Ep.177: We are students forever with David Colman (DavidsDoodles)

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 10, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with David Colman, better known online as DavidsDoodles. He is an illustrator, who has worked as a visual development artist, character designer, story artist and art director in the animation since 2003.

Get in touch with David

Key Takeaway

“Be a good person. Just be a great person to work with. That trumps everything, even talent. ”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to David for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by DavidsDoodles, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello everyone, Iva here and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life, but actually inspiring artists and create whereas are delighted videos. Before we introduce our guests and go to the interview, let’s thank our sponsors. If you are a digital artist, you will love our stupid app, which turns your iPad Pro into a virus graphics tablet for your Mac. So you can use all the programs like Photoshop right on your iPad, go to artsideoflife.com/astropad and use promo code artside to get 10% discount. If you’re looking for a top quality print shop and online store to sell your art prints then you should definitely check out imprint imprint has been helping artists print and sell gallery quality prints of their work all over the world for over a decade. Go to artsideoflife.com/imprint and use promo code art side to get 10% discount. And now let’s go back to the interview. My guest today is David Coleman better known as baby doodles online. Maybe he’s an illustrator who has worked as a visual development artist character designer story artists and art director in the animation industry since 2003. His clients include Disney, Sony Blue Sky Studios, Jimmy Hansen’s company, Hasbro, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and many others. He’s widely known for his animal character, illustration work, and he self published numerous books about the subject. And now please welcome David and let’s go to the interview. Welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have David here. Hi.

David Colman  

Hello. Hi, everyone. How you doing?

Iva Mikles  

Oh, hi, I’m super happy that you joined us today. And now let’s just jump in right away to your background and how you go to art and maybe before that you can like share, maybe you remember how your childhood smelled like.

David Colman  

Okay, what my childhood smelled like, do you really mean that question? Wonderful, I guess you could say, um, I mean, for me. You know, I just like most kids, I drew a lot when I was younger. And, you know, it started with drawing with one of the first artists that kind of got me into art was Frank Frazetta. I mean, he’s basically the one who inspired to become an artist, I have to actually step take a step back and say my mother, because my mom’s an artist, so she kind of encouraged me at an early age, and, but never forced me now that my parents forced me and my uncle was an artist. My grandfather was an artist, but my uncle’s in advertising. My grandfather, just a side gig my mom just for a hobby. And then Frank Frazetta was a professed professional illustrator that, you know, I came across, I really loved his work. I did a bunch of like comic stuff when I was younger. And then in high school, I just kind of gave it up for sports. And I didn’t want to be like comic book nerd. And I kind of lost interest in my art skills. And I went away to college, I went to UC Santa Barbara, I didn’t go to art school, I went to UC Santa Barbara to study communication, I thought I would go in advertising. And when I was up there, I fell in love with my drawing again. And I looked into double majoring, but it was like, draw what you feel. And it was a very like liberal art take to art It was not about fundamentals, you know. So when I got out of school, I, I didn’t even know animation could be a career, like I just kind of showed a bunch of my stuff. Fortunately, my father was an attorney. And he didn’t force me down the road to be an attorney. He wanted to be a doctor, which I just can’t stand the sight of blood. So that was not going to happen. And he likes me an attorney and he was telling me you know, be lucky that you found something you want to do 90% of the job force hates their job be one of the 10% so he was very encouraging and in the pursuit of my career and he he somehow through him I met someone at Disney and and I met a few people at Disney early on a recruiter, a couple of producers and they all looked at my work they say to be great character designer, you have a natural ability to capture personality, and characters. And I was like, Well, you have to go to art school and Cal Arts stuff like now not so much anymore. Like you can just go to like the animators union and stuff. So I took a bunch of classes from local trade schools. I somehow talked my way into the life drawing class at Disney Television Animation. I think one thing

Iva Mikles  

I learned how was it somehow you know if you can elaborate on that because a lot of people are usually interested you know, like how you get to these first things or training you Yeah, I

David Colman  

mean, how do I get into that life drawing class? Well, one thing you’ll know for me after this interview is I talk, I can talk, I can talk, I could sell a picture book to the blind somehow. I used to be very shy when I was younger, which is hard for many people believing my wife. But I turned to my father, I think as I get older, and he’s not shy. So I think I was just a matter of talking to the recruiter on the phone. His name was Joe Caggiano. And I don’t even know if he’s in the industry anymore. But we just talked a lot. I don’t even know I got his number. And by the end of the conversation, he’s like, do you want to come to life drawing class? And I was like, right, and it just kind of got in and, and so I did those. I mean, so I don’t really have a magic answer. There’s no magic button or secret

Iva Mikles  

person. Yeah.

David Colman  

Those aren’t you know, one thing I have to say, Just a side note, and I’ll continue my story because it’s interesting, but most artists are introverted. So, you know, I’m definitely an extrovert. I guess I’m a shameless self promoter, I should say. And just opening up and talking to people as

David Colman  

feel shy or ashamed to show your work to people. That’s the only way you’re gonna get better. Don’t be the greatest artists that no one ever heard of. That’s like the best. That’s like a good advice. I met someone once. He said he was an amazing artists. I said, Can I see your work? He’s all I don’t show it to anyone. I was like, oh, okay, so how does anyone know you’re that great. If, if if you don’t show it to anyone, anyway. So talk my way into those classes, took a bunch of took a bunch of small classes at the animators union, and became more self taught, like I studied anatomy for a year, I was working my dad’s law firm during the day. And then I got and I take classes at night, and then I’d stay up to like two in the morning, just like studying whatever I could from books. And, you know, like I said, I think go a typical route of the big art schools. It’s good and bad. You know, I don’t why go into those big schools, and all of you out there go to big art schools. Don’t shy away from it if you’re in and you’re already going down that path, because you have a built in network. And what I mean by that is that you have a built in connection to people who went to that school, people went to art center Cal Arts went to what’s the school in Toronto, I can’t think of right now. Start to search for that as a source of the asset. Anyway, a lot of the bigger schools, I just wanted to name not just California, but they will see that on a resume. And if they possibly went to that school, or no people went to school, immediately you get your foot in the door. So that is already a benefit. So you are paying for that secret key. And also, you get really good really fast when you know these big schools with me, I had a I was very self motivated. So then I got a job in the mailroom at Disney, I through a temp agency. And I kind of worked my way up that way. It’s like the Steven Spielberg story, they say, and I would deliver mail to people, and then I would also like drop off drawings at their desk, you know, and ask them things and, and learned a lot about paper cuts, you know, delivering mail, but also a lot from different artists, like artists that you’ve interviewed here, John Nevarez, and Steven silver. They were artists there, they were both working on impossible to time, I think Steven was on clerks. And I would kind of ask them questions about things they’d always helped me and here was his young kid, probably annoying to them. But they either saw something in me and they just would give me go over my drawings to me and talk to me and I went to still going to life drawing classes there. And then I worked up into a PA position, which is production assistant on a Winnie the Pooh movie. And at that point, I was trying to get into the industry. But I was already so jaded. Because I was told constantly, I didn’t have the experience. I didn’t have the, you know, I didn’t have experience or I wasn’t in the animators union. And it was frustrating for me. And then at that time, Sony Pictures Animation was opening a studio and I sent my work in and I was already like, they’re just gonna reject me. And I think I was 24 at the time and the artists and I remember saying, I don’t think I’m ready. And an artist means like, you know, a true artists will never be ready. It’s a journey. There’s no endpoint, if there’s an endpoint, you might as well take up like mountain climbing or something. So I sent in my work, and Sony called me back. And they said, you know, we got your work we really like I thought they were gonna call me back and ask where to send my portfolio back, because that’s where I constantly am told, because I don’t have the experience. I’m not the union, all this stuff. So they sent him I’d say, called me and they said, Yeah, we want to talk to you so great. They said, Did you send us an updated resume? I said, Yes. They said, well, it says you’re a production assistant on a Winnie the Pooh movie. Like, I was like, yeah, and they said, but your art is beautiful. I said, Oh, thank you. And so we’d like to talk to you and can you come in for an interview? I said, Great. And they said, Can you bring in your artwork? I said, Why send your portfolio. They said no, we want to see your originals. And I was like, Okay, why they want to see that and at the time I was friends with the great Paul Felix. I had befriended a lot of the top people Disney one I was there because once again, I’m shameless self promoter and annoying. And I say, I’m more probably annoying than anything. an extrovert for them, and it’s a nice way to say it. So I asked Paul that he said, Well, don’t leave your originals there. It’s kind of weird. And so that weekend went up and gathered all my stuff. And he showed up with a box of, of artwork stacked in folders. And I laid it all out. And I remember reading meeting Sandy Raven, she’s one of the top executives in the industry. She helps our DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, animation, she’s now I think, at Paramount.

David Colman  

She asked me why it wasn’t working. And I told her the same thing. I’m like, Well, I’m not in the union. I don’t have the experience, you know, getting sick of telling the story. She says, Does Disney know you’re here? I said, No, no, they they think I’m at a dentist appointment. And she’s like, okay, she’s like, well, let’s see your work. And so I showed it to her. And the reason why they asked for my originals is I thought I was stealing from everyone, because they thought I had copied people’s artwork, because I had all this raw talent they saw, but I had no resume. I hadn’t worked in the industry. I hadn’t had a job. So they’re like, they wanted to call me out. They thought maybe that I was I was stealing people’s art. And it was a backhanded compliment. But it was it was a compliment the same, right? And they’re like, great, this is yours. When can you start and I was like, I don’t know, five minutes ago, you know, I was it was like a dream come true. Overnight, I got like an attorney and I was thrown on to the Polar Express movie. I didn’t design the scary children, everyone out there. I just did a bunch of the animals. And it was me. And then I got because Sony animation wasn’t ready yet. And then I worked. It was me. They hired Marcelo Vignale Richard Chavez was there. And Paul was saying, I was like with his dream team of artists. And Marcelo mentored me. And he’s still meant a life mentor, for sure. And a good friend and very good friend, he’s actually I actually working with him at Sony again. And then I worked on open season a little bit on service up and then like, the rest is history. But that’s kind of how it happened. Me. I don’t recommend my path to everyone. But everyone’s path is different. And when people ask how to get in the industry, like I said, there’s no magic answer. There is no class that has a specific class you could take, there’s no specific button, you can push, there’s no blue or red pill you can take, just know that it’s a journey. And what works for some people doesn’t always work for others, and vice versa. So if that was informed, you know,

Iva Mikles  

and what helped you the most, you know, to develop your skills, as you mentioned that you ask questions, people when you were still working as a PA, or was there something else you did? Like? Did you talk to them along the coffee? Or the the reservation, like throughout? So what was the thing? How did you get the feedback? Or how did you

David Colman  

when you’re when you’re when you’re like me, you’re just so ambitious, and motivated and passionate. I mean, I honestly, like, I would show them a lot of my individual drawings, I mean, a lot of a lot, let’s go back to what really makes you a good, what will help you succeed from a just traditional standpoint is just a serious amount of fundamentals. Your imaginative work will not hold any weight without it based on some sort of realistic principles. So for instance, tons of figure drawing, like I studied anatomy, and life drawing and animal drawing for a year straight every day, I didn’t do anything else I didn’t take back then digital painting was starting to come in, but not as it was still, I know that I sound so analog and so antiquated when I say this, but I think they were still doing sell paints like back then. And email was just coming into like fruition there were no websites like that, I mean, everyone nowadays has such an as such is that such an advantage because this is how I think students are and artists are so good. So Young, because they have access to all this material online and online courses and then contact a lot of us professionals and in the industry 95% of us are very nice and are going to give you our time. And so, so back then, like I said, I just studied, like anatomy and figure drawing as much as possible. And then I took a lot of classes, and then I and then even like prospective and then I like slowly started doing some I only took one character design class, and I already had to match I already have an imagination there. I mean, that was already there. And the idea like I told you had a natural sense of capturing personality, then it was a matter of basically taking that. And using the fundamentals I learned to make believable characters. And over time I learned what good design was that I learned from people like Steven silver and Jose Lopez and studying the work of even Rick Mackay. Paul Felix showed me a lot of stuff. I took Disney Television Animation, a lot of free classes, and I remember taking a layout class with Oh God, what is his name? I can’t remember his name right now. Jim Schlenker Jim Schlenker is a very good friend of Paul Felix. And Paul came and did was a guest lecturer and I remember I showed him my stuff and he was like I get it. And he’s like, man, what do you do here? And I’m like, I work in shipping. And he was like, he couldn’t believe it. He’s like you work in ship. It’s a gym. This guy works in shipping. What is he doing and shipping? So he showed me some stuff. He’s like, Well, I’ll help you. And I, I remember drawing a bunch of Tinkerbell drawings. And he would kind of like he kind of helped me show me how to kind of do some visual development. And some things that he has told me to this day still stick in my head, you know. And they’re not any like secrets or anything. But these are the these are the skills that I helped develop, and I moved on from there. And then over time, we’re always, we’re always kind of, we’re students forever. I’m always learning, whether from myself or someone else, you know, that’s why I tried to draw for myself every day, not give everything to studio. But I even learned a lot just by just by working everyday. And then you know, about seven, no, no, almost 10 years ago, I somehow fell into storyboarding. So I now I’m a story artist and a character designer. And it’s like, in the in the art of storytelling, I learned something new all the time and story structure and writing. So there’s a whole aspect of my career that way that’s given me a new life to my career over the last 10 years.

Iva Mikles  

So what was maybe the best advice, or something you ever received, as you mentioned, that a lot of these things stick into your head and just like are still with you? Can you mention some specific examples?

David Colman  

Yeah, they’re all kind of like, well, they’re not cliches, it’s a che, they’re, they’re almost like, things that are sound obvious, but they’re good to hear. Just remember, it’s a journey. There’s no end point, okay? You’re constantly, like I said, if there was an endpoint, you might as well give up and do something else. But that’s, that’s the, that’s the tortured artist syndrome, you know, you’re never good enough. There’s only there’s only a temporary set there’s only satisfaction is only temporary. True satisfaction is constantly consolation prize for like a lesser artists, you know, and never take anything personal. So when when I think when you’re getting criticisms from even teachers, and it’s you shouldn’t be constructive criticism, or things from directors, or when like a scene of mine doesn’t land, or the character is not working. It’s nothing about you and your skill level, it’s hard to not take it personal, we’re artists, we do this because we’re personal people and was a very personal craft and passion and love we have for what we’re doing. So we it’s, it’s, it’s very hard to kind of kind of separate from that, I should say, sorry, brain fart was like and, and, and so like, so like when they went, like I said, when a scene doesn’t land or anything, just remember, it’s really about the production or the job at hand, not about your art in general. Those are two things that always stick in my head. And another thing that I could give to you that I have learned, and one thing that I’m complimented on a lot is being good to work with having integrity as an artist, maintaining your integrity is just being a good person, you know, I’m constantly told that people really enjoy working with me, because I’m always doing whatever’s best for the project. I’m usually try to pride myself in being very agreeable with others, and collaborative and open to ideas, whether it be from another artist, one who’s even maybe, if I’m a supervisor, maybe they’re if they’re, if I’m their supervisor, they might have a good idea. Great ideas come from anywhere, whether it be director, so on and so forth. And just being open to things being, I guess, humble, when you say you’re humble, it really means you’re not, but I’m saying like, have some sort of have a beat and to be able to be humble in your situation. And you’re and you know, because there’s tons of, I’m 40, almost 42 Now, and there are tons of artists that are really good, that are 10 years younger than me, and I think there’s a bit of envy on my end. But at the same time, I also look at their work, and I can learn from them, you know, and I’m sure there’s something I can teach them, probably not much. But they, you know, that’s why I said it’s always always being like, like, having integrity and being good to work with. These are things that are not the obvious things that people would tell you in terms of tips and stuff like that. In terms of the actual hard concrete tips, fundamentals, I’ll say it again, you know, don’t don’t get into digital painting without studying traditional painting, you know, don’t get into drawing characters without learning to to study the human figure, be able to draw the human figure out of your head. Don’t design an animal creature without under spending some time at a zoo and studying from life. So I hope these kind of stick with you. I hope this kind of helps.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And do you still go through, you know, like zoo or do you have time to actually study from real life?

David Colman  

I would love to write you know, I taught animal drawing for 10 years at the zoo, so I can draw most animals out of my head. I go to the zoo now with my kids, so I can’t exactly take out my sketchbook I haven’t been to the zoo to draw for myself in. I don’t know how long and it’s kind of frustrating, but it’s life. You know, I mean, I have, I have a wonderful life. So it’s not something like, I’m really going to, you know, Harbor on, and they have fear drawing at Sony. But usually I have meetings or have not in that day. And then I have kind of fallen out of love of drawing and coffee shops. I know, that’s like a thing that a lot of people do. And I used to do that a lot and draw people on street, I just don’t have a passion for it anymore. I do do it now. And then, and I’ll see some characters and I’ll just get some stuff out. But most of the character I’m drawing now is just for design. It’s not that I still don’t I mean, I like I said, I still draw for myself every day. But my main passion is animal illustration. So usually that’s what I’m drawing myself each day. And I’m learning that way about shapes and stuff. And my skill of being able to capture personality does not go away, you know, for that matter. But the reality is that when you start working in the industry, you do lose that personal time. But this is what you got into this industry for. So this is one other piece of advice. Actually, we’re bringing in another point I started to step back a little bit, never stopped doing what you love and never stopped drawing for yourself. It reminds you why you do we do for a living. I met an artist by the name of Dana, I forgot what Dana’s last name is. Unfortunately, he’s not with us anymore. He was an artist at Disney on a show called House of boughs. And I was getting a tour of Disney. I was probably like 22. And I was just so happy to be there. I’m like, oh, work here for pixie dust. I don’t care. You don’t have to pay me it was just this young kid. And I remember meeting him and he said, just whatever you do when you get into the industry, if you get if you get that far, don’t stop doing what you love. He said I used to draw monsters all the time. And when I was at CalArts now and I stopped doing it, and now all I do is drop Mickey Mouse every day and I’m miserable. And it’s very saddening to hear that, because it’s like he lost himself, you know, and you don’t want that to happen. Because if you lose sight of who you really are in this business, then they’ll YOU WON’T YOU WILL you’ll be to a certain level and you’d be like, why am I even doing this anymore? So I’ve heard some some things people’s only draw now want to get paid. And that’s terrible to hear. You know, I just if I’m in this business, because I love it. It’s it’s it’s been fortunate that I’ve been able to create a successful career out of it and support a family and get by and feed myself and clothe clothe my kids and feed them and so on and so forth. But there’s a passion for this as a craft, and we do it because we love it. You know? And if you find something you love doing, whether it’s maybe we’ll want to be a plumber, I don’t know, there’s a way you will be successful at it, you know? So I don’t know what I think we got sidetracked there, but I just tend to go off tangent like I told you to begin this interview. I talk. So you’re in for it anyway. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

But as you mentioned, like that the passion right and you cannot really do this job without the patient because it’s not easy and you want to give up maybe many times. Before we continue, let’s thank our sponsors again. If you’re a digital artist, you will love Astro pad. Astro pad is an app that turns your iPad Pro into professional viral is graphics tablet for your Mac. I use it to work with Photoshop and Illustrator to create highly rendered artworks for my clients directly on my iPad. I was super excited to discover Astrophys because the painting apps available on iPad don’t have all the functionality like Photoshop. With Astro pad, I can use all my favorite and custom made Photoshop brushes, which is super cool. And because you are part of Art Side of Life community, you will get an exclusive 10% discount on a stupid studio licenses. To get started, go to artsideoflife.com/astropad and enter the promo code art side. If you’re looking for a top quality print shop and online store to sell your art prints then you should definitely check out in print in print has been helping artists print and sell gallery quality prints of their work all over the world for over a decade. Created by artists for artists in print ensures that you as an artists get your artworks printed in a highest quality and you earn the highest percentage compared to the others in the industry. The online gallery@imprint.com is curated by the members resulting in a beautiful and unique collection of work so far, do your favorite artists discover new ones and start selling through your own gallery today. What is more as an Art Side of Life listener, you will get a special 10% discount with the promo code art side so don’t wait visit artsideoflife.com/imprint and use promo code archetype and now let’s go back to the interview. So if you think about your designs, you mentioned the personality and what would you say is your like a biggest specialty the in the animal design and maybe something that character designers don’t know Yeah, then they shoot.

David Colman  

Well, most character designers like know quite a bit. You know, he, there’s the obvious of shape design and all that stuff. I think the hardest thing, the thing that he owes, even in meeting yesterday being watched on an assignment. And one thing they kept talking about, like, yeah, these, these shapes have this character, you know, we kind of liked this, but we’re missing the personality. And I think that is what I bring, personality and energy is my personal brand, I think, especially when my animal work, to make it feel alive, make it feel like it really exists there, make it feel like, you know, like, you can look at a drawing of a character, and you know, who that character is, like an audience member, a director or producer can look at the one image I did, and they know the story of that character, or they want to get to know that character. And there’s something that draws them to that character. And that’s all summed up under the umbrella of appeal. Appeal is, is that you want to make your, your, your professional design work appealing. And by appealing, like to break that even more, it’s pleasing to look at on simple layman’s term. And with that being said, that comes across with you know, so it’s one thing to be pleasing to look at, which could be like, a simple silhouette, you know, it’s very pleasing to the eye, it’s not so hard to look at, it’s something that makes someone feel good about themselves, or, or there’s some sort of like, the eyes, when you say the pleasure neurons in the brain are firing, you know, like, for instance, if, if you have to, if, when a silhouette is is actually complicated, it’s got all these jagged edges. And also, every time the the form they’ll contour changes direction, your snaps using your brains turns on and off, go, boom, boom. And that’s, that’s unpleasing from a physical standpoint for your brain in your eyes to view that. So the simpler the silhouette, this is kind of the the physicality of why a simple silhouette is important. So the simpler silhouette, the more pleasing it is for for the viewer, and that’s why they will gravitate towards it and will continue to look at it, once you capture attention with by kind of a silhouette, then it’s a matter of maintaining and keeping their attention through personality, interesting shapes, rhythms. If there’s some sort of energy, sometimes it’s coloring, you know, the way you execute your color theory with it, sometimes the execution of the illustration, so on and so forth. All these things that keep the viewer engaged is the better word to say. So I think that’s something kind of as a whole to think about. And once again, it’s going over the idea of like appeal overall. And I think when I do work, and this now translates to my story work too. So it’s definitely part of my brand, but when when I do work that has that has that I can move someone in terms of I can make them laugh, I can make them cry. I can I can touch a nerve with them. I know I’ve done a good job like for instance many people have come to this on a personal level. We don’t have like booths at Comic Cons and stuff and I sell stuff like shameless self promotion so t shirts and I prints and people I love seeing people’s reaction when they’re looking at my prints and and whether even they buy it or not. They’re like oh my god I love this is so cute. Look at look now though, you know, look at this. Hey, Dad, look at this as Oh, you know the oh my god, this is so funny. This bad. Look at the expression on him. So I know my art is moving people that that that’s what makes it all worth it that makes me feel really good. And translate that to design. It actually a professional standpoint for for jobs. I mean, when people look at and go like, Oh my god, this is who he is, you know, or that’s such a funny take. We never thought about that. I know I’m doing my job. I’ve storyboard a couple sequences when I worked at Paramount and on a on a film. I think I can say the name amusement park. It’s, it was it was a roller coaster of film, no pun intended. But there was a sequence I did. It’s not in the film, but it was very emotional. And I drove a lot of people to tears and it just and I was like, wow, I really was able to tell a story convincingly through pictures, you know, with acting and staging cinematography. Now I blocked in the shots and move people to tears. I’m like, that’s how I know I did my job, too. So there’s there’s definitely something to that extent, and I don’t know if that answers your question, but hopefully it does. Yeah, definitely.

Iva Mikles  

Because then you can still think like okay, how you can create the emotional connection with your audience. And that’s one of the most important things because if there is no connection then the design can be amazing, but they’re like yeah, okay, it’s pretty and that yes, yeah, well, that

David Colman  

is true because it ends up being it ends up being dead inside. Yeah. Oh, that’s cool to look at. But what else does it have, you know, all the icing in the cake won’t just Sky’s the cake from tasting poorly, if it was baked in correctly, you know, I just I curbed my my bad language there, but it’s exactly. That’s the way to look at it like you can you. I think there’s a famous saying you can’t dress up a pig, it’s still a pig, you know, type of thing.

Iva Mikles  

put makeup on a pig, they’re

David Colman  

still a pig, you know, although pigs are cute, so I don’t really know, you know, I think pigs are cute in their own. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

But how did you then practice? Do you know, the putting the personality on the characters? Did you do maybe like throwing classes? And like, Okay, this model will be now this animal or, you know, like, are putting the same personality on different animals? Or how did you you know, practice this story?

David Colman  

You know, it’s, it’s a good question. I once again, it’s not a magic answer. I think there was a natural talent there that I developed. But honestly, being able to look at people and I’d ask myself, like, what their story is, let’s kind of say, you kind of get in their head, I’m up because you could see people standing in like, let’s say, a coffee shop, and just by the way they’re standing. Now you can tell right away looking at guy like, he’s having a rough day, or he doesn’t care, or he gave up on life or something. And then you would, there’s a few, a few things like posture, brow expression, how open or closed lids are, those few, like kind of tentpoles I think, are a good way to kind of communicate that that person’s personality. You know, I think that’s the best way. So through observation a lot. And, and drawing is more thinking than actual drawing. Yeah, a friend of mine, Paul, we said that I can’t take credit for it. And it’s true. So a lot of times a lot of his observation and trying to understand you think like, where that person is coming from. And this kind of takes takes takes effect, even when drawing you know, professionally, like for a job or something, you ask your question, who is not what easy? Oh, you always want to know who the character is not what they are. That’s the big difference, you know, yes, it’s a tiger. But who is he? Well, it’s an inferior Tiger, who was afraid of mice, you know, so there’s something you know, and has a has a problem overcoming his own fears in life, I mean, that is who he is. So that’s something you tried to start. So that will then translate into what shapes are, are indicative of a character who’s inferior, we’re not gonna have a lot of straights, you’re not gonna have a lot of squares, you know, that’s a character that’s rigid and solid and stable, you’re gonna have a lot more rounds, kind of a won’t be standing up, you know, proud with his spine arched, probably more hunched over softer shapes, usually, a lot more space, like kind of in the eyes be very expressive for that matter. And so those are things that you kind of just learn over time, like, what are the right shapes to, to kind of attach to that personality? You know? So I think that’s kind of like, I think observation is key. And honestly, like, really taking the time to understand who that character is, and watching actors, you know, a lot of times we are asked what we would think this character in this movie, you know, would play this, you know, character in our film, you know? Like, like, you’d have to be something that’s very that’s very clear. So, Tom Hanks and Road to Perdition. It’s very clear. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but it’s very clear who he is, you know, obviously, he’s an assassin and stuff and, but he’s a very rigid, conservative, formidable, he is formidable, to some extent, because he’s a killer. And even cold, you know, which is so opposite of what Tom Hanks normally plays, and who he is from what I can tell I met him and worked with him briefly. He and so those those things right there, it’s like, okay, so I’m watching film and like, Hey, David, we’ve got this giraffe character. And I don’t know if my animals I just throw a giraffe. And it’d be played, we kind of think like, the way Tom Hanks played his character and Road to Perdition. So then I know right away, I can watch that film and study even the expressions and how he handles himself. He’s a very controlled character, almost controlled, like Clint Eastwood is in Million Dollar Baby. So there’s a hardness to them. So then that I will associate a lot of things I see in that character that how that actor plays that character that film, and then relate and translate it to my design work for my assignment. Does that help?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because then you also as you mentioned, that you are really interested in humans and you do the observation. So I think when you mentioned also your talent that that you’re really interested in people around you. So that kind of strengthens the your observation. So you You’d really like a different skill level there.

David Colman  

It is. I think I think you have to realize that you’re studying every day even if you’re not putting pencil to paper or brush to canvas or stylus to tablet, or finger to iPad I guess these days. You know, you’re you I love clouds I’m fascinated with clouds. I love the magical Golden Hour at the end of the day that pink cute I just saw the Incredibles yesterday made some beautiful shots and that movie just gorgeous color palettes but as you’re looking you’re kind of retaining that information. You know the way people some people stand on the corner when you’re stopped at a stoplight and I kind of thought about what pose that way Oh, look at the way the clothes hanging off the shoulders, look at the way the blazer touches the kind of the points on the the shoulder and it drapes. Look at the dappling shadows out comes through the leaves of the trees you know, oh, that’s an inch Oh, that’s an interesting shape for car I wish I could push that and make it more like you know, caricature and and more like an animated film. So these are things and watching people interact with one another. I mean tons of times. You know, art imitates life, they always say and so you can be standing at a market and you see you know a husband and wife having a disagreement or or mom dealing with a tantrum from with a baby which then you see that type of play play out in like the Incredibles movie, which is a lot about family and stuff. Who are incredible, but who deal with the same trials and tribulations of a normal family and normal everyday life. And then you might take what you see and play that out in storyboard your own sequence or have an idea for film, I have an idea for a gag that you’re working on in your own project or, or want to go home and capture that down. And maybe you capture down in a lioness dealing with their lion cub having a tantrum out on the prairie at the watering hole. But you took that those global interactions from everyday life. And now you’re injecting it into something that is a little bit more specific, but then it relates to everyone globally, because everyone has seen that tantrum at a store between a mother and child you know. So remember that you’re always should always have your brain on input always be kind of taking it all and taking all in and life is what will make you a better artist in general.

Iva Mikles  

Do you sometimes do the notes when you are on location? Or are you kind of remember when you get home? Or you remember later? Or how do you get out of injecting?

David Colman  

Question. I mean, yes, I have. I mean, I write notes. I wish I should take a picture of like my desk, I have like scribbled little ideas, a lot of them are laundry list of ideas. And eventually nothing gets done because there’s all these notes. But yeah, I will sometimes doodle something even on a on a sticky note, and I’ll put it inside a sketchbook. Maybe I’ll never get to it. But I’ve addressed it, I put it down and recorded it. And maybe some years from now we’ll come back to it. Like it’s funny, it just reminded me there’s this idea for drawing and wanting to do. Like I do personal illustrations all the time. And last night, I was going to sleep, I was like, Ah, I didn’t write that down. And now that we’re having this conversation, now hopefully I remember I know, I’ll write it down. And maybe it won’t get done. But I feel like I’ve addressed it because as artists, we have 1000s of ideas flowing in and flowing out. And some of them you capture. And out of the ones you capture, you know, maybe 30% are how you actually execute. And then out of those 30% Maybe 10% execute well, and, you know, and net of 1% Maybe there’s a masterpiece or something, but um, you know, it’s important to kind of Yeah, so constantly recording them. But that really does help, you know. And, for instance, a lot of my ideas might come at like washing dishes, and I’m in the middle of an assignment, you know, and all of a sudden, I know I have to do that assignment. And I remember that the launch that day, whether it be for a sequence, or whether it be for a character. You know, like last night he came down with me, I quickly went and I sent myself an email. Remember, try this. And then it shows up and then then it’s recorded. And then that way when I sit down even after this call and start on this assignment, it’s there and I’ve recorded and I can start working on it. I’ve had ideas where I’m working on a storyboarding sequence at work has happened a lot when I was at Paramount and because he was doing really, really working hard doing so many sequences for the film on my drive home I come up with a new idea and I would just record it on my phone in my notes or whatever and then I’d email that to myself. And then a lot of times it shows like because I don’t know you know when you record something on your phone it never types it out. Exactly right. So it’s somewhere it’s like something like so Antonio Oh gang is con funny and I’m like what was gang has caught it I’ve just That’s how my phone recorded it but it will trigger the memory and like oh yeah, okay, this works. I have tons of notes like that that I go back and I’m like, Oh man, I gotta delete this was from years ago. But so yes, constantly there’s it’s it’s, it’s a fluid process. And as an artist, we can never turn it off. You know, a lot of people leave their job, their accounting job, their job as a cook or and I’m not degrading any of these other jobs, I’m just saying professions that are continue to continue more typical. Doctors don’t do this because they’re, they love what they do. I hope they love what they do, and they’ll save in our lives. But you know, they’re constantly thinking about their patients, they care, they’re and they’re in the business of caring. But with us, we can’t really leave our job, you know, we turn our computer off at work, or even at home, if it’s in a studio or at a desk, it’s hard to walk away and just completely shut it down to go, okay. Now I’m father, no husband, or girlfriend or wife, you know, or mother, or daughter or whatever. It’s constantly on it sticks with us. And that’s what grows so great about what we do. We’re getting paid to do something we love and we’d be doing anyway.

Iva Mikles  

So how does your normal day look like now? Do you have a like a routine? Or do you work on projects on certain hours or the just comes and goes every day is different.

David Colman  

I’d say it’s different. I mean, I’m on. I’m at Sony right now. But I’m unassigned, which is a great place to be. Because I get paid to kind of jump around and work on different things. I’m set to go on to a big film, starting this summer. And we’re just waiting for the outline to come in. So right now I’m doing a lot of running and hanging out with my kids, which is great, but for summer break, but on a typical day, so for me, I like to work in house, some people like to freelance I like to work in house. Sony’s not so close to my house. So what’s kind of nice is when his previous calls started, I like I have an actual separate studio, they led me to work from home. Typical day let’s just say typical day of going into the studio would be something like get up to be dad and husband and feed the kids to get them to school and stuff and then get myself together. And one of the one good thing you’ll know about most artists is we’re not more I’m not a morning person. We’re all vampires we do our best creativity and night. Least I do. Although people say although a friend of mine, Pascal Campion I’m sure you know his work, he gets up, he does his work in the morning, he gets up at like 530 He does work in the morning. So I don’t know how he does that. I don’t even know what hour that is. I don’t even 530 register on my clock. But I’ll go into the studio. And then sometimes they’ll do warm up drawings kind of get myself together and not just warm up drawings but their drawings for me. I started a sketch group through text message with a with me Mark Rendell, who he know him from he directed Emperor’s New Groove and chicken, chicken, little and Capstone dance. He’s an amazing story guy and amazing artists and he’s become a good friend. And then Christoph I can never pronounce Chris off last name la tre la Trent, French production designer did Croods and stuff. And another one of my friends Alex Chow, who was in a great amusement park designer. And we do drawings each day is our daily doodle sketch group, and then we send them to each other. And it’s great to share we’re all doing but also inspires us to draw something for ourselves each day, you know, that sometimes what I’ll do in the morning, before work starts, sometimes I’ll get too into it and it takes too long. Sometimes I don’t have time if I have a deadline I get in I just start working you know, and then I’ll work on my assignments for that day. Whether it be like on the film I’ll be going on the summer I’ll be doing the story. So I will either let’s just stay sort of a sequence or thumbnail out ideas, maybe pitch them at some point you know work through them and then obviously and this sounds boring I know but I’m saying like lunch and then continue to work through the end of the day and and sometimes when I’m when I’m storyboarding I usually listen to music. I’m very big on like, classical, but soundtracks like Hans Zimmer and stuff, I love epic soundtracks, it just gets me in the mood. I can’t listen to music with with with words. And when I’m boring. That’s usually what I’ll do, especially with design. Sometimes when designing I will watch stuff, which is my wife was like, how do you watch all this stuff while you’re working? And like, it’s just background, it’s just background. But it’s also it’s informative, because there’s a lot of stuff in films. I’ll see. Oh, I love that shot. I’ll pause it and just skip any something that when I’m storyboarding something later, I’ll remember it. You know, I was interesting how they move the camera with that. And at night, the thing is, I usually have a lot of side projects, like I’m in the middle of writing a live action movie with a friend of mine. It’s something I’ve never done before. And it’s very cool since working in a very family oriented space in terms of entertainment. I’m now working live action where I can deal with cursing and profanity and things of adult nature. And it’s kind of fun for me. And then I have my own brand, which is my parallel so I’m usually working on new designs for the next convention or my own illustration. So I’ll do that stuff at night side projects with with with friends, sometimes freelance, you know, but as long as somebody is not in direct competition with something with a feature division, so it’d be like a other like, like books or TV shows or things like that, and usually work into the night. And that’s that, and then I’m gonna go to bed and you know, so on and so forth. That’s like a typical day, you know.

David Colman  

And then when I’m working from home, it’s basically the same. It’s just I do that in my own studio space, instead of getting a car and driving, I just walk to there. So that’s kind of how it kind of works out for me, you know, and sometimes things happen in different order. And what’s nice with when I’m working from home is I can kind of rearrange schedule, if I have to do something with my kids. And I don’t, one thing I try to do is I try to not work weekend days, I don’t want to lose the time with my kids, because it’s time until you all you don’t get back there, five, and seven. And although I’m passionate about my job, like, my masterpieces are my kids. And in a few years, my daughters are not gonna want to hang out with me, I know that. So I take advantage of that. And so like I tell clients, I will not work on weekends, you know, so I don’t sacrifice the time with them. And being a father makes me better artists. Because what’s great is I have a built in audience that I made designing where we’re making stuff for them. So I asked them stuff a lot. It’s interesting, what they would their observations show me and I’m like, Wow, that’s great. And it kind of goes into what you know, I do. So I will be able to rearrange stuff to, to, to, to for family and things like that. It would be

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And as you mentioned, that you have like this mastermind group with, you know, like texting and these kinds of things, or, you know, like, communicating with people and these kinds of things and, like showing your work, can you maybe share some tips for people for networking? You know, because as you mentioned, as well, like, a lot of people are an introvert, or what do you can do and, like, how do you you know, get to know so many people and show your work and these kinds of things?

David Colman  

It’s a really good question. I had something I always think there should be a class in colleges on networking, I think I would love to teach a class on networking, I think it would be something that they don’t teach, and it’s not. And most artists are introverts. Most artists are, they communicate and communicate with the world through their art, you know. So for instance, like, I think not being afraid to show your work to people nowadays, like back then I would just like, when I was delivering mail, I would honestly like, drop off the name of the person and be like, hey, you know, it’s like the art director from like, Lion King or whatever. And I just like would show them, like, can you look at my work, you know, type thing, and usually pretty nice to do that. Nowadays, it’s email or websites and stuff. And I get contacted all the time for people to do to look at their work, and I give this to your viewers out there, I don’t have you go ahead and give them my email after this. It’s okay to make it public. I’m always happy to give back and give you some advice and some tips just please be patient because I get a lot of emails. So contact a lot of us via email, you know, studio studios by contacting studios and even asking things like I it’s kind of stupid to say this, but I mean, I think maybe even asking for a tour, you know, be happy to do that. It might seem juvenile but it gets you inside gets you to feel for those who are and haven’t worked in the industry knows your parameters and up and coming, get you into that culture and allows you to see kind of how it works and how what the work environment is like creating a high online profile. I mean, that right now is very important. I didn’t have that coming up. You know, honestly, the My way of visibility was putting drawings up in my cubicle when I was like a production assistant or worked in the mailroom, making silly signs about the copy room and stuff. So you know, social media is a great way to do it. And if people aren’t liking your work, go and search people out that you like, and I get people ask me all the time, they’ll like my stuff, and then they’ll they’ll say, Hey, can you look at my work and whether it’s good or not, I still go and look at it. And if it’s good I give them I compliment them because I know how it feels when someone compliments me and pumps me up, you know, I know when I reach a certain amount of likes on my my post, it makes my day and when I don’t Oh, you people crush me. I’m like this art sucks. I must be terrible, you know. But so I think that’s having a high online high online profile going to these conventions. A really good way to I start doing conventions. I did start at San Diego Comic Con 1314 years ago before Hollywood got a hold of it and got really big, because I saw people doing these little sketchbooks and I’m like, I could do that. And I was like, I want to make a name for myself outside the studio. So that’s why I started doing books and I didn’t realize that I was building my brand as an animal illustrator, and at the same time building my career, and eventually they cross pollinated. People sometimes don’t associate with my work in the industry. They’re like wait a minute, are you the guy at ComiCon was all the animal stuff like David’s doodles I’m like yeah, that I’m like, oh my god I bought your shirt or I bought your book or whatever. But having a booth smaller shows like and making little prints and stuff, getting people to know your work, you know, that’s a good that’s, that is considered networking, it’s branding for sure, on a higher level, but on on a more on a smaller level. And in terms of the very one that deserves some sort of some importance is the idea of like networking for that matter. I think honestly, just being willing to show your work to a lot of people not being afraid, I think I started this interview with even saying, Don’t be the greatest artists, no one ever knew, you know, and don’t be afraid to you need to get feedback. You know, I also, you know, taking a lot of additional classes, like, I’ve hired a lot of my students before, because I know they’ve learned the right skills, you know. I’ve had random people ask to have lunch with me, and I’ve done it, you know, and then, you know, and I’m not a household name as some other people, you know, I’m definitely not as popular well known as, as I don’t know, probably don’t even have the industry. But I’m still able to offer some insight for for people and kind of can get you in a little bit further. And what’s great in animation is like, I have no, I’ve yet to work with someone I don’t like the only person I work with, I didn’t like he was a live action director, I will, he shall remain nameless, but that’s from a different side of the business. And I know that can be kind of crazy on that side of the business.

David Colman  

You know, but to be honest with you, a lot of us like to give back. And it’s nice, you know, when you reach out to someone who you who you really admire, like when I met Paul Felix, I always loved his work. And he was so kind and nice and humble. I was like, Oh, my God, I liked his work even more, you know, a lot of us like to give back and I’m one of those people. So that’s a few tips on networking, you know, and I do think right now also, like, you know, not just having so so not just having posting stuff on Instagram stuff, but like the YouTube videos, like even starting to talk things about even your trials and tribulations of how you come up in the industry. I mean, it’s something a lot of people would probably want to hear, you know, to watch and to hear your process, because I know, people like to see my process more than just looking at my art, you know, so I don’t know, I hope that answers give you some insight on networking,

Iva Mikles  

when you are showing as well as the process images and stuff. So they know you more also as a person, even though you don’t talk as much. And then yeah, as you mentioned, talking to people, and don’t be afraid to get feedback and all of that. So yeah, and also just be okay with saying like, what they are good at, and maybe what you would like to get the feedback on as well. And taking it as you mentioned, so yes,

David Colman  

good. Yeah. Me not talking. That’s hard to hear. But yeah, it’s but yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah. And you’re getting to know someone a little bit more and putting a face, you know, with a name. And and all that stuff really, really, really helps. And like I said, there’s no, there’s no wrong or right way. It’s just a matter of how you get there. And that is matter like that you do get there, I should say it doesn’t matter how it just matters that you do eventually, you know, and remember, it’s a journey, you know?

Iva Mikles  

And with your art career, what would you consider the hardest time because that’s when we usually learned the most? What is the story there maybe?

David Colman  

Well, I mean, always being unemployed sucks, you know, I mean, luckily for me, I’m not so much icons. And one thing that I that I can I do tell people in that I always do, even when I’m working even when I’m under contract with Sony, I’m still talking to other studios, to let them know that I’m still there, because it’s out of sight out of mind, you want to make sure that they really know that you that you’re still exist, and you’re still around and all this stuff. So constantly, I think being in the know and knowing what’s going on. In terms of that one of the hardest parts? That’s a good question. I think you’d email me that question before prior. I think it was hard to swallow to see how talented people were coming up out of schools now than then then when I got in, and like going, oh, man, I better really get my act together. You know, and, and not having and not being bigger than yourself so much to realize that there are people better than you that may be younger than you. And that’s not really I always there’s always good that people better than you. I mean, that’s what drives you to become better. So if I said like, oh, finding out there’s people better than me, that sounds like an egotistical statement. But it’s more of the fact of realizing like, wow, I never thought of approaching design that way. So I’m constantly I think, I think the hardest thing about my career is, which is also the best thing is knowing that you’re never good enough. It’s hard to swallow because you’re like, I’m never going to get there. Meaning I’m never going to get to the point where I’m the best artist ever, which is impossible. You know, you spend your whole whole life becoming good artists and then you die. So that’s why it’s important to do other things you know, like for Me, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, it’s been in advantageous to me that I’m not a wrist. I’m an idea guy too. And I’ve realized that as a storyteller, that your ideas sometimes can actually keep you employed more so than your actual skill. You know, I think and so one of the greatest things also was I guess a hard time in life is when when I was also I was hired to Disney Feature was interviewed as character designer and then Aaron Blaze, I’m sure you know, Aaron Blaze everyone on the internet knows Aaron now. He was a director on a movie called Kvlt him and Bob Walker did Brother Bear. They interviewed me as a character designer. And then they hired me as a story artist. And there was something in my work, they saw a story and with characterization, design, who they are and what they are, you’re creating a story for that character that inspires the shape design and the setups in the staging, so on and so forth. And, and the shapes you choose and the personality, that translates very well to story. So they saw like you deal with story, we know we’re throwing you into the fire, but we think you could do it. And I was five years established as a designer. And now all of a sudden, I had to kind of start over the baby steps as a story guy. So that was kind of hard. But it’s been valuable. I mean, I’ve now have a second part of my career that I didn’t have before. And I’d become valuable to Sony, because they’ve now treat as a designer and a story guy so they can throw me into an on one film. I did design and story. That film was shelved, unfortunately, but I did both. And I was seen as very valuable to the to the project and to the studio as a whole. So I think that was a tough time my career because I don’t think there’s one pinpoint I should be put to the me feeling like I owe the time I was lost my job. I was broke out to sell my house this sorting that out for it. I think, I think for me, there are several instances that are things that have happened in my career. But I think like I said, the realizing that you never really going to be good enough and accepting that. And that’s not so much of a tough thing is a more as like a realization like, okay, I can breathe, and just let it come to me naturally. And there’s also always this fear, like, you know, that one day, the industry is gonna wake up and stop paying us as much as they do to to do what we do. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Because I know how much money these guys these studios make off movies and they get through Yeah, I know. And entertainment is not a luxury anymore. I think it’s a necessity really helps get people through tough times and help people with their lives, especially as the stories get richer and more relatable to the global demographic as a whole. So I don’t know if that really answers your question. Because it’s not like a It’s not like a certain thing, but I have been fortunate enough to, to even when I’m unemployed, it’s not really for a long time, you know. And I think for me, it’s just a matter of whatever has been a tough time in my career, whether realizing how talented, these younger people are coming up now and how talented people already younger age, and even how talented other people are at my level. It’s also been a it’s been a blessing, because it makes me work harder, you know.

Iva Mikles  

So you learn always more about yourself when you have a tough time. That’s why it’s always important to reflect on it. So that’s a really good thing to do.

David Colman  

Yes. And I’ll tell you this quote there, Ridley Scott said this quote, and there’s a famous commercial Michael Jordan as well like that. Like, there’s no such thing as failure if you learn from it. So just remember that yeah, it’s part of the word. Forward. That’s right. Yes. All these like sayings and everything.

Iva Mikles  

Kind of meaning when you go through it, right. Yeah. So if there is some kind of relation to yourself, then you can say like, yeah, okay, I know what that means. If you need like, I don’t Yeah, it doesn’t matter.

David Colman  

Yeah, well, that. Yeah. But that’s I I’ve never even the bet. Like, like I said, Michael Jordan, the famous Michael Jordan. I think they’re the commercial is like, I’ve missed the game winning. It’s because of course, like I’ve missed the game winning shot 375 times, you know, I’ve lost 9000 games in my career. I think I’m totally going off the numbers. But the point is, look how great he is. So he failed to get where he is, you know?

Iva Mikles  

And when you mentioned that you let no other studios know that okay, like I’m still alive. So what do you send them to like, Oh, this is my latest artwork. By the way, this is what I’m doing or how do you you know, do this kind of connection.

David Colman  

I mean, usually just an email. I don’t like to show them artwork, because that’s kind of I think that can be a little bit pretentious. Hey, look what I just did and they’re like, great, we know who you are. We know your art. It’s more like hey, Sherry, I just throwing out a fake name. You know, hey, Sherry, how’s it going? I just want to say how things go and how you know, I saw the new sometimes it might be a film I see you know, reach I was like I saw the new yada yada yada film. I think that’s great stuff looking really good. Are you enjoying you know, I make it about them, always make it about them. Go make an eye make it you, you. And that’s even a thing, even when I talk to people with this is like giving away big see, it’s not really secret. But usually when I talk to people my convention at conventions of booths, I talk to them about them, you know, I’d let the art sell themselves, I’m not gonna, like be like, Hey, look at my new book, you know, because that’s just that’s like the used car salesman. Like, alright, it’s too much. But I usually like to engage people. And be like, Yeah, you’re asking about themselves, it makes them feel good, feel good about themselves. And then they like talking to someone like you, you know, have you engaged in, but usually, that’s what it’ll be, I’ll ask like, how things are going to the studio. And then I’ll be like, you know, I’m still here at Sony doing this or whatever, just want to say, Hello, maybe we want to get some lunch at the time, when I’m over there, or, you know, something like that. That’s usually like the gist of it. It’s just an email. Sometimes they reach out to me, you know, and then when I see him at these conventions type thing, you know, go up and talk to them, I make it a point to talk them. But also I like talking to people. That’s why I’m here now, like, I like talking to people. So it’s, I’m a people person. If you’re not a people person, it might be harder for you to do you might feel a little uncomfortable and out of your element. But it’s very important to break out of that shell. Don’t be the greatest artist no one ever heard of remember, that’s I’ve done. He’s a third or fourth time I’ve said that. So that’s kind of a way of networking the way I do you know, and there have been times that I’ve been out of a job. And instead of asking for a job, instead of going like, Hey, do you have anything going on? I’m looking for work. That sounds more desperate, it’s more of like, I just want to let you know, I have some availability coming up. You know, that also sounds is a better way to approach it. Oh, when they make it sound like that they’re like, we should see if we can finally get Joe or David or Bobby on this project. You know, I just entered entered, I just said all male names. Heather, Melissa, Joe, Brian, and Teresa. So I just want to make sure I’m equal, I’m equal I swear. So. But telling them you’re available in advance is a good thing to you know, don’t just don’t just like just like, scramble when you’re out of a job and be like, Oh, I’m looking for work, I think just be a little bit more low key about it.

Iva Mikles  

And when you mentioned the the conventions and talking with people, do you have some tips for someone who is really shy and they don’t just have a booth and they want to approach the people? Like what do you usually ask like, oh, how is your day or someone who comes to your booth? Is there something? I

David Colman  

mean? Yeah, I think that I think people who are shy Well, you know, I used to it’s funny people are leaving, I was very shy as a kid. I don’t think no one believes me, what am I? My wife like why? So the way I can remember being shy, you’re worried about embarrassing yourself or someone’s like a light. So it can be sometimes an insecurity thing, or you’re just shy and just a quiet person. So I think shy people maybe don’t want to talk when I was shy, I want to talk about myself. So honestly, like, say hi how you doing and make it about them. But just be pleasant, nice person. If you’re going up to if you have a booth and you’re shy, let your artwork Speak for yourself. Don’t and you’re shy, you’re not gonna be shoving in someone’s face. But if someone comes up to you, and stay and just say hello, and just that’s the first thing, say hello, you know, and sometimes, I mean, I’ve asked people to loan they’re like, I’m just looking and I’m like, Okay, I’m not trying to sell you anything. Just saying hi. No, that’s the way it is. Because then Pete because other people obviously are forcing stuff on them. So just um, you know, you can say hey, how are you doing? Like, are you having a good time? Are you having a good time? Which is uh, how are you having a good time about the show? That’s, that’s a good way to say it like and, ya know, it’s okay, I’m a little tired. How are you doing? And then you know, you’re like, oh, okay, you know, just kind of keep it casual. And you can drop the conversation there and then just let them peruse your work you know, if you’re going up to people that’s a little bit harder. I’ve had many people come up to me and they’re nervous to talk to me and I try to make them feel at ease you know, as they don’t be nervous some normal person put my shoes one foot at a time just like you You know, one pant leg at a time you know, and then I just say what do you do you know, I try to make it about them and very calming to those are kind of some some tips for things as well like and when you come up and talk to me like I said a lot of us a lot of us are really nice and if they’re not screw that person if that R is not nice to you. Okay, like I mean that’s avoid them unfortunate hopefully. I mean in our some people have gotten so high in the industry that they have an ego and they may be like that, but most of us are not. We know what it’s like we’ve been where you are. So just honestly just coming up and saying hello. That’s why email is a good thing. Like you could meet me at a convention. You’re too nervous to talk to me, take my card and email me at a later date and talk the way that’s a great way of kind of being of keeping a wall up, if you’re that shy and just being able to type, you know, responses.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that’s definitely really good advice for someone who is just shy and they want to try it out. And they’re worried like, Oh, what if I go to convention? And what do I do with them? So, yeah, so they should definitely try this out and see how that goes. And next time, it will be better. So for sure, and what about in a future? And oh, my last questions would be about, you know, what would you like to, like work on? Or how would you imagine your dream scenario in like, five to 10 years, like, if you cannot fail, and everything is going according to the plan? And also in 100 years? What would you like to be remembered for, you know, like this far, far future.

David Colman  

I don’t like to talk about 100 years, because I’m not here. Okay. Um, honestly, if I get anything, I’d like to design the next Hello Kitty. And it’s not literally Hello Kitty, I would love to passive income is a big thing to me and my own brand. I don’t want to work for studios forever. I don’t want to have to work for studios, I like to be able to choose to work for studios. And I say Hello Kitty, because it’s one of the biggest successful brands out there. And you basically get mailbox money from that. So that’s honestly like, if everything if I couldn’t fail, and I could only fail forward, I should say, as you to use your words and other people’s words. But yeah, I know, I know, I know, you brought you brought something like that, where it’s worth basically brand on everything. And it’s something that I created, it’s my own, you know, for that matter, because I think trading time for money is you never get ahead doing that way. I mean, look, I look, I, I have a house, I’ve got two children, I support my wife, my kids and my dog. And, you know, we get by with what I do. But I do a lot, I work very hard to kind of keep this going. And it would be nice to have more passive income. That’s why I’m trying to start a you know, with my parallel brand, or I’m actually also like writing this movie with someone who’d be great to sell that and see that get made, and always trying different things. I’m now in the process of possibly illustrating a book for a very big title. I cannot talk about that right now. But that’s something that I’ve never done before and too, so I’m always trying something new. But I think it’s a matter of like I said, like, like, like I said, designing the next Hello Kitty is always the best way to put it if that makes sense. You know, some people it’s like they a lot of guys I work with who are story, guys, they only want to sell their own ideas and pitch ideas and make their own movies. I do like the movie that I want to sell for my this live action movie. I want nothing to do with it. I want to sell it and just be the executive producer, believe notes. First of all, I wouldn’t even begin to know how to direct the live action film. You know, I was asked on a movie recently, the project I brainstorm with a very well known director and the producer came back to me and said You deserve to be in the chair. And I don’t know, I didn’t know what that meant. She means the director chair and I’m like, I don’t know if I’m ready for that. I’m pretty self aware. And I know that I’m not that experienced with story yet. I know there are people are better than me. I know what I’m doing. But there are, I’m very self aware of where I my station is in life right now. But they said if you weren’t afraid, then you wouldn’t be good director. And, you know, because there are two things that make a good director and that is respect your team. And don’t pretend something when you don’t don’t pretend to know something that you really do not know, you know, so it’s okay to not know everything. And I know I’m going off tangent with what you said. But there’s a lot but a children’s book, I have an idea of my own movie, there’s a children’s book. So there’s a lot of things and in that line, but I think passive income is the thing, because then I could do my own illustrations for myself, and stick to becoming a real artist, which is I did this for me, you know. And I think that’s one thing that why sometimes people find my work appealing because I’m doing it for me. This is something that I liked doing. There was a time in my career where I felt there was a stigma that I was the animal guy. And I was like I do things and I started doing sketchbooks to show people and then I realized I’m like, no, no, I am the animal guy dammit. I’m like, that’s who I am. And I really owned it, I should say, and accepted it and encouraged it and grew it. And now that’s my brand. That’s who I am. You know, and it’s and I’m totally fine being known for that. You know, I’ve been called that in a meeting and executives and students like No, no, he does other things. Don’t call them that. I was like, It’s okay. It’s how they relate. It’s not I’m not insulted. Yes, I do other things, I think. So. Like I said, being able to do my own work in such a way that I’ve created sort of this other other, you know, almost like legacy of that matter of creating a product that lives on forever. And in terms of 100 years, I just would like to be well known as a good person. As one who was a really good father and good husband and people liked being around. Beyond like my art. I think it’s just a matter of being a good person in life and I pride myself on that. And I make mistakes and I’ve made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes as an individual. And that goes back to what I said before about having Integrity and being great to work with. That’s part of being a good person. And I think that trumps many other things, and I’ve been heard that sometimes that outweighs talent, because you could work with a talented, egotistical aihole. Or you could work with either someone like me not to say on talent lists, but like, maybe I’m not to the level of the person, this imaginary person, I’m telling him, but somebody might want to work more with me, because I’m a pleasure to work with and we can collaborate together, we won’t keep butting heads, you know,

Iva Mikles  

definitely because then you can also address it positively inspire people and just they just feel good around. So that’s definitely a good point.

David Colman  

I think that’s I think that’s the 100 year question. That’s definitely something it’s just being someone who like everyone enjoyed getting to know, you know, because I don’t want to be the person who like Oh, that guy was the biggest a hole or man he was amazingly talented, but he was a shut in and no one ever saw him and he was the best wildlife artist ever. But he was kind of a recluse. No one really knew him. That’s not I would rather be a lesser artists and be known as a greater person.

Iva Mikles  

For sure, for sure. That’s a very good point. Because yeah, who wants to be around nice people, so avoiding them exactly, as you mentioned. And before we finish, maybe you can share the last piece of advice and my key takeaway and then we’ll slowly end

David Colman  

okay. God have given so much advice through all of this you know, it was always gonna do something else. Don’t this is all about art and everything. This was given to me, Charles and villas told me this a long time ago, he ran a small school called the animation Academy. I think he’s still around. Do something else sell jelly beans, you know, go to the beach, watch movies. Find something else you’re interested in passionate about. It’ll make you a better artist. Like for me, I like I said, you become really you spend your life trying to become a really good artist. And then you die. And then like, you know, whether Are you only here for a short time in retros in the scheme of things in the scheme of the universe, I should say. But, like, for me, I’m very passionate about running and swimming’s for me on my own. So that’s something I really liked doing. You know, I love I love cooking. I mean, I’m big on grilling, and smoking, all different types of meats and stuff like that. I mean, there’s other things I like to do. I mean, it doesn’t have to necessarily be selling stuff. Like I said, Charles had sell jellybeans, but don’t put all your it’s better. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Like even with my career, I now have story and design. And they’re like my two daughters, I love them for different reasons, you know, so I’ve definitely have diversified, it’s made made my career more interesting. It’s helped me be a little bit more secure in terms of job job related. But I think it’s important to just have a an idea of contrast in your life. This actually even this bigger picture relates to design, really good design has contrast shape, you know, straight against curve and, and small versus big, small, medium, large and complex versus simple. But to have balance in your life, you have to have contrast and almost sounds like that’s so weird that you would say that, like an ordinary live a balanced life. You have to have contrast, but it’s true. So contrast on your skill level, but contrast in terms of life in terms of doing other things, and then you’ll have a very balanced happy life.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so you can do other things, as you mentioned, the finding other hobbies, so you don’t spend like 100% of your time locked in your apartment, just throwing your

David Colman  

accolades studying that. So I think that was your question. Yeah. Yeah, it was one more question. Right.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So we were just talking. Yeah, exactly. Like, what is the key takeaway? And as you mentioned, like, how do you want to live your life? So definitely, that’s a good thing to think about that. It’s not only about art when you want to be better artists and just Yeah, everything.

David Colman  

Yeah, makes you better artists not to make it just about art. By enjoying life and life’s experiences. You become an artist, because art imitates life. And that’s my takeaway,

Iva Mikles  

you need to experience life as well outside of the artwork. So yeah, sure. Definitely. And yeah, so thank you so much again, for being here. It was so nice. format. Yeah. So many people.

David Colman  

I hope so. And like I said, feel free to share my email with with with your with your podcast, and all that stuff. And I’m happy to talk to people and you know, any plug you give me I’m always appreciative of as well. So

Iva Mikles  

awesome. Yeah, so people can come back to you. So hopefully everyone now is inspired and now they can go do stuff. So thanks, everyone who was watching or listening. And yeah, see you guys in the next episode.

David Colman  

Take care. Bye, everyone. Cheers.

Iva Mikles  

Hey, guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a couple of free art These resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can reach and inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youth you continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Support Art Side of Life by supporting our sponsors

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

Recommended:

Ep.82: Freelancing since she was 15 years old with Devin Elle Kurtz (Tamberella)

Ep.82: Freelancing since she was 15 years old with Devin Elle Kurtz (Tamberella)

Devin started her professional freelance illustrator career when she was only 15 years old! She creates stunning animals, creatures, and natural environment work. She loves to tutor and teach other artists as well and you can learn from her during private consultations or from her tutorials on Patreon and Gumroad.

Ep.187: Art Processes and Techniques – Interview Highlights

Ep.187: Art Processes and Techniques – Interview Highlights

Hey, guys! This episode is about highlights from the previous Art Side of Life interviews. Ester Conceicao a.k.a Tehchan, Matt Urbanowicz, Victoria Ying and Armand Baltazar share tips and advice about their art process.

Ep.160: Think before you start drawing with Modern Day James

Ep.160: Think before you start drawing with Modern Day James

Modern Day James, an artist, designer, and musician known for his popular YouTube channel and Patreon.

Ep.91: Dan Howard on the importance of attending conventions

Ep.91: Dan Howard on the importance of attending conventions

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Dan Howard, full-time freelance illustrator and concept artist from LA. He has worked with clients such as Rocket Games, UbiSoft, Riot Games, Flight Comics, and Fantasy Flight Games, just to name a few.

Ep.89: The journey of a professional comic/manga artist with Odunze Oguguo (Whytmanga)

Ep.89: The journey of a professional comic/manga artist with Odunze Oguguo (Whytmanga)

Odunze, Whytmanga, is a comic manga artist, author and illustrator of Apple Black comic and Co-Founder of Saturday-AM.

Ep.40: Lärienne (lariennechan) on how to succeed in different social media

Ep.40: Lärienne (lariennechan) on how to succeed in different social media

Lärienne, a traditional and digital freelance illustrator from Poland brings various characters, concepts, symbolism, and stories to life.