Friday, May 26, 2006

THE INTERVIEW


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’m sure like everyone else I have been drawing my entire life. My first thought about actually becoming an artist though was when I started reading comics at about the age of 11. I wanted to be a comic book artist pretty bad. Once I got into college at California State University Northridge, I decided that I wanted to major in business; I never thought I would be good enough to be an artist. I failed my business calculus class my second semester and knew it wasn't for me. I then decided to be a graphic designer, but took a life drawing class with a teacher who was in the industry. It was then I knew I wanted to be in animation... I had always loved cartoons and the art of cartoons so I decided what the heck.

The most important classes I took were the life drawing classes. I took them every semester in school even taking the same class over for no credit. It was the one class I had that was pure drawing and I knew the only way to get better was to draw. And then of course there are the actual character design classes at the Animation Academy and Steve Silver's class I just took that made my art better than ever.
How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

The first thing I try to think about is who is my character going to be? Once I determine who that character is I try to imagine what a character like that would look like. Fat or skinny? tall or short? I try to take reference from other animated shows and movies as well as live action movies. Then I try to think of an attitude or action pose to put the character in it helps convey the personality and can help the overall understanding of the design. Once there I try to focus on shape. I try to nail the character down to one solid shape which I believe really helps convey that character to the viewer. I don't like to many lines and angles I like to keep it simple and straight forward. When I have the rough idea for the character down I try then to make sure it is a nice even, flowing design by drawing through my shapes. After that comes the details, clothing, accessories and mainly trying to decide if the design looks good.

What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?

The thing that helps me out is shape. I find it less intimidating knowing that I can draw shapes and that I can make cool characters out of shapes. I find it less intimidating that thinking "oh, man I have to come up with a cool character." I don't I just have to come up with cool shapes.

From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?

Well I have heard versatility is key. A lot of different subjects in a lot of different styles. Steve Silver actually told me to pick shows currently on the air and design characters in the styles of those shows, even incidental characters like cops and chefs.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

I'm working on an independent live action movie right now that has animated parts. I designed the characters and now they want me to do the key frames for the actual animation.

Is there a character design you have done that you are most proud of?

Not really I tend not to get attached to my drawings. It makes it easier when they critiqued to death. Which will happen

What are you working on now?

Now I am working on getting my portfolio together to start sending out. Other than that just looking for a job.

Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?

If I had a choice I would love to work at either Warner Bros or Nickelodeon. But I’m definitely not picky I would like to work anywhere that would permit me to get paid to draw.

Who do you think are the top character designers out there?

Now that I am in this world of blogging I have discovered so many great character designers that I never knew existed. I think they are all top but some of the ones I really like and look up to include ( but aren't limited to): Steve Silver, Jose Lopez, John Nevarez, Mark McDonnell and many more.

How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?

I really just use Photoshop. It’s quick and easy. I don't try to pretend to be a color stylist I just like simple solid colors. I love the marker feel also but it's messier and a little tricky. Something I need to practice.

What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

Definitely the initial stages of fleshing out and developing the character are the easiest for me. I love to work lose and free so it starts getting hard when I have to clean them up and color them. I also hate details but they are an integral part in the process, I am learning to deal with them better.

What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?

I love the Character designs on The Batman. That goes back to my comic book roots. I love the style and the way they reimagine staple characters. I also love the designs on Kimpossible. Steve is such a great designer I love the simplicity and plow they have to them.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

I love drawing superheroes. I am most familiar with them and they just seem to come naturally to me. I also love villains. They have the most depth and personality.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

The fact that I wanted to do something i love for the rest of my life. And every guy that has to wear a suit to the office everyday.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

I try and learn from every artist I meet. I do learn from every artist I meet. One thing I finally got a sense for was from Steve Silver though. The fact that you should DESIGN every detail and aspect of the drawing you are doing. All the way down to their toenails...literally!

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Draw, draw, draw. Keep on drawing and practice and be visual. Take in everything. I am new to this also and recently graduated so I don't have much insight but I have shared all the knowledge I have received so far.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

People can contact me through my Blog or email me at Justinrod123@sbcglobal.net and my Blog is www.jtownsketchhouse.blogspot.com

Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?

I don't have anything to sell except myself.