In life, God blesses each of us with wonderful gifts… things we do exceptionally well with less effort than most. Since we are not born with an instruction manual that tells us what those are, we can spend a significant stretch of our journeys searching for what we do best. In fact, many of us don’t discover our gifts until the mid to late portion of our lives, and those who do know their gifts often don’t develop or pursue them. As a result, many people go to their graves without ever knowing what they were capable of doing.
However, there are a select few individuals who have a finger on the pulse of what they are meant to do well before the rest of us. By the age of nine, Dredon Lackey had already begun his journey to becoming a phenomenal anime artist. It all started on a random afternoon when he walked in on his stepbrother, Deon, watching Dragon Ball Z. “I just sat down and started watching it with him,” Dredon explained. “I didn’t understand it at first, but once I got pulled into it I was addicted.”
After falling in love with Dragon Ball Z, Dredon couldn’t resist taking a shot at drawing the characters for himself. His uncle, Kaleb Murphy, introduced him to the basics of drawing anime. By his own assessment, he was far from a natural. “If I had to look back, I would say I was horrible!” Dredon exclaimed with a laugh. Even though he got off to a rough start, he takes pride in the fact that he was able to work hard and get really good at something. “Experience gave me way more confidence because, at first, I couldn’t shade or anything. I could only do faces.”
Now, at nineteen years of age, Dredon’s anime drawings are far from basic. With ten years of hard work and experience under his belt, he is able to do full body drawing in either black and white with shading, or full color. Shaded pieces take three or four hours for larger, full body drawings with more detail. Smaller, partial body pieces with less detail take about two hours. Color pieces typically take an extra hour, whether full or partial body.
So, with the amount of time and attention to detail it takes to create such spectacular anime drawings, is there room for anything else in Dredon’s life other than his first love? Believe it or not, he occasionally does lay his art utensils down to engage in a little basketball or hip-hop dancing.
Basketball is more of a hobby than a competitive interest, though his style of play is rather intense. As a smaller player, he is sometimes perceived as an underdog, so he does his best to compete and prove himself with effort and toughness. It’s no surprise that his favorite player is Isaiah Thomas, formerly of the Boston Celtics. “He is short but still made it because he has lots of heart. He expanded my idea of what it takes to play basketball. He showed me that size doesn’t matter, just work hard and you can compete.”
Dredon also enjoys hip-hop dancing and was taught by none other than Deon, the same stepbrother who first introduced him to Dragon Ball Z! His preferred styles are robotics and tutting. “I do tutting the most because it’s a convenient dance style that I can do anywhere,” he explained. When I asked Dredon if he would be down to watch my favorite classic hip-hop movies, Breakin’ and Beat Street, he surprisingly said he would. “With dancing you can learn a lot from watching older styles because a lot of it is timeless.”
In addition to drawing, hooping, and tutting, Dredon is a freshman at Georgia State Perimeter College where he majors in… you guessed it… art. He also makes time to hold down a J-O-B at Home Depot, where he works in the gardening department. Though he is an introvert and can have his energy drained by people at times, he appreciates the job because it helps him improve his people skills. “I would rather grow and learn to do things I don’t want to do than just be stagnant,” Dredon emphasized.
Throughout our conversation, I was extremely impressed with Dredon’s approach to handling challenges. Whether it was starting to draw anime characters, playing basketball as a smaller player, or dealing with customers at Home Depot as an introvert, he always kept a positive perspective and found a way to improve himself within each experience. Such maturity and self-awareness is rare in more experienced adults with professions, spouses, and children, much less a nineteen year-old college freshman.
Given his positive mindset and immense talent, I couldn’t help but wonder what was next after college for such a promising young adult. As you probably imagined, all roads lead back to his first love. “My main talent that I want to focus on is drawing,” Dredon shared. “I want to be a character designer or illustrator. Characters are my strong suit. I enjoy making different types of characters more so than scenery and buildings. If I could make characters for video games that would be so awesome!”
As far as dreams for his personal life, Dredon would like to travel to the home of anime: Japan. “I have to go to Japan at one point in my life. I HAVE to go!” He would also like to have typical family. “Just a wife and two kids… enough to have a legacy,” he shared. When asked what legacy means to him, Dredon expressed that “legacy means the characteristics associated with your last name.” He went on to describe what he called the “Lackey Legacy”. “I want [Lackeys] to be cool, down to earth people who do the right things and work hard.” He also wants to set an example for others and be an encouragement. “I want others to look at the Lackeys and say, ‘If they can do it, I can too, or even better!’”
With his talent, work ethic, and positive attitude, Dredon is well on the way to accomplishing his dreams. He is resilient, considerate, and grounded, and those qualities will serve him well in his quest to become a professional artist and create a legacy that will inspire others. I, for one, cannot wait to see how our world is impacted by the Lackey Legacy.
Parting advice from Dredon to any kid wanting to be an artist:
1) Do not let other people tell you what you are good at. Stay true to yourself and work to perfect your own style.
2) If it’s just a hobby and you’re not serious about it, don’t pursue it as a profession or work. Treating it as work might take the joy out of it.
To see more of Dredon’s work, follow him on Instagram: @hachet_savage5210
Jonathan Clark is a life coach for adults and youth who specializes in identity, purpose, career planning, and helping people manage themselves better to achieve goals. He is also the author of Quote Quest, a guide to creating a life of purpose, fulfillment, and success. Purchase Quote Quest on Amazon and follow Jonathan on Instagram or Facebook at Cra-Z-Dreams life coaching for more powerful content to improve your life.