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Deanna Gunn Gunn edited web crop.jpg

“Everyone draws as a kid, but the thing that made me draw more was my interest in video games, cartoons, and anime,” says UCOL Creative Media graduate Deanna Gunn.

During her final year at Manawatū College, Deanna attended a UCOL open evening and was amazed to see then-student Philip Sue making art influenced by her favourite video game, Guild Wars 2.

“When I saw he was making art inspired by this thing that also inspires me, I was like ‘OK, I should study here.” 

Deanna enrolled in UCOL’s Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging (which became the Bachelor of Creative Media), focusing on illustration. She says the lessons she learnt about planning, working hard, and handling criticism helped her grow as an artist. 

“I was drawing all of the time and I still work to that level now – you’ve got to keep momentum and always be working on something.”

“We presented our work in class a lot, which really helped build my confidence. From that I also learnt not to take criticism so personally – once you get over that you can look at feedback and see how it can help you improve.”

While at UCOL, Deanna enjoyed projects like designing posters for music students, creating a patch for a military unit, and helping paint a mural on campus

“I’m still very proud of the mural. I haven’t had the chance to do anything like that again. It was hard to adjust from drawing on a tablet, but that made it so satisfying to see it all come together.”

Another highlight for Deanna was being named a finalist for Weta Workshops’ Gwangmyeong Concept Design Competition and having her entry exhibited in South Korea.

Deanna’s time at UCOL culminated with her exhibiting her sci-fi/fantasy webcomic This Is Not The End - a project she had dreamed of publishing since she was 14. 

Promotional art for Deanna Gunn’s webcomic This Is Not The End.

“A lot of my UCOL assignments were based around furthering my webcomic, from character designs to concept art. Then, in my third year I made the first three episodes of the comic. It was very cool to bring it to fruition.”

In 2020, Deanna graduated as the top student in her class. 

Working under the name Serapheir, Deanna now releases new episodes of her webcomic fortnightly (except for when she takes breaks) and has reached over 40,000 reads. The comic earned Deanna nominations for Best Professional Production/Publication and Best New Talent in the 2021 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, which recognise excellence in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, and horror works.

Deanna has become a regular exhibitor at pop culture conventions like Armageddon and Overload.  There she sells prints of her illustrations, zines featuring episodes of her comic and concept art, and specially designed stickers, acrylic charms, and washi tape. 

“When I was at UCOL, I made a business plan which included exhibiting at Wellington Armageddon in 2020. I did that and it ended up being much more successful than I expected for a first time. I want to keep going to conventions for as long as I can - it’s so fun meeting other artists and interacting with people who like the stuff I’ve drawn.”

Going forward, Deanna wants to release her webcomic as a book and expand her illustration work and product range. 

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