By Antonela Pounder
on August 31, 2023 11:00am

We’re approaching the end of another month, which means it’s time to celebrate another amazing Porter in the DEATH STRANDING community. August’s #DSPorterSpotlight features the incredible Leo, a super talented artist and cosplayer.


Hi Leo! Great to have you on board for this month’s #DSPorterSpotlight piece! We love your passion for DEATH STRANDING, as well as your incredible art and cosplay. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and what makes you a DEATH STRANDING fan?

Thanks so much for having me! I’m Leo, a self-taught hobbyist artist. I began drawing as a kid, then took a long hiatus in my 20’s, letting my art fall to the side. I then became inspired to pick it back up after playing through DEATH STRANDING. It truly was the precipice for the revival of my creative passion, and I relearned the fundamentals of art through the process.

DEATH STRANDING was my first experience with a game from Hideo Kojima, and I had no idea what awaited me. It was an emotional roller coaster going through the game, especially since I was expecting my own little BB at the time (who is now very much out of her tank by now), and with the onset of Covid and being in isolation for so long, the game hit a little deeper than it would have at other points in my life. It came at the perfect time. The themes and aesthetics presented in DEATH STRANDING spoke to me in a way that few games or movies had previously. I’ve played through the game multiple times and even still to this day, there are moments that get me misty eyed. I’m just an emotional wreck in the last few chapters (in the best way, of course). I really love the moments when I’m walking through some picturesque landscape, and a Low Roar song triggers. It speaks right to my core, it’s such a unique experience.

Can you talk to us about your creative process when working on your illustrations and your cosplay?

Music plays a huge part in my creative process. I’m very motivated by lyrics and the overall feel of a song. I tend to listen to very emotionally heavy music, and I really strive to put those same emotions into my art. Once I have an idea, I work relatively quickly. I tend to base my art on photos that I’ve taken in game. My digital paintings take roughly 4-6 hours total, while my sketchier traditional art takes an hour or two. I really love to put a lot of detail into my digital paintings, and more feeling into my traditional art. My favorite part of any piece are the eyes. There’s almost a spiritual connection when finishing the eyes.

My cosplay process is much more analytical, and I am all about the details, even those that aren’t front and center. I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time trying to figure out all of the text on the Bridges uniform, and did my best to match up the keys to the ones on the keychain in the game. This is where I let my detail-oriented vision shine. Even if they’re details that won’t be noticed, it makes me feel accomplished, and is a source of personal pride.

Do you have a favorite character from DEATH STRANDING DIRECTOR’S CUT and if so, what makes them so special to you?

I can already hear friends of mine laughing over this because of how many times they’ve had to hear me go on and on about my favorite DEATH STRANDING character. I have no doubt that they could answer this without thinking about it. My favorite character, without doubt, is Higgs Monaghan. As someone who was obsessed with Ancient Egypt as a child, I was smitten with him from the very first time we met him in the game. The moment that gold and black striped cloak caught my eye I was hooked. With his tattoos, messy eyeliner, and bold outfit design, he really makes for such a fun and visually appealing character to draw. But upon playing through the game and learning his backstory, once all character relationships and dynamics are established, that’s when he really found his way into my heart, and I understood how much of a complex part of the story he is. If I could give anyone in the DEATH STRANDING universe a hug, it would definitely be him.

How influential has social media been in getting your work noticed?

Social media has been crucial in getting my work noticed. You can’t be an artist in this era without it. I started out in 2021 without a following, posting daily as I relearned the foundations of art, and very slowly, I started meeting people with the same creative spark that I had. Over the past two years, my circle grew as I met more people, and experienced more breathtaking art from my fellow creatives in the community. Artists, authors, and cosplayers alike, brought together by their common interests, in all different walks of life. I’ve chatted with members of the industry who were kind enough to share their knowledge and experiences, giving a look into what it takes to make these games. And recently I was pleasantly shocked when Kojima followed me on Twitter. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It’s such a huge honor to be acknowledged as an artist in that manner.

Do you have any advice for new Porters who might be about to play DEATH STRANDING DIRECTOR’S CUT for the first time?

My advice would be to take your time with the game. Really take it in, enjoy the quiet moments, because they’re quite beautiful. Get familiar with zip lines, they’re a life saver (especially to the Wind Farm). You can never have too many blood bags. And deliver all of the pizzas!


Thank you so much to Leo for taking the time to answer our questions! For previous community spotlights, head to: