Sunday Q&A: Davian Chester

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Illustrator / Graphic Designer / Real Toon Social-Justice Doodler

You caused an online stir back in February, when Buzzfeed wrote about your renderings of Black Disney princesses.

What do you think the general public’s reaction is going to be when they’re shown Jesus was a black man?

“I think we’ve already started to see more and more images of Jesus as a black man.

I know that I’ve personally seen more and more of it. From images on trade association websites, to a couple of conventions I’ve been to recently, and from requests for this as a commission in my freelance work.

Courtesy Davian Chester’s Tumblr

So it’s an image we’re going to have to get used to, I think.”

How did your education prepare you for the career path of a cartoonist?

“My education in Muscogee County public schools was excellent.

I had two teachers at Northside High who really encouraged me. They introduced me to digital drawing tablets from math and media coursework. I started creating cartoons on the tablets. First for fun, then for my friends, then finally the teachers would ask me to create some—they even had an awards contest with us students drafting cartoons.

After Northside, I went to CVCC. The instructors there gave us full access to all the Adobe software—Illustrator, InDesign—and encouraged me to develop knowledge of it with schoolwork plus some freelance work I was starting to pick up.

That’s what set me on my way.”

John Legend in the lead role in ABC’s live broadcast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 2018

Were you surprised that Google—which prides itself on a Californicated diversity—didn’t have a Juneteenth doodle on its homepage? It seems to celebrate something everyday. 

“Yes! I was surprised—because they do present themselves as the platform of diversity. But once you study it a bit more, it’s not exactly what all they present to be.”

 Are you going to take the gig with Google?

“They presented an initial offer the same day [Juneteenth, when it published his illustration after it achieved viral status online]. We’re in the process now. I’m not certain but I think so.” 

Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of emancipation, via the arrival of Union troops in the deepest reach of the Confederacy,  reached Corpus Cristi, Texas.

New scholarship has come out this year about Jubilee—the celebration of freed slaves up in Athens, Georgia, when Union troops reached town on May 4, 1865. Do you know about any celebrations of freedom by former slaves here in the Chattahoochee Valley?

“I’ve heard a little bit here and there but not all that much.  

It’s important, though, to share th knowledge and awareness and, finally, to celebrate all that’s been overcome by black Americans since slavery with the annual Freedom Day. Juneteenth is the national day for that commemoration each year and needs to be recognized as such.”

Age: 24

 Favorite Design Software: Adobe Illustrator

Fav. Cartoon Character: Spider-Man

Fav. Movie Adaptation of Cartoon: Marvel’s Avengers

Person (dead or alive) Who Inspires You: Walt Disney

(left to right) Keith Phillips, Davian Chester, Sherricka Day
On 13th St. bridge below crowdsource funded billboard featuring Juneteenth illustrations.
Photo by Davian’s mother, Terra Chester.

About the author

Frank Etheridge

Editor of Electric City Life, a nonprofit news and culture outlet created as a positive, progressive outlet for citizens of Columbus, Georgia, and surrounding communities.

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