Where did you grow up? At what age did you start thinking about pursuing an artistic career?
I grew up in London, England and moved to America when I was 10 years old. I starting thinking about art as a career around the age of 6 but when I was 18 started taking it more seriously.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I never went to art school. I studied a lot of the great american illustrators and cartoonists such as Rockwell, Leyendecker, Drucker and Davis.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I can proudly say that I was always supported by my parents, friends and family. They didn't know what it all really meant or what would happen, so they let me just figure it out.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
It was really television animation, Scooby Too, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and all the others. The artists I mentioned above came later.
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?
My favorite subjects have always been drawing faces and people and still holds strong today.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Because I'm a character designer, I'm always a fan of current guys like Nico Marlet and Carter Goodrich. I love what's being done in Feature animation, always solid work.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
Only that becoming good fundamentally will push your artwork to the next level.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
It's hard to really say, because I have worked on so many developments. But ones that are known still well today that I designed are Kim Possible and Danny Phantom. Recently I did development for Hotel Transylvania the animated series. Today, even though I still do a lot off development for various studios, I am pursuing my teaching workshops all over the world.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I think Kim Possible and Danny Phantom because I am constantly told that I helped make people's childhoods.
Silver Drawing Academy is one of the most appreciated artistic training for character designers. Can you tell us a bit more about your experience with the school and the students?
I have always had a passion for teaching and feel I can give so much knowledge to artists. It is for this purpose that I started my school and workshops. Many of my dedicated students are fulfilling there intended dreams of working at the big studios, Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar and more. I could not be prouder. I have many of my students who stay in touch and tell me of the new opportunities they have and how I helped them get out of their mental ruts. The students I have at all stages of their artistic development and pair my 5 person classes so that they are all around the same level.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an artist's block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself so productive and creative?
Know exactly what it is you wish to do. Find that early and get good at that. Always be a student, not just in art but in life experience. Travel, research, read and watch documentaries. Find art that inspires you, copy it, learn from it and move on.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, you name it. There are so many careers and when you are very young, sometimes you know only one thing: you simply love to draw. In your opinion, what should a young person take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
Ask yourself: "Does it feel natural?". Follow your gut, you know what excites you... character, storytelling, painting act... Try things, give them a chance and see if you want to pursue it.
In your own experience, what would you suggest to someone who is inspired by your work and wants to follows your footsteps: should they work in one consistent style, or develop many different ones?
It is my belief that the more versatile you are for the animation and game industry, the more opportunities you will have throughout your career.
Recently you have released your first book: ''The Silver Way''. Can you tell us where the idea of creating this book came from and how it came to be?
I have always wanted to create a WHY book, a guided tutorial book that shares an abundance of lessons I have taught and discovered throughout my journey. I also have had many requests over the years and kept putting it off until the day I decided to make it a reality. I approached a publisher Design Studio Press and they got excited about it. They are no ordinary publisher and they give artists the opportunity to be owners of the book and content which means you pay 50% of the costs to get it made. So, I then decided to do a Kickstarter to raise the funds and awareness and with the success of that, it all became a reality.
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?
Be versatile and create your own properties. Content is king, yet many studios are sending the work overseas as they wish to cut costs across the board. Be prepared for constant movement. Animation is not going away, it is bigger than ever. Become aware and good at the production process so you can be a studio artists if thats what you want.
As an artist who has already accomplished so much in its career, what is your ultimate artistic goal?
I am fortunate to say that every goal I have set was my ultimate artistic goal, I have pursued what i wanted to to. What I wish to continue doing is sharing my philosophies and journey in art with others all over the world. My goal is to keep teaching and producing workshops.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
Hard to say. Life is a roller coaster and animation has certainly had its ups and downs. It's not what it was, but still exists. I say do it for yourself and it may just become a thing.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online services and so on. 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?
It affects the industry by helping create more awareness of what artists are doing and capable of. Many artists because of this have been able to forge their own brands, which is key. The only con i see in social media, is people feeling down on themselves that there not doing what they see other people doing. Best thing to do is just be yourself and keep producing content or study.
Finally, how can people get in touch with you? Where can we see your art online, buy your creations and support your work? And where can artists find all the info for the courses and the workshops for the Silver Drawing Academy?
The best place is my home website which is ( www.silvertoons.com ). They can also watch or listen to my Youtube channel ( youtube.com/silvertoons ).
Thank you Stephen :)