Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
Well, I grew up in the north San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. I'm the oldest of three kids and have two younger sisters. I attended Granada Hills High School where I was a Math/Art major, Go Figure! While attending Granada I took architecture and art and design classes. During this period I got a portfolio together and called up the Walt Disney Studios for an interview to find out how I could get into animation. They had me come into the studio and I spent most of the day getting a tour and sitting with Eric Larson as he drew over my work showing me how he would draw the same poses of a character. I really couldn't believe how open and helpful everyone was.
At the end of the day Eric suggested that I turn in my portfolio to Cal Arts where the studio was going to start an animation program and told the production staff that I would be good for the program. So, a year later in 12th grade I submitted my portfolio to Cal Arts and got accepted. I was in heaven, I took all the necessary courses for a degree as well as the character animation classes. At first I was a little slow getting my animation right and I felt I was being pushed aside when a wonderful man by the name of Kendall O'Connor who was my layout teacher took me under his wing and taught me all he could. My eyes opened up to a world in which I could design do perspective and animate. The perfect spot for me! After my third year at Cal Arts I was asked to work at Disney Studios, but I turned them down.
I still can't believe I did that! My reasoning was since the studio gave me half of the cost of my education as scholarships that I'd like to finish my 4th year, get a degree and some more experience without the pressure of quotas. I also mentioned I would love to join the company when I'm finished and they agreed, so when I graduated I went directly into production on the movie"The Fox and the Hound". I still recognize and thank all the people and artists that I have encountered in my life, good and bad, but I would like to thank Ken O'Connor, Bill Moore, Tee Hee, Elmer Plummer, Jack Hannah, Don Griffith, Eric Larson, Mike Maltese and Maurice Noble for giving me the experiences of a lifetime!
What is a typical day for you?
I do Some of my best conceptualizing when I'm in the shower and on my way to work. I get to work and plan out what I need to do for the day knowing plans will probably change. I like to get out of the studio for lunch. Ken O'Connor drilled into me that there's more to life than work. You have to experience life to make you a better artist, so I get out into the real world as a break. When I get back I go right to the grindstone. That's not to say that I don't talk to others, for we are in a business of communication and it's real important to be able to communicate with others and not be a hermit. When the work day is done I travel home and I'll have dinner with my family then either do some freelance or work on some personal artwork projects if I feel like it some times I just veg-out and watch T.V.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
As of the summer of 2008 I will have been a aid artist in animation for 30 years. I started on Ralph Bakshis' "Lord of the Rings" as an animator and did some freelance animation for Hanna and Barbara. I got to work a Muppet on the 1st "Muppet Movie" with some of my colleagues from Cal Arts. Then entered the World of Walt Disney Studios. I started as an assistant layout man and quickly moved up to journeyman layout, art director,then left Disney and art directed and designed the "Garfield" T.V. specials for Film Roman. After a year away I traveled back to Disney this time to T.V. animation where I designed backgrounds for Ducktales then for the first season I art directed and designed "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" for the second and third season I was Director/producer on the show where I earned an Emmy for the show. I directed 13 episodes of the show TailSpin then trekked back to Disney feature animation as Layout Supervisor and designer on "Beauty and the Beast". At the end of that production I went back to T.V. to finish out an obligation and Art Directed the first season of "The Little Mermaid". Next came the "Lion King" where I started out as a Layout person and became a co-supervisor of layout helping design Pride Rock and workbooking (cinematography) a number of sequences in the movie. I became layout supervisor on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" , "Atlantis" "The Little Match girl" and "Lorenzo" the last two being shorts. In between the supervisor jobs I helped out with designs and cinematography on "Mulan" and direct to DVD projects “Tarzan" and "Peter Pan". In 2003 I left Disney again and worked on "The Fat Albert Movie", "Curious George", 2 animated "Hell Boy" movies and the Simpsons T.V. series where I was a consultant and did, 3d animation, 2d animation, layout and design. In the fall of 2007 I rejoined fellow artists at Disney Toons on a development project and ended up on Tinker Bell 3 as a designer. During the past 10 years I've also illustrated a few books one was for Disney called "Colors of the Wind" based upon the movie Pocahontas and I'm illustrating two books for a friend based on a couple of stories she has written. I'm very excited and in the process of finishing a book on layout and composition that I've been compiling for the past 30 years. I really want to get this book out so people will understand what a layout person does!
What is it like being a Art Director, as well as a Layout Artist?
While working with the right people that allow you to be creative you can get a sense of creating a magic world that People haven't seen before and or would like to go to. Working with closed minded or people who can't communicate what they want becomes a bit of a challenge, but I figure they have an idea of what they want and I kind of make it a game to see if I can help them become more clear what they want by trusting my artistic senses and allowing me to do the work for them. Some times it works and some times it doesn't! All in all I get to be creative for a living!!!!
What are the things you like about both Art Direction and Layout?
Being able to create new worlds and telling the story through art and camera.
How do you go about creating a layout, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
As in my book I explain everything we do in film is about telling a story!!!!!!! So as a layout person you need to know the story backwards and forewords. Understanding the character's emotions, lighting, point of view, time of day, where are you in the world or out of this world. All of these factors will give you clues as to how you need to create the layout . Starting with the horizon in which every vanishing point goes to. To the final rendering which will tell the audience lighting and depth and emotion of the scene.
Is there a layout you have done that you are most proud of?
My only response that is each layout are kind of like children and I can't sacrifice one for another. Some are more satisfying than others but I feel each one is as important as the other if they weren't there there would be no background and the characters would be floating in space. In other words NO I don't have a favorite.
What projects have you done in the past, and what are you working on now?
My long winded explanation of what I did you already have a couple of questions ago.
Who do you think are the top artists out there?
I would like to think we are all top artists, but I know better. If I didn't say I was the top artist in layout and cinematography I would be lying, but I feel there has been too much of placing certain people on pedestals which creates an atmosphere of neglect to others. Too many good artists haven't received the accolades they deserve, so I will answer your question by saying every artist that puts their all, honestly, into their work are the top artist in the field.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
The coloring or background painting that is done from the layout is based on the story once again. If it's a scary place it'll be dark and foreboding with a lot of shadows, lack of color and angular shapes. If it's a happy place it'll have a lot of intensified color with lighter values and softer rounded shapes. Through out my career I've used just about every medium you can imagine, even coffee! As time progresses I've kept up with technology because it really interests me. I'm working mostly in Photoshop these days when I paint for work and pleasure, but I still like to pick up a paint brush from time to time.
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
For me, I like to create. What is hard is having to create for some one else who may not see the same things the way I do. but as I said before I like puzzles and I view this as a challenge. I go head first in trying to figure the person out while I'm working with them and it tends to broaden my abilities to work in different situations as they come a long. As the years progress it seems to get easier to work with all types of people!
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
I like to travel, work on old cars, wood working all sorts of things that will broaden my knowledge.
What are some of your favorite layouts which you have seen?
I like most of the establishing shots designed for shows both TV and feature, Disney to UPA. But I think I'd have to say my most favorite layouts were in Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp from Disney they really made you feel like you were there and the places were real!
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
I like drawing all sorts of subjects from architecture to robots to people to animals, but I tend to lean towards architecture and I really can't tell you why.
What inspired you to become an Artist?
I think I was born an artist. My parents said I was always drawing on something from a young age.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
I learned from Ken O'Connor how to create correct perspective which doesn't always look right, then take it and caricature it to make it look and feel right.
What are some of your favorite websites that you go to if you have the time?
I'm a web surfer I cruise all over from car sites to artists of all types.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
If you really want to be a great artist you have to have the passion to be one and not let any one else distract you from your vision but you also have to have the patience to accept criticism of your work not that you have to like it but you can learn from others and their points of view. You walk a fine line when you're a creative person you need to have a point of view but not to the point where you ignore or dismiss the world around you.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
Any one can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
I will have some books out soon but I do have some car art and t-shirts on the Creative Talent Network website.
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