First Im­pres­sions

The US artist re­veals how he achieved his child­hood goal of work­ing at Dis­ney

ImagineFX - - Contents - Todd Bright Todd’s worked on films such as Mu­lan, Lilo & Stitch, and Tarzan. You can see more of his art at www.tod­dbright.com.

Todd Bright re­veals how he achieved his child­hood dream of work­ing for Dis­ney.

Where did you grow up and how has this in­flu­enced your art?

I was raised in a small town called Berea, Ohio. My fa­ther had his own de­sign firm, so I grew up look­ing at his books, tak­ing in il­lus­tra­tors like NC Wyeth and Nor­man Rock­well. My dad is a Dis­ney fan, so there was plenty of that early in­flu­ence there as well. I re­mem­ber copy­ing and draw­ing things around the stu­dio, learn­ing from art in­struc­tional books, and my dad en­rolled me in a life-draw­ing class at the Cleve­land In­sti­tute of Art one sum­mer.

As a teenager, we moved to Florida. An artist work­ing for my dad told me that one of his friends who at­tended Rin­gling School of Art and De­sign was re­cruited by Dis­ney for an in­tern­ship. My mind was made up: I was go­ing to Rin­gling, learn to draw and work at Dis­ney.

What was your next step in art?

Grow­ing up, I al­ways knew I’d be an artist. I cruised through high school and fo­cused on surf­ing, re­la­tion­ships, hav­ing fun – all the while think­ing I could draw. How­ever, go­ing to art school was a huge wake-up call and a com­plete per­sonal cri­sis. I was sur­rounded by some amaz­ing fel­low stu­dents, and I quickly re­alised that I had a lot to learn. It was time to grow up and start work­ing hard.

Does one per­son stand out as be­ing help­ful dur­ing your early years?

The early years, my dad – of course!

What was your first paid com­mis­sion, and does it stand as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your ta­lent?

I think it was an ed­i­to­rial il­lus­tra­tion for a pub­li­ca­tion in Nashville. It was an ink and wa­ter­colour hu­mor­ous il­lus­tra­tion of Moses read­ing a book or some­thing, I re­mem­ber I painted his robe this Todd Bright crazy orange colour – why did I do that?

Does it stand as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of my ta­lent? Well, that’s a hard one to an­swer about a draw­ing I did over 20 years ago! How­ever, I was in Nashville be­cause a group of Rin­gling friends and alumni of­fered to take me un­der their wing: specif­i­cally one il­lus­tra­tor, Travis Fos­ter, and an ex-Dis­ney artist, Davy Liu. They taught me how to free­lance when I was un­able to re­turn to school. I learned a lot, and ended up do­ing well that sum­mer. So that first com­mis­sion rep­re­sents quite a lot to me. I have much to be thank­ful for.

What’s the last piece you fin­ished, and how do the two dif­fer?

It was an an­i­mated com­mer­cial for Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios. Cer­tainly the medi­ums dif­fer, and I hired a small crew of my old Dis­ney friends to join in the project.

Is your art evolv­ing?

Yes. I started out do­ing il­lus­tra­tion free­lance, then when I changed gears to pur­sue my dream of Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion, I fo­cused on draw­ing and learn­ing to an­i­mate. Af­ter nine years of work­ing on films at Dis­ney, it shut down our Or­lando stu­dio. I went free­lance again, but fo­cused on dig­i­tal medi­ums and did a lot of ad­ver­tis­ing il­lus­tra­tion and an­i­ma­tion for Dis­ney and other com­mer­cial work. About five or six years ago, I be­gan pur­su­ing my pas­sions of café sketch­ing, oil paint­ing and teach­ing work­shops. I’m also cre­at­ing sto­ries: one is a chil­dren’s book and the other is a short film.

How has the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try changed over the years?

Well, I’ll al­ways be scratch­ing my head in dis­be­lief that tra­di­tional hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion is no longer in film. What has changed for the good is that there’s a push to get the story right. The new CG an­i­ma­tion medium has also cre­ated more com­pe­ti­tion in the in­dus­try, which means more stu­dios and jobs.

What’s the most im­por­tant thing that you’ve taught some­one?

Learn to be a great drafts­man. Sur­round your­self with peo­ple who are bet­ter than you, and be teach­able.

Go­ing to art school was a huge wake-up call and a com­plete per­sonal cri­sis

Mer­may 2017 “I joined in the fun of the on­line event cre­ated by my old Dis­ney buddy Tom Ban­croft il­lus­trat­ing Mer­maids dur­ing the month of May. I thought of what I might see while surf­ing.”

Sabina and Char­lie “This was a com­mis­sion for a friend that turned into quite a few more of the lit­tle girl and her dog.”

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