Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I Grew up in Cranford, NJ. I’ve enjoyed drawing ever since I was a kid, however, I didn’t make the decision to pursue art as a career until my senior year in high school.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I went to the School of Visual Arts in NY , but most of what I know was either self taught after graduation or by taking courses online.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My Family has always been very supportive of me. Without their support I can’t imagine I would have made it to a professional level. Now as a professional I get a lot of support from my peers who understand what it’s like to make a living as an artist. There will always be people who don’t understand though and that’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I’ve learned to stay focused regardless.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
My influences are constantly changing. When I was young I was very inspired by Chuck Jones. I used to watch Bugs Bunny and think how great it would be to draw those characters. Nowadays I’m influenced by artists from all walks of life, animators, painters, comic artists, designers. There are things to be learned from studying all types of art.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I’ve never had a favorite subject. I draw what inspires me on any given day….unless a client is paying me to draw something…at which point that thing is what inspires me.
From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
When I receive a script with a new character I first make mental notes of certain characteristics that stand out to me. I try to compare the personality traits or physical attributes to a known person or actor if possible. From there I will research that persons features, expressions, mannerisms, etc and try to pull what I feel will be useful in depicting the character. From there I research the time period the character exists in and begin to pull reference for clothing, accessories and props. Each character goes through several stages of development from initial roughs to final design, which, in the case of animation is often a collaborative effort that can take months in some instances.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I use Photoshop on a Wacom Cintiq.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
I find the initial sketch phase is the most fun, it allows me opportunity to explore and be creative. Finalizing orthographic turnarounds for CG is probably the most difficult and time consuming.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
In the studio I’ve most recently worked, a typical day for me is from 9:30am to about 7-8pm. I primarily collaborate with the art director.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I’ve learned a lot from a lot of different people. Most importantly though is to try to better yourself everyday regardless of the situation and never give up. Every time I walk into the studio I try to think of it as paid schooling. To me it’s an opportunity to learn from my peers.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I am very proud to have been a part in the development of Disney’s Goldie and Bear. The crew I worked with was great and the results are beyond my expectations.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
Most recently was Goldie and Bear. I am currently working on a couple projects but I am not at liberty to say what they are at the moment.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
To design a Series.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I prefer the studio environment. Collaboration forces me to push myself everyday and results in a quicker expansion of knowledge.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I deal with this constantly. If I’m working on a project I will just sit down and sketch out small doodles or thumbnails to try to get over the hurdle. I find looking at books from people who’s work I admire can help break the barrier as well. Sometimes though, you just need a break.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
This was a very difficult choice for me. It took me many years after college before I figured it out. I tried everything from comics to airbrushing, pinstriping to tattooing. I always kept coming back to animation. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The day I found out character design was a thing it’s like a light bulb went off. That was the day I was able to focus. My advice is to sit and think about what inspired you to become an artist and focus on that. Regardless of how difficult that goal may seem to be to achieve (and it will be), just stay focused. I believe mastery is the only option in this field.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
That depends on what you’re trying to achieve. For me versatility is how I get work. Being able to transform my style to fit the needs of any production. If you want to be an illustrator I would suggest sticking to one style.
If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
This is almost impossible to answer because I have been influenced by so many different books. I’ll just pick the category of graphic novel and say that Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come is one of my favorite. Both the writing and art are amazing. Check it out.
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
There’s room for anyone who is dedicated, hard working, and willing to put in the time and effort.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
There are many. Stephen Silver has been the biggest influence in my career. Not only did he share his knowledge with me, he instilled a belief that it was possible to achieve my goals through persistence...and he was right. I can’t thank him enough for that.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
It’s clearly not as popular as it used to be but there will always a market. There are a lot of companies using 2d animation for advertisement now who aren’t afraid to take a chance on a new style.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
I feel it’s great. Sites like Schoolism.com have affected my growth as an artist tremendously.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My website is JohnJagusak.com I do not currently have a store but I occasionally attend conventions where I sell prints of my work.
Thank you John :)