1. 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 amazing artist that you are today?
I graduated from Universtiy of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 1992 as an Art Studio Major. I took a general arts curriculum which featured Life Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture. I was a cartoonist for the school’s newspaper, The Daily Nexus during my Junior and Senior years which provided invaluable experience for me to create work in a very quick time. Looking back, the life drawing classes, especially the quick gesture classes proved invaluable in helping me get down the information on paper very quickly.
I also looked at the “Art of Lion King” book, a lot (This was 1994)!!!!! This book greatly inspired me to pursue a career in animation. I basically told myself, “..do better than the work in the book”. Not sure if I’m there or not, but it gave me a target to shoot for.
2. How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
I try and approach a character usually two ways: expression/attitudes first, then build up with shapes, or vice versa.
3. What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?
Attitude - Getting to know the character. What type of person or creature is this character. It helps me focus on how they may put an expression or attitude.
4. From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?
Be job specific. If you’re going for character design, put in characters. If layout, obviously layout and location concepts. Try and limit your book to 10-12 pages. Remember, recruiters see portfolios day in and day out and they usually get an idea of your skills within the first four pages. For character design, I would strongly include expressions and attitudes in addition to the basis turnarounds. You want to show that you can make a character come alive. Contrapposto, eye acting, shoulder acting. Also, show versatility and adaptability. Show your individual finesse as well as the ability to mimic other styles (this especially goes toward TV gigs).
5. What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)
I’m currently providing location design and workbook for the Tinkerbell Movie at DisneyToon Studios in Burbank, CA.
6. Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?
Pixar, baby!! Pixar.
7. Who do you think are the top character designers out there?
So, so many. Let’s start with Steve Silver, Jose Lopez, Craig Kellman, Joe Moshier, Harald Sieperman, Dan Lee, Ricky Nierva, David Colman to name a few. The new class: Mark McDonnell, Sumeet Surve, Josh Parpan, Jeremiah Alcorn. Really, there are sooo many awesomely talented artists out there. Please check out my sidebar and current posts to get a list of who I think are truly inspirational (of course the list grows more and more each day…)!
8. How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?
I’m basically a Black and White artist, only providing tonals for mood. This is one area I definitely need to improve upon.
9.What type of things do you love to draw, and why?
Tough to answer, but I guess creatures and people.
10. What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
Love to draw faces.
11. What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?
I love whatever Joe Moshier does (Emperor’s New Groove). His designs are fun, appealing, and just push shapes so well. Love UPA-inspired designs as well as early Warner Bros. cartoons.
12. What is your most favorite subject to draw?
Tough to say, love drawing everything in general.
13.What inspired you to become an Artist?
I’m actually known as a storyboard artist and location designer. By chance I was given opportunities to design characters and creatures through visual development projects. I always tell folks that I can cheat a character, that is that I can try and make a character look good and/or appealing. I was never formally taught as a character designer, thus I suck at turnarounds and mechanical posing.
14. What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
Stay loose and push shapes!!!!!. Provide as many possibilities in your characters. Design and redesign. Get inspired!!! Learn from the veterans, and truly challenge yourself.
15. What wisdom could you give us, about being a character designer? Do you have any tips you could give?
Stay loose!!! Stay loose!! Stay loose!!! Study folks, new and old. Try to look at attitudes first. Become a scholar of film. Look at films and study acting. Master contrapposto. Breathe life into a character, not just a static stand pose, but really make that character breathe, walk, talk, think. Look at life. Find inspiration from those around you: friends, family, neighbors, etc. Make time each day to draw.
16. If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
Either through my blog site at www.john-nevarez.blogspot.com or my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. Finally, Do you have any of your art work for sell (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
I do have a simple sketchbook title “ Bits and Pieces ”
Which can be purchased through SketchMart here at http://sketchmart-sketchbooks.blogspot.com/ and through www.stuartngbooks.com . I’m also working on a second sketchbook for ComicCon’06 in San Diego. Please visit my blog for more information. I’ll be starting another blog soon titled www.anapproach.blogspot.com where I’ll share my approaches toward design, layouts and boarding, for anyone interested.