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Bobby Pontillas, Master Artist interview

Bobby Pontillas, Master Artist interview.

I used to work with the man, in fact it was my first art job doing tons of 2D animation for Disney Int and Pixar games.  Another fun fact, I got hired only because I can draw fast, but know nothing about animation.  Then Bobby taught me how to animate properly.  Thanks to Bobby.  Bobby was the best animator I've known and ever worked with.  Then we re-teamed again on Guild Wars series, Bobby is the one who basically invented tons of the Guild Wars characters' dance moves and a bunch of cool animation tricks.  And now it's been about a year since he left for Blue Sky Studios.  Bobby just finished his current project "Rio", it is currently in theater.  Congratz Bobby!!!
Now he is kind enough to give us some of his precious time for a short interview for you guys.

1. How and why did you want to become a Animatist (Animation Artist)?

Bobby: Back in 2000, I had a few terms left in art school, and I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I liked to draw but I was pretty directionless. This all changed when I saw Disney's Tarzan, and saw all of the work Glen Keane and his fantastic animators in Paris did with the main character. It was unlike anything I had seen before, and I knew then that I wanted to be an animator.

As you can see Bobby (in the hat) is working hard at work.

2. What is your first art job and how did you start?

Bobby:  My first art job was with a small children's games company in Kirkland, WA, working with Xia Taptara actually.  We mainly work on some small Disney and Pixar titles. We were right out of school, and we did everything from 2D Animation, Storyboards, to Character Design. We were so eager to get better and learn from our great art director. It still is one of the most memorable experiences in my career.

 © Bobby Pontillas

3. How do a beginner become an Animator?

Bobby: Study and Application. Don't just do one or the other. Study the masters that came before you. To both, learn the foundations that they established, and to not just simply repeat what they did. Stand on their shoulders and take animation to different place than it's been to before.

4. To you, what are the three to five most important elements in Animation and/or art in general?

In no particular order: Simplicity. Easily said, hard to accomplish. What's important in my work is that the central idea is not cluttered by extraneous details. I want my statements to be clear and bold.

Personality. To me my favorite work is when it's coming from someplace personal. Something that I've experienced myself that I know to be true.

Storytelling. I feel like every facet of an animated film, film in general, or work of art is stronger when it's telling a story, big or small. Communicating an idea, making a statement.

Feeling. This is a big one for me that might be a little ambiguous. But I'm really drawn to art that makes me feel what the artist was feeling. Or what the character is feeling, or how a scene feels.

© Bobby Pontillas
© Bobby Pontillas

5. What would you suggest to young artists on how to get start and become an Animator?

Bobby: Make sure to get quality animation education. There are thousands of art schools with animation programs, and I'd say 90 percent of them will lead you astray. They don't really mean to , they just lack the knowledge of what skills it really takes to break into the animation industry.

Second, I would focus on being an animator, but at the same time have interests in more facets of art besides just animation. Fine Art, Illustration, Photography, Theater. Any of these things will help your animation be of higher caliber. 

Now we can watch a few minute clips of RIO from Blue Sky studio

Thanks again Bobby, for the valuable information.
You can go say hi to Bobby at  
Don't hesitate to ask him questions if you really interested in being an animator.  He is the man!

Hope you enjoy the post!