Small Almond milk Latte. That’s his Senzu bean, spinach, or red mushroom. Once he’s powered up Will gets to working on his numerous illustration projects. With his toony simplistic style will Designs characters and worlds. After shooting the shit with him I found that life, as an artist can be a crazy balancing act. Trying to make time for paid work while creating the worlds that live in your head can get hectic. Will hits me with the realness on his experience as an artist and the road that got him there.
I freelance so I guess I’m my own boss but the majority of the work I do is Character Design. I’m currently working on a TV show making a pass at some main characters. I dabble in illustration as well but want to get that ball rolling a bit more.
– The Origin Story
Drawing was happening since I can remember. My folks supported me when I got suspended from school for drawing ‘inappropriate’ stuff or even when I wanted to cover my room with murals of football legends, graffiti and anime they always said ‘do your thing.’ My English teacher in high school helped me believe in myself, mapped out a course and said you can do this. She said I had something I was passionate about and good at. I tried forever to get into Cal Arts in LA, got accepted to RISD out east but finally settled for The Academy of Art here at home. It was convenient. I majored in traditional animation and visual development.
– How have cartoons influenced your art growing up?
Cartoons were the gatekeepers of the imagination for me. They really opened up that can of worms of how creative you can get… four turtles that become martial artists, thanks to some radioactive ooze, and have a rat sensei who trains them? Yeah, sign me up. I want to make cartoons.
– What has inspired your style of design?
Everything. Barry McGee. Movies. Architecture. Cartoons. Food. Graffiti. Art field trips. Barry McGee. Ed Hopper. Comic Books. Hip Hop. Family. Travel… Barry McGee. He was tagging SF when I was growing up and left a lasting impression on me.
– What are some different types of inspirations you take from other artists?
The way they do things whether it’s art related or not. Everything from new techniques to their taste in music… I try and surround myself w good folks who I admire. I love that you can follow people on these music sites btw it’s like trading CD’s and tapes all over again.
– What are some non-art related things you do for inspiration?
I get outside and go on hikes or runs and just take in the air. It’s crucial for me to balance out the inactivity at a desk with being active. Food and cooking as well! Going out and experiencing life… it’s all related for me and at the end of the day it contributes to my work.
– Did shows with art styles like Power Puff Girls, Fosters Home for Imaginary Kids, or Samurai Jack have any effect on how you view your style in the main stream?
Sure. I caught some Samurai Jack while in college and thought it looked great. In animation classes we were taught to simplify, simplify, simplify. The simpler the designs the easier to animate. So I try and keep things simple in my work… which is actually quite difficult.
– What moment in your childhood would you attribute to the feeling you get when you’re creating?
Playing with toys! thing you love to do turns into work. It’s alright though… once you get a handle on that stuff the reward comes in starting new projects. You can fall in love over and over.
– How would you describe the journey from deciding you wanted to be an artist to making a living at it?
It was long! I could’ve been a doctor lol. Well worth it though because I have doctor friends who think what I do is the coolest 🙂 Elaborating on the first question though… I couldn’t get into Cal Arts so I went to the Santa Rosa Junior College where I got my feet wet in painting, printmaking & figure drawing. It was cheap and I was still ‘on course.’ I worked while I was in school but I lucked out because an old high school buddy hired me to do concept art for his small video game company. There was little time but it was alright because I was doing what I loved and learning in school and at the job. I applied to RISD for girl reasons but didn’t think the school was the right fit. I finally ended up at The Academy of Art. All in all it was 8-9 years of school… jeez.
– What is a word of wisdom or specific event that you feel opened your eyes to the possibility of art being a
lifestyle for you?
In addition to my English teacher in high school there was one of the early Pixar shows that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I remember seeing drawings of Randall, the salamander from Monsters Inc, that blew my socks off. The overwhelming inspiration in that moment was enough to last me a lifetime. I wanted to do that… no plan B’s.
– How does the adult world of art differ from what you thought before you got out of school?
It kind of sucks lol. There’s a lot of ‘adult stuff’ that sneaks up on you. They really didn’t teach us about taxes, contracts, invoicing, time management and ‘learning the ropes.’ I wasn’t prepared for that. All of a sudden the thing you love to do turns into work. It’s alright though… once you get a handle on that stuff the reward comes in starting new projects. You can fall in love over and over.
– How do you separate paying the bills and personal work?
I’d be happy making personal work 24/7 (that’s the *ultimate goal) but I definitely take projects on that help pay the bills. It’s not bad at all. The collaborative process is great and there’s always a way to challenge yourself and find a creative solution to any holdup. Personal projects are vital though… I always have a few going.
– Do you feel like art helps you see the world differently?
Definitely. I think I observe way more than the average person does. Certain people walking down the street will become villains in a short film, or have amazing walk cycles, or maybe I’ll find characters in inanimate objects. Patterns, color scheme’s it goes on and on… so yeah, art helps me see stuff differently. It’s a blessing and a curse 🙂
– What is your philosophy as an artist?
There’s an interview with Charles Schulz where he says ‘almost all forms of creativity are done by the person who’s doing the creating.’ He goes on to add ‘you do it to please yourself and if you are fortunate, others like If they don’t there’s really nothing much you can do about it anyway’. I agree wholeheartedly.
– What is your idea of success?
Hmmm… that’s tricky. I think success is retrospect. I’ll tell you when I get there haha… no, no, I think there are achievements, small successes and big successes. At the end of the day I wouldn’t mind shoes on my feet, good food in my belly and being confident with my work. Making a living writing and illustrating my own stories would be nice too.
– What is the ultimate goal?
In addition to separating bills and personal work… owning a food truck. Yeah, that’d be fun. I can picture the hand painted signage and illustrations on it already… my mom and her fro 🙂