This is artist Jesse Aclin. For more about this artist visit their CTN Profile: CLICK HERE
When did you know you wanted to work in animation?
I didn't know that I wanted to work in animation until my 3rd or 4th year of college. I was in the Toy Design program at FIT and for the first time, through different blogs and books, I was being introduced to the "art of" animation. I always loved animation but had never thought of it as a career or even understood what went into it. It was so inspiring to see these amazing artists working at such a high level and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
What are the questions you ask yourself when you begin to design a character?
Who is this person?!?! Why am I designing them? If it's for work then I think about the overall story and tone of the project. Each project calls for a different approach. You can't always just draw the way you normally would if you are drawing Looney tunes type characters but the project is in a more realistic world. I can pull specific details out about the character if there is a character description or script. I like to ask the client or director what they envision and cater to that as much as possible. If there is little info to go off of then I try to create my own theories or stories that inform who they are and what they may look like. A lot of the job is problem solving. Also, if the style of the characters is already established then I spend a lot of time figuring out how to draw that way and stay true to the projects style.
If it's a personal project then it really depends on why I'm designing them. If it's just for fun and a quick sketch in between assignments (most of my designs are) then I am probably trying to create a feeling or push a design that me and other people hopefully will enjoy looking at. I will also think about potential story for the character and how they will move and act, that really helps inform design choices. Another question I ask myself is what would be cool to see, whether just as a drawing or a character for film or TV.
What is your process of breathing life into a character?
I'm looking for interesting, new and exciting ways to describe the person or thing. I want to do as much with as little shapes and details as possible. To me that's a fun challenge and the type of design that I am typically drawn to. Maybe it can be perceived as simple or young looking but I don't think that's a bad thing. I don't want to arbitrarily stylize things or exaggerate where it's not necessary or not helping to inform who the character is. I usually don't have a good idea about how they will end up looking, that would be cool if I could see the design finished before I start but I never can. The benefit of that, I think is that it makes it an organic experience and I can kind of go with the flow. Designing this way allows me to make changes or quickly direction based off of what marks I put down.
Don't be afraid to scrap a design and start over! Sometimes I find drawing many iterations quickly to get all the ideas out of your head works well, rather than reworking the same design over and over making small changes when you really may not be happy with the overall design.
What is the first thing you want people to see or think about your work? What do you want to stick with people when they see your designs?
I want people to enjoy my designs and if they laugh that's really good. I get bored doing the same thing over and over (even though I do draw certain characters A LOT) so I constantly try out new shape combinations or techniques and hope that people who like my work can enjoy that journey with me. I'd like to say that I want to challenge people who are looking at my stuff but I don't know if my drawings of silly people making weird faces is profound enough for that... But you know what I mean.
Who are you influenced by? Were they animation, or comic or illustrators? What fine artists do you study?
There are so many people who I am influenced by and appreciate their work. I would throw respect on their names but there really are too many to list. I am always looking to see what other people are doing (or have done in the past) both for inspiration and to make sure that I am keeping the level of my work up to their standards. I really want to carve out my own path and not just pay tribute to what other artists have done before, I'd like to think that those artist would rather have people be inspired by what they did (or do) and use that to find their own way, rather than just have people repeating their style. I think design as a whole gets better that way. Wow, that got deep.
When did you know you wanted to work in animation? How have you been involved with CTN?
I have gone to the last four CTN's, the first as an attendee and the last 3 as an exhibitor. As a young man going for the first time I was so inspired and overwhelmed but it was such a great experience, especially being away from the industry living in NY and all. I made some amazing contacts there that really helped me become better and get my foot in the door.
What do you see as the benefit of CTN for artists?
I think the biggest benefit can be having other artists look at your work and give advice. A lot of times on the internet people will just say something like "cool image bro". But being able to show your work to artists you admire (just as long as you are not camping out at their booth :) ) and getting real feedback can be extremely helpful. Some of them are brutally honest and that's a good thing. It helped me out a great deal.
What doors has CTN opened for you?
For me, coming from NY and not being part of the industry in LA it opened up a lot of doors for me. I was able to meet with amazing artists and studios, have them see my work, talk with them, then get their contacts and follow up. I think it made me realize that I could actually make my way in the animation industry.
Interview by Heather M. Shepherd
Heather is an experienced artist, modeler, and CG designer. She has worked at Disney,Dreamworks, Jim Henson and Warner Bros. Recently shehas been writing, directing,and producing her own award winning films.