Saturday, August 16, 2008
Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
My older brother, Sean. He's the main person I hold responsible for making me an artist today.
When we were kids, Sean would have some comic books in his room, and I wanted to read them. The only way Sean would let me have them is if I was able to name all the characters in the book.
After a while, it was pretty easy to do, so my brother upped the ante and had me draw them. Only if I'd done a good drawing would i get the comic books.
That's how it all started!
Later on, in sixth grade, I had an art teacher who also had a considerable influence on my decision to pursue this career.
I can't remember his name, but I do recall him and his features very clearly. Short, somewhat large, and very impatient with younger people. After I'd turn in an assignment one day, he turned to me and told me that I should never pursue a career in art. I must've said that I was interested in it or something, but he just crushed my dreams right then!
I spent the rest of my school year trying to prove him wrong!
I think he's also another reason why I like to teach so much. That statement really hurt back then!
How do you go about drawing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
For me, it’s a lot about the discipline and the routine.
I have a schedule I made for myself that I do every day of the week. Although the act of creation itself is spontaneous, the context in which it happens is pretty controlled for me. I find that this is the only way I can really act on the ideas, and create a piece. If I don’t have a routine, I have a hard time producing art work that is either finished, or good.
That schedule is very simple to.
I get up early, bike to work, around 6, 6 30. Get some coffee and bagels for breakfast, and just get to it by 7. I push myself to do a sketch of the day every day of the work week, to warm up, keep my creative juices flowing, and get the day started. When I say push, It really is just that sometimes.
Some days, it’s very easy to do a sketch, but, some days, I just don’t feel like it, I’m tired or uninspired or something else is on my mind., but I still do it, because I feel I wouldn’t be taking this job as a professional one if I didn’t do a sketch, but as a hobby that you do when you can, when you feel like it, or when it is convenient. It is my job and it just happens that it is also my passion.
The actual creation process.
Sometimes, an idea just POPS right there and then. I "let it" pop too. Meaning that sometimes it's something really stupid or sounds stupid if I were to say it.. like, an alien ship crashing into a car in which are two people on a date at a drive in. I mean.. THAT'S the kind of idea/image that comes into my mind in a split second. I know that rationally it makes no sense, but I go with it, and I just draw it! usually, when the idea pops up, it's not fully fleshed. I don't know what things look like, nor what color they are . Sometimes what pops up is not an idea, but a composition. I know I want a big space here, or a large black area there, or a fragmentation of things.. and I try to draw that.
The actual people or color schemes come after.
Sometimes, I do have an idea. Like the drawings I do for my daughter's room. I know I want to do something that would be fit for her room, and I think about what would be fun to see on the walls. I thought unicorns were fun because each time I go to conventions, or see younger girls that want drawings, they invariably ask for unicorns.
that's how I started drawing that and the rest just follows.
I tend to try and keep these sketches within an hour or two at the most.
Lately, some of them took me longer.. like this mural for my daughter, took me a few days, with a at least two hours a day on it.
And sometimes...nothing happens!
I mean.. I try to get an idea to spring up , but nothing does. So I just doodle stuff, like cubes, or curves, or play with fun colors. And, eventually, a shape, a succession of forms appears and I build a sketch from there. This morning for instance, I started with a box, that turned into a car. Around the car, I drew a street and an environment, and, eventually, I didn't like the car anymore, but I kept the street and added two characters and turned the whole scene into a winter romantic rendezvous. But that only happened in the last ten minutes of the process. the whole thing took me about an hour and a half - two hours because I wasn't sure of where I was going.
I try to keep it as spontaneous as possible, because this is what helps me in my professional work to keep things fun and alive. if I think too much, or spend too much time on the one drawing, everything gets stalled. Also...if I think too much about an idea, I end up thinking it's SO stupid, or cliché or boring that I don't want to do it anymore.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
hmm. I get up early, kiss my wife good bye, bike to work. Start by a sketch and a coffee. After the sketch is done, that's when I check my emails. Then I go on with the actual "work" part.
I tend to do a lot of animation for a living. Commercials, music videos, web animations and animatics.
I look at what I need to accomplish for the day, and I set myself to do it. I'm pretty focused, so it's never too much of an issue to do so. I'm also very organized in my work, which is not true at all for my personal life. I tend to get into my zone, and when people come up to me to say hi, or ask me something, I usually jump a few inches out of my chair, as If I don’t share a studio space with three other artist, Mike Daley, Stephanie Laberis and Lyla Warren , and a whole CG company on the other side of the wall!
It's by far the nicest and most motivating set up I've ever had in my professional life. We're all artists, and we all have different styles, jobs, schedules. But we all work very well together, and during the day, we tend to look over each other's shoulders to see what the other is doing. Stephanie teaches me about Photoshop, lyla is an incredible designer, and just looking at her stuff gives me the impression I'm learning, and mike is another industrious, multi talented guy that is probably the closest to me in style and work ethics.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
As far as books and comics, not a lot, actually. Although I did go to school for illustration, I barely did anything in it. I did two children's books in
In animation, I've worked on tons of projects either as a story artist, designer, art director, animation director, or animator. I even did a 3d spot, or at least, animated a few shots and they were terrible. The spot was done with Lightwave , and I hated the animation part of this software. Loved the modeling, but couldn't get use to the curves. The projects were very varied as well.
Web episodes, web educational games and series, Tv Series, commercials, Music videos, etc etc
A little too many to remember actually, which is funny to say, because I remember asking one of the directors at a company I worked at a long time ago, how many spots he had done. And he couldn't remember . . something like 80 or 90 maybe, and I was thinking " This is a lie ..how can you forget a spot you poured so much energy into?"...but, now, I tend to forget a lot of the jobs I've worked on in the past!
What are you working on now?
I'm working on getting ready for my daughter to be born!
I'm literally turning down work on an almost daily basis, just so that I can take some time off.
But, until a few days ago, I was working on some development for Disney, a commercial, some print stuff for Viz Media, and some music videos and animation project for a couple of good causes. I'm still closing some of these projects though.
Who do you think are some of the top artists out there?
Hmmm.. there are so many now a days, it's hard to say.
But, here are some who inspire me; Tadahiro Uesugi, Frank Stockton, Kei Aceidera and Bobby Shiu, Chris Turnham, Martin Hsu, Chris Houghton, David Nelson, Rebecca Dautremer, Bill Pressing , Louis Clichy, the animation mentor guys...I've met them and they are the nicest guys ever. Ghostbot..these guys are amazing human beings as well as super talented people, John and Shelly Loter, Uwe Heidschotter, Valerie Morency, Boulet, Sam Michlap, John Nevarez, Robert valley, Studio AKA, Bent Image Lab, Rodolphe Guenoden, Kazu, most of the guys on the Flight crew..god.. the list goes on and on…
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
I use color differently than most artists I know, more like a painter actually. I don't do a clean drawing . I just sketch very loosely something in flash, and I clean it up in color! Which is why my colors are as essential to the piece as the composition itself because they ARE the drawing. A lot of artist do a drawing AND then color it. My colors drive the piece. I very often paint in things that are not there in the sketch, or weren't planned in the sketch.
I'm sometimes asked how I approach the color palette in my pieces.
There are a few different ways I do this.
One of them is when from the beginning, I have a clear idea of what colors and hues i want to use. Typically, when you see a piece that has contrasting colors, or is NOT just a shade of blues or yellows, that means that I’ll have done the piece just for the color.
Other times, I just pick the first color that I think of and work the whole illustration around it.
Sometimes I get influenced by what I do at work as well. If I'm working on something that I find really fun and cool, I’ll almost always try to use it in my personal work as well.
That's actually how I did my little card for the San Diego Comic Con. at the time, I was working on some fun morphing animations, and that's what made me think of doing an animated card that used some transformation. The card itself is ten times more fun that what I did for work, but it was prompted by it.
Same goes for the colors. if I'm designing a world that I really like, I'll tend to use some color schemes that I've developed there in my personal work as well.
And, Sometimes, my wife just asks me to try and do something in this color.. and she'll give me some piece of cloth to reference it!
So.. it's pretty wide.
I use Flash MX ( Flash 6) for almost all of my work. Recently, I've been dabbling in Photoshop because there's more possibilities to add textures, something that flash doesn't do too well.
I also draw on paper, but less so now a days, and I can't actually recall if I've done any professional work on paper this past year. I think the last time I did anything on paper for work must've been about three yers ago, and it was just a few sketches to visualize come conceptual ideas.
Which is funny, because when I came to the states, in 2000, I had very little computer experience, and NO desire to dive into it! Turns out that I do all my work in it now!
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
The easiest is coming up with wacky ideas. The hardest is when you have to redraw this character's eyes for the thirtieth time because one of your client's clients has a kid who has seen the work and doesn't like the way the character stands or looks at them .
That's how some clients make their decisions!
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
I STOP drawing!
Sometimes I get into this rut where I have to draw draw draw..non stop. The act of drawing becomes very easy, but coming up with new ideas becomes very difficult for me.
I tend to just force myself to get out, go on a bike ride, get off for the weekend, do something totally different. and it's HARD. I'm always feeling that urge to pick up a sketchbook and draw, but, when I get like that, I know that whatever i draw will be a doodle that I've done before, and won't be very creative.
A dinner with friends, a good movie, a family moment...things that don't relate to art really boost my creativity!
What are some of your favorite pieces of art work that you have seen?
I have to say that seeing some John Singer Sargent paintings up close is quite amazing.
It was in
Beautiful stuff, very inspiring.
As a kid, I went to a junior high school that was named after Pablo Picasso, and in the entry way, they had a reproduction of
Each time I go to the Asian art Museum, I fall in love with Asian art again.
The David ... wow.
And just a few weeks ago, I was at Comic Con where there was an overload of great art work as well.
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
I like suggesting stories in my art. I think that's what makes it alive.
If there is no story, than it just becomes a pretty image, and, although I do think there is a place for them, they tend to bore me, and leave me unimpressed.
To me, a story is not necessarily a whole plot with a villain, and a hero, and subplots etc etc.. It's when you can tell that the main character has history, has thoughts, has ha a life and is going to have some more.
That's creating a living character. It doesn't have to be realistic either. When I draw a mouse about to pounce on a family of elephants, I try to suggest the idea that this family is a typical family out for a Sunday picnic somewhere, they may be from
What inspired you to become an Artist?
My brother for one, since he was drawing too, and he was VERY supportive of me, all the time.
Graphic novels and comic books.
I wasn't into animation that much though. I liked it a lot, but never thought of getting into the field of animation until I saw Iron Giant at a matinee, a dreary Sunday morning, in my fourth year in college!
Storytelling! I clearly remember wanted to learn how to draw just to tell stories. I didn't want to draw for the sole purpose of drawing, ( and I still can't do that), but I wanted to say something with it.
That's why there is a lot of shortcuts in my art. Just look at my animations, they are mostly stick figure characters!...as long as they can carry the story!
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
That there is no right or wrong way to do things in art. There are as many ways as there are artists, EVEN for disciplines that are seemingly very structured. There's always room for personality.
What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?
Is this a trick question?
(Thanks... I'll give you the money later ) :)
I go to the flight forums pretty regularly as well.
I try not to surf the web too much though, because I can get pretty taken with some stuff I see, and spend way too much time just surfing
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
LOVE what you do. Have fun doing it. Remember why you like art...if it's for the stories, the emotions, or just the technical aspect of it.. always remember what you like and go for it.
It's too easy to get lost by learning all these different techniques and tricks. You're only going to use a few anyhow to do what you want to do, and chances are, you'll have to create them yourself in order to accomplish YOUR vision.
Don't wait for someone to give you the go ahead to do something. Just do it. I know it's cliché, but I've met so many great artist that never do anything else BUT the work they are commissioned to do because they feel like they are not giving the right opportunity. I don't believe anybody is ever going to give it to you, you just have to go and do it If you want to do a short film, make the time for it, if you want to do a graphic novel, take the time to do it.
The sooner, the better!
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?My email address is
It's probably the best way to get a hold of me.
My blog is
and my website
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbooks, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
I'm actually setting up on online store right now where people will be able to buy prints and books!
Look for it on my blog and site in the upcoming weeks!