Saturday, April 4, 2009



Ame Vidal Interview

Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? What helped you to become the artist that you're today?

I started drawing as a child, at a very early age. Both my parents are artists themselves and they have masters in fine arts. So, there were at home many books on arts and comics around. As back in my life as I can recall, there were always piles of paper sheets plus pencils and fibers to work with alongside my older sister, Aleta. They encouraged me all the time and, I guess, this helped me out to develop my taste for drawing. I also grew up watching many animated films -actually, a lot- plus cartoons and anime on TV. And, to date, I still do.
As a teenager, my friends kept teasing me saying that I wasn't a kid anymore to waste time watching cartoons but, yes, I enjoyed doing so and I didn't care too much about their sayings.
Due to the fact that there are no major animation studios in Argentina, only few artists can make a living out of drawing. So, while I was growing up, going pro never was my first choice. Not to mention actually working in a studio. Instead, back in my high school days, I decided to study direction and production of TV in the school of the public TV channel, here in Buenos Aires, and kept on drawing just for fun and my own pleasure.

When I was seventeen, my sister (who has already been hired by an animation studio) told me about this chance to do clean-up of characters in a full-lenght movie produced by the studio where she was working at the time. That was my first job in the industry. Once the making of that film was over, I had already made my mind about becoming a professional artist. So, I started working for another studio. Which was the one that I always wanted to be in the first place (and where I still am) because they were into heavier stuff -say, Disney's productions, Winnie Pooh at the time- and that attracted my interest. It was, then, the time for learning the craft and, in doing so, I went through all levels, from clean-up to becoming a full member of the pre-production staff, drawing layouts, storyboards, designing characters, etcetera. I was lucky enough to learn in the field from a bunch of very talented people.

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

Well, it depends on all sort of issues, you know. I guess the main difference lays between doing my own stuff or some work in progress at the studio. If I sit at home to work in my own project, I always try to develop characters that could bring me some fun while listening music and waiting for the inspiration to come. Then I get a glimpse of a character or a situation and, in doing so, begin playing with action lines, the making up, trying the drawing to look dynamic, with a sharp and clean reading, synthesis, elegance and with a proper attitude, that must translate to the paper what I feel when I'm drawing.

Rules change when it comes to a production at work. I have usually a dateline to deliver any character and, in such stressful way, testing new ideas is a bit of a luxury. Most of the times, client's wishes are too strict and I must work following certain style that I wouldn't choose if I ever have the chance. But, again, this is what they asked you to do. One also have to take notice that it comes from a script basis and the character's personality that are already established and that it must be reflected in your design. But then, I believe that at both events, an artist produce a fine character when something related to the story and personality of it, is reflected by the drawing with just a look.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

The people I work directly with, are Diego De Rose, he is the pre-production supervisor and a very talented artist, and a good friend. The rest of the team are Franco Spagnolo, layout artist, and Martin torralba, and Roberto Cruz, background artists, great and talented people. Well, with the rest of the production crew I don´t work face to face every day, maybe yes I work more with Daniel Duche, the animation supervisor, he is one of the most talented animators I ever knew.

A typical day always starts having breakfast with my husband, Alejandro, and rushing to the studio afterwards, 'cause probably I'm getting late to work. On arrival, usually there wouldn't be such thing as a typical work to do because most projects at the studio are shorts, so one never knows what is waiting for you to be done. It can be the storyboard of a new script or maybe an illustration or a series of layouts. The drawing style changes by the show that is at production so yours must be adapted to it every day, too. This could be pure enrichment in a way and quite annoying on another. It's enrichment 'cause is something good to embrace different styles and not to be limited to your own special one. Sometimes I must draw stuff that, according to my personal taste, I would never do otherwise and that helps me deeply to understand other ways and to know how. Later, when I'm into drawing something I like most, say personal matters, I can resolve it easily and in a versatile fashion. On the other hand, sometimes it's really uneasy to have to draw stuff you don't like at all or that I know it won't add much to my bag 'cause it's too basic.

Well, after work I go back home; share something cold / hot to drink with my husband, depending on the season; watch a movie or spend some time out; maybe surf a bit in the web and, if I'm not too wasted, I sit to draw listening music 'till it gets late at night...and that's why I'll be again behind time to work next morning!

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

My professional career is bounded to the world of animation art. My work can be seen in some movies that were produced by the studio where I'm a staff member. I worked also in ads and promo shorts for Cartoon Network, Disney and Fox. You can see all this work in the Hook Up Animation website.
Besides, I'm been working these past months in an independent project with a small group of colleagues from the studio (Diego De Rose, Daniel Duche, Julieta Culaciati, and Perla Riesco) that includes short movies with our own original material that, hopefully, will see the light pretty soon. The main idea is develop original contents, the name of our project studio is Linea Roja Contenidos.

What are you working on now (if you can tell)

Truthfully, I can't say too much, except for this project I mentioned in the previous answer. We're doing it all in a 2D format. A movie project and a series of shorts are now in progress (in post-production, actually) and we aim to release these material soon, so I promise you'll know.

Who do you think are some of the top artists out there?

Well,they're too many! I'll be forgetting to mention some of them, for sure. I like several artists who work in different media. I don't want to reduce my choices to a certain style or media in particular. Some are designers; some, directors.
So far, the artists that I admire, listed at random, could be Craig Mullins; Alex Toth; John Kricfalusi; Bengal; Nobuteru Yuki; Enrique Fernàndez; Eric Canete; Martin Wittig; John Romita Sr; Robin Joseph; Joao Ruas; Hiroyuki Imaishi; Alberto Breccia; Adam Huges; Shinichiro Watanabe; Gustav Klimt; Hideaki Anno; Brad Bird; Yoshiyuki Sadamoto; Stuart Immonen; Harold Foster; Ashley Wood...and, undoubtedly, my main artists are Alphonse Mucha and Winsor McCay.

Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?

No secrets here: my tool is the Photoshop. Happens that I don't dig coloring that much, and due to this lack of practice, I'm pretty slow so I get bored easily and I quit whatever I were doing at once.

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

Hardest is when I'm asked to design a character meant for sale, I dunno, say,...a dessert. Or with a lousy script behind, that doesn't help to bring my inspiration out or, somehow, hard to believe. It's always uphill to me to try to create a character that could reflect something that I don't believe or feel myself.
Too much fun is when I'm free to create my own designs and to imagine a story of my own or any situation. Once it's clear, it's easy to create a personality; to make it credible and to give sense to its wardrobe, gesture and attitude. To play with the poses, with the line of action of the character. It's there when I'm in control, the road is open and clear and I can have so much fun creating something that looks original and cool.

What are some of the things you do to keep yourself creative?

I keep myself motivated watching movies and cartoons,; reading comics: visiting blogs...I try not to be prejudiced and to keep me open to different styles. Also, every now and then I go back to roots drawing live models. Or maybe, I rerun some sketches' book (I deeply recommend Force by Michael Matessi). I use to draw while travelling and at home as much as I can.
And one thing I love to do, is to draw while I`m watching a movie, maybe something clicks and it ends on a new character creation!

What are some of your favorite pieces of art work that you have seen?

Well, quite a lot. My library is full to the top. The book that I treasure most is the complete storyboard of FLCL that I considerer a real class on storyboard. How to draw comics the marvel way is great too, And, yes, another one with pencil sketches by Alphonse Mucha. I've already mentioned Force by Michael Matessi, where I seek advice very often. Nextwave was the last comic book that I read with pleasure.
When it comes to movies, those that made an impression on me were Cowboy Bebop, the movie; 101 Dalmatians; the whole series of Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan; The Iron Giant; Tarzan; Macross; Emperor’s New Groove; Evangelion; The Incredibles...
I guess that there are so many artworks I've seen and enjoyed that I'm forgetting a lot.

What is your favorite subject to draw? And why?

I like drawing characters that show a strong attitude, with temper. Ambiguous with a hidden story. I think that the expressions in the face as well as in the body are the most important issue to work within this concept.

What inspired you to become an artist?

Again, as a child I was addicted to animated movies and I used to read tons of books and tales. So, first thing in my life I wanted to do, was becoming a designer. I remember when I was little, my parents had a big book of Little Nemo, and I love to watch the drawings, it make a big impression in me, But later, all seemed to me too unreal, because the industry in Argentina was so small by then .But luck helped me to keep on drawing. And when the right moment arrived, I've had developed my art enough. Afterwards, I came to know many artists that inspired me from whom I learned a lot, just working along with them.

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

At the beginning of my career, my sister who works in animation too, give me a lot of encourage, and my husband who works as a game artist, always push me to go a little farther, shearing the photoshop tips and the life drawing classes. One of the co-workers that teach me a lot is Sergio Kechu, when I started to work in pre production I was his assistant, and I learn from him layout concepts, animation and drawing in general. Then storyboard I think I learn a lot with Diego De Rose, and from the corrections of Joche Ferrucci (the director of the studio), and I think one of the most talented background artist I work with is Juan Cancelleri, and a great animator, Daniel Duche.
From my co-workers I've learnt many things about this craft, like animation, storyboard, et cetera. But mostly, to be critical with drawing as a whole; to be creative; to understand a figure, how to build its form in order to work it towards some fashion or even to break its lines; to loose my hand; to get the design to be clear, with a fine reading. Whose composition, synthesis, movements and personality could help your character to tell everybody something.

What are some of your favorite web sites that you go to?

I certainly enjoy going to blogs where it can be seen what really likes to draw a certain artist. One can find superb stuff at the studios' web sites, but never in such a personal level. Any artist can use their craftmanship working for some studio, but once at their places they draw whatever please them and this art work can be seen in their blogs. This is much more interesting to me, because it's like seeing the true self of that artist.
I go very often to the blogs of Enrique Fernàndez; Martin Wittig; Robin Joseph; who thanks to the blog I had the pleasure to get in touch with and they are great, talented people . well, and Gainax; Concept Art; Pixar, and so on. But I think that what I usually do is to surf from one blog to another searching for new artists. I spend hours doing so.

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

Try to keep your mind open to criticism; mingle with gifted people and learn the craft from them. If it happens that you don't have the chance to meet anyone who can teach you, then read books. Watch tutorials in the Internet. Draw common people in your local square, whatever, but draw -a lot.Avoid prejudices about any styles; you can get valuable lessons from them. It doesn't matter if they're artists from the fine arts, animation or video games: all get something to contribute to your learning.Don't imitate. You better let whatever you like leak into your system, blend it with your own stuff and create something original. Do always characters whose acting and personality were credible, even if you like designing fantastic ones. Don't fall into drawing nice and stylish but lifeless characters. Let them reflect something.
Finally, never believe that you are the best. Because, once you get to that belief, in the short time you'll see that everybody is far ahead from you, since you came to think there were nothing left to learn from. And the worst you can do.

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

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?

No. At least, not by now.

Ame Vidal Gallery