Fortnite Battle Royale has led the gaming community by example in more ways than one for the past few years. In 2021, the popular battle royale game featured icons like LeBron James, Ariana Grande, Superman, Venom, and many more.
It is quite apparent that Epic Games are on a mission to make Fortnite an all-inclusive community that encompasses every sphere of popular culture. In the last interview, we spoke to concept artist Kitsu about Epic's vision with content creators, and artists in the Fortnite community.
Today, we are honoured to have DahjaCat, the creator of the Joy outfit from Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 7. Our discussion revolved around Joy's creative process, Epic's pivotal role in educating the community, and Fortnite becoming a safe space for everyone.
"All I wanted was to make a concept that others with the condition could relate to": DahjaCat, Creator Of Fortnite's Joy Outfit
Here's an excerpt of the conversation:
Q1: Thank you for taking the time out for this interview, and congratulations on having your concept design in Fortnite. Tell our readers a little about yourself and the journey that led you to become a concept artist.
Thank you for having me! It’s an honour, and thank you for the congratulations! Hi, I’m Dahja! I am a teen artist who mainly revolves around the video game “Fortnite,” I joined the Fortnite community in July of 2019, where I would take screenshots of in-game characters doing dances, expressions, and other miscellaneous actions. For about a year I had done these screenshots, also known as “Fortography.”
Later, around February 2020 the idea of “3D art” had blown up inside of the Fortnite community. Scrolling through Instagram, my first platform before deleting my account in July 2020. I came across a beautiful artist who goes by YHEMICAL, they were making 3D versions of their OCs, which inspired me. I started to make my own 3D OCs with their help, and soon became who I am today, an aspiring concept artist.
Q2: What inspired you to become a Fortographer, spend hours inside the replay mode to get that perfect shot. Would you call it a life-changing decision at this point?
Before summer 2019 hit, I would play the game competitively with my best friend. When the middle of July came around, I was scrolling through Instagram probably scrolling trying to find some good music for a montage, etc. Someone who goes by “Kae” had posted screenshots of the outfit “Flutter,” and I was just inspired. I remember telling my best friend, “Hey, I wanna do this.” She would help me by “modeling” and taking screenshots with me.
I continuously would connect with others inside of the community, and take photos of any new cosmetic to release. Later, I would photoshop these photos to look different and call them “OCs.” After a while, this got really boring to me. I didn’t like doing it anymore, and I no longer wanted to be in the Instagram community, so I deleted my account and went M.I.A.
I do not regret my decision, because while I was gone I had continued to practice 3D art. November 2020 came around, and I decided to post one of my 3D pieces to Twitter, I connected with a few people. Around December, I met my two best friends Dako and Chauncey. They pushed me into wanting to make more art, and I started to make concepts. Without joining the Fortography community, I would’ve never gotten into making art. It was one of the most life-changing decisions I have ever made, and I’m so grateful I did.
Q3: The Joy character looks absolutely spectacular, and it became a fan-favourite in Season 7. Did you ever imagine having an OC in the Fortnite battle pass, especially for independent artists?
Still can’t believe she’s finally here, the last update of the season too! I could’ve never imagined that my creation would ever be in the game, especially when at the time I was such a small artist. Thankfully, in my mind I don’t like the idea of concepts being the battle pass; and Joy was not.
I wish for any concept outfit to rerelease often, and when in the battle pass that limits the “rerelease” part. Joy is hopefully going to be an outfit that rereleases every 30 days, which will be a point proven in the next week hopefully. No matter what, it’s still SO unbelievable that my concept has reached such a big platform filled with so many players worldwide.
Q4: Our readers would love to know the creative process behind Joy's concept. How did you first come across the idea and will it get more style edits in the upcoming Fortnite Seasons?
February had been a pretty dead month for me, art-wise. Towards the middle of the month, I had talked to my group chat of friends about some ideas. One of them had brought up how little diversity there is inside of the Fortnite (at the time) and brought up how awesome it would be to have an outfit that represents Vitiligo. All I wanted was to make a concept that others with the condition could relate to.
Without a thought in my head that my goal of this would soon be huge and real. I started sketching out my plans, and couldn’t find the most fitting for the longest time. Then it hit a roller skater who is very expressive like she knows her beauty. Rainbows have to be one of the most beautiful things to me, so I collided the colourful beauty to become who we now know as Joy. At the moment, I do not have any styles coming to the game for Joy, but I have a concept in the works for one that should be released soon!
Q5: The Joy outfit depicts more than just a community design. It symbolizes the inclusivity Fortnite stands for. Would you say Epic Games are leading by example to educate and create a sustainable community?
Epic Games is 100% pushing in the right direction, as said by Donald Mustard from a little meet-up with my friend CandyWing, I can’t wait to see what is in store for the future of Fortnite.
Having a more inclusive environment helps welcome everybody and allows everyone to be comfortable inside of their favourite game, place, anywhere. It was amazing to be a part of the start of this well-needed push, the example it sets is amazing for the game and community itself. As the days go on, the toxicity grows less, but it still exists.
Q6: When the Joy outfit was released, there were numerous "trolls/haters" trying to bully others for relating to it. What would your message be for the younger section of the community who are new to the world of Fortnite?
It has come to my attention, even when I first made Dalia (Joy) that there was a huge uproar of hate towards her. The idea of inclusivity and a safer environment really scares them as much to express themselves with their hate. I have scrolled through so, so, so many comments about Joy, and you can’t go 10 without seeing something rude or disrespectful. To these people, I know you’ll learn one day, it’s just sad you’re this immature.
People with Vitiligo have to live through this uproar every single day, and the hate doesn’t hurt me necessarily, but my heart hurts for others with Vitiligo. If you are someone with Vitiligo and have to go through comments about Joy, please don’t let it get to you, you’re beautiful, and these people will have what’s coming for them.
Along with the trolls, people would harass those with Vitiligo after Joy was released. I would find others with Vitiligo on TikTok and open the comments to “OmG iTs ThE GiRL fRoM ForTniTE,” at least 5 times. I mean seriously? It shows how much toxicity is still left in this community, and at this point, all we have is to hope Epic handles this better in the future.
Q7: How would you describe Fortnite's influence on popular culture, and do you think that the game will eventually evolve into a platform for creative expression?
As the days go on with Fortnite, it is becoming its own metaverse. They were once a story mode gameplay experience, then they branched out to battle royale, and then creative, and so much more. They have one big project in the works for “Creative 2.0” also known as “Valkyrie” where you can mod your own Fortnite, similar to Roblox. It’s always a surprise to where Fortnite will go next. The move into making everything and anything is huge within Fortnite’s production. So yes, I do indeed think Fortnite will evolve into bigger things suitable to anyone.
Q8: Are there any novelty stories you'd like to share about Joy's Dreamworld?
Joy definitely has to be my favourite! Of course, we have heard of the process of making her, but after Epic contacted me for her, there was ONE bump in the road. The morning of May 15, 2021. A survey had been released display a huge list of skins in planning, and Joy had been in it. Waking up that Friday morning, about to get ready for school, and seeing thousands of the notifications, I was so confused.
My only thought was “Dalia?” And then I checked Twitter, to seeing an official drawing of Dalia (Joy) sitting right there to the public. I was in disbelief, I was really upset. It had ruined the surprise for everybody, but now that she is finally here I have gotten over it. I was not able to speak about the leak, but the drawing was so pretty, Epic did an amazing job remaking my concept!
After seeing the survey, I wanted to finish my project in Fortnite Creative ASAP, so my really good friend contacted some of his best builders to help me out, and we finished what we know as Joy’s Dreamworld.
Q9: Would you agree that Fortnite and Epic Games are creating a multiverse that's all-inclusive. How do you see young artists, pros, & content creators fitting in this huge universe?
Epic Games is definitely making the game more available to anyone who plays. When you load up Fortnite, there’s most likely a game that is fitting for you, whether it’s hide and seek, shooting games, role-playing, open worlds, and so much more.
I see this as a huge opportunity for any content creator looking into growing a community based on Fortnite, and I think they shouldn’t give up their goals! Fortnite evolves every single day, I hope everyone gets more and more comfortable while playing!
Q10: To conclude, is there anything you'd like to say to your fans and aspiring artists. There are numerous who aspire to have a career in the gaming industry, what's your message for them?
I see everyone who supports me, and who continuously shows their true selves around me as one big huge family. All of you people are amazing, I thank you for always pushing me to keep going every day. Thank you for the continuous support! And to anyone who wants to get into art, I say to set goals for yourself.
Although everyone is different; goals helped me continue to be where I am today, I always have goals. Even after Joy, she was one of my biggest goals, but I do have even more! And whatever you do, please surround yourself with a good group of people. You do not want people bringing you down to get what’s best for you. I can’t wait to see what you all bring to the future, and I hope we can all grow together! I love you all!