The amazing Art of Samantha Youssef

The Cheshire Cat by Samantha Youssef

The Cheshire Cat by Samantha Youssef

Samantha is a fellow artist on team Hullabaloo and we officially met last November at the CTN Expo in Burbank.

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Every time I see one of her drawings I get inspired to do some work of my own, I am not sure how she does it but she is an infinite resource of inspiration and her work really speaks to me.

Samantha is a master in life drawing and no wonder she is artistic director at Studio Technique and has a wonderful book “Movement and Form” coming out that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Not only is she an amazing artist, but she is also the sweetest person I ever met.

We clicked immediately and I hope she will come to L.A. soon so we can hang out a lot more. As we where talking we realized that we both worked at DisneyToonStudios at Sydney around the same time and I can not believe I never ran into her then, this was about 8-9 years ago. Who knows, but I think I worked on one of her Tarzan scenes, or at least it looks like I had one just like hers on my desk that I remember.

Anyway now we are on the Hullabaloo team and I can’t wait to see her work and hopefully be able to collaborate with her on a scene again. For now I let her work do the talking as usual and stay tuned for more.

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Art by Samantha Youssef

Amy, myself and Samantha at CTN

Amy, myself and Samantha at CTN

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The state of the Animation Industry

With DreamWorks closing one of their production pipelines at PDI in Redwood City, George Lucas’s “Strange Magic” flopping at the box office and Disney Publishing “revamping” the look of the Disney Princesses. Well that does not look too solid I’d say.
Fear is what that screams of and failure and lots of wrong choices.
I know everyone and their cats and dogs has analyzed this to boredom, but no matter how we look at it, there is something truly wrong in this industry.
Lets face it, when a movie costs upward of $ 100,000,000.00 and studios rely on people to just go see anything they put out just because it has the Disney or DreamWorks label and expect it to make money… you see where I’m going. So what now?
Well it seems strange to me that decisions always come from money and non artistic people and they expect that to work, really??? A good businessman knows that to make good money you need a good product and good products come from people with vision and talent. We all know there is good talent but it is crippled by would be decision makers that really would not know anything good if you slapped in their faces, and I know that from a fact.
To top it all off, they keep rehashing same old with same old because it worked the first time so it must be a good formula. In which lies the thorn, formulas…how many times can you feed the same story, design, sound until people get tired of it?

New version of Aurora by Disney Publishing

New version of Aurora by Disney Publishing

It was a sad day, when I saw the presentation of the new faces of the Disney Princesses.

So you think that making the dresses more sparkly and slapping some design onto the bodices and redrawing everyone’s face to make it look like a 3D doll you can sell in stores is going to make them more appealing to the new generation of little girls?

Never mind that you destroyed all kind of good design that made them so immortal in the first place. Now they are as insipid and ugly as the rest of the stuff on the market, well done.

Original version of Aurora by Mark Davis

Original version of Aurora by Mark Davis

Really, Mark Davis’s design for Princess Aurora was genius. The way her hair had a specific design and fell just so, look at the animation and you’ll see why she is so unique. The new version is appalling in comparison, no grace no charm… and the rest of the princesses don’t fair any better.

I can only imagine the horror of the artists who where asked to perform these atrocities in the name of marketing needs. Or at least I hope they cringed while defacing true art.

So now the classic Disney Princesses look like a bad copy of an Anime drawn by a five year old who is actually quite good for their age. I bet Walt is loving this…

New version of Cinderella  by Disney Publishing

New version of Cinderella
by Disney Publishing

Original version of Cinderella by Mark Davis

Original version of Cinderella by Mark Davis

Original version of SnowWhite by Mark Davis

Original version of SnowWhite by Mark Davis

New version of SnowWhite  by Disney Publishing

New version of SnowWhite
by Disney Publishing

Last but not least, the failure of “Strange Magic”…

Well I never even heard of it till it was in theaters, so bad marketing could have something to do with that.

Rotten Tomatos said it all:  “Like most modern animated movies, Strange Magic is lovely to look at; unfortunately, there isn’t much going on beneath the surface.”

STRANGE MAGICWell I don’t like the look of it neither, as an artist it hurts my aesthetic sensibility, no style, no class, oh but it moves so its animated…

And this is how the money people think they are going to continue to make money! Good luck with that.

Personally I hope that the renaissance will come from small quarters, artists getting together to make a movie or series or shorts. Investors who support the artists vision without interference.  Oscar season is upon us and 3 of the nominees are from smaller studios and artist driven projects.

The Studio Era may well be at an end and maybe finally projects can be made the way the are supposed to be made.

How better to illustrate the new concept, then with a movie quote:

ALLEYN (roars) Who are you?

FENNYMAN (bleating) I am the money!

ALLEYN Then you may remain so long as you remain silent.

Pay attention and you will see how genius creates a legend.

FENNYMAN (respectfully) Thank you, sir.

from Shakespeare in Love

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We are Charlie Hebdo…the world of illustration responds

Charlie Hebdo by Ruben L. Oppenheimer

Charlie Hebdo by Ruben L. Oppenheimer

What a sad day for free speech, expression and art.

It is staggering to see how ignorance, intolerance and closemindetness can turn into unnecessary violence and acts of such evil.

12 people lost their life today in Paris, for doing their job and doing it well. I am having trouble understanding the reasoning for this massacre. So what was the problem? The satire of a cartoon and the irony of a post that is meant to make you think and lough is pushing these people to kill??? Unbelievable…

charlie Hebdo by David Pope

Charlie Hebdo by David Pope

I was not aware of Charlie Hebdo and their work until today, I am sad to admit, but I am sure I was not the only one. Now the entire world knows about Charlie and though it is a sad occasion, they have been immortalized by this senseless act. The world of illustration responds in mass and carries the torch forward.

Charlie Hebdo by Claire Wendling

Charlie Hebdo by Claire Wendling

They will never be forgotten and instead of scaring artists off satire, they have multiplied overnight.

Je suis Charlie, we are Charlie…

 

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2014 a year that showed support to 2D animation

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Well my new years resolution has certainly brought some memorable moments this year.

Hullabaloo, the traditional animated project I will be working on soon has had an incredible year so far. Fully funded on IndieGogo in only 5 days and then totally blew the mark by 588% thanks to almost 11000 people all around the world who have shown support to 2D. At this years CTNExpo Hullabaloo was welcomed by artists and fans alike as one of the most anticipated new projects to keep an eye on and everyone was trying to be a part of it. So 2015 is shaping up to be quite a year of work in 2D for us to really show what we can do.

Also this year some of my good friends have published some great children’s books: “The Mystery Hat” by Jakob Jensen and Rune Bennike, “Flora and the Penguin” by Molly Idle after she won the Caldecott Award for her previous “Flora and the Flamingo” and she now has another Flora book in the making. Molly also released “Camp Rex”, the second book in this franchise and more to come in that line. As well as my friend Alexandra Boiger and her new book “Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale”. Dark Planet Comics published the new “Silver” comic book series by fellow artist/friend Stephan Franck. To top it all off my good friend and exceptional artist Armand Baltazar has gotten a 3 book deal and movie deal for his “Diego and the SteamPirates” and will be working on getting them out the over the next couple of years.

Glen Keane came out with “Duet” and this new mobile app that features 2D animation.

“The Changeling Chronicles” an APU Student 2D project, is almost complete and we had a great workshop for students featuring 2D animation there, thanks to another good friend for organizing it.

Even on the other side of the pond in London my friends are working on some great projects, Uli Meyer is working on “The Animated Molesworth” another 2D project to keep a look out for.

The only sad note in 2014 was the retirement of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki…

The great Tina Price keeps organizing awesome events at the Center Stage Gallery and the outstanding Creative Talent Network Expo in Burbank. If you have not participated in one of those put it on your to do list, it’s a must if you are an animation artist.

My dad had his first ever art show back home in Italy and it was a success, way to go dad.

I opened my own stores on Etzy and Cafe Press and my T-Shirt Line is available on Sixleggeddog.com, talk about milestones…

So all in all 2015 is going to be full of amazing art and some great projects to be excited about. I can’t wait to see and talk about and share it here with you.

Thank you for following my blog and stay tuned to hear about more art and artists in 2015. Have a Happy New Year…

 

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The Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

At CTN I met this Italian Artist called Nicola Sammarco.

He was friends with James Lopez and I was introduced as we where waiting to get a table for our Hullabaloo team dinner. So here I am already in great company and then this kid, Nicola is in his early twenties, is showing his portfolio to James and I am peaking, as you do… and bam, wow what incredible talent.

Of course it makes me even powder cause he is Italian like me, but I am really taken by his beautiful sketches and the way he used  a well known story to build his art around. The “Around the World in 80 Days” concept art is just awesome and beautiful. So I start talking to this kid and he is really nice too and we are having fun speaking Italian and I jokingly said well I would love for you to do some concept art for me on a project I’m trying to put together and he just said, of course I’d love to help… WOW how did I get so lucky.

Anyway, the real blog is about this artists art and Nicola has quite the hand. He obviously studied the animation greats like Glen Keane and the Disney way, you can see that in his sketches, but there is so much more. A real sensibility for style and beauty and storytelling in one quick doodle…
It sure has me wanting to see more and I would love to have a booklet or something in my collection. I know he would like to make his way to the States to work for the big boys and I am sure he will do so soon. Anyone who sees his work can see that he has talent. So here it is and you can judge by yourself, but I hope I will work with him on a project someday, as I really love his style.

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

Art of Nicola Sammarco

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The Art of Armand Baltazar

"Diego and the Steam Pirates" by Armand Baltazar

“Diego and the Steam Pirates” by Armand Baltazar

This Year at CTNX I finally got to know Armand Baltazar.

I have been admiring his artwork for years now and never quite got the courage to actually go bug him and introduce myself. But now it is done and he and his family are just ever so lovely. I never knew he actually worked on the same movies I did at Dreamworks and I can’t believe we never crossed paths at the campus, so now I find that I loved his illustrations a lot longer than I thought I did. So I guess my next project is to get him to sign my Prince of Egypt book, since I have been collecting signatures on that from everyone.

Anyway, I am so thrilled that we talked and even happier that he got a book deal and movie deal for his work on the Steam Pirates and I can’t wait to see how that is going to play out.” Diego and the Steam Pirates” is a story about a bunch of kids are helping their friend to find his missing father. The story is set in a”time collision” that has thrown together the past, present and future. It’s a steampunk meets Indiana Jones, meets Treasure Island Harry Potteresque adventure. Throw in some dinosaurs and pirates and whats not to like…

As I was gushing about my admiration for his work Armand totally surprised me with an awesome gift, one of his prints. I was speechless. And that does not often happen…

This is another reason I love CTN so much, you get to see so much good art and you actually get to meet the artists and talk to them and become friends. I know it sounds crazy to count someone as friend when you only talked a few times, but Armand is just that great and I feel like I have known him so much longer and I guess I did without realizing it.

This ex Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks artist has so much to offer and you can explore more on his website, the link is in art & animation.

So I hope you will enjoy his work as much as I do and here it is. Stay tuned for more…

"Submariner" by Armand Baltazar

“Submariner” by Armand Baltazar

"Rangers Ride" by Armand Baltazar

“Rangers Ride” by Armand Baltazar

"Death of the King" by Armand Baltazar

“Death of the King” by Armand Baltazar

"Diego and the Steam Pirates" by Armand Baltazar

“Diego and the Steam Pirates” by Armand Baltazar

Armand and I at CTNX

Armand and I at CTNX

 

 

 

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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita by Alexa Summerfield

La Dolce Vita by Alexa Summerfield

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Happy Birthday Walt

Walt Disney by Nicola Sammarco

Walt Disney by Nicola Sammarco

Today  December 5th 2014 would have been Walt Disney’s 113th birthday.

For the occasion I am raiding my very talented friend Nicola Sammarco’s sketches of Walt, cause they depict him the way I imagine he was.

In a way I almost see him standing by the party tree, fingering a pencil and saying:      ” …it’s my eleventy-third birthday today, too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable artists. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”  just as Bilbo did in Tolkiens story… smiling at the legacy he left behind and at all that’s still to come.

I hope Walt would look at us and be proud that we are carrying the animation torch high and bright all around the globe for he once said: “Do what you do so well, that they will want to see it again and bring their friends” as another one of my good friends, Rick Farmiloe, reminded us today.

So happy birthday Walt and never fear, cause there will always be some of us to continue the tradition…

Walt Disney sketch by Nicola Sammarco

Walt Disney sketch by Nicola Sammarco

Walt Disney sketch by Nicola Sammarco

Walt Disney sketch by Nicola Sammarco

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Creative Talent Network Expo 2014

CTNX 2014

CTNX 2014

This years CTNX was phenomenal…

I was so lucky not just to attend but to be an active participant with the Hullabaloo Team.

Our booth got a lot of attention and being right next to the Walt Disney Family Museum booth was a coupe. So much foot traffic came our way due to the book signings there. Tyrus Wong, the amazing artist behind the “Bambi” backgrounds was there, one of the last people alive who worked with Walt himself. John Canemaker, author of so many animation and Disney books. But that was not all…

This year I met one of my greatest inspirations of illustration, James Gurney, the creator of the “Dinotopia ” books. I blogged about him a while ago, him and his wife where really nice and approachable.

I finally met Samantha Youssef, an extraordinary artist that will work on Hullabaloo with us, but is based in Canada, and she is adorable and we are going to be good friends. Another team member Joffrey Black had his own booth too and we talked about our shorts and that we can’t wait to finally work on them.

I met some amazing talent, some I already admired and finally had a chance to meet and talk to, like Armand Baltazar, Pascal Campion and Wouter Tulp, but also talent I have discovered like Nicola Sammarco, Edwin Van Beek and many more.

I saw so many old friends and fellow artist, some I had not seen in a long time. Some of them where there to promote their own projects, some just to look around. Brett 2D Bean, Drake Brodahl and Gary Montalbano always welcoming and so talented, Jakob Jensen and Rune Bennike there to promote “The Mystery Hat” book, Cinzia Angelini who is currently promoting her short “Mila”. Dimos Vrysellas at “The Ottoman” short booth and Nadine Wagner-Westerbarkey at the Bardel Studio booth, Kathy Zielinsky and Rodolphe Guenoden strolling thru. Stephan at his Dark Horse Comics booth and the Bancroft Bros. I could go on forever…but you get the idea.

Also being able to talk to Andreas Deja and Ron Husband again and so many other animation greats.

All in all the best Con there is, all thanks to the multitalented Tina Price, who has brought the Creative Talent Network to life. She has singlehandetly given us artists the chance of a lifetime to network, to see the masters in action and make new friends in this unbelievably talented landscape. Tina has made the impossible possible and every year I have been attending I have made connections, friends and above all I have gotten inspired to do so much more.

So till next year CTNX and so many memories…

Team Hullabaloo Dinner Friday Night

Team Hullabaloo Dinner Friday Night

CTN memories 2014

CTN memories 2014

 

 

 

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A Hullabaloo success story

Hullabaloo table at CTNX 2014

Hullabaloo table at CTNX 2014

CTNX 2014 was an enormous success this year.

Everyone from harden veteran artist to young and dreamy animation students have come by our booth to tell us how much they liked the project, how they followed it and can’t wait to see more and how they all love 2D animation and are so happy we are doing Hullabaloo the old fashioned way.

Everyone has asked how they can get onto the project and tons of students have shown James their portfolios and offered to be interns, volunteers and factotums, just to have a chance to be a part of this. Best of all was when several of oldtimers from Disney and DreamWorks have offered and asked if there might be a scene or two for them to do…

What more can you possibly want to call this an amazing phenomenon?

People miss the old fashion beauty of 2D animation and everyone commented on that. The Steampunk vibe is a big winner as well and the designs are universally hailed as awesome and beautiful.

To top it all off we had two amazing, beautiful and fun cosplayers dressed up in Veronica and Jules fashion. They where the icing on the cake and people took photos and recognized them as they strolled thru the convention.

Veronica and Jules had me at gunpoint...

Veronica and Jules had me at gunpoint…

The team that brought you CTNX, Amy, James, Dominique and Alexa

The team that brought you CTNX, Amy, James, Dominique and Alexa

James, Veronica and Jules at the booth

James, Veronica and Jules at the booth

End of CTN drink: It's a wrap...

End of CTN drink: It’s a wrap…

THANK YOU ALL FOR THE SUPPORT, IT MEANS A LOT TO ALL OF US.

 

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