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Colin Jack 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 an raised in Vancouver B.C., I enrolled at Capilano University in 2000 to commercial animation and graduated 2002 shortly after the towers, fell which meant no work was coming up to Cananda. I was stuck working in retail- where I excelled in receiving the most customer complaints in the history of the company. Seriously, I still hold that title. I didn't get my first job in the industry until a year later. Being forced to pound the pavement and coming up against constant rejection has given me a tougher skin than most artists when it comes to critique, and applying for new jobs.


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

I'll read the script/manuscript and from there I'll scribble down a list of everything that'll need to be designed (in the beginning I will usually select one of the secondary background characters and work my way up the the principle characters).
I'll open up a file and the first brush pass I'll do is with a chisel tip marker. 7 or 8 versions of the same character side by side just playing with shapes and keeping it very rough and loose. From there I'll throw on another layer and start settling on face shape, costumes and general sillouette of the character before I start adding structure. At this point I'll probably cut one or two designs that aren't working, if I love them all I call in my wife to cut them for me. Once I add the structure to the character, I'll start darkening in the details, looking for opportunities to add a flourish here or there that accentuates a character trait. For example, if i were drawing Mr. Toad from "Wind in the Willows" I would add lily pad cuff links or brass fly-shaped buttons on his waistcoats. Fun things that won't always make the final design but keep me amused. Once the image is cleaned up I'll being to add the color. While I'm coloring I'm still tweaking the design, cleaning it up until something pressing like sleep or hunger force me to turn away.


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

Typical day starts around 6:30 am with my son dragging me out of bed for breakfast, I'm usually out the door around 7:30am, at my desk around 8:15am. I'll check my emails then maybe do a few warm up sketches until about 9 am, from 9- 5 I could be doing anything from helping with designing a fun pack for an episode or doing board pulls, 5 rolls around and I'm off for home , family time till about 8pm, from 8pm until about 12am I'll usually be working on my blog, freelance design or a children's book, in bed by 12:15am then the whole thing starts over again. For television work, I generally work with my design supervisor, the director of the show and sometimes the owner of the studio. For publishing I deal with my agent, the editor and the art director of the publishing house.


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


I have worked in TV animation for the last 7 years on shows like Total Drama Island, League of Super Evil, Jimmy Two Shoes, Grossology, and Ed Edd and Eddy. I have put in my time on shows such as, Chaotic, Latin American Barbie (also known as My Scene Barbie in spanish), Being Ian. My first book is "One Zany Zoo" written by Lori Degman, published by Simon & Schuster.


Is there a design you have done that you are most happy with?


Ha ha, no. I'm happy with my designs for about 24 hours before I start picking them apart and wanting to redo them …and if I have time I do. That being said I have a fondness for my fox boy design, my man with the long mustache, and the bed-guarding triceratops.


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


I'm illustrating a children's book for Penguin/Dial books that will be out late next year,
and I'm helping design another season of Total Drama Island. Anything else and they take my first born (and I'm kind of fond of him).


Who are some of your favorite artists out there?


Ronald Searle, Quinten Blake, Peter de Seve, Tom Orbe, Chuck Jones, and William Joyce. I'm also a huge collector and fan of the artists in Pixar's "Art of …" books.

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


Out of a lack of space in our previous dwelling I went digital. Trying to keep it looking traditional I will paint in pretty much by hand with the brush tool in Sketchbook. After the colors are blocked, I'll add in little highlights and shadows if I feel the design needs it. Now that I have elbow room I've been able to pick up water colors again which has been a great change of pace.





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

The most fun and easier is the exploration, playing with shapes and adding color at the end on the tightened design. The most challenging part for me is stopping. If deadlines and exhaustion didn't exist I don't know if I would ever be able to produce a final product.

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

Drawing people on the bus in the morning on the way to work helps me loosen up, I also have a list at my desk of things I thought were cool when I was 8 (22 years later everything on that list is still cool), I select a few of them and start to draw. The drawing will usually end up on my blog in one form or another. One of the best tools I've found has been playing with my son, he's 3 and his ideas have been some of the most fun to draw.

What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?

Randall Bogs from Monsters Inc., Mr. Incredible and all the characters in the Disney short Pigs is Pigs; it just has great graphic looking designs but is still dimensional. The Bull from a Bully for Bugs from Looney Tunes and most recently Chuckles from Toy Story 3.


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

Monsters, birds, kids, people on the bus- the freakier the better. I think Monsters is pretty self explanatory they're totally awesome, bird's are naturally funny with how they can move their long necks, I feel they're just ripe for caricature. Any one who has a kid can attest to this- kids are hilarious. How they move, how they dress, their awkward proportions, everything about them is so extreme. As for people on the bus I can say that 90 percent of the characters I've designed that are human have been pulled by someone I've seen on the bus or in a coffee shop. A friend of mine use to say drawing from the people around you makes them stick in your brain and just adds to your arsenal as a designer, and he's 100 percent correct.

What inspired you to become an Artist?


It was an episode of Tiny Toons (don't laugh), Buster bunny was explaining I think to the mouse character how cartoons are made, anyway after I found out that your full time job could be making cartoons that was it for me. My grades plummeted since they didn't hand out marks for the doodles in the margins.

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

Changing mediums when you get stuck on a design, if you're working mostly digitally I find you can really tighten up, a fellow designer recommended to change mediums, paper pen/maker something to help shake you up.

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

Keep a sketchbook on you at all times, use it when ever you can and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Cameras also come in handy when there just isn't time to catch with a pen what you see. Love drawing but don't fall in love with every drawing. Don't get cocky, there is always someone better than you and there is always someone willing to take your job if you get lazy.


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


My blog has my contact info, http:jackomtablet.blogspot.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?

Sure! : http://colinjackstore.blogspot.com/ prints are available there, I will also be releasing a sketchbook eventually but not for another year at the earliest.

Colin Jack Gallery