There is a menacing aura to the figure in the print “The Blue Spirit,” who wields a pair of swords and played an important role in “Avatar.”
“This was one of the main characters, who would dress as his alter ego in a Chinese mask,” Konietzko said.
The swords are part of his disguise, because the character, named Zuko, would normally summon fire to use as a weapon.
“This Blue Spirit persona was something he created initially to do nefarious things,” Konietzko said. “He started out as a main villain, but over three seasons went through a character arc and ultimately became a good guy.”
In addition to serving as co-creator and executive director of “Avatar” and “Korra,” Konietzko has worked on the animated programs “Family Guy,” “Mission Hill” and “King of the Hill.”
He studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, where he and DiMartino were classmates, but explored several other types of artistic media.
“I was an illustration major but with an interest in animation and a lot of disciplines,” Konietzko said. “I took graphic-design classes and spent most of my time doing landscape paintings.”
Landscapes are still a major interest of Konietzko’s, and he posts photographs from a wide variety of natural and urban settings on his website, bryankonietzko.com.
“At the heart of it, I’m most interested in environments, landscapes,” he said.
Konietzko’s photographs of the Canadian Rockies and Death Valley have, at times, inspired the worlds that appear in his animated series.
“Once you have that setting, you imagine a character who makes sense in that world, and the story evolves out of that,” he said.
Konietzko has also given talks at companies and schools around the world and will speak at Montserrat’s commencement exercises today.
“It’s not easy making a living as an artist,” he said. “Since I’m usually talking to students, I like to give them some idea of how what they’re learning can be applied, an idea of how they might flourish.”