This is the transcript for the podcast episode Interview With Pascal Campion (Part 2) :: ArtCast #75 To listen to the podcast click here.
Chris: It’s Chris Oatley’s Artcast, episode 75, an interview with Pascal Campion part 2.
Hello my friends, and welcome to another episode of Chris Oatley’s Artcast, the show that goes inside the hearts and minds of successful professional artists. I’m Chris Oatley, I was a visual development artist at Disney before I quit to start my own online art school – the Oatley Academy of Concept Art & Illustration. Find more art instruction and career advice from some of the most inspiring voices in animation, games, comics, and new media at ChrisOatley.com. That’s ChrisOatley.com.
In Part 1 of this interview, we learned about Pascal Campion’s early career and his development into a uniquely versatile professional artist. In this episode, Pascal manages to communicate to us how his creative mind actually works which is extremely difficult to do I know from experience. He also shares some stirringly thoughtful responses to questions from my color theory and digital painting students. We talk about portfolios, art school, composition, lighting and of course personal style. It’s the best 75th episode I could have imagined.
Our stories are very similar in the sense that the anticipation of children is a game changer, a big, big part of that being practicing better habits before the kids actually get here. So I’m not trying to change everything all at once and that was part of it, and then I’ve already talked about this before but I had a really awful kidney stone back in August and it put me out for a month. I fell so far behind on the Magic Box that there was nothing I could do, nothing I could do except record an audio message to my students while I was like on pain killers and go, “Guys, I’m so sorry!” But life just shut me down. And it was amazing because me getting just taken out by this major health issue and a subsequent surgery, I mean literally I was in bed with the exception of a few days, basically a month. So just being hammered like that and then this awareness that not only is this not sustainable in case I ever do God forbid have some other health issue in the future, the business has to do a better job of running on its own, but also it’s like I can’t be an effective father this way, it’s just not possible…I mean it’s never going to happen. I’ll be Robb Pratt who did Superman Classic was saying in an interview, he didn’t want to be the dad who the kids knew he’s the guy who’s at his desk all day. I remember that just shocking me, just being oh my, no I don’t want that either. It’s got to change.
Pascal: And what you’re talking about is funny, this past couple of weeks have been for the job I’ve been working on, I worked from home. The reason I did this was because my daughter felt this just as much as I did. So we were like sitting at the dining room table and she was sitting right across from me and she was drawing with me.
Chris: Oh man.
Pascal: And I was thinking that is the most awesome feeling in the world. As I was drawing, my boys would come up and climb on my chair and ask me all those questions about what I was doing, asked me if they could draw with me while I was producing work for a future film. And I was just thinking, this is the best thing in the world, and I was able to like go around and take hold of them and play with pillows and build forts while during the day I was still producing a lot of work. And I was thinking, this is great, this is fantastic and I felt like I (inaudible). And at 4:00 I just stopped and went with them completely, it’s so nice to be able to get (inaudible), to be able to spend time with them. It’s just fantastic.
Chris: Yeah it is, that’s great. Freelance and keeping your own schedule, highly recommended as long as you can keep it in check and have your schedule not eat you alive. If you can maintain that balance man, it is the best because you don’t have to answer to other…you still have to answer to other people and other factors but it’s way different. It’s way different than just clocking in every day.
Pascal: Yeah, it’s absolutely a completely different thing. Also your sense of like motivation is completely different, working at a company the few times I’ve done that, after a while your personal self-worth is different or mine at least. I’d get angry or upset with my superiors because I didn’t appreciate the way they were handling a particular issue, I didn’t feel as committed to the product as I guess I should have. Well you’re a freelancer, at least for me, I feel much more inclined to give my best shot at a job because just my job which I did not do that at other companies.
Chris: That’s very interesting, that makes perfect sense. So I just launched Painting Drama 2, my advanced color theory class and we had our very first class meeting this past Saturday and it was awesome. And I asked some of the Painting Drama 2 students, they’re all rock stars, they’re amazing…I asked them if they had any questions that they wanted me to ask you. So they’ve got some fantastic questions that I know you’re going to love here. Amy wants to know what common issues that you see when you’re doing portfolio reviews. Are there patterns that you see coming up over and over again?
Pascal: The one pattern I see coming up over and over again, I can tell which school the students are coming from like 90% of the time because they are showing the exercises that they’ve done. The exercises that they do in class mostly are there to help them figure out things about the lighting, composition, staging. I don’t think they’re meant to be an end to it all, so they’re just showing the ability…they’re showing me an exercise that tells me that they’ve worked on this particular thing. But it doesn’t tell me anything about who they are, and that’s the pattern I see. When something is like what I’ve already seen in a portfolio, it’s like using what you learned from this exercise to create a piece that is very touching, something that is moving for yourself like Grandma’s 60th birthday or the first time you had a dog and see how you can use all those elements you’ve learned about, and how you can use them for your own stories, to create stories that actually touch me. So when I see all those exercises, especially when I see…and I don’t want to name any schools but there are particular schools that have the tendency to like exploded views of houses with like this light coming from the window on one side and this dark light coming on the other side. And all four windows have that in them and then the variations on the same tree or the same fence or the same bicycle over three pages, it’s a little uninteresting to me if I’m reviewing portfolios. I’m not saying that to people that’s not interesting, because it isn’t saying anything about you at this point, it’s just visual noise that I’m looking at. It’s really hard for me to give feedback because it’s like oh I like this fence better than this one, it’s great! The ability to draw should be a given for you and by this I’m not saying that you should be able to draw like Michelangelo or Donatello or whatever, the turtle ninjas…when you’re showing a portfolio, I don’t want you to tell me you can draw, I’m taking for granted that you have a certain way of representing things graphically. What I want you to show me is what you can do with those (inaudible) that’s going to make me fall in love with your art, making me fall in love with you. And what I fall in love with are emotions, stories, stories that touch my heart. If you’re going to come and show me a stick figure portfolio that will make me go like oh my freaking god, this is the best story I’ve ever seen in my life, I’m going to fall in love with you. I saw this one guy, he came up and he was presenting this storyboard that was basically just stick figures and I love, love, love and I actually introduced him to Gus and he got a job. If you’re going to show me something that’s incredibly well rendered but I just don’t relate to, I’m going to be bored and I’m not going to remember you (inaudible) gone by.
Chris: The technique trap.
Pascal: The technique trap, that’s a really good (inaudible), the technique trap I think is important if it helps you bring forth your ideas, if it’s just the technique for the sake of technique, then it is a trap.
Chris: I saw something the other day, someone emailed me and if I remember correctly, they did not actually ask for me to give feedback on the portfolio, but they did have their portfolio link underneath their name or signature in the email. And so I just out of curiosity, I don’t remember, I was waiting on something and I was like oh, I’ll click on the portfolio and I went to it and it was…the paintings were really good technically. The technique was beautiful, it was a lot of space wreckage stuff, craft and spaceship or whatever. And I was looking at it and I was going wow, this is all so beautiful and then I just wrote them back real quick and I said, “But what are you offering the studio that they don’t already have?”
Pascal: Exactly. That’s always something I tell them as well, it was like they have a thousand people that can do exactly that and probably ten times better than you can do. But what is it that you are going to bring to the table that they don’t have?