Photo by Kenneth Pfeifer Photography
Good news, everyone! We have here, René Koiter, Warcraft artist and occasional warlord on the weekends. In December, René will have worked for Blizzard for nine exhilarating years as a graphic artist, currently in Story and Franchise Development. This means, he’ll earn his personal shield next year, an epic reward gifted after ten years of service at the company. We cannot think of someone more worthy of wielding a shield! Enter: Khal Drené, René's impressive and certainly memorable cosplay alias.
Unsurprisingly, the annual Halloween bash and costume contest at Blizzard is pretty formidable. René was so inspired by contestants throughout the years that he finally decided to participate and bring Khal Drogo to life in 2013. The project wound up being a 10 month, multi-person endeavor. While René remained diligent and worked on his barbarian-esque physique, he got in touch with artists and costume designers, Jessica Dru and Nora Holley to complete the ensemble. Nora constructed the magnificently embellished front flap, the vaquero-style pants, and the mighty leather bracers and cincher. Jessica sculpted, cast, and painted the intricate golden medallion belt. On the day of the Halloween extravaganza, Steven Dwyer, fellow Blizzard employee, took point on makeup. The final touch, perfecting his majestic mane, was handled by Celeste Aviva Elson.
"Celeste really made my day by turning me into a hairy hunk of man." --RK
After four to five hours, the transformation was complete. There was no trial run. René basically just killed it as Drogo and won the day (and the Blizzard Halloween competition). Everyone's efforts, love for Game of Thrones, and deep-rooted connection to Blizzard wound up coming together in a perfect symphony of man, art, and attention to detail. View the khal-worthy results below.
Photos by Kenneth Pfeifer Photography
If those photos weren't enough to sway you to join the ranks of the Dothraki, then this next set might. Buzzfeed even wound up using one of the below photos in an article of theirs as if it were taken directly from the show itself. Not surprising when you also bring Kainoa Kei onto the set. She serves up a delicate, and effortless performance as our favorite khaleesi, Daenerys Targaryen. Most of the original crew reunited for this one, with Marina Bekeshka jumping in on makeup, and wedding photographers, Patrick Eger and Alexa Pilato assisting Kenneth Pfeifer in capturing the perfect angles in what is a very special and monumental moment. These photos definitely stir the mind and invoke the heart. After shooting wrapped and the sun settled, they all gathered round and watched the premiere episode of Game of Thrones: Season Four as reward.
Oh, did we mention that René got to meet the colorful Jason Momoa at Phoenix Comicon? The photographic evidence is enough to make you do a double-take! We've been told that during this encounter, Jason leaned in and playfully whispered, "Khal me, maybe?" Okay, René totally made that up, but we wanted to believe it so bad! In truth, René did have a photo of his Drogo portrayal in tow and Jason excitedly exclaimed, "You're the guy!" Then they bumped fists and the world shuddered. Getting recognition from the man himself must have been quite surreal...as is the resemblance!!! Just look at it! Look at it!
Before we part ways, we would like to touch on something near and dear to René's heart, something that has heavily impacted who he is as a person and as an artist. Together with his twin brother, Michel, the illustration alias of TwinCruiser was born some time ago. As a unit, they created inventive and thought provoking pieces. Flip through the various works here and be sure to read the captions; they're nothing short of inspiriting. In 2004, Michel's time on Earth was cut short due to heart failure, though it can certainly be said that his mark lives on through a vast plane of creativity.
"A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again." --Maya Angelou
When speaking with René about Michel's impact on his own approach to art and the world around him, he had this to say:
"I'd say I have become more analytical when it comes to art. Michel was quite gifted for his age and I'd say more talented in the arts. I had other qualities, so we complemented each other well. Certainly being at Blizzard for almost a decade and being surrounded by all of the incredible and intelligent minds has helped me sharpen those artistic skills to become more observant. Personally, I believe the objective of any art is to elicit an emotion. That's the only way you as an artist are going to connect. So, it has to become your purpose to find out which concoction of elements is going to make that crowd emote. That's what divides the good from the greats, especially in painting and illustration. How do you convey a combination of color, character, composition, movement, and emotion so convincingly in something so static and virtual, that it has a profound impact on real receivers? That's a hard skill and it takes years of practice and observation. Personally, I've carried that discipline over to other fields in my life. I make it my personal objective every day to produce something that will make an audience emote. Whether it is a comedic post on Facebook, an inspiring lift with heavy weights, or a genuine portrayal and performance as a fictional character. It makes me feel good when those really land, when I see the look on people's faces. And in turn, people feel good too, because they forget their worries and are entertained for that sliver of time. Everyone wins in that game!"
We can think of no greater game. It's one we should all strive to play. Let's all Polymorph into the best version of ourselves, take a Heroic Leap, and recognize the Regrowth in one another.