A cartoony illustration of Casper, a purple mothman with yellow accents. He is looking at the viewer with a smug expression and lidded eyes, his mouth popped open cheekily. Greetings and salutations! My name is Elliot, but on this side of the oldweb I prefer to go by Casper Cielo, who you may recognize as that dapper moth fellow on the left! I was born on February 4th, 1998, and I'm currently kicking around in the deep American south - campy amusement capital of the United States!
I'm a creative at heart who's had a lifelong love for high fantasy, theme parks, weird tourism, and early 2000s nostalgia in the vein of Web 1 spaces, high contrast aesthetics, and busy concepts - especially in themed entertainment!

Growing up in South Florida, it's perhaps no surprise that most of my creative ventures and hobbies circle around multimedia means of expression and a strong basis in narrative exploration. In layman's terms: I love me a good theme park and all that goes into it! As the child of two first-generation Cubans, Disney was a little too rich for my blood, so I was saddled with weekend trips to coaster parks like Busch Gardens, where I learned to see them as kinetic pieces of artwork.

I have a great love for coasters in all forms, but Intamins and RMCs are probably my absolute favorites - especially Cheetah Hunt and Twisted Cyclone! I have a lot of nostalgia for original IP rides, particularly those from Universal Island's of Adventure now-defunct Merlinwood. I think themed entertainment is most powerful when it can immerse you in a world without relying on pre-existing knowledge of an already-established intellectual property.

A cropped piece of concept art for Dueling Dragons, a Bolliger & Mabillard inverted dueling coaster. A red dragon is snarling on the right from its neck up while red and blue box spine tracks twist in the background.

I was also raised with quite a love of technology! As the middle child of the family I was often lucky enough to receive hand-me-down Nintendo systems from my older 90s-kid brother. When I wasn't plugging away at Animal Crossing or Pokemon, you could usually find me on the family computer. It was here where I dipped my toes into several of my greatest passions: digital art, the creation of personal webspaces, and early MMORPGs. MS Paint was my very first art program, and I can recall many an afternoon spent patiently tracking my mouse pixel-by-pixel to create the perfect character illustrations for my Neopet's petpage. ( All painstakingly coded with pre-fabbed layouts from old fansites, of course. )

I think it's really my time on the site that planted the seed for my love of creative online spaces. Being able to not only see strings of code come alive on a page, but collaborate with others to weave whole tapestries of conjoined webspaces, really spoke to the creative in me. What's cooler than the wild west of the Internet, where we made our own fun? It was really appealing in a world that was pre-Twitter. Heck, pre-Facebook! As someone who missed the Geocities boat but wasn't quite into the vibe of MySpace, it was rather attractive!
Even so, I was a bit too shy to really hit my stride in forum-based creation. I don't tend to do well in slow-paced settings, so it's why I quickly graduated to roleplay platforms like vanilla World of Warcraft and a pre-Second Dreaming Furcadia. I discovered both of them entirely too young, and the impact of such massive user-curated spaces with the added factor of a tangible world in which I could navigate them meant that I very quickly cemented myself as someone who's creative output largely circled around high fantasy and furry, respectively. A screenshot of a player-made Furcadia dream. It overlooks a small town bus stop. A road sign reads Shades Run.
I continued to code websites for my characters and stories up until the heat death of Freewebs, where I then moved to Wix - I'll be the first person to tell you that I couldn't see the appeal of flash-based websites, an opinion I still hold to this day. Other assorted passion projects at the time included Shades Run, a Furcadia dream that focused on free-for-all anything-goes persona roleplay. When that failed, I retread some ground and returned to World of Warcraft at around the tail-end of Cataclysm, where I made my first gnome character and quickly fell in love with their lore.

Throughout the past decade I've entertained a gamut of rotating hobbies; something I'm admittedly still guilty of. I rolled around the cosplay scene with a focus on crossdressing and armor builds, theater tech for an odd semester in high school, and even did furry Youtube for awhile, wow! All the while I held fast with Warcraft roleplay, one of the few consistent escapes in my life that I always found myself returning to.

A photograph of the webmaster, Elliot, dressed up as Gordon Freeman from Half Life. He holds the viewer's gaze with a neutral stare in his HEV suit and a gravity gun in his raised hands. A photograph of an axolotl fursuiter from the head up. She is looking to the camera and has a happy expression. She has pastel yellow skin with pink gills and rainbow accents. A photograph of a puppet of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors on-stage at a high school theater production. He is yellow with green stripes and red lips covered by many sharp teeth, the central pod tipped back in wait and his roots curled up.
A screenshot from World of Warcraft. It shows a group of both Horde and Alliance players making merry at the beverage stand in The Darkmoon Faire.

It was around the lockdown of 2020 when I started to feel my creative enthusiasm starting to dim. It should come as no surprise, particularly to other artists, that this was more than a little troubling. For a long time I felt like I had put myself in a box with the persona I'd began to assume. The ability to create your own web space, once something that was so exciting to me, was now a pretty suffocating obligation.

After a lot of introspection I'd realized that I felt most comfortable when presenting with masculine personas and aesthetics. While I'd identified as genderfluid and androgynous since middle school, it still hit me pretty hard. After all, when given a whole fantasy world at my fingertips, particularly mid-pandemic, no less, why did I choose to explore it as a gay man? It took a lot of restructuring, but I finally settled on a design who felt unequivocally me: a soft-spoken creative who resembled the creatures of the night I'd heard so much about while thumbing through cryptid books in my elementary school's media center.

An illustration of Casper, a purple mothman, being hugged by Lemon, a pastel yellow axolotl with pink and rainbow accents. Casper looks confused while Lemon is giving an open-mouthed smile. So here I am. I've freshly escaped the Sunshine State and began hormone therapy on May 18, 2022. The time spent meeting myself again for the first time has been freeing - if at times a bit scary. Life for a person who transitions so late can be a bit of a mixed bag, but I think what's really important is that it's far better than what I left behind.

When I'm not streaming on Twitch or doing freelance artwork I'm getting back in touch with my inner child - whether that means by running my World of Warcraft guild, reconnecting with my Cuban roots, hitting up weird roadside attractions, or even just preserving this little slice of oldweb vibes for you here.

Up until recently, I've genuinely struggled to connect with others on a level past creative partnership. It turns out that living as someone else will do that to you. It's still an uphill climb some days, but it's also kind of exciting to wake up every day and know that I'll learn something new. Maybe we'll even learn together? ;)

Shoot for the moon!

Casper Cielo