Anime Frontier attendees stopped in their tracks to buy merchandise from Lacel Ria’s towering pink booth, a marvelous display of adorable stickers, prints and keychains.
Lacel, also known as Jelly is an artist and Twitch streamer who graduated from ATEC in 2022. Lacel illustrates original art and fanart for their merch shop and streams as a Vtuber model with 1,500 Twitch followers. One of their newest products is a polaroid print set they drew of Kyo and Tohru from “Fruits Basket.”
Active on social media as @lacelria on all major platforms, Lacel began doing commissions in 2016 and opened a store in 2020, which is currently run at lacelria.square.site. They began streaming in 2019 — the same year they transferred to UTD — at twitch.tv/lacelria, where they draw commissions with the company of their live chat.
“It was a lot, of course, but streaming and art was and still is my only source of income, so I had to manage somehow,” Lacel said. “Most of my time was taken up by my classes and homework, and I’d give the rest of my time to working on commissions. I only gave myself one day to stream every week for three hours, because that was as much as I could at the time, and I would only ever stream the commission work process too. I never had any time to work on any art for myself or for fun for so long. But now that I’ve graduated, I’ve for sure been able to do that a lot more lately, which is very refreshing.”
Lacel’s art brings a smile to everyone’s face with their bubbly and cutesy aesthetic. Their shop includes sticker sets of original hamster emotes from their stream, prints featuring fellow Vtuber Ironmouse, anime fanart and VALORANT agent keychains. Lacel expresses that their colleagues are a big influence on their art.
“My biggest art inspirations are Kaiami, Nihellie and Supernovaleslie,” Lacel said. “I also adore Milkiteastudios and Jyahm.”
Similarly, Lacel found a good support system at UTD as a student, by joining the esports content creator team.
“It was really nice to give and receive support in this community, and they definitely helped grow and improve my stream,” Lacel said.
But the esports content creator team wasn’t their only home on campus. Lacel made the most out of their major and found ways to incorporate their passion into their degree.
“The professors have also been incredibly supportive and insightful about everything, including the animation industry and encouraging my creativity,” said Lacel. “Another thing UTD helped me do was finally create my 2D Vtuber model/avatar for my streams, which I created for my Capstone project. UTD has just given me a lot of opportunities to move past my hesitations and doubts and just go for it, and all of it has played a huge role in getting me to where I am right now.”
When Lacel applied to table at Anime Fronter as an artist, they had only one event under their belt: Women in Animation’s ATEC Connect in Spring 2022. Appealing to UTD students, they created laminated Tobor stickers by hand to sell exclusively at ATEC Connect.
“UTD’s ATEC Connect event is actually the whole entire reason I was able to get a taste of what an artist alley is like,” said Lacel. “That artist alley is what got me to overcome the hesitation and fear and to finally take the steps of having actual merchandise to sell! I genuinely think I would not be doing this today if it weren’t for that.”
Looking back on their time as a Comet and through COVID, Lacel wishes they could have been more involved.
“I seriously am so thankful for the school and for everyone that has supported me during my time here,” Lacel said. “Everyone I’ve met through my classes, including my professors, every friend I’ve made in the WIA artist alley, and the esports content creator team. I genuinely feel so lucky to be in my current position, and UTD is a big reason this was allowed to happen.”