Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Andre Medina Interview

Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

My name is Andre Medina I grew up in Orange County, California in the city of Costa Mesa. At an early age I remember drawing, not really sure I was encouraged to draw and I loved cartoons but my parents didn't allow me to watch them for the most part. It wasn't until I was accepted into art college that I really started drawing again (8 or more hours a day) to learn the basics. When I was in High School, I made the best decision to go to a Middle College at Orange Coast College. At Middle College I took some figure drawing, a cartooning class and after those classes I finally knew what I wanted to do.

After High School I applied to OTIS and Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) and was accepted to both. I also applied to Cal Arts but wasn't accepted.

So I chose to go to LCAD and worked hard to improve my drawing and animation skills. During that time I also took classes at The Animation Academy, The Animation Union and would visit my friends at Cal Arts in The Character Animation Department.

After going to LCAD and working my butt off to take tests and learn as much as I could I was hired at Omation, there I was given the opportunity to help redesign a character on the movie Barnyard. After Barnyard, The Simpsons TV show called me and asked if I wanted to go into the two week training program for Character Layout. This call came TWO years after I took a test and applied. So I had to beef up my skills and drew as much as I could before I was put into training. After the two weeks of training I was hired, I was a super excited and happy.

On The Simpsons I learned the importance of drawing characters on model and in perspective. I never forgot what I learned and I am still using the skills I learned then today. I met some amazing artists who were very supportive and after four years of working in the industry I decided I wanted to go to Cal Arts for the Character Animation program, to make my own film and improve my portfolio.

How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

Sometimes an image just pops in my head while I'm drawing or working on something else. But most of the time when I design I figure out a theme and try to add story. In terms of drawing, I try to lay down a light action line and try to compose two or more characters interacting; fighting, arguing, kissing, talking everyday experiences. From the action line that I draw I build on the shape and always think about character and what is the character thinking, I think this is the hardest part. Like most people, I love designing but in animation, a design means nothing if it doesn't have character.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

When I was working full time I started work in the morning and usually put in a 9 to 10 hour day. Sometimes even more then 10 hours depending on what wasn't working in shots or figuring out how to re-stage what I wasn't happy with. At Cal Arts I usually work from 11am to 12am longer or shorter days too. My process of creating usually starts after a few hours of drawing, kind of like warming up to play a sport. Usually I watch movies live action and animation to learn as I draw. Animation, art and drawing is similar to sports because you have to train and build muscle memory. Draw everything you can to put in your memory to reuse later. All experiences in life improve your art.

What projects have you done in the past, and what are you working on now?

Currently I am at Cal Arts making films and learning as much as I can. The film I am working on is about a mob boss and the turmoil of being an alpha male.

There are a few projects I am working on, on the side that I'm not at liberty to talk about yet.

Who do you think are the top artists out there?

So many great artists out there most of these people are linked on my blog.

Professional artists- Tony Siruno, Cory Loftis, Charles Zembillas, Ben Balistreri, Matt Williames, Ricki Nierva, Joe Moshier, Chen-Yi Chang, Stephen Silver, Shane Prigmore, Shannon Tindle, Mike Ludy....

Artist's and film makers I have met, who have given me great input- Matt Braly, Romney Caswell, Lorelay Bove, Zaruhi Galstian, Manny Hernandez, Mike Morris, Dave Ochs, Kristen Campbell, Dave Wolter, MJ, Skyler Page, Rob Thompson, Carlos Romero, Nelson Boles, Nicole Mitchell, Steve Munoz, Ethan Hegge, Ryan Matias, Pat Harpin, The Kris Anka, Heidi Smith, Leo Matsuda the list goes on...

Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?

Recently I have been getting to Photoshop but I prefer traditional mediums; pastels, water color, ink, markers anything that I can get my hands on. When I render and lay down textures I like to reference photographs and experiment, using mixed mediums. All of this depends on the story and development of the world.

What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

I think the whole process of designing and art in general is pretty difficult, but rewarding. Since it is so time consuming I think after warming up for 4 hours of drawing straight and getting into a groove I think things become a little easier. Morphing shapes and putting personality to them is an amazing feeling.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?

I grew up going to hardcore punk shows and I was really into underground artist's I think seeing different art keeps my creative juices flowing. Creativity comes when it wants, that’s the hard part but being around other people who are creative and can give thoughtful input and who care about the craft is really necessary to stay creative. I like photography and playing the drums and music in general, I'm sure that all has a good affect on my drawing.

What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?

There are so many but I really love old Disney, Milt Kahl, Tom Oreb, and recently Joe Moshiers work. I love designs that have appeal, personality and great shapes.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

When I was young I loved drawing animals and to this day I think animals are my strong point. Growing up actually mostly on the weekends when I was at my mom’s house I would watch anything about Nature. Jack Hanna was a great show I watched and anything National Geographic.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

When I was young I loved Ren and Stimpy, Looney Tunes and old Disney. I would watch these cartoons with my mom and realized how much joy they brought to us. To draw a funny drawing that makes someone laugh is probably the best feeling.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

So many awesome artists have helped me out in one way or another. In general I have learned how to push myself and really strive to be the best I can.

What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?

The "top artists out there" The links on my blog have some amazing people you should check out! Also here are links to some of the schools I have gone to that have helped me grow;

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Being a good artist takes years, most of the people I know who are really awesome have been doing it for 7 years or more and I know if you start young growth happens sooner. Try not to get discouraged and you need to be patient. Lots of bad drawings, years of bad drawings have to come out before great ones follow. Being an artist is a really time consuming job, thinking, feeling, understanding structure and how to push things are some things that go into all great drawings. All artists are problem solvers, lots of trial and error to figure out what works for you. All animators and characters designers I really admire have an understanding of weight and physics. Understanding how gravity affects your character and how and an environment affects him or her is great to understand to improve your work. If anyone has questions about anything feel free to email me.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

My email address is or, my blog is, and my portfolio blog is

Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?

I made a sketch book a few years ago and plan on making a newer bigger one so if people bug me I will try to put one together. :)


  1. great interview, I really enjoyed learning about how he got started and what classes he took. I wonder if he has a couple of favorite books that really helped his progress?

  2. I'm bugging you, put one together. Bravo Dre....I'm proud of you my boy.