Last semester we had to do a presentation on an artist we liked. I chose Lou Romano. My teacher encouraged us to email or get in contact with our artists and ask them some questions. So I did that thinking i wouldn't get a response. BUt he actually responded to me, which was extremely motivational to say the least. Heres the questions i asked him and his response.
How did you get into animation and what were your early inspirations?
I really got into animation in my early teens. Part of that grew out of a love of drawing
and painting, just for fun. I think another part of it grew out of performing in theater as a kid. Even though I was on stage I really enjoyed being around all the facets that went into making a show, set building, lighting design, costume design, etc. That was an early education in the arts that has stayed with me. And it is a creative process not unlike animation. In 1985 Disney released The Black Cauldron, which I saw when I was 13 years old. I loved it and saw it several times in the theater. I saw it years later in college and thought it was pretty bad, but it did fuel my interest in animation. That year for my birthday my parents got me the book, Treasures of Disney Animation Art, which really is a treasure. It's not like The Illusion of Life, which really breaks down the principles of classical Disney animation. The treasures book was more a showcase for animation art itself in all it's forms, story boards,
concept paintings, animation, animation clean-up, background painting, efx animation, you name it. The artwork in the book is great. I love that book and looked at it again and again growing up. Then in my last year in high school I really got into the work of Ray Bradbury. His stories really inspired me visually and got me thinking cinematically. I also started watching a lot of films in my junior and senior year (Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick and Spielberg) which made me think about animation seriously as a path to follow. I thought that animation could bring together all of my interests in the best way (performing, music, drama, film, efx, etc.).
Can you simply go over your creative process?
When I start early on a project I like to be as open as possible. Whatever the themes of the story might be, I like to do my own take on them (making illustrations) exploring what my point of view on a given story might be. I like to start there, even though I will end up realizing the director's point of view ultimately. It's a way for me to get more engaged in the material to begin with, then build up from there. I think it's the responsibility of a development artist or designer to give the director your unique point of view to bounce off of. It also gives you the opportunity to see where you need to go and how to tailor your view to blend with the director's. This can only happen by exploring and trying out different ideas. There will always be a time when you have to become more focused and in tune with what the film will finally become. But, in the beginning I say anything goes. The more you can explore early on the better.
What is your favorite character from an animation?
That's tough. Bugs Bunny is one of the top favorites. He does things that most people wish they could do (and get away with). I like Sherman & Peabody from the Rocky & Bullwinkle show. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty is a great villain. I like her a lot.
What is your favorite part about working as an artist in the animation field?
Working with and learning from other artists. That's the best part about working in a studio system, you're surrounded by talented people, which for me is a great way to learn about your craft and the art of film making.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to be an animator?
I think the most important advice I can give is to develop your own point of view, your own creative voice and take on (life, the world, story telling, etc.) A lot of people ask me how they can get into a studio like Pixar. They only want to know what steps to take that will land them in that studio. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. But I think finding your own voice and point of view and articulating it through your artwork, animation, design is more important. In fact, it's the most important thing you can do. You don't need a studio to find that point of view, it is something completely personal and specific to you. But, I feel that you will be more valuable to a studio or director if you
nurture yourself first.