6 Sculptors: 6 Questions
When Horton Hears a Who was approved for development as an animated feature, Michael Defeo, meltingly hot off his Ice Age success, was entrusted with the challenge of transforming Seuss’ iconic drawings. He captured the Seuss’ spirit so well, he was subsequently commissioned by Illumination Entertainment to do it again for Seuss’ The Lorax, which is scheduled for release in 2012.
Top character development artist Michael Defeo began his career working in special effects and make-up, later making sophisticated stop- motion puppets for commercials, television, theatre and film. At Blue Sky Studios, Michael used traditional and digital mediums to sculpt subjects ranging from commercial products like teddy bears to creatures for the film Alien Resurrection.
At an early age, (about 6-7 years old) Damon discovered window putty, (that stuff that holds the glass in a window frame) with the help of his sister who showed him how to make “putty ducks”. His mother would paint pictures on the glass windows during the holidays while his father had a knack for carving wood figures. He was immediately fascinated with the shapeable substance and displayed a natural talent for making sculptures out of not only “window putty” but assorted other mediums that inspired him to make forms from the fantastic to the familiar. These were some of his first exposures to the world of art. Other early inspirations were movies and fine art that fed the imagination and development of the young emerging artist.
Two local sculptors provided fundamental inspirational to Damon during this period. The first was Dan Reeder, who made wacky monster caricatures from cloth-mache, and Kim Graham who instilled the need for precise and scientific anatomy, even in fantasy creatures. Other local artists that contributed to his development were two painters, surrealist Ilene Meyer and fantasy artist Zak Pasco.
Along with sculpture, drawing and painting were also experimented with, and during his first year of high school, Damon had attended college art classes at night in his hometown of Seattle, WA. Upon graduating high school, 16 yr old Damon immediately started working professionally in the entertainment industry on TV commercials at Will Vinton Studios in Portland, OR where his career officially began, although he was selling bronze and clay sculptures for years prior to that to numerous art collectors.
From then on, Damon has been working along side some of the most talented, acclaimed, and awarded artists and directors in the industry and on some of the most successful films ever made; Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille, Shrek 3, Shrek 2, Star Wars: Episode 3, Over The Hedge, Madagascar, and Madagascar II, to name a few. He is currently developing characters for several projects, one he recently finished is Henry Selick’s “Coraline”. Damon also works on his bronze figurative sculpture and oil paintings between and during projects as time allows.
Bard Sculpture Studio is committed to creating and furthering the excellence of the art of character design in the Animation and Visual Effects Industry by continuing to use traditional and modern sculpture techniques and design methods to bring the most memorable characters and creatures to life for audiences around the world to love and enjoy.
opportunity to design characters under his tutelage was an educational experience that cannot be matched. In the Animation arena, Jim sculpted and modeled characters for Chris Bailey’s Major Damage and sculpted characters for Rob Minkoff’s Stuart Little. Jim has also done sculptures based on the designs of John Kricfalusi and for Tracy Lee’s “Electric Tiki” maquette line. At Walt Disney Feature Animation, Jim first worked as a Orthographic Designer on the film, “Wildlife,” with Art Director Hans Bacher, Character Designer H. B. Lewis, and sculptor Kent Melton. This basically meant blueprinting all the characters for the Modeling Department. He returned and blueprinted most of the classic Disney characters for “Mickey’s Philharmagic,” a film for Disney World. In the Visual Development Department at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Jim modeled new characters for Sam Levine’s Joe Jump with veteran designer Joe Moshier, and for Chris Sanders’ American Dog with designer Chen Yi Chang. Highlights of his work in the digital realm include digitally sculpted characters in the Fight Club Game, and Sega’s Golden Axe. Jim currently 3D Art Director at Gentle Giant Digital. He works closely with Film Directors on Character design. At Gentle Giant he has done Character Visual Development on Yogi Bear, Mr. Limpet, Thundercats, and Alice in Wonderland. He also continues to digitally model characters for CG animated films, videogames, maquettes, and toys
Kent’s maquettes have recently been featured at the New York Museum of Contemporary Art and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He is currently working on a one man show of both sculpture and oil paintings.
After gaining his high-school diploma at the Art School in Busto Arsizio, Varese, Italy in 1984, Raffaello Vecchione started working as advertising graphics artist, illustrator, serigraphic artist. He began his career in the world of animation in 1991, working as animator on the movie “Volere Volare” and”Garibaldi”, directed by Maurizio Nichetti and Guido Manuli. In 1994 he went to work in London as assistant animator for the movie “Balto”, produced by Amblimation.