“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
- Pablo Picasso
Since the beginning, my favorite things to draw were animated characters; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then The Simpsons, and later anything Disney: The Little Mermaid, Lion King, Toy Story. I won an art contest in the first grade and my teacher encouraged me to pursue my art. In junior high, I’d compete in unofficial art contests with classmates. I won one hands-down with a drawing of Darryl Strawberry (from the Fleer ’91 card) – the other contestant decided to step down. People were always asking me to draw something for them. It was like having a magic power. I was drawing night and day. Do you remember VCRs? I’d annoy my brother by pausing animated movies to draw one of the characters during a crucial scene.
During high school I drew caricatures of the entire wrestling team and my coach even got t-shirts with my drawings made for everyone. This started a tradition for future artistic wrestlers. One of my freehand charcoal drawings made it into the high school art magazine. But for every success I had 10 failures. I would say yes to making a drawing for someone and then quit halfway thru when I couldn’t stand looking at the low quality of my work. I remember going to my school art show as a freshman, looking at the work from the senior students and thinking I could never draw something so amazing. I always expected more from my art and was impatient with myself. I had yet to learn that hard work and practice beats talent in the long run.
After high school (1996), I earned an A.A. degree in Graphic Design from Brooks College in Long Beach, CA (1998). I was the first in my family to attend college, it was like a dream to walk those halls. At Santa Ana College I earned an A.A degree in Liberal Arts (2001) before transferring to CSUF – California State University Fullerton (2003) to studied Animation for 2 years before I left to pursue a career at Apple, Inc. Later, I was part of the national award winning newspaper El Don (2005) at Santa Ana College where the newspaper staff was flown to New York and I personally won 2 national awards – one for Page Layout and one for Cartoon Illustration.
Video games have been a part of me since childhood. You can see that reflected in my work to this day. Video games have taught me a lot about life, art, and design. It all began with arcades and then the Atari 2600, Sega Master System, the SNES, N64, Dreamcast, PlayStation, GameCube, and now the Switch. My fondest memories have been sharing a controller with my brother for hours on end. Always trying to get just a little bit farther. Trying to beat each other’s score. We would host gaming tournaments at our house with brackets and teams, all leading up to the grand finals. 30 years later and I can still hear the theme music for those games. I still remember every pixel on my character. The muscle memory in my hands as I visualize myself making my way thru those beautifully designed levels.
All my life I’ve been attracted to the 2D artwork from the cartoons of the 1960s. Think: Looney Tunes, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny & The Roadrunner, these were always playing on TV as reruns when I was a kid during the 80s and 90s. There was something about those bold lines and simple shapes that conveyed so much emotion to me.
I could never figure out why my drawings never looked like those of Chuck Jones or Maurice Noble. So for some time I gave up pursuing my art. The lines in my mind just couldn't make their way to my hand.
Then one day I rediscovered a software tool (2008) that showed me the potential for a breakthru. That computer tool is called the “Pen Tool” and you can find it in any vector software program like Adobe Illustrator (which I was first introduced to in 1996), Corel Draw, and Apple Pages. To me it’s a modern high-tech chisel and I’ve spent countless hours mastering it to be able to create my digital work. I can now create any shape that I see in my mind and I use this mastered skill to create my unique digital illustrations.
When I draw, I pour myself into my work. Time is my most valuable resource and I choose only specific projects to work on. I must care deeply for the subject for only then can my love for an illustration come thru in each line.