Wednesday, January 20, 2010



Leo Matsuda Interview

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 artist that you are today?

I’m originally from Brazil. I got my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design at Mackenzie University located in Sao Paulo and since then I decided to gear my career towards animation. I had the chance to work for an animation company while I was in Brazil and that gave me a brief experience about how the animation industry works. Eventually I came to the US and I got accepted at CalArts. The fact that I had some background in animation was crucial for me to be a mature student while at CalArts. I worked very hard during my 4 years there and I spent a lot of money in tuition but I’ve never learned so much in my life. At CalArts we have to come up with individual films every year and that made me realize what I liked in terms of filmmaking and what I wanted to do in animation. It made me understand about what my “gut feelings” were.

How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

I think design is directly related to story and animation. If you have a great story behind a design it will make the design richer. It will be very interesting and appealing beyond just shape variations, colors and drawings. I believe that a good design tells a good story too.

Personality is something essential too. I see lots of personality in Ronald Searle and All Hirschfield for instance. Animation is directly related to design because they both support each other. If you have a design that was created taking animation in consideration it will make the animation more appealing.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

I go to work everyday and at night I try working on my personal projects such as artwork, comic books, studying films etc. I work in the story department and the people I work with are extremely talented and creative. Talking to my co-workers always inspire me and make me want to be a better artist.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

I worked on the Simpsons movie as a Character Layout Artist, I did freelance character design work for a few different companies and I worked for BlueSky studios in the story department. Today I’m working at Disney in the Story department.

Is there a design you have done that you are most proud of?

I really liked some of the designs I developed during my CalArts years. It required lots of research and that was a time I had so much freedom.

Who do you think are the top artists out there?

There are too many great artists in the industry. However, the ones I believe really influenced my way of working in terms of art are the following:

Lou Romano, Ralph Eggleston, Harley Jessup, Carter Goodrich, Nicolas Marlet, Ricky Nierva, Tony Fucile, and Teddy Newton.

Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?

I thing traditional painting always look better. I love gouache and watercolor and I use it whenever I get the chance. However, Creating artwork using digital media is very efficient and it shows a final result fairly quickly. I like that because I ended up being prolific.

What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

The hardest part is coming up with the idea for the design. Once I have it it’s easier and fun to come up with the execution. Of course the execution is not always easy but once you have an idea of what you want you would never get lost in the process.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?

I try reading books, watching films, going to different places, meet new people, and more important of all I would say is experiencing life. How would you express yourself if you don’t have anything personal to say?

What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?

To name a few I would say designs from T S Sullivan, Ronald Searle, All Hirschfield, Ralph Steadman, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Edward Gorey, Aurelius Battaglia, Mary Blair, M Sesak, Charley Harper, Maurice Noble, Tom Oreb, Ward Kimball, Milton Kahl, Marc Davis,etc.

Also, various paintings from Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dali, Egon Schiele, Hokusai, Toulouse Lautrec etc.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

I don’t think I have a favorite subject to draw. It depends on the environment I’m in or my mood. Sometimes I enjoy just observing things around me and not drawing anything. Sometimes I get inspired to draw and I create different things and subjects based on the experiences I just had.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

I always drew but never came to my mind I would ever work in animation. I believe what inspired me to become an animator was the Chuck Jones cartoons. I love how much personality he has in his shorts.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

The most important thing I’ve learned is to think before start anything. Sometimes we rush into our desk to draw something without thinking too much.

What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?

Friends and Co-workers websites or blogs. They are extremely talented and are always inspiring me. Lots of them are linked on my blog: Enjoy their artwork!!!

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Surround yourself with people that inspire you and that are supportive towards your work. That is in my opinion the best way to keep yourself inspired. Inspiration is all we need to never give up.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?


Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?

In case there’s an interest in my artwork please contact me through my email. I have prints available.

Leo Matsuda Gallery