Monday, March 29, 2010

Antonio Santamaria 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 the strange man of my family. In a family where no one is dedicated to art, or drawing, or painting, or anything like that .... I grew, always surrounded by concerns about creating things. Since my childhood I drew the comics .... I grew up surrounded by them, especially the superheroes' ones. I remember myself drawing (and still keep) hundreds of images of my favorite characters. Then I also remember television animated series as "Mazinger Z", "Battle of the Planets" and the legendary Hanna-Barbera productions. I always loved to see how the drawings came to life and all this led me, I guess ... to study more about the subject. Actually my studies in drawing and illustration are too self-taught. I was studying in the prestigious comic school called Academia Joso from Barcelona. There I spent 4 years studying and learning but in parallel I locked myself in libraries and read everything I found about drawing, animation and cinema narrative.

When I was 25 years old (a little bit late) I considered to dedicate myself to work on what I knew to do best and left a job in Interior Design Shop to dedicate myself to draw storyboards for an advertising agency. Although I was doing drawings from my childhood, this one was the start point for me to my actual and real profession, but since then everything has been shot and I've grown as a professional cartoonist. To date, in which yet I am still learning ...

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

Well, when I have to design a character, I start looking for information about the environment of its universe. That’s to say, if I have to design a western sheriff, I start looking everything about how the real sheriff was dressed, what complements they wear, etc. Then, I start to draw in my normal way. I suppose that here is the differential point of every designer.... To let your own style in this design. I usually do my designs using geometrical lines and volumes (it also includes the curves and circle ones).... But always trying to give force in every line and pose. It’s difficult to me to make a static pose. So I always prefer to do concepts instead of turnaround sheets because in these last you are more limited for dynamic gestures.
Some of my features when I draw a design and that always that I can I repeat is as follows. Geometry shapes. I love symmetries.... Very expressive eyes, ears anatomically lower than real, thick neck. Widest forearms (including female characters) and also slightly larger hands. Very very narrow waist and legs a little shorter with wide ankles.
If I have to design a character with a wide complexion, I make the legs very short and harnessing the energy of the round shapes to create harmony in the overall.
I like that my characters have all their lines flowing in order to create a dynamic image

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

Since two and a half years I work alone at my home; in my personal studio (in fact it's the bigger room of my house). I have daily contact with colleagues by email or phone but my job is, in principle, alone.
I usually wake up myself very early in the day because I want to spend hours with my two little children, my wife and everyday things. My desk is always ready with the paper and the pencils (or the cintiq and the computer) over the table, so I work intermittently during the day. In times of deliveries I have to add more hours to meet the deadlines but always by the morning. I can't lengthen the work at night, for at eleven (or so) I fall asleep in bed (or in the armchair if the tv is bored...).

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

I'm basically a Storyboard Artist and a Character Designer that I have worked for studios such as Filmax Animation, Kandor Moon, Strika Entertainment, Cromosoma and Rainbow among others . My credits include films such as "Donkey Xote", "Gisaku", "Fragile" or "Goleor The Balance and the Sword" and television series as "Tom", "The Tripkets", "Juanito Jones", "Supa Strikas", "Winx Club 4" or "Huntik 2" to name a few. I am also done character design features and interior environments, assistant direction and supervision of lay-outs and storyboards. I have also participated in the educational work as a teacher of drawing and together with Carlos Ruano I took over the comic book adaptation of "Gisaku". Currently working on the new project of the prestigious Rainbow Italian study called "PopPixies" and in the new feature film of the prestigious Granada studio, Kandor Moon. In addition I also have creating designs for Straight Diesel, an USA studio of animation.

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

I am very proud of two universe (or groups) of designs that I have created in the past. My versions for the adaptation of the “Sleeping Beauty” that it was included in the Spanish film “Fragile”. This work was amazing and it gave me the chance to work in these designs together with another great Spanish designer and close friend called Jacobo Navarro.
Then, a couple of years ago I made some designs for an own project that after they were been bought by an American company that was interested in developing them in 3D. This universe is about a group of school teenagers and were called “ the Don'ts”.

Who do you think are the top artists out there?

Well, due to the double kind of work that I usually develop; story-boarding and character designer... I have to answer separately for both branches.
I extremely admire to Brad Bird (director of “the Incredibles” or “the Iron Giant”) and Simon Wells (co-director in “Prince of Egypt” and “The time Machine”) because I love their way to work and because they started as storyboard artist working in a lot of fabulous films. Simon Wells really is one of the best storyboard artists in the world. I can’t wait to met him.

On the other hand... I also admire the style of a lot of character designers and comic book artists. My favorite ones are Humberto Ramos, his pal Francisco Herrera, the incredible Sean Galloway, the great Bruce Timm, my friend Enrique Fernandez, Chris Sanders, Florian Satzinger, Stephen Silver, Joe Madureira, Jeff Matsuda, Eric Cannetteh, two wonderful girls: Celia Calle and Claire Wendling, Torsten Schrank, and a big etc. of great artists.

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

I usually color my designs using digital paint, with the wacom or my cintiq 12 and Photoshop. If I have to use traditional tools, I use Pantone markers.

What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
The most fun for me is to sketch the characters, the pencil work…. The creative process… looking for the definitive drawing…. On the other hand, I'm a bit lazy doing the clean up of the line. So often accustomed to color over the pencil treated.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
Obviously one of the best sources of information, inspiration and motivation more recurrent today is the different websites of great artists and other amateurs. The world of blogging has been so revolutionary to see what others are doing to keep you stay active and not obsolete.
On the other hand my son is 5 years old, with their tastes and preferences for the animated series, give me a lot of information of what children (potential viewers) want to see.

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

Well, I have a lot!!! “Stitch” from the feature film or the new “Astroboy” from Image Studio… and for example “Bolt”, the dog of Disney and “Hogarth Hughes”, the young boy of the “Iron Giant”.

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

Human Body, athletic people but not very strong with a lot of muscles. I love to draw as Peter Chung or Takeshi Koike, characters who go away from camera or come in a perspective way. To exaggerate the proportions of the human anatomy.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

I don’t know exactly. I loved to draw, to compose scenes, to create something or someone that we could see then moving animated in a big screen… Maybe, one of my better ways of expression.

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

The creation processes of different artists. How and why they do what. I have been always fascinated to discover the secrets of the great works, like movies from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Sony ... I remember going to buy my dvds and put first the "making of" of the extras, before seeing the film or film having seen before. I keep in constant learning. As the masters teach us their techniques .... As the beginners remember to us and spread the hope of reaching devote to this. It comes down to knowing yourself on both sides. Wanting to achieve stability in the profession through work and to renew enthusiasm for every work that you do.

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

I have a lot of favorite websites and blogs that inspire me. You can take a look at them through my Link list in my blog.

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

I think everything would fall to be honest with yourself. Be aware of how lucky we have today to work on what you want. That your hobby be your profession has a payment and is hard work. Like I said before, I started late in this profession, with the age of 25 years, but today I have made up for lost time, devoting the drawing around 12 or 14 hours a day. Too much discipline. Work, dedication, discipline and a pinch of talent .... this may be the formula.

One tip he gave me a teacher was never throw to the trash any drawing for as ugly as it seemed because after a while it could help you assess the progress that you have made since then.
Another tip would be to be tough with yourself. I think this can make you move on and not settle for what you have. I tend to be so demanding that I rarely like anything I've done more than five years back... I usually feel that I can improve any work already delivered. The passage of time is often a good friend to valuing oneself.

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

My blog site:
My email:

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?

No… I don’t have work for sale but if anyone likes to have a commission or one of my works, don’t hesitate in write to my mail and surely we reach an agreement about a price.

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