SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Art in tHe world of work Jim McNeill, Illustrator and Animator For an animation project, the workday varies depending on the part of the process I'm dealing with at the time. The day may include reading reference material, going to the library and trying to find reference material, and scribbling quick sketches. Once a workable script is available, I record a quick "scratch track" of the dialog. This is used as a time reference for the animation. I import the recording into Adobe Flash and start work on the storyboard, the shot-by-shot "comic strip" version of the story. Depending on the scene, this can take weeks to get together and months to animate. It usually takes four to six weeks to complete one minute of animation. Sharon Warwick A rtist Jim McNeill is an internationally known illustrator and animator. Currently living in Arizona, Jim is best known for his work on Crystal Productions' Dropping In On... video and book series starring Puffer the puffin. Sharon Warwick recently interviewed Jim about his career. Sharon Warwick: How would you describe your responsibilities, working day, and work environment? Jim McNeill: I freelance in what are essentially two different fields, so my workday can vary greatly depending on the project I'm working on at the time. I do all of my work at home on my own computer. For an illustration assignment, the day will start with an e-mail from an art director, indicating the description of the image needed, the price, and the deadline. Once I've got initial approval of a thumbnail sketch and a good idea of where I'm going with the overall layout, I'll scan the thumbnail into the computer, scale it up, and draw over it in Adobe Illustrator using a tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen. If everything looks okay to the client, I e-mail the final file to them. 14 March 2013 SchoolArts SW: How did you prepare yourself for this position educationally? JM: I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York, New York, and majored in Illustration. This was back in the dark ages before computers! I spent four years learning how to paint in oil before graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Five years later, the computer had completely taken over the commercial art world! It was a happy change for me. I was doing paste-up work (back in the days when people really used paste!) for a small parenting newspaper at the time they got their first computer and I taught myself how to use the page layout program. I soon bought my own computer and started creating my illustration work exclusively on the computer. SW: Who are your influences? JM: I've had a million of them along the way! The biggest influence on me becoming a commercial artist was my high-school music teacher. He gave me a great example of how to approach a creative pursuit as a career. The art that inspired me to make illustration and animation a career were the great "Looney Tunes" shorts from Warner Brothers; comic book artists like Mort Drucker, Bill Elder, and Wally Wood; and great illustrators like John Berkey, Al Hirschfeld, and Frank Frazetta. Another huge influence was Bob Dunn, a cartoonist who used to do a syndicated comic called They'll Do It Every Time with Al Scaduto. His wife played bridge with my grandmother, and we struck up a correspondence, sending illustrated letters back and forth. SW: What advice would you like to pass on to young people who are interested in pursuing a career in some aspect of the visual arts? Continued on page 58.

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