Thursday, June 2, 2011

Monster Cars!




When i was 15 or so and on vacation in Los Angeles, I remember asking my parents to drive by the Disney studio in Burbank. I just wanted to see Mickey's Sorcerer hat which pinpointed the exact place I wanted to someday work at, Disney Feature Animation. I worked tirelessly on my drawing and painting all throughout high school so that I could get into a good art college and hopefully one day, into Disney. What I didn't find out til I took animation courses in college was that I was HORRIBLE at it! I have A.D.D. which also means I can't stick to something for very long and the slow animation process really took a toll on me. To this day, I have the utmost respect for all the amazing animators out there because it really is a special set of skills they have. With animation not being a realistic option, I decided to pursue a whole different type of art.

My major in college switched to Graphic Design. I had taken a few classes in Junior College and really enjoyed them. The projects were just as challenging and the turnaround seemed a lot faster. It really did satisfy my interest in illustration and typography and I instantly gravitated towards poster design because it completely integrated the two. I was content within the world of Graphic Design, but I was also a little disappointed that my childhood dream of working at Disney was drifting further and further away.

I lucked out one afternoon in my Editorial Design course when my instructor, Carla, asked me what my goals were after I finished college. I told her about my early goals of working at Disney and how I didn't believe that was possible anymore. That left me a little lost until she mentioned that a former student of hers worked at Disney Consumer Products as a graphic designer. I was completely blown away because I didn't even know they had positions within the company that involved what I was now learning in my design courses. She immediately connected me with her former student, Marcella, and I started working at DCP a week later.

To say I was thrilled to make it to the Mouse House was an understatement. I wasn't really sure at first what I would be working on, but I just thought that if I stick to it and work really hard, I'd make it onto the Disney lot for a tour of the place I dreamed of working as a kid. That was about 12 years ago, and since then I've been very fortunate to work on products for all of the Disney and Pixar films that have been released throughout the years. The fun I had designing posters in school has translated into the ones I've created for all of the Pixar films, starting with The Incredibles. I've been extremely lucky to work with all of the talented people within my company and we've all been blessed to get to do our childhood hobby as adults.

The Disney Lot has always been a special place for me because of the memories I has as a kid, driving by on the 134 and wondering what amazing stuff was going on within its walls. Nowadays, every time I walk around it to get to a meeting or a screening, I definitely get a sense that to be a part of it is an amazing & magical thing. I feel very fortunate to be there and it definitely puts a smile on my face every time. The old animation buildings, the water tower, the gigantic sound stages, and of course Mickey's sorcerer hat which sits atop Feature Animation - they all are as cool now as I thought they were when I was 15. Yesterday, I was walking along one of the busy corridors between the sound stages towards the commissary. On the way you pass the massive billboards that promote Disney and Pixar's latest and greatest films and shows. In a million years, I would never expect to see what I did on those walls, the Cars 2 series that I worked on a few months ago. I was completely floored.

As a kid, you can sometimes have these wild dreams of what you want to be when you grow up. After watching Jungle Book when I was 5, the only thing I ever wanted to do was to work at Disney - in any capacity. I remember even wanting to be a ride operator at Disneyland. I guess I just never stopped working towards that goal. When I saw those Cars posters, I felt a sense of relief - that all that hard work paid off and I was on the same lot I had always wanted to work on, staring at these 25 foot posters that had been on my little computer screen for all those hours. I also thought of how many 15-year-old aspiring artists who were just like me will pass by them, and be inspired to create their own art and maybe even want to work at Disney one day. I'd tell those kids to work their little hearts out while continuing to have fun and live life. I'd also tell them to hurry up!!! Considering my workload these days, I can definitely use the help!!

22 comments:

Ricardo De Los Angeles said...

I'll help you! :) I was on the Lot on Wednesday and saw your posters hanging haha, I was like, "Man, I wonder what that must feel like to have your art blown up to massive size for the world to see." Congrats dude!

James Lien said...

Congrats! Wow the entry is so inspiring and awesome to hear an origin story hehe. Awesome!

Sundeep said...

Amazing story, congratulations Eric!

I want to see these posters in a theatre!

Le Tang said...

Such a great story. Amazing work!

Breena Nunez said...

Thank you for sharing this achievement to the internet folks! I've been wanting to study illustration, but the closest thing my school has to offer is graphic design. But to see how you have found your niche in Disney is really amazing.

And to see your posters enlarged to such enormous proportions is so awesome! Keep up the great work. :)

Kimberly Michelle said...

congratulations!!! It must be so wonderful to see those giant posters! :) There is nothing else like fulfilling a childhood dream of working at Disney... I still pinch myself that it ever happened!

Adam said...

Congrats. It's always great to hear a story of how hard work pays off and that dreams can come true.

experimation said...

Congrats Eric! I've had a similar experience in life...and I know how awesome it is!

Heck, I passed by the Disney Store at my local mall the other day and saw one of your posters hanging in the window! Even I felt proud of ya!

Eric Hutchison said...

Quite an honor pal. Well done.

Tanner said...

Thanks for the compliments guys! I just rambled on and on there but I'm glad you read through and found something inspiring within it.

I recently met with the graduating graphic design students from CSU Northridge for their senior portfolio reviews and it instantly brought me back to the days when I was in their shoes, excited to get out and show the world what I learned but also more than a bit nervous to put myself out there. I really do think that experience helped me to put things in perspective and appreciate all that I get to do nowadays.

valerie said...

This is so great to read. It's nice to see dreams come true, and your talent deserves it. I'm 38 and I still look over the Pixar job listings covetously. I'm telling myself it's never too late!

Sherry said...

That is way too cool, Eric. Congratulations! I am a fan of your art, and I thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

Jesse Soto said...

I second Ricardo's notion! If you need some extra arms you can ask us! Don't be too shy! I appreciate that you shared your story, your hard work and clear vision (and natural gifts) is very inspiring. Most people (99%) that make amazing-awesome stuff in the house of mouse have always wanted to be there. Congratz!

Junko Miyakoshi said...

Wow, this is really inspiring especially for someone who's been through exact the same dream!!
I am stil working toward mine and your story is very encouraging!
Thank you for sharing!!
Looking forward to more of your amazing works!

Cheers,
Junko

Linda said...

Very inspiring post!

Marcella said...

Congratulations Eric! You are truly an amazing talent and we are lucky to have you. You rock!

Mona said...

Congratulations! Your work is amazing and always an inspiration!
-a fellow Disnerd/graphic desillustrator.

Tanner said...

Thanks for sticking with the long read and finding some inspiration within!

Marcella, I can't thank you enough for starting me on this crazy adventure. You took a chance on a kid who ate bags of candy and brought his first 'portfolio' in a Trader Joe's brown bag. Thanks for everything!!

Dave said...

What an awesome post Eric, really great story. Very inspiring! I'm based in the uk but often think how amazing it would be to one day work at disney/pixar. I noticed the other day that pixar are looking for a graphic designer, I really was tempted to send off a cv!

erika* said...

You have no idea of what this post means to me. Seriously... no idea. Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! Congratulations!!! :D

...oh, and I wouldn't mind helping anytime XD XD

Different By Design said...

I loved reading this post. So much truth and encouragement in it and you should be so proud of your accomplishments. My husband is a graphic designer and his dream is to get a job doing design for Pixar. We're not exactly sure how to go about that, but he is definitely working his tail off in the meantime. It was nice to be reminded that dreams do still come true and that hard work does pay off!

Tanner said...

Different by Design, I'm glad you were able to get through my lengthy Cars story. I'd summarize it but hopefully all the details help to give an idea of how I got to this point. I'm glad your husband knows what his goal is and that's a win in itself. After I knew where I wanted to go, I didn't cater everything I did for my portfolio to look like Disney or Pixar, I just made sure they reflected me - everything I enjoyed doing and a style that felt like my own. After you have all these projects that show who you are, I think the job that fits you usually ends up being the one that hires you aboard. I hope that makes some kind of sense :)