Chris Ayers Character Designer/Head Zookeeper
Chris Ayers grew up in Minnesota surrounded by a family and community that encouraged his many creative endeavors and provided ample fuel for his imagination. After studying art in college he packed his small car to the ceiling and headed west to Hollywood to pursue his lifelong dream of working in the movies. He had no intention of trying to act—he just wanted to make monsters!
Opportunities were found and slowly he started building a promising career working as a character designer. Things came to a crashing halt, however, when Chris was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a type of blood cancer, on April Fool’s Day in 2005. Thus began one of the toughest journeys of his life: enduring the physical and emotional rigors of treatment and recovery. Though it shook him, dropped him, bounced him, spun him, and quite literally made him nauseous, the cancer rollercoaster finally slowed down. On the one year anniversary of his diagnosis, Chris enlisted the help of two of his lifelong passions—art and animals—and began a sketchbook called The Daily Zoo with the goal of drawing one animal each day for a year. He hoped it would be a nice challenge for his self-discipline and imagination, but more importantly that it would aid his healing process by giving him a focused opportunity to celebrate the gift of each healthy day.
The initial goal of The Daily Zoo was met but proved to be so therapeutic and rewarding that he kept right on drawing. He’s now in Year Eight (day twenty-seven hundred and something) and has had the opportunity to publish four books in The Daily Zoo series, including the latest volume: The Daily Zoo Goes to Paris.
When not spending time tending to his Zoo, Chris freelances as a character designer (some past clients have included DreamWorks Animation, Disney TV, Sony Feature Animation, Rhythm & Hues, Reel FX, Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., Rick Baker’s Cinovation, and Spectral Motion working on films such as Men in Black II, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Star Trek, and the Alien vs. Predator films). He also teaches Character Design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Chris lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles, still draws an animal a day, and celebrated eight years or remission in July 2013.
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