Wednesday, June 07, 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?

I was born and raised in Burlington Ontario, a wee suburb outside of Toronto. I spent most of my time in high school trying to forget I was there so needles to say my textbooks contained more doodles than schoolwork. I thought "when I was older", I would be doing one of three things : A Rock star, the dude that draws kick ass graphics on skateboards or a professional wrestler...well I still weigh the same as I did when I was thirteen, somewhere in the low 100's ( when wet ), so I didn't really see wrestling working out for me. I ruined many skateboards doodling on them so that never panned out as a career and as far as rock stardom goes...well I'm still working on that, I'll keep you posted.

I moved out west to Vancouver BC shortly after high school. I don't really know why, all the kids seemed to be doing it at the time. I guess it worked out for me 'cause I scored my first real drawing gig at A.K.A. Cartoon inc. working on storyboards for Ed Edd n' Eddy. It was probably the best thing I ever did, I learned so much so fast, I thought "this is what I want to be doing". So I migrated back east to get some formal training at Sheridan College. I did very well and met some amazing artists but I wasn't impressed with where my money was going. The program was undergoing some changes at the time, and that's where the focus seemed to be, not on the students. So I flew the coop and slugged it out on my own in the T-Dot for awhile, then found myself back out west where the work seemed to be abundant. I was very fortunate to land a job at Atomic Cartoons as a character designer on Atomic Betty, where you can now find me chained to my light table. Please...send food.

How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

It all depends on how many beers I've had at lunch. I guess I try to get a really good, clear vision in my head of how I picture the character...it's about the only time I use my brain. Posing is very important as this helps distinguish personality. On a good day I'll rough something out...REALLY rough, then go to a clean rough and once I've worked out any outstanding problems I clean 'er up. I go super, super clean and I'll take this opportunity to explain why...see, I work on a flash show, and as you may know, when you clean up, or "build" a character in flash it REALLY flattens out the drawing. So if I go super tight with my clean up on paper, I can get an idea how it'll look cleaned up in flash. If it's not working for me I go at it again from scratch. Keep in mind, this is all on a good day...on a bad day I've probably wiped out a rain forest. (We do recycle though!)

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

No beers at lunch for starters...I guess practice? Like anything you get faster and more fluent by going through the same steps. However this doesn't seem to apply to anything else in my life...hmmm.

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

I still wrestle with this every time I put together a throw away. I'm not gonna pretend to know, but I'll tell you some things I've heard to do. Keep it consistent with the job you are applying for, ie. if you're applying for character design...gear that sucker towards character design, sounds straight forward no? Don't put any questionable work in there...if you're not certain, get it outta there! Keep updating your portfolio...I'm saying this to remind myself! Now this one is a personal one...but having seen numerous portfolios come through the studio I have to say, presentation people!

What are some of the things that you have worked on? (Books, Movies, Games, Comics)

There's allot I'm not proud of so let me just mention the good stuff. I would say working on the Ed's was a great experience. Working here for the good folks at Atomic has probably been the highlight thus far. Besides character and prop design I have also had the opportunity to work on boards for Betty and Captain flamingo. They have also allowed me to work on development for two of my own series, Ghost Bear and Secret Agent Band...as well as others.

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

I think the gang in Secret Agent Band is my fav.




What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)

I am currently getting an ulcer from my directorial debut. It's a promo for a series I've been helping develop (through Atomic) for Cookie Jar Ent....although I'm not to sure if I can mention that...can I? I'll have to ask.

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

Probably on a beach, with a swim up bar...until then, Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon, but at the moment I am very happy where I am.

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

I'm finding new one's every day thanks to great resources (like The Character Design Blog). My crew here at Atomic has been a huge source of inspiration and hangovers. Mauro Casalese, Rob Davies and Trevor Bently esq. all blow my mind on a daily basis. Just when I think I'm getting the hang of this stuff they fart out a drawing in seconds and make me want to quit. The rest of the gang, likewise, here they are in no particular order: Pat Pakula, Ridd Sorensen, Kevin Schmid, Garnet Syberg-Olsen, Clio Chiang and Jeff Agala are the only one's who's names I know how to spell, all the others you can find on the Atomic crew blog, they all kick ass....Lots of outside inspiration: Todd Kauffman, Mark Ackland, Jared Deal, Joel Trussell, Steve Lambe, Chris Battle...it goes on and on honestly.

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

I really enjoy coloring, it can make or break a design. I try to I suit the color to the character, this being said you want to keep it consistent with the overall look of the show. I consider BG's, mood, the tone of the show ( action ad./ comedy/ etc...). As for tools Illustrator and Photoshop would be my drug of choice.

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

Coming up with the first initial sketch is always the most exciting for me. The hardest part? Five or Six different parties involved in the design process...trying to make everybody happy can sometimes be pretty tough.

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

Dexter has always been a favorite of mine, and the Gangreen Gang from Power Puff Girls. I also really like Kauffman's latest for Camp TV. As far as bad designs...these can be found at the bottom of my recycle bin.

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

I really have to think about this...I like just about any subject. There's no wrong answer is there?

What inspired you to become an Artist?

Two letters I like to call T and V.

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

I learned to draw by pausing the Flintstones on my old beta-max VCR and tracing off the TV. Don't be afraid to try and emulate another artists style, I think this is the best way to learn. There is definitely unoriginal, but every facet of art, wether it be music, fashion, film or photography advances the same way. So back to the question, there is probably something from every cartoon I have seen in the past thirty years, that has fixed itself in my brain and found it's way into one of my drawings.

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

Without sounding cheesy...don't ever let it feel like a job. If it does, start thinking about how many tables you've bussed, dishes you've washed or T-shirts you've folded...count to ten, then think about what a kick ass job you have.

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

My blog http://paulyblogg.blogspot.com/ or drop me an e-mail watlingpaul@hotmail.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'd be happy to do just about anything for anyone just drop me a line, but if you want the real goods check out these nifty toys at http://carnivalcartoonsblog.blogspot.com/, I only wish I could take credit for these babies designed by G-50 and J. Deal, they're too cool not to mention!!!

Cheers!