Illustrator, Paul Schoeni, discusses his artistic background and his work on a charitable crowdfunding campaign for Save the Children...
3dtotal: Hi Paul! Thank you for speaking with us today! Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your artistic background?
I'm from a small town in Iowa and loved drawing from a very early age. My mom has a degree in painting and was an art teacher herself, so she was always very encouraging to me. I wanted to be an illustrator and comic book artist, but in college I caught the "3D” bug so to speak. I fell in love with the entire process of creating an animated film, but my artistic interests veered me specifically toward 3D modeling and sculpting. While in school, I helped out on a short, animated film with several other students and luckily it went on to win a student Oscar! That success helped lead to my first job in the industry as a VFX Artist at Digital Domain on the movie I, Robot. Shortly after that in 2005, I got an offer to work at Dreamworks Animation on Kung Fu Panda
and I've been there ever since! Altogether, I've worked on 13 films for Dreamworks so far! I just wrapped up my work on How to Train Your Dragon 3
(due in 2019) and now I'm working as a Set Designer in the Art Department on Trolls 2
(due in 2020).
3dt: Wow, that all sounds very exciting! Who or what are your biggest inspirations?
I grew up as a typical kid in the 80s, influenced by so many different things from pop culture of that era. But I was especially attracted to anything and everything comics and animation related. I am a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan. I devoured everything Marvel Comics and later, Image Comics. I also became fascinated with the Disney films such as Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and Robin Hood. I just love the look and feel of those animated classics, especially the artwork of Milt Kahl.
3dt: Yeah, there's no denying that they are classics! So, what is one valuable piece of advice you would offer aspiring artists?
Well, it's definitely true that the 10,000-hour rule from Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers
applies, BUT in addition to that, you have to constantly step outside your comfort zone and focus on specific things to practice that will make you better. So, be willing to get honest feedback in order to identify areas that you may be weak in and find ways to target those weaknesses and get better. It takes a lot of dedication and focus over a long period of time to improve, so remember to be patient with yourself and just keep pushing to get better and better each day. Eventually over time, little by little, you'll feel progress taking place which is an exciting feeling and only adds more fuel to the fire to continue learning.
3dt: You've been working on a crowdfunding campaign recently for your new book Beginning's which aims to raise money for Save the Children. Can you tell us a little more about that campaign and what the book is about?
The book is about what inspired us as children. All of us were influenced by a number of things growing up, but we asked over 60 professional artists from various disciplines to try and think of what specifically inspired them when they were young – maybe it was a moment in time that changed their view of the world, or maybe it was a certain person, place, or subject matter. Whatever it was, every artist answered for themselves through a new illustration each, and the book showcases their work. It's a lot of fun because we get to have a little peek into their "beginnings”.
The artwork used for the cover of Beginning's designed by Dave Guertin of CreatureBox.
3dt: That sounds like a really fun project! Obviously, this book is for charity, so what do you hope to achieve with the campaign?
There were always two goals for this book:
1) Create something beautiful that people can find inspiring and uplifting to read and look at.
2) To combine our efforts together as artists to help out people that are in need right now, specifically kids.
3dt: It really is for a great cause! What inspired you to do this campaign and the book?
It was very much a group effort, but I think it was mostly just the feeling of wanting to do something to help others. There have been a lot of crazy things happening in the world recently (wars, natural disasters, humanitarian crises, etc.), and there have been a lot of people suffering a great deal because of it all. Our contribution is small, but we all had a desire to hopefully alleviate some of the pain that others have been experiencing. That desire to help and also the confluence of social media and crowdfunding sparked the idea that maybe there was something we could do with our talents to draw attention to and raise some money for charity.
3dt: It sounds like a really exciting project for you! One final question, what made you choose Save the Children as the charity for this campaign?
Simply put, I love their mission of seeking to rescue children who are suffering. There's a great quote from Nelson Mandela that has always stuck with me. He said: "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Whether it's the results of war or natural disaster or a humanitarian crisis, the children themselves are innocent and have been caught up in all of the terrible effects. The type of work that Save the Children does is powerful not only because they save lives, but also because they give hope to children in times of extreme darkness. The kids witness kindness and generosity in action, and hopefully that leads them to understand that although terrible things may happen in life, there is still a lot of goodness in the world and there are people who care.
Paul Schoeni is currently doing a crowdfunding campaign for Beginnings in which he is raising money for Save the Children. Find out more about the campaign here.
Check out Paul's website
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