Building Character: Sketch to Screen
Building Character: Sketch to Screen
Our Building Character series will explore the behind-the-scenes crafts that come together to shape the characters we see on screen. Learn more about the work of concept artists and how their craft helps build the foundation for characters and worlds in films.
Our Building Character series will explore the behind-the-scenes crafts that come together to shape the characters we see on screen.
Did you know characters can go through many looks before landing the right one on-screen? Learn more about the work of concept artists and how their craft helps build the foundation for characters and worlds in films with Phillip Boutte Jr. and Michael Uwandi, cofounders of 9B Collective,the first Black-owned concept art studio. The conversation will be moderated by director Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Rise of the Guardians).
Boutte is an award-winning concept artist and artistic director for film, music video, and television with a career that has spanned 16 years and 74 films/projects. He is also CEO and cofounder of 9B Collective, the first Black-owned concept art studio comprised primarily of BIPOC artists.
His client list includes Warner Bros., Sony, Marvel Studios, Netflix, Fox, Disney, DreamWorks, and many more. His work spans a multitude of blockbuster hits, including Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), Quentin Tarantino’s Once upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), Inception (2010), The Greatest Showman (2017), Jungle Cruise (2021) starring Dwayne Johnson. He recently had his first assistant costume job on the feature film Blue Beetle (2023) for WB/DC—a production on which 9B Collective also did concept art and integrated marketing, and received its first official screen credit as a studio.
He has also production designed several music videos for artists such as Ariana Grande, The Black Keys, Panic at the Disco, Tiesto feat. Busta Rhymes, Travie McCoy, Fefe Dobson, Hot Chelle Rae, Saint Motel, and the UK band The Blackout. A highlight of his work in the music industry is having completed three world tours illustrating costumes for Madonna, under the direction of prolific costume designer Arianne Phillips.
Boutte enjoys dedicating his time to uplifting young artists and giving back to his community. He is a frequent panelist at San Diego Comic-Con and often does talks at universities like UCLA, USC, FIDM, Cal State Long Beach, and Otis, and he travels once a year to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to participate in the Mosaic Film Experience, which caters toward providing education about careers in the entertainment industry to African American and Latino youths. He also partners frequently with nonprofit organizations like the BRIC Foundation, and has been a seated executive board member of the Costume Designers Guild for the past 10 years.
Uwandi is both a concept artist and art director for live-action film and video games. He's a cofounder of 9B Collective, a company that shifts the entertainment landscape by pushing for inclusivity within the industry. Some of his clients include Netflix, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros., ILM, Disney, CBS, Sony Pictures, 21st Century Fox, MPC, Niantic, Kabam, Mattel, and more. His work for Moon Knight (2022), The Mandalorian (2019–), and Westworld (2016–22) were nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Sci-Fi Costumes.
In addition to his work through 9B, Uwandi is a board member of the NCAS and has partnered with accredited nonprofits such as the BRIC Foundation, Vijona Africa, and Compton Artists Alliance to motivate underprivileged youth from Africa and Los Angeles County to pursue a career in the arts.
Peter Ramsey made history as the first African American director to win an Oscar for animation for the iconic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), and is currently executive producing the two-part movie Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023). Ramsey was also the first African American to direct an animated film for a major studio with Dreamworks’s Rise of the Guardians (2012).
Most recently, he has directed acclaimed episodes of Ahsoka (2023–) and The Mandalorian (2019–) in the Star Wars universe for Disney+. Ramsey also executive produced and directed all episodes of the limited series Lost Ollie (2022) for Netflix, created by Shannon Tindle and with Shawn Levy and Josh Barry of 21 Laps Entertainment.
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