Friday, July 3, 2009

Uwe Heidschoetter 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?

I think it was always clear to me that I would probably end up doing something artistic.
Already as child I felt attracted by animation, theater, dance, by beauty and emotion.

I attended a school for design in Cologne, Germany and then went on to study 2D Animation in Luxembourg. Alongside my drawing education I immeresed myself in dance (competition ballroom dance) for many years.

I would say that the principles of design, animation and dance and obviously the influence of artists I like are the foundation of my work now.

I was lucky to know very early on what it was I wanted to do and that I was able to go down this path pretty much unhindered. I started working at the age of twenty-two.

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

Every job is different. There isn't one definitive recipe I follow.

Budgets are usually fairly small in Europe... Often when I feel I've just found a certain character I have to go straight to the modelsheet, often slightly prematurely, without a chance to explore the design's possibilities in more depth. A rushed modelsheet has many potential downsides, the smallest being that you often can't really work yourself beyond a graphic quality,
whilst acting, motion and depth are such important parts of a narrative design.

For a recent project (codirected for STUDIO SOI) I did all the boards after I had done the initial design. This way I had the chance to draw my character over and over in acting and see what is possible, what was neccessary and what could be simplified. Afterwards I reworked the design accordingly and only then prepared the modelsheets. The possibility to really work yourself
into a character makes all the difference when it comes to animation later. In generally I try to work from rough to fine. First the overall shapes and colors to describe the character and then I go more and more into detail. Research is also very important for me.

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

I have a little office at STUDIO SOI, Berlin, ten minutes walk from my apartment. From this place in the studio I work for SOI as well as for other clients. I dont really have regular working hours. I love this freedom, because it takes a bit of the negative pressure of having to be at a specific place for a specific time of day.

Right now I work a lot with Johannes Weiland, a director at STUDIO SOI who is located at SOI's Ludwigsburg headquarters in the south of Germany.A lot of our work is done via phone and internet, which works very well for both of us.

Most of the time I do Character Design and then also take care of the final look as I also watch over the modelling and texturing.

In the coming weeks I'll also do Backgrounds for a project, which is new to me. I am quite excited to have a little excursion in this field.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

As character animator I worked for AMBIENT ENTERTAINMENT on feature productions like BACK TO GAYA, URMEL AUS DEM EIS and URMEL VOLL IN FAHRT. I also did some additional design work for these productions. I designed the side character for the shortfilm ENGEL ZU FUSS by Jakob Schuh and Saschka Unseld. On German TV you can see commercials with a turtle I designed for "Bundeswertpapiere" and a car-character for "VW Service".

Is there a design you have done that you are most proud of?

For the moment I like the design of a little girl called Emmi I did for a project that is still in preproduction.

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

At the moment I am working as co-director on a shortfilm about a little boy and his beast.
I did the design of an old turtle couple. For THE GRUFFALO (right now in production at STUDIO SOI) I designed the fox.

Who do you think are the top artists out there?

David Downton
Claire Wendling
Tadahiro Uesugi
Roberto Albanese (choreography)

René Gruau
Egon Schiele
Milt Kahl
Bob Fosse (choreography)

They are the first six that come to my mind but
there are so many others in all the different fields of art ...

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

Most of the time I colour my drawings with Photoshop.
Sometimes I put in scanned painted brush-strokes to give it some texture.

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

Designing IS the fun part.
If modelsheets belongs to design - they'd be the most difficult part. To retain the energy of your sketches in a matching front and side view...

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

Freeing my mind with things that are not connected to art helps me to get a fresh view.

In the daily business I need peace around me to be creative. Coffee or tea and no other things that bother me. Also a bit of time pressure helps... but just a little bit.

Sometimes I draw from DVD's. That also helps me to get ideas and practice my drawing at the same time.

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

The character work of Milt Kahl impresses me a lot. Especially the characters of Disneys Sword in the Stone. They are perfect. I also like some designs from the students work at Gobelins. Such a mix of Disney, Gorillaz and Manga - with a french flair.

Also the drawings of Nicolas Marlet are very beautiful!

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

As character designer and character animator - humans and especially women. Maybe because it's what I'm best at. And that is maybe because I enjoy it so much to see woman act and move.
I guess interest makes the talent.

What inspired you to become an Artist?

The magic of Disney animation and theater. As child and teenager I saw a lot of animations and musical theater. I wanted to work in this field. I wanted to know how to create this magic.
For me It was about a craft I wanted to learn. Maybe some day I will have the opportunity to design something for theater. That would be very cool and a great challenge.

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

A lot of small things, problem solutions... There is nothing big that I can really point out.

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

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

- Work hard but accept that progress comes in waves.
- Be concentrated and be emotionally connected with what you draw.
- Enjoy what you do.

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

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?

You can find some of my work in the books SWALLOW N°3 and N°5
There is also a shop (that is under construction at the moment)
with some prints linked to my blogspot.

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