, but I am allowed to create from my own individualism, inspirations, and ideas. From his influence, I hope to take the next steps in my life to create from not the expectation of perfectionism but my life—even if it has to be a little wacky.