We had the good fortune of connecting with DeShon Washington Jr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi DeShon, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
As a kid you could not separate me from a television screen. I loved movies, I loved television, but I realized most of all I loved animation. I loved shows like “The Simpsons”, “The Proud Family”, Rugrats etc. Quickly I decided that my dream was to one day be able to have character’s of my own. I wanted to have shows and movies of my own. I wanted to create stories, characters and worlds that would make other people feel the same way my favorite movies and shows made me feel. I always wanted to make art that would shape people, that would make them smile when they think about them, that take them to their “happy place. My ultimate dream was and still is to make art that will stick with people forever. Over the years as I have gotten more complex as a human my vision for the art I want to make has gotten more complex as well. I want to above all portray black people in animation in ways we have never seen before. When we think of famous animated black characters, the scale is pretty small. I want to portray black people and all sorts of diverse cultures in a beautiful light but I have to emphasize for whatever I personally make, it will always be black people in the limelight. The character’s I envision will be complex three-dimensional ones that people can relate to, root for, and latch on to emotionally. The stories will be sometimes epic, the stories will be sometimes small scale, but they will always make people feel seen. My dream is to one day run a animation company with all sorts of projects being created from a big diverse group of talented minds. This will be down the road. As of right now it all starts with the projects in my head. Every project I personally plan on making will be hilarious, dark and heartbreaking all wrapped up in a warm hug of dopeness. Basically……it’ll be black culture.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Basically what I do is draw character’s, storyboards, and posters for movies and television shows I dream about making one day. My Instagram and Behance page is sort of like a manifestation/vision board for me. You can feel the excitement and passion in the art, which in turn I’ve noticed gets other people excited as well. What sets my art apart or makes it unique is, there is a certain aesthetic to it that portrays animated black people in a way that gets people excited. It’s part goofy, part appealing, part touching. Black people don’t get a lot of animated shows or movies that portray that black experience in a magical sort of way. We get sick of the trauma movies, and the white savior period pieces. We just want something that authentically portrays the black experience and at the same time something that is simply just plain fun. I am most proud of how far a passion project of mine has come. It is called “Smoke Town” and it will be a love letter to my hometown Louisville, Kentucky. That is all I can say about it right now without spilling the beans. I came up with the show when I was in 6th grade. I would always draw the characters all over my tests, and work. I have truly always manifested it to become a big amazing animated show. At the time, a piece of me wondered if my creative side was just a phase that I would one day grow out of but I only just kept growing into it more and more. I am not where I would like to be yet and would not consider “West End Productions” (my production company) to be professional yet but I am working to get there for sure. A lot of work needs to be put in but it will get there. I am constantly growing and maturing as a person and my vision will only grow and mature with me.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The old term “it takes a village” is really the first thing that comes to my mind with this question. Of course I have to shoutout God because without him none of this is possible, I owe any sort of my success to him and everyone that I’ve come to meet along my life path. The good apple’s and the bad apples, they both have shaped me. My parents were always loving and supportive, and they truly let me watch just about anything I wanted to watch as long as I didn’t act out from them. Their whole thing was, they didn’t want to hide me from the way the world really works as a kid. They felt that was a crippling thing to do to a kid. A major shoutout to my sisters and grandmothers who would always watch movies with me as a child over and over. I want to shoutout all the friends that would read my scripts no matter how bad they are, the friends that would compliment my art, that friends that simply just delivered acts of kindness to me. I want to shoutout all the teachers and coaches in my life that along with my mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins helped shaped me into the man I am today. I truly won the family lottery. I could never take sole credit for my success or gain any sort of ego because you never know who’s been praying for you and how long they’ve been doing it. It really takes a village to raise a young boy and a young girl. It takes a even bigger village when that young boy or girl is black. I’m thankful to everyone. Truly thankful.
West End Productions