Ep.3: How to succeed at big animation studio with Eliza Ivanova from Pixar

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 01, 2017 •  Interviews

Eliza Ivanova, originally from Sofia, Bulgaria is an animator and illustrator based in San Francisco and currently working with Pixar Animation Studios. Her feature film credits include The Good Dinosaur (2015)Inside Out (2015)Monsters University (2013)Brave (2012) and Cars 2 (2011), as well as short films Toy Story of Terror and The Dam Keeper.

Her website consists primarily of personal sketches, which, although few finished, are delightfully drawn with a lively variety of line weights and energetic textural additions.

Get in touch with Eliza

Key Takeaways

“Don’t quit, don’t give up your talent”

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Resources mentioned

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

All artworks by Eliza Ivanova, 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 and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is super talented artist and animator originally from Sofia, Bulgaria now based in San Francisco working with Pixar Animation Studios, her film credits include Good Dinosaur Inside Out Monsters University brave cars, too. And then keeper. She has just released the first book raw material Volume One, including drawings of different techniques she has experimented with throughout the years. So please welcome Eliza Ivanova. So hello, and welcome. I’m super happy to have you here. And I would like to start with your background. And maybe you I would like to know if you remember how your childhood smelled like.

Eliza Ivanova  

Good question. All right, childhood. Well, I’m Bulgarian. I was born and raised there moved to the US when I was 17. So definitely my whole childhood was in Bulgaria. And I’m also half Armenian, my grandparents on my mom’s side Armenian. So I want to say because a lot of cinnamon you can think of? That’s cool. Yeah. That’s cool. Like cinnamon and onions.

Iva Mikles  

That’s the interesting combination.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yes. Very Eastern European.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because people are usually saying like, Eastern European, like Czech or Slovak. Yeah, that’s like a cabbage thing. So like lots of cabbage. I’m like, remember eating cabbage that much? But yeah.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, yeah, we had cabbage soup. Okay. Well,

Iva Mikles  

and so if you think about like, when you like, when joining as a child, do you remember what was the first time you kind of decided I want to do this professionally?

Eliza Ivanova  

Join me in our animation,

Iva Mikles  

or maybe both kind of what was the switch? Or maybe you can take us through some, like biggest points in your story.

Eliza Ivanova  

Okay. This is hard work. Like, it’s like therapy was great. So I will I started kind of presentation at drawing, meeting with a with a teacher, you know, hardcore going to schools or when I was 12. My, my mom had a really good friend who put us in contact with an artist and teacher. His name is Karl Mirjam. And he was the same city that I lived. So he had he had a private studio at the East does it to this day, where he would teach students life drawing and how to it’s kind of like art from the middles. This slowly progresses to make harder stuff, you know, we start with still life and I go to you know, blessed of mine models. Cast, not real people yet, and then eventually go into life drawing of, you know, either clothing or new figures. So I was getting prepared to go to the Bulgarian to Art Academy, and, you know, study there become a professional painter. It’s kind of was my goal through high school. So, yeah, I mean, since I guess, early, my early teens, preteens, I was like, Okay, I’m going to definitely paint or become a professional with this. It’s annoying. But it was I kind of always had interest in film, like I love film, with animation. And I guess in the back of my mind, it was like the idea of going to film was like turning. So when I was a junior in high school. I kind of decided it just it just happened. Also, I’m like, Oh, I kind of want to do animation. because it’s a it’s a blend between fill man drawing, which was a little bit of like, you know, dropping the bomb to everybody because it’s, you know, it’s like for the last five or six years, I’ve been preparing for something different all of a sudden, ready for graduation going into college. I’m like, no, no, let me change the sheriff and guns. But you know, I think he was, I think it was fine. Because, you know, you’re probably familiar with this, you know, art schools and mission schools as well. They definitely require art fundamentals, you know, foundation to have that foundation from the get go. I mean, before going there. So, I had it was just a matter of, you know, putting on the correct portfolio pieces, and hopefully, your back for them. So, yeah, that’s kind of how I went into that route. And I started researching people that I really respected in animation and where they went to school, kind of learned about CalArts. And, yeah, and when they’re

Iva Mikles  

in what was your, like, first discussion with your parents when you told them you want to, like change?

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, I think it was, it was a little of a shock. I know my art teacher to hit the hardest. Because he, he thought I was just throwing away all that knowledge. But you know, I just want to reassure him and none of this coin to waste, like, everything I have, like, I’m still doing it. I’m still a pain. I’m still drunk. But I just wanted to somehow get into the cinema

Iva Mikles  

world. And so what,

Eliza Ivanova  

my parents are always mad, they’re the best. They’re always supportive of my crazy decisions, and I’m glad, like, haven’t really disappointed him yet. I think it’s weird, like last day kind of interests me with, like, Okay, you’re doing this. That’s what I’m like. Okay, okay, so I’m really doing this now. I can’t back out now. committed. So, you know, definitely, like support from from families, crucial stuff.

Iva Mikles  

Do you? Do they go for some premieres with you? Like, on the films you’ve worked on? Or? Yeah, are they feeling? Or?

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, you’re still malaria? And, I mean, they came to visit every once in a while, but actually, you mean for Pixar films?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Or basically anything you worked on? And you’re like, super proud. And if they, you know, come to see that

Eliza Ivanova  

usually, I mean, it’s kind of unfortunate that the releases happen at times where you know, it’s crunch time here. So I actually haven’t been to a premiere or like a Pixar film with them I think so definitely, that’s a good idea. I know though when they go we’ll see you know the movies and definitely tell me like oh, good see this and you know their way for the credit so they’re like all like cheering when when they your house, I’m sure people around like these people. But yeah, definitely. When I was at school, they they came to Cal Arts for some stuff out of my my films rolling they’re, they’re supportive. I use for you know, it’s hard to come here just for that. We’re just trying to combine it with some sightseeing. Vacation, same when I go there.

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. And so what was maybe the best lesson your parents told you?

Eliza Ivanova  

The best lesson would be to be consistent and definitely, if I say something to do it, because a lot of times you know, you get passionate about something and it fizzles out and you don’t really goes nowhere, or you try it is really hard and you like it. For me. I learned this from very early on, it’s just kind of muscled through the hard times and hopefully gonna pass but definitely don’t. Don’t give up. Because I mean, sometimes it’s weird how you think you’re going nowhere with something one of my personal projects like right now, I’m doing this short film and I have to put it on pause for a little bit because work you got really busy. And all of a sudden, like, oh my God is going to be completed. But when I sit back and look at how much we’ve done already, it kind of dawned on me that we’ve done a ton that I didn’t realize, so he doesn’t. He doesn’t feel scared anymore. It does feel when you kind of do You realize there’s so much more to do? Yeah, it’s happening.

Iva Mikles  

Is there something you wish you knew before you started your art career?

Eliza Ivanova  

I guess I wish. I wish that I would experiment more. When I was early on and kind of not dismiss a lot of things, people say, oh, you know, oh, try this or try that. For the sake of just being like art’s not what I think I was worried enough, I was a lot more before that now. Now, I’m kind of a sponge again, like, I’m embracing everything, and like, oh, I want to know, more techniques. You know, even in school, there’s, I mean, college, there was a kind of this, this tendency to dismiss 3d animation as being a commercial sell out thing, where in reality, it is just like, it’s just the tool, right, like anything. So I didn’t pay much attention to it focusing on 3d. And I got lucky that when Pixar invited me to do the internship here, they offered to teach me 3d versus other studios that they need it. Like I have to know, to know Maya before going there. And I didn’t, so they’re like, sorry. So Pixar was like, you know, you know, the artists or the partner will teach you the software. And that’s kind of when my eyes open. And I go, Well, yeah, of course, it’s a tool. It’s so simple, but sometimes, too quick to be like, now. So that definitely, like if I want to tell something to my younger self is like, no, just embrace and I’ll just be open. Because you would never know, like, sometimes the best ideas come out of nowhere, something you’ve never tried.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And so let’s back up a bit with the year the internship and how you sent the portfolio. Because, you know, for people who are not the newest, so how did that look like or so you were in Bulgaria, then you just put together a portfolio and you send it to Pixar. And they invited you or there was no no,

Eliza Ivanova  

I was already. I was already in LA. That was college. Yeah, definitely didn’t happen when I was overseas. I mean, I’m sure it’s happened. For some people, it’s everybody has kind of a different route, even here to studio, there’s a bunch of people who don’t even draw brilliant animators. So I know every person has their own journey. My my journey, I think, the the moment that I can remember it was pivotal was one year before graduation, I made a film about four minutes on my Vimeo co piece of cake. And he got pretty good attention, both at school as well as, like in festivals. He did really well, which to me was like a pleasant surprise, you know, especially when you’re super tired for school. Thank you. It’s paying off. It’s hard work. And I ended up winning this film of our department at CalArts for that year, which was amazing. It was so such a cool surprise. And my film was screened in this kind of a cool event. Where’s there’s a bunch of people in the industry. Come in, take it out. So I think I think that’s when there were Pixar noticed. And later that year, we had a job fair to work. It’s cool. Where it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s just on the college campus. Where, you know, professionals come they will see your work. And, you know, the peaks are guys, both recruiters and talent. They remembered me to the year that film girl, like that’s me. So they asked me to that’s when they asked me to submit an actual real to them, you know, and go through like the regular timeline. So I had to compile a real I believe it was like, a minute and a half that of like, we filmed some stuff, you know, from the films that I made. Listen, like animation tests kind of show a range of stuff that I’ve done. Yeah, and I submitted it. Never gave me a callback,

Iva Mikles  

which is so cool.

Eliza Ivanova  

It was fun though.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because it’s such a cool service like, Yeah, I did this. And then, you know,

Eliza Ivanova  

it sounds like oh, yeah, I was like what ABC. But at the time, I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just hoping for the best. And you know, when you’re in school, you’re not in a bubble. And you just keep kind of people you’re doing so, you know, I’ve heard people submit my 10 minute reels and like, mine is a minute and a half. Am I failing? Like, did I just screw my opportunities here? But, you know, looking back, it’s absolutely fine. Like, people can tell, you know, if you’re passionate, and you know what you’re doing very quickly, in the first 30 seconds or so. And I’ve been actually part of the, the crew here that chooses the next round of interns. So I got to see a bunch of wheels too. And it’s definitely can tell you Oh, yeah, that person super unique to have DS in there. So the length didn’t matter. But you know, the time.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so what do you think about No, the branding? Or how do you position yourself maybe on the market, and what would be maybe your vision, what you put in all of your personal work? Is there something you try to communicate in everything

Eliza Ivanova  

in, I’ve been super, into cancel pencils, for the last five years, just drawing graphite, I love it, it’s something I want to do all the time of making. So even that can see how that kind of start to seep in into my animation. So if I were to do a real now, you’ll probably be a lot more experimental than when I was, you know, at school, and just kind of push for, for different look. Something that’s that resembles more, my personal artwork, Dan. You know, just kind of like a standard animation look like I really want to do that eventually. I know, it takes a lot more working in thought. But I think it’s doable, you can start to see your own art moving. This I don’t like when when there’s like a huge in my personal workforce. There’s there’s a huge gap between the two were like, oh, man, I can’t do this in animation. So let me water it down to something more animatable. And I did this one test a few years ago, to kind of prove to myself that I shouldn’t cut corners and push for you to have a vision about this. Definitely. So I can send you a link to that. Thank you. So it took me two months for like, three seconds. So I’m very proud of it.

Iva Mikles  

That’s really cool. So now when you are, you know, looking for like stories or creating the animation, do you have influence from your personal life and like daily life in all of it? Because you have a young daughter, right? And so all of it happening around you? You should do as well.

Eliza Ivanova  

She is awesome. She’s a critic, I can tell when she really likes something. I’m like, oh, okay, she’s liking it. And if I’m doing something, and she’s not like, responding, I’m like, What’s wrong with it? Great. And I started, it’s really you kind of forget how you were as a kid, you know, because you get busy with life. So now that I have her and like, she’s, uh, she’s getting to an age where I’m starting to sort of see the thought process and her mannerisms. And what she does, is it brings me back to, you know, when I was kid, and just because being hungry for learning, and kind of when you zone out, like you really zone out. So I’m trying to do that. And, you know, just when I’m thinking about stories, I want, I want to be subtle, and truthful. So whatever that means, you know, sometimes things you know, even illustrations, they might be vague, but I always try to keep something backstory in mind. And I think that people respond to that they see something they’re like, I don’t really know what I like this, but there’s something that I’m drawn to. Definitely for me, it’s like personal life. It’s, you just learn more, right? Like you just life happens and get more experience and you travel there’s there’s the news. So there’s a lot to take in, you know, like, books, magazines, so it’s just kind of you’re building your own library. He’s that’s how I see it like, in bed and eventually it comes out in whatever form shape. That’s kind of a vague answer. I guess. It’s weird. Like, it’s you don’t really, really think about it too much until you were adopted.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Do you have something weird which inspires you?

Eliza Ivanova  

Weird? Food? Yeah. Yeah. Love Food and like just textures. I pay attention to that stuff. It’s almost like ASMR where you know, it’s it’s, it’s a new term to me too. It’s something that you might be a sound or texture. That’s very pleasant. And it’s almost soothing. That’s kind of how I see us food. Really now. So sometimes I pay attention to textures. Like, oh, I wish I could get this kind of look in

Iva Mikles  

here, because your drawings are really fluid and beautiful. So it’s Yeah, okay. Make sense? Delicious. Delicious. But also, you know, your daughter is like different standards for looking at art, you know, because your drawings are amazing. And then if you don’t leave her, you know, she’s like, No.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah. Oh, yeah. She’s very much like that. And I appreciate I appreciate the honesty, because I know how hard it is for myself to let go something if I spend too much time, and I just know it’s not good. But you like so much hours? She’s like,

Iva Mikles  

this perfect. You should bring her to work all the time. You know?

Eliza Ivanova  

I do. I do. Like, I think she’s used to this environment. So it’s not really that exciting. But yeah, of course, of course, I’m here. Like, cool, right? Still cool to you. I mean, I don’t know, maybe when we when we talk about it more, as she gets older, to kind of realize his places. I don’t know how I see some lighter kids, you know, they’re so excited. Like, okay, Someone’s excited.

Iva Mikles  

Like, give me someone. And if you now think about like, as you mentioned that you are also choosing new interns and like looking into the portfolios, what would you suggest the young people to kind of start with are like, you mentioned patient? And so maybe if you can mention some things, some tips?

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah. Well, okay. It’s pretty simple, actually, when you think of what, from our perspective, of like, how I think there’s usually 1000 to 1500 Different reels, like, some very small crew has to go through. And a lot of times, it’s just, it’s just websites. So I’ll open a website and like, Okay, so where was the animation? You know, and I actually, I don’t want to be like, Okay, there’s no direct links to the next one. I actually look for it, and there’s nothing. So that’s the, that’s usually the most jarring case were like, okay, so what is happening here, like, you’re just applied to anything for the sake of applying? That’s not a good strategy, because it’s not, this is not a gamble. Like, no one’s gonna pick you out of a hat. And be like, Oh, I just lucked out. Because I applied to everything. With something generic, sometimes not even drawing. You’d be surprised. It’ll be somebody that had nothing to do with our whatsoever. So definitely don’t do that. Because it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s weird. There’s, there’s no point you’re just wasting time on your end. To just do it, I mean, maybe just if you want to stay here applied somewhere, I guess. But I’m going to take him here. And then if you do, do put a real, I say go first, put your strongest stuff first, because that’s a first impression. It’s kind of like put your strongest stuff first and last. So it’s like you get a strong first impression. And then you leave the people with like a nice feeling. And in the middle, I would put more, you know, like stuff that either shows that you know about on the metals, sometimes well, that’s not necessarily the views. Here, I’m sure it’s in Moore’s most steady It was really for ideas. So good storytelling, good acting is key. And entertainment is well, this, there’s people who’ve applied who bring the animators they’ve done even commercial work. But when there’s no personnel, like, when you don’t feel like there’s anything speaks out to you kind of blends with the rest. And you do want to stand up. So that’ll be, that’ll be my, I can only say that for animations. He’s only done that for animation. I mean, I would assume it’s the same for art. If you want to impress somebody, just you know, put your stuff that you’re most proud of, because, essentially, that’s where you put most thought and care into. I know, a lot of times when I was just in to kind of be like, Okay, well, I want to be sure I put like, Pixar stuff in their Disney stuff. Which, what does that mean? Yeah, maybe if it looks like the movies, I guess. But at the same time, like, you know, movies are changing all the time. Yeah, there’s a common flavor. Kind of like the Pixar look, for example. But um, that’s not a requirement at all, if anything you want, you want people who do their job here every day to be to see something new and fresh. Even if it’s weird, different, it was just, yeah, think about like making your first impression will be key. Because I remember when Pixar when they were talking about my work, you know, I had a lot of tests that I’ve done in school, you know, like a jumping test or an action test, were whatever the things that they most spoke about who are my films, because that’s where they felt like they saw me as a performer. And yes, Debbie’s like, yeah, we can see your animate, that’s, that’s fine. Well, we like your ideas.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because you can always adjust to a style and learn how to do things and the technical thing as well. So yeah, okay. So the idea and just like, bring your patient out. So

Eliza Ivanova  

yeah. helpful is, is tricky, because we’re in a creative business and industry. So there’s really no right answer. We don’t have the right answers all the time, either. There’s a lot of searching going on. So I wish I could give you a formula.

Iva Mikles  

So maybe something like if someone loves, I don’t know, like a jungle and animals and they like to be active. So maybe they have an idea, you know, like running in a jungle and playing with animals or whatever. Because then they can have some more ideas in that area. Because they love it. And they know more details about it.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And if you have, I mean, I’ve seen music videos, people submit, you said our film don’t make a music video. super entertaining, because it’s like they love rhythm. Playing with choreography, that’s one route. Some people go super subtle route, right? They really want to focus on like truthful performance, almost kind of like my back’s funny, because they love spending time on the finer details. So if you don’t care, they’re like, Oh, I love humor. I want to explore this funny bits. And like, I really want to make you laugh without being cliche. So it’s like everything is a challenge is like well, does. Whatever the artist wants to do. Really? Yeah. If, if you’re passionate about it, that’s like, focus on that. And then it’s fun. You know, we make something fun, and people can tell and then all of a sudden you get somewhere.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And by the way, do you go for location, like inspiration when you travel for movies, or you don’t do that much?

Eliza Ivanova  

Not as much as I want to? Because it’s pretty crazy. Like once we kind of go in crunch time, you can’t really you just have to do stuff all the time. early on. I think for each movie, there is a crew that goes in scouts locations. I do too sometimes. Mostly though, I prefer to just shoot reference sometimes can be like outside or in my house, because that’s where I get subtleties that I didn’t really think about the key performance, even in art, I guess. I mean, same thing. I always have a huge library of my own photos, even if it’s bad photos of just like something in here. I know I’m going to use eventually. So let me kind of categorize. So I always kind of have that in mind. Use You know, out, but usually for drawing for animation will be more specific to the shutdown doing not just build a library of whatever, you know, animation days long time. Usually you want to kind of be specific.

Iva Mikles  

And so what I wanted to ask was more about, like, when you have so many different projects? And is there something you do daily, which kind of contributes to your success? Maybe like meditation? Or do you have like, strict schedule or specific to you

Eliza Ivanova  

a question that’s usually at night, I’m a night owl. I love putting music on. And drawing like after my daughter’s asleep, just kind of like, nice, quiet time, where I can focus. Usually, that’s kind of my meditation. I mean, I draw a lot of times without even thinking big like, cautiously. Well, I take that back, depends on the drawing. Sometimes it’s purely for meditation, and you just zone how to really dig. It’s kind of almost like unconscious drawing. And then if something that I’m like, how very clear I did what I want to do better nail this, then they get into the active thinking, but at the same time, he is still very meditative. So it might be it’s, it’s hard when you have to wake up early, but sleep.

Iva Mikles  

So how many hours do asleep? Free never.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, between four and five.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, so but then your body has to get used to it somehow. So do you eat like really healthy? Or how do you manage that?

Eliza Ivanova  

Try to have at this point, like, Yeah, I mean, I accepted the fact that this is it. And, you know, I try to work out during the day at lunchtime, that usually helps with kind of keeping the energy up. It’s just, you know, it’s, it’s crazy how much your body shifts when you once you kind of decide, okay, I’m doing this. We’re not changing it. This is working and being productive. So let’s put up and then, you know, my sleep schedule change quickly. They think it’s fine.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because I was like, I was reading actually this book. I don’t remember where was it? But they were saying as well, if you decide on your own before you go to sleep, then you will wake up like fresh and no tired. It works separately. Yeah, because? Yeah. Right. Because if you go to sleep, and you’re like, Oh, my God, it’s so late, and I have to wake up early. I will be tired. Then you actually like wake up tired. So? Yeah, so there’s some technique for it.

Eliza Ivanova  

It’s fascinating. I mean, I believe it. Because strange things have happened. Like waking up exactly the time they’re supposed to me that’s weird. That nobody can know. To the minute like 600 You have to wake up still so weird. So can do it. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And and with the project now, do you have something exciting you’re working on? Maybe also workwise and personal. We took and share already?

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah. Oh, I’m no female. I just launched a Kickstarter for a book that I’m meaning by Yes, super happy. And it’s just, it just happened like few days ago. It’s for a schedule that I had been meaning to me actually, I was compiling it for like, six, seven months already. And I was going to do it on my own anyway. But I met a guy here, Steve, who helped me go to Comic Con and he also helped me with the Kickstarter campaign, he suggested that we do this campaign because his idea was, you know, raise more money than expected and you can really put a lot of more stuff in your book. You can make it way better, you can print it more. So it’s like okay, is it’s work that I’ve done for guess. Yeah, before my daughter was born. Six years now. So good. Is that happening? So it’s pretty, it’s pretty big book. So that’s one.

Iva Mikles  

How many pages does it have? Do you know what it right now?

Eliza Ivanova  

It’s actually just went over 160. And might go even bigger. We’re doing a version for kickstarted is only available there. That’s like, like 184. But now that that we’re meeting some stretch goals, we’re adding more pages, we’re adding, like, spread out. So you might get close to 280.

Iva Mikles  

Wow, amazing. Congratulations.

Eliza Ivanova  

Thank you your book, make me work. So that’s super cool. That’s super

Iva Mikles  

exciting. Yeah. And when this will be available, like for people that are excited about this?

Eliza Ivanova  

Well, the book is the Kickstarter is live now and work on a printed in October. So for the backers, they’ll have it. Hopefully, you know, out. I’ll try to get some distribution, like down in LA, in some stores that I’ve been working through the last few years. Same in San Francisco, hopefully, you know, around the US and the world. Awesome. Nice, nice. I’m also doing a short film stuff. Pretty busy. Which is crazy. Why not? Right? It’s crazy. Which, yeah, we’ve had to put put on pause for the for now, just because of all the stuff happening to us in a crunch time at work. I don’t want that to suffer at all. That’s my main thing, right? So the shortfill out, I’m hoping that it’ll be done by the end of the year, too, because it’s pretty short. I just love like, I love that format of a short film. I haven’t done one since school. And it’s funny that it’s weird. Like when it rains it pours it it’s so true. Like, as soon as I decided to do this short film, is when I tend to do the book is when I decided to ComiCon it was just like this chain of events. And all of a sudden I went from zero to 100. So this year, I’m still like, we so far. We’re doing okay, you’re not. You know, so one thing it is time. And that’s why I decided okay, the film came away a little bit in the finished bookstores. And actually, the book is going to help the fun to film a little bit too, so I can pay some of the people who helped me already attend. I want to give back a little bit. With the hard work.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because I think you will need a team. Soon, baby.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah, well, the film has a huge team. And I love Do people ever. They’re all here they work. Pixar, and they’ve given me the free time. Video occasions. And I’m just so thankful. Because they don’t have to. Yeah, so like them being passionate about again, it kind of the whole idea of like my parents being passionate about my stuff, makes me work harder. I don’t want to disappoint now, the same thing with you know, having a team call that outside pressure, like you can’t let these people down. Because they’ve they’ve trusted you. So I don’t take that for granted. And same with everything, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And how do you look for people then to work with?

Eliza Ivanova  

Here, it’s, it’s easier, right? Because you can know people and the team is not that big or 12 people? Not you know, it’s like, like a huge recruiting session that we did. But definitely, just asking around, you know, I was like, Do you know anybody in edit, like I really need an editor to work on. So I was like, oh, yeah, and then you should talk to so and so and see if they’re free. That’s kind of how we found at least half the people. He says, somebody knows somebody. And then other people, I just knew that there were incredible many things. For example, our After Effects person, Andy Jimenez, he turned out to be a phenomenal composer. I had no idea. And he’s like, by the way, I do this too. Like you’re hired for everything. Whatever you want to do, please. And he did the music for my Kickstarter as well. And everything that he does just blows me away. So it’s good to be versatile and have multiple towns because you never know when it might come in handy.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, perfect. Yeah, I might borrow him. Sounds dreamy.

Eliza Ivanova  

Yes. He’s incredible. Sure, let me know as he definitely wants to be a composer more I think then than ever before, he’s truly passionate.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, that’s so nice. And now with as well as we talk with the projects and stuff. How do you kind of decide what to say yes and no to maybe what is your self? Doug?

Eliza Ivanova  

When would my personal work? I guess? Yeah, I’ve been contacted quite a few times about commissions. And it’s, it’s hard, it’s hard to say because, you know, you kind of want to get excited about everything. But often times, it’s just a matter of like, if I can, if I can deliver something in a reasonable amount of time, there was one gig recently that I had to turn down because it was just too much work. And it was a lot of digital stuff that I haven’t done in a while, but it was kind of like, huge volume of them. So I’m like, Well, realistically, I don’t think I can deliver this, this amount of work in such a short amount of time, not that it was digital was just like, just a lot. And since I’ve been focusing on my sketches, like every time I get something related to that, that people get excited about. Super excited as well, like, Oh, that’s great. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. So I mean, it’s hard to pick and choose, and then I want to go back to the digital world, but I think that there’ll be little later this year to now. So guess whatever, it’s, it’s whatever you know, you are passionate about that stands out the most is to, you know, you should take off. Because if you take on everything it becomes, then you regret it later on, oh, my God, I should have I should have charged more should have not let people get, you know, freebies like corrections of time. And you know, you don’t want to dread your job. I mean, happens. And how was definitely, if you kind of can tell early on and you can avoid it.

Iva Mikles  

And now, when you have like different things going on, so you can combine your income, like from job then from maybe the book and other movies. So how many income streams can you combine?

Eliza Ivanova  

The book is new. That’s a good one. Yeah, definitely. Sure. Yeah. I mean, I do some commissions. So that’s been one revenue. Definitely, the book would be the next one. Because it’s something that sells itself. Like I’m gonna have to actively draw every, you know, mean, either one. To be honest, I don’t know how that’s gonna go. That’s new to that world. But I definitely wanted to do it. Because, you know, there’s a lot of work that I have compiled and why not like making it. Get some money from

Iva Mikles  

there. More passive income that good? Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Eliza Ivanova  

It’s tricky. It’s, I don’t know, I don’t know how some people would do it. There’s some people that do everything. So well. Still, like, I don’t know how to do one thing, and then I’m taking these projects.

Iva Mikles  

But so far, everything is going well. So that’s good.

Eliza Ivanova  

It’s weird to kind of jump into it. That’s one thing too, that I think I mentioned before, different interview, not to overthink it. I think us is, is women. We do that all the time. You just like, how good is this? Like, this has to be 100%. Before I initiate, right, like I have to be 100% Sure. Where in my experience, like you don’t have to be 100% Sometimes there’s just kind of have to have that gut feeling like okay, it’s this will work. You just have to figure it out. And trust that you’ll figure it out as you go. And that’s to me, that’s one one of the things that helped me be so proactive. It’s just now everything like just you know when to say it. Oh, no, instead of thinking do it, right, like Star Wars a little bit. So you know, go for stuff so that you don’t waste yours and overthinking?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Because I’m usually also asking like, what is the worst career moment you know, and what would be the takeaway? So is this something what you would say or do you have a different story?

Iva Mikles  

What kind of defeat

Eliza Ivanova  

Yeah. I mean, it’s I’ve done some projects, like, commissions Law Commission, I’m sorry, some freelance work. During college when I was here, so that was just it’s different type of directing. And when I guess it’s difficult for me to, to engage with someone’s projects, if they’re not very passionate about it. That’s happened. Really cool. Didn’t Why are you doing this, you’re not super passionate about it, it just makes no sense to me. So it wasn’t really a difficult one, which is very different here. But it’s so passionate all the time that I kind of inherited that by default. I’m like, okay, so if I do something on my own, like, I just have to be super passionate, but I have to ask, I don’t have to necessarily know, every, you know, every step of the process correctly and completely. As long as the kind of the drive is there. You know, it wouldn’t end up being something something good. See, I’m sure. I mean, I’m sure you’ve had a few experiences, just working with people to just kind of, ya know, don’t be like

Iva Mikles  

exactly, are they are passionate about something else? And then he doesn’t, you know, work together well, so then,

Eliza Ivanova  

yeah, that’s, that’s another thing. Strange, but

Iva Mikles  

do you have maybe some books or movies or something you would recommend to people like this is definitely something you should read or see.

Eliza Ivanova  

Book wise, I mean, I’m a huge fan of like, Egon Shaylee. He’s one dairy artists, anything by him? Definitely. Just because what I love about his his work is that he takes the kind of the roughness of drawing tools to his advantage that he never he’s not trying to hide it. He highlights it. Anything becomes such a powerful tool. So I’m trying to do that in my work. Now. Movie wise. I love anything that comes out of studio four. See, and Japan. Huge fan. They did mind game. Concrete. Okay, well, these days, animation, just beautiful animation. very quirky storytelling, and you just kind of get that inspiration through your own stuff. I remember when my game came out, I was in college and like, everybody, we just geeked out, it was just beyond incredible. They did it very daring. Because, you know, it’s a feature of Bill Nye that the storytelling is kind of most like live action. I want to say, kind of Tarantino like just stories intertwining and all of a sudden and distort that you remember comes back, just great editing. But it’s animated, which you think about animation is the opposite of spontaneity, right? Everything is planned out to every frame. So to see that kind of filmmaking is refreshing FIRA animation buff, definitely check that out. I’m sure people who are animation buffs know about it.

Iva Mikles  

I have to say I haven’t yet. Great. And so now do you have also maybe like a favorite pencil or favorite tool you use all the time? Yes.

Eliza Ivanova  

I use blending stick for everything. That’s like, like, it’s my trademark at this point. Because people always ask me like, What is this tool? Like? It’s just the blending stick, which is you know, like curled up paper just like, yeah, it’s actually it wasn’t like an intention. I wasn’t looking for kind of a look. I was just trying to save my hand because from cross hit cross hatching. I was getting really bad RSI which is the kind of like you strain your wrist and give you my arm went up to my shoulder. So I was trying to figure out like a kind of a shortcut to cross hatching. And that thing proved to be my answer. And I love it. I feel like yeah, I should sponsor company and just promote and maybe they could Yeah, I’m down. I’ll do it for Marshalls. That’s the one thing I mean, it’s It’s funny that you asked me that. You know, I get that question a lot because some people like how do you get some some of this as much as like, what is that as a racer? So it’s like the same answer a landing landing stick you’re showing? Yes.

Iva Mikles  

I should add some effects to your video. You know, it’s some glow

Eliza Ivanova  

sticks. Just randomly pop up. Episode sponsored by planning stick.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, I will get there. See ya get

Eliza Ivanova  

some random sponsorships?

Iva Mikles  

And do you maybe have some other tool maybe you bought? Or kind of? or software? Which simplifies? Horses the blending? Or do you just go everywhere?

Eliza Ivanova  

Let’s see. Well, for animation, like right now I’m using TV paint. That’s a big one for 2d stuff. And Toon Boom, amazing. So for my short film, I’m using both of them to kind of the first pass of animation that we’re doing is completely 2d. So we’re using TD paint for that. And then Toon Boom is this incredible tool that does a little bit kind of like two and a half d of animation where you do. You can do hands on stuff, but then you can also do puppet. Okay. I don’t know how to do its magic, I believe. So we’re using both tools for for our film. And as soon as I have something out, send it out and show you to look because it’s kind of an interesting mixed media Look, do we get this kind of result? So apart from the blending stick, those are the two software’s and yeah, not much. That’s it? Oh, good, really.

Iva Mikles  

Very starting to think about the Halloween costume and then the blending sticks for some

Eliza Ivanova  

questions, but do it? It’s like what

Iva Mikles  

are the main character in the animation?

Eliza Ivanova  

Okay

Iva Mikles  

Do you have a favorite quote? Maybe?

Eliza Ivanova  

I don’t know. Nothing to remember.

Iva Mikles  

But it just I love quotes. So that’s something weird. Yeah, I really like them. You are average of five people you kind of influenced by and then you know, that’s kind of the thing which you become because if you want to be like a millionaire or whatever, then you should hang out with billionaires and then you like find out how they think what they do. And you know, so if you want to be good anyway, either hang out with good anyway, there’s you know, and these kinds of things. Definitely help that because if you wonder, yeah,

Eliza Ivanova  

I wonder how to find people. Just think about it. Interesting. Yeah, like, artists. True. That’s true. Yeah. Some other interview, have a quote.

Iva Mikles  

Good, good, then we should do a follow up in like a year or so. And then you can, you know, talk about it and everything.

Eliza Ivanova  

It’ll be just the quality the whole time. Okay, let’s move on. Maybe it’ll work?

Iva Mikles  

Maybe some of us would like it. And so let’s talk about the future. Imagine yourself in like five to 10 years, where would you be or what’s happening?

Eliza Ivanova  

I would love to just do more of my own stuff. That’s kind of me, Morty headed towards that direction. So both, you know, both drawing films, just push for that, you know, just get back on that horse. Because, you know, when you’re when you’re working full time, like you don’t realize quickly the years past like I’ve already been seven years. Pixar and I’m just about to do my first short film since college. So that was like seven years. So I want to break that habit. I don’t want to wait another seven years before the next one. You know, so as long He’s just keeps going. And I do more, more art films. So it’ll be awesome to report back in five years and be like, here’s a bunch of stuff that I’ve done. That’s kind of it I don’t really, I don’t really have like a vision in terms of length Oh, is doesn’t mean I’m going to be independent or working for somebody because I see it all the time. You know, you do something I could go here to go here to take a break. It’s part of the industry. Definitely pushing. Non personal status is key.

Iva Mikles  

And the last question I would like to ask you is about like five to five future and what would you like to be remembered for in like, 100 years?

Eliza Ivanova  

Yes, my art. Yeah. Because it’s, I mean, you know, it all goes back to it. You know, I studied this I’ve always been passionate about. And, you know, we’re now told my friend is, it’s like, once I had my daughter, like, everything that I draw kind of have her in mind, like, Oh, if will she be proud of this? Like when she sees it in 50 years or so? Because she’d be like, Oh, my mom did this similar kind of have that in mind. And it really made me take myself seriously. And this is not finished the hobby like this. Passion and definitely, hopefully, Legacy one day.

Iva Mikles  

That sounds good. Yeah. Okay. I like it. Yeah, no, maybe if you have like a last piece of guidance for people before we say goodbye.

Eliza Ivanova  

I think will be just don’t wait. And don’t understand. People who are very talented and dangerous. Give up their talent. Because you it’s just, it’s too. I mean, I guess I can’t speak for everybody. For me. I’m like, Oh, this is the one thing that kind of its meaning to, you know, like my daily routine, of course, family comes first. But like when? For your own sanity, you kind of have to keep it up. Use hard time as it is. There’s art blocks.

Eliza Ivanova  

Don’t think people should quit. If there’s something especially that we do we’re passionate about?

Iva Mikles  

Because yeah, if you want to do it, and you will always find the time and the thing. Yeah. Perfect. Yeah. So thank you so much for being here and taking time from your crazy busy schedule.

Eliza Ivanova  

What are you talking about? Thank you. Appreciate it. That was very fun. 

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. So thank you again. And thanks, everyone, for joining.

Eliza Ivanova  

Thank you guys. Bye. 

Iva Mikles  

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview. 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 little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget 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

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.

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