Ravensburger’s Samanta Erdini on the “unique freedom” artists enjoy on Disney Lorcana

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

Samanta, it’s great to connect. Before we dive into Disney Lorcana, what did you do prior to joining Ravensburger?
I come from the animation industry – quite a lot of the Lorcana artists are from that space – and I also worked in video games. I’ve actually worked with Disney brands before. I worked with Disney Publishing Worldwide on some Disney children’s books and also on the Disney Animation Immersive Experience. I got to direct the part centred on ‘The Circle of Life’.

No pressure!
Ha! I loved it! I was an amazing experience. But yes, I worked in character design, in comics and as an art director on several TV shows and video games before Lorcana.

Amazing. And before joining Ravensburger, you did the art for some Disney Lorcana cards as a freelance artist.
That’s right. I started with the first set. It was a privilege because I got to do one of the first Aurora cards, Aurora – Regal Princess. I was so happy to be there at the start of this project and it’s been great to see how huge the game has become. People love this game. And since joining Ravensburger as an Art Director on Disney Lorcana, I love the game even more!

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

As you mentioned, you’re now in-house at Ravensburger working on Disney Lorcana. What has the collaboration with Disney been like?
It’s amazing. They give us a lot of freedom. It means a lot of the work can reflect the artists’ styles – and our artists are very talented. Our artists also have their name on each card, which – when you consider the size of the characters and brands we’re designing for – is a privilege. Ultimately, it’s helped capture the attention of fans. They love these unique interpretations of Disney characters. I mean, look at Malia Ewart’s work on the Belle – Accomplished Mystic card! And by the way, I can look at a card and recognise the artist! But yes, it’s great that Disney gives us that freedom.

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

What guides the style of these cards?
We actually take inspiration from the artists themselves. They can propose ideas. That’s the unique freedom we have with Lorcana. It’s a truly collaborative process. We start the process together and we guide each other. That’s why artists love to work on Lorcana. It’s awesome.

And how long does it take, from idea to completion, to create a card for Disney Lorcana?
It takes about seven weeks.

Wow! And how many artists are you working with?
We work with about 200. It’s a lot! And that spans artists we regularly use and some who did in and out.

Interesting. Now, before we dive into one of the cards you designed, I wanted to ask about cult characters… It must be fun putting a spotlight on characters that maybe haven’t been the focus of large merchandise programmes before. As a card-carrying Emperor’s New Groove enthusiast, I’ve been pleased to see Kronk, Kuzco and Yzma given their moment in the sun through Lorcana!
That’s one my favourite Disney movies too! I want to design an Yzma card one day! And coming from Argentina, she represents my country and culture. I love her!

But yes, in every set we include a character that might be more obscure, or cult, from the movies or a TV show. Emperor’s New Groove wasn’t a huge success at the time, and hasn’t had lots of merch, but it has fans – and they’re super excited when they do see those types of characters in the game.

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

Absolutely. Now, let’s talk about a card you illustrated: Mirabel Madrigal – Prophecy Finder. What was important to convey through the art in this card?
That card is actually connected to a few others in the Ursula’s Return set. Mirabel is building Bruno’s vision and some of the other Encanto cards are building it too. Luisa Madrigal – Magically Strong One is involved in that, and the Vision Slab item card is the final piece. It was a great collaborative process to tell this connected story through the cards.

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana
Are you an Encanto fan?

Does being a fan help the creative process?
It helps a lot! And I actually did fan art of these characters before I even got this brief, so they knew I could do it justice! When I got given those cards, I was so happy because I wasn’t just doing Mirabel… I did Luisa Madrigal – Rock of the Family and Pepa Madrigal – Weather Maker. I wanted the whole family, but it would’ve been too much work! Being a fan is important because you know the personalities of the characters. It made it easy to engage with these characters. It makes things easy.

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

And does your animation background come into play at all when working on Lorcana cards?
Yes. We want the cards to have that ‘sense’ of animation. We want them to feel alive and in motion… That’s why we use some many artists that have worked in animation.

Samanta, this has been great. Before we start to wrap up, how many cards have you illustrated for the game so far?
14 that have been released, with more to come!

Are there any in that line-up that you’re especially proud of?
The first card I did, an item card, was Beast’s Mirror, and that was special. But my favourite so far is the third card I did, a song card called Part of Your World. I love it because the co-director of The Little Mermaid, John Musker, is a friend of mine, so it was a privilege to do that card. And he loved the card!

Samanta Erdini, Ravensburger, Disney Lorcana

Oh! You showed him?
Yes, he knows all about Lorcana and that card. It was a privilege to do that. And it was a challenging card to do because we wanted it to be a representation of her dream. I loved the concept.

Amazing. Last question: what fuels your creativity?
Watching the movies! And looking at the work of the animators who designed the characters in the first place. When I had to draw Mirabel, I looked at sketches from Disney Animation’s Jin Kim. They really inspire me.

Great answer. Thanks again Samanta!

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