Thursday, September 27, 2007

A conversation with a young girl animator...

First...who the heck am I commenting on your blog? I'm someone who studied and worked in animation and was a licensed cartoon character artist. Stopped for a few years to raise my young daughter and now works freelancing as a character designer and illustrator. I suppose that's my disclaimer like.."the words you are about to read have a lot of experience behind them"....

I am an avid reader of John K's blog as well, where I found your post. Which lead to your blog..which I read...

I grew up, as you did, a Disney fanatic. By the time I was four, I wanted to work for them. Eventually, I was trained by them as a character artist for merchandise and freelanced regularly. It was a realization of a dream in some ways and an eye opening experience to the Dirty side of Disney. BUT... I have never lost my "awe" of the art. Today, they are not what they once were, but I have high hopes seated on the back of John Lassiter.

As I got older, watched more and more different kinds of animation, my knowledge of techniques..styles...GENRES grew. I love Hanna Barbera and Warner Bros and Terry Tunes and Jay Ward and Walter Lanz.....Aardman...Colossal Pictures, "Aeon Flux" I drool over Miyazaki and Pixar...and I freakin' love Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends. BUT .... my love or dislike of one has no effect on my feelings on another. Cause I see them as seperate styles and genres. I don't compare Norman Rockwell to Rauschenburg. But I like them both. There's plenty of art that's not my cup of tea, but all of it, I respect. Because that's someone's soul up on that canvas or at least their sense of humor. Or someone's three+ years of sweat and skill in that film.
And one can debate anything...on and on..Skill vs. Style...Story vs. Comedy...Cartoon vs, Animation. The actual word "cartoon" comes from Italian cartone "pasteboard, a sketch of a planned drawing or painting done on heavy paper," from carta "sheet of paper," from Latin charta "piece of papyrus". Da Vinci's and Michealangelo's sketches and studies are called CARTOONS. Cartoons are not by definition funny. They are a reflection of life which is all things...funny...touching, sad , grotesque, sarcastic, weird, heartbreaking.. magical.. satirical..political...and damn it, I'll say it....sweet and CUTE.
If you can love Robert can believe that the Frank and Ollie boys existed. Because Robert Crumb is a reaction to that culture. The man lusts after the early twentieth century. Unfortunately for him, he was born too late and into a wacky family...but we all benefitted...from his..kookiness.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Jones while working on some Warner Bros. merchandise. He was his work. He was sweet, funny, mischeivous, flirtatious and so kind. I also had the greatest thrill to correspond with Charles Schulz. He was as dry and subtlely funny as Peanuts. Artists of that era poured their whole beings into their work. And if there is something horribly wrong with cartoons today, it's that young cartoonists/animators don't get that. When I read your blog... I read a dismissal of an entire generations' work. And that sucks. Take from everything...draw from every artistic expression available..put it in your mental blender and consume until full...then pour out what you don't want. But be nourished by some parts of all of it.

John K- I respect him..I love Ren and Stimpy... I'm not a huge fan of his ego, remember: He is only one source. Choose your mentors carefully or mix and match them. He shows only his way...or the highway. That's fine if you want to be like him. But he took so much from so many....I think the best way to follow him is by following all who came before him. And they...were all classically trained artists. So draw...draw...draw and draw some more. And best of luck. I love to see young women aspiring to be cartoonists..there weren't many when I was aspiring....Kelly

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


IF "Juggle"'s a wonder I even had time to do this.... I'm still trying to figure my time management out.

at 17....

Inspired by a post on Tony Diterlizzi's blog...and humming that Janis Ian tune, I look backward in an attempt to help me look forward:
1987. At 17 I was a junior in high school. I was a cartoonist for the school paper, yearbook and drew on anything that remained still for 2 seconds. I had always drawn...and I knew long before others did what I wanted to do with my life. I had an unusual affinity for Hawaiian clothing. I wore anything and everything with palm-trees,pineapples and "op" on it. I didn't dress like the other kids. Most being extremely preppy , some what we called in NJ "Cheesesdogs" they were trampy and then there were the smoking kids, they were the metal heads. I was shy with everyone but my friends, which I suppose I have to say we were nerdy. Somehow, I was either in total denial at the time, or believed so completely we were just us...that I never realized I was a nerd. I just so desperately wanted to be recognized as a an artist. So, this pic is me..looking not too thrilled...being awarded the National Art Honor Society Award - SECOND PLACE. Behind Dave Cook, the guy I worshipped for four years.(???) He went on to Cornell, studied Law and the last thing he ever drew was his Fraternity's T-shirt. He never intended to pursue art, but I never intended anything else. I was robbed! My art teachers were wonderful, Ms. Haness and Mr. Herb O'Brien. I found ways to spend lots of time in that art room. It was the one room I owned. I owned that room...and when you're awkward and shy..that means everything.
I was a vegetarian. I was a nut. I painted peace signs on everything, especially cows. "Peaceful beef"...Ai-Yai-yai-- yeesh...
I plastered my walls with art and Beatles posters. I was in a bubble of naivete...I was probably filling out all of my school applications. I wanted to go to the Rhode Island School of Design or the University of Honolulu...
At 17 I spent a summer in Brazil. My Grandfather took all of his grandchildren in a VW Bus through the country to meet his family he left behind. It was one of those life defining experiences. To find out you belong to another culture.. you have history that goes back on hundred year old plantations...
At 17(in 1987) I had thick, curly brown hair and bushy eyebrows that had never been waxed. I was chubby(still am), I had never had a real boyfriend. I was pretty. Although I never thought that then, I see it now. I told everyone I was going to work for Disney some day(eventually I did freelance). At 17(in 1987)the whole world lay out before me...every possibility artistic or otherwise...and I was scared. Scared of failure, of disappointing people and letting myself down.
If I could tell that kid of 17 somethings, they would be, believe in yourself, trust your instincts, boys will eventually notice you focus on your art lunkhead!, Dream it, Believe it, Be it! -'cause you can.

I will tell my daugter these things. I will tell her how I met her Dad and how he was the first boy who was sweet and kind and cute who treated me wonderfully and that's how I knew he was the one. I will tell her to follow her passion whether it's art or animals. I will tell her to be a little selfish with her time. Take care of yourself first, so you can take better care of others...after. I tell her now, how I want to do children's books. I told her about rejection already with the Clarion Publisher...and I told her I still believed in myself no matter the opinions of others... Twenty years is a loooooong time. Life's quite a ride, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


This was my point of view of the manhattan skyline from 1993-1996. My apartment gazed across the river over the path of the Staten Island ferry. I had the best view in the whole freakin world. I could see to the left as far as Hoboken and to the right clear to Coney Island. And center, the Twin Towers.

What can one say that hasn't been said? The pain's still there, the tears still flow. My hatred for the president is incalcualable. I close my eyes and I can feel the 18 mos old Maggie I clutched as I huddled alone with her in my house in Long Beach as F16's passed overhead. I drove up the hill of Lawson Boulevard today, where dozens of us stood outside of our cars and watched as the first tower collapsed.

My fears today are greater than that day. Maggie is seven. What have we become America? What will you be for her?

Monday, September 10, 2007

New ideas

I've got a new idea for a book. This is the first character sketch. It looks too animated...I will get away from the computer for a while...crack open the paints and pencils. This idea was born out of the sleepless night I spent after the meeting with the Art Director at Clarion Books. She said I was "mass market", "appealing", "commercial" which I liken to being called the artistic equivalent of cheese whiz. I was not right for Clarion , due to my drawing style being so heavily influenced by my animation and licensed character background. She said I draw "too" well. The eyes are too big. The palette too "happy". I need to "mess things up." I have since digested her comments...some were hard to swallow, some were much needed in a medicinal kayo-pectate kinda way.... and others..well, I just purged. I am me. I draw from the place I exist... it's a happy place. I shall forge on in this pursuit of childrens books...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

what's happenin'

This morning, 7 1/2 years old, my daughter went off to second grade. She looks 10.She picked out that outfit all by herself...I can't just shop for her anymore. She has good taste in sneaks. She is sooooo like hurts. And then, she is so not like me in other ways, and those are the ways that amaze, intrigue, perplex and confound me. She's incredibly imaginative, to the point of having to do reality checks on her... which I could say is all me. But she's very interested in facts of all kinds, which I 'll give to the husband. Then there are the uniquely Maggie, maggie-isms. And these are what I hope bring her through life, and more immediately this year at school. She arrived today to find all of her pals were in another class together. She had Paul in her class. Paul was her "Guy freind" last year. We'd much prefer Paul and some of her girl friends sprinkled in, I felt nauseous all morning about her not having playdates this year... And then I thought, I bet she'll come home happy as a clam. 'Cause that's Maggie's way. So, we shall see....

I'm kinda art stymied here. I'll have to get some inspirational fibre and get things flowing again.... This morning I let Jabba, the 7 1/2 mos old golden retriever out into the yard...only to hear a strange sound a few minutes later, clump, clump. clump shwooosh! Clump clump clump...shwoosh! He was climbing up the ladder of the playset and sliding down the slide!!!! Stupid pet tricks here we come!!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

One Crazy Summer...

September has come.... School starts this class ended, the publisher meeting is past, freelance..almost over(hopefully) ... Husband's company barbecue in the backyard...came and went.... what's left to stress out about? My birthday.

It has been one crazy summer. It went by faster than any in memory. I've wanted to work for years...becareful what you wish for. I've discovered a new appeciation for the working Mom. I will go in to the meeting with the publisher another day...It's worth a long post or two... But for I prepare to turn ........ thirty-#@*&%seven..................... ??? I'll put on the Clash and de-stress the summer away...bring on the Fall! Bring on 37....

IF Alphabets

Old stuff...Kid's wall art. Done for a friend's baby room. I collect old coloring books,birthday cards and tin toys...and was inspired to do this. I thought it could have been turned into prints....