Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. As a child, I remember that I would rather drawing that doing anything else and when I was 12, a friend of mine taught me how to make a flipbook, and that made me even more excited. When I was about 15 I started studying animation with a Brazilian artist, who had just graduated from CalArts at that time. Throughout the course, I realized that I could have get a job by drawing and make it my profession, and I decided that i wanted to become a professional artist.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I read a lot of great animation books and I only attended an animation course in which I have learned only the basics. In the middle of the course the teacher from this school, who also had a studio, invited me to work with him. Since then, I had the opportunity to work among great professional people and learnt a lot from them. The knowledge that I acquired from all those years among outstanding professionals, and a lot of hardworking on my own, made the artist I am today.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
Back in the days, when my parents had sponsored me for a few months course I had done, they also encouraged me to take an exam to work in the public sector, just to guarantee a better financial stability for the future. However, since I started working at a very young age, my parents realized very early that I would have been able to maintain myself through drawing.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
When I was a kid I was very influenced by anime and comics, but when I started studying animation in the ‘Disney style’, the Disney movies became my biggest influence, mainly because of the fluidity of movement that really caught my attention at that time.
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?
As a child I used to like martial arts movies with ninjas and samurais, which was the reason why I liked drawing those kind of themes the most. I remember that once I drew a samurai during some party and I was so excited about the final result that I insisted on showing it to everyone who was there. Sometime later, I started to skate boarding and getting to know more about the hip-hop culture, so I started drawing characters such as b-boys, rappers, skaters. I believe that those two themes are still my favourite’s ones nowadays.
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?
Initially, I try to fully understand the briefing and even what the client wants but may not have been able to explain perfectly. If the project has a script, I also try to read a little about the universe in which I will work. After that I will get some references, but without overdoing it (I only collect the minimum necessary). Then, I start the exploration (or research) stage, which is typically unpretentious sketches. At this stage the most important thing for me is to find solutions, as someone who digs a treasure, and discard all ideas and possibilities that do not serve for that character. I keep it on going until this process starts to play naturally and when I'm really enjoying what I'm doing, I try to finish off the design using all the best ideas I thought and after that, I start creating the actual model sheets and the final rendering, when necessary.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
I do not consider myself a good colourist or a painter, however, i usually use both traditional and digital methods. Normally I prefer painting using markers, crayons and ink gouache. I start by making a sketch with a coloured pencil, then fill in all forms with flat colours. I define the line art and then I render the design using both markers and crayons. When I work digitally I paint in a few different ways, usually starting with the base colour, subdividing in two/three main ones, and then start blending them and applying textures and details.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
As for many professionals, to me the initial exploration part is also the most fun, because of the freedom you have and for being more unpretentious. The hardest part are the actual models sheets, turn around and expression sheets. But despite these being a more mechanical and technical part of the character design process, I really like it because the character really begins to gain consistency, and the all work gets a lot of credibility
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
Recently my daily life has changed a lot. I have been working for the last 6 years as a freelancer but now I’m working daily in a animation studio called “The Frame”. Currently I get in the studio around 10:30 - 11:00, I grab some coffee and I start warming-up, usually by making quick sketches of the human figure. After warming-up I start to work, which currently has varied between creating characters, animation and storyboard. About 19:45 or so I finish to work in the studio and I get ready for my teaching class, which ends around 22:00, when I come back home.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
One of the first things I learned was that I should work well and fast. At first, because of my lack of experience, it took me a long time to solve my animation scenes. I had to learn the hard way to work faster and still produce the required quality. As a result of this difficulties I learned to organize my process very well, and I give each stage no less importance than it should have. Nowadays I completely rely on this very organized process. For some years now I have been blessed with the opportunity to talk at least once a year with some of my "heroes" as Joe Moshier, Nico Marlet and James Baxter, with whom I learned a lot about animation principles, design concepts and proper mindset to each of the different stages of work. But I can say that no one taught me like Rune Bennicke. He is one of the most complete artists I know and he taught me about many different things, including how to be a better person.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
Honestly the work I've been doing recently make me prouder. Just because I have more experience and knowledge, not only of how to produce more also what kind of results I want to achieve exactly.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
The coolest projects I worked on in the past were animation for full length movies, projects like "The Princesss and the Frog" by Walt Disney feature animation, "Chico and Rita" by studio Animation Holics (Sandro Cleuzo) and "The Smurfs, the Legend of Surfy Follow" by The SPA Studios (Sergio Pablos). I'm currently working on creating content for animated series, games and short films in the studio called ”The Frame", right here in Brazil.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
As a teenager my personal goal was to work in the biggest animation studios in Hollywood, but after visiting so many times these studios and talk to some of the best professionals working within it, I must say that have no longer that ambition. Today my goal is to produce high quality material daily, working with people who value my work and can give me artistic freedom.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
To me, working in a company works best. I like to share information and opinions with other artists daily. Having a studio to go every day makes me feel more motivated and, at the same time, increases the feeling that I am part of a project.
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?
In my opinion the idea of having an art-block is somewhat illusory. I do not really know how someone could not know what to draw, with many references on the internet and with the diversity of life outside. Anything gives me ideas, a photo, the work of other artists, people in the street, the shapes of trees or an animal. To me the most difficult thing is to find time to draw all the ideas that have daily.
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?
What you enjoy drawing can already give you a clue on what artistic path is right for you. I often advise my students to think about the kind of art that makes them more excited and motivated to draw. To me was to draw characters and to ''give them life'', more than drawing or painting a scenery, so I chose to become a character designer and an animator. At the beginning of my classes the students are very concerned about doing what the industry is asking for, but in my opinion, the industry needs many different kind of artists. Become very good in what you really like drawing makes your art stands out, and when your art stands out, it is very likely that there will be work for you.
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?
I grew up and settled professionally in a country where most artists have to adapt to the style that is being required by the client. As an animator, most of the times I animate characters not designed by me. I think it's possible to walk the two different ways, both to adapt to the style of each work, or the other hand creating a consistent personal style at the same time. A very few character designers in the world can work exactly in the style they like, and until that happens, probably the artist will have to adapt to a predetermined 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?
Draw to Life, by Walt Stanchfield.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Some of the artists that influence me are quite recurrent references such as Joe Moshier, Nico Marlet, Tony Fucile, James Baxter, Sergio Pablos. But it also has some other artists of which I quite like: José Márcio Nicolosi, Rune Bennicke, Matt Williames, Minkyu Lee, Sandro Cleuzo, as well as some of my former students, who has been developing "modern" styles and I always keep their work in mind not to fall behind and end up turning into a "old fashioned" artist. There are so many good designs that have been made, but I could result 4 that border on perfection in my opinion. Pongo "101 Dalmatians," Po "Kung Fu Panda," Drago "How to Train Your Dragon 2" and Mr. Incredible, “The Incredibles”.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I think that hand drawn animation will continue to be done in Europe and Asia as it has always been. If Hollywood producers will give opportunity for this technique to be used there again, I really have no idea, but I know that while the traditional animation lovers like me are alive, there will be always sheets being flipped on an animation desk.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
Some of my design can be seen on my Tumblr, ( pauloignezjr.tumblr.com ), and usually also post sketches and W.I.P on my personal Facebook page. Thank you for the opportunity to share with you some ideas and opinions here on CDR and hope my interview will inspire and help in any way.
Thank you Paulo :)