Designing Storytelling

Storytelling is the expressive foundation that has evolved with and transcended artforms for millenia. In a discussion featuring a variety of artists within the broader media and gaming worlds we explore how design affects the storytelling (and vise-versa) within video games. With a specific focus on 2D and independent production, the conversation will explore how individual artists use their skills to enhance and affect the story and gameplay within this unique form of animated storytelling.

This is a pre-recorded panel will be made available here and on the AIF YouTube channel on October 21st.


Allegra Frank, Moderator

Allegra Frank is an entertainment editor at The Daily Beast. She previously was a culture editor at Slate and Vox, as well as an editor, reporter, and podcast host at Polygon.

Alexis Dean-Jones

Alexis is an animator, character designer and storyboarder from Australia, who moved to Canada to work at an animation studio, and now mostly makes games with friends! She recently did the character designs+animation, FX animation and key art for Chicory; a Colorful Tale, and is now working on a secret new game. Feel free to send her emails at, or other messages @musclewing on twitter or instagram.

Jesse Jacobi

I am a self-taught painter based in Detroit. I’ve done work for galleries, musicians, film, and more. While I typically choose to focus on environments rendered in traditional media, I did branch out in 2021 to help work on the video game NORCO, where I used pixel art to depict interior and exterior scenes, characters, and animations. 

Currently I am back to working an unrelated 9-5 to survive, and I make as much time for art on the side as I can. 

Jo Gauthier

Jo is a 2D artist whose background is firmly rooted in traditional animation. From studying at Cégep du Vieux Montréal in 2D animation to working storyboards, animating, character design, to co-directing, they eventually found their way into a mobile gaming company, where they met the people who would later come together to create Thunder Lotus Games. It’s at TLG that they would go on to create the art direction for Jotun, Sundered and Spiritfarer.

Justin Cyr

Graduated from Algonquin College’s Television Animation program in 2000. Began working at Gameloft in 2002 making mostly early mobile games on black and white devices. Started with Ubisoft in 2003 with their handheld department creating games mostly for GBA & Nintendo DS. During this time would help develop games for such brands as Star Wars, King Kong, TMNT and culminating with Scott Pilgrim vs The World: the Game in 2010. After this time would start Tribute Games with Jonathan Lavigne & Jean-Francois Major in 2011 where such games as Wizorb, Mercenary Kings, Panzer Paladin and most recently TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge were made. Has also freelanced for companies like Wayforward to work on games like Adventure Time and with Yacht Club for Shovel Knight.