Interview with Writer and Illustrator Jerrod Maruyama of The Pixar Times

I recently had the privilege of asking the extraordinarily talented Jerrod Maruyama of The Pixar Times three questions about his love for art and all things Pixar. Below are his answers.

Signing at the Huckleberry booth – Comic Con 2013 (Photo by  Jian Shen of BEARO )

Signing at the Huckleberry booth – Comic Con 2013 (Photo by Jian Shen of BEARO)

1. Pixar has told incredible stories over the years. Is there one particular story sequence in any of their films that has impressed you the most? 

There are two that come to mind instantly. They are structurally and thematically very similar. Jessie's montage in Toy Story 2 and the Married Life Montage from UP both deal with great happiness and great loss. These scenes truly define the characters they feature and set up their story arc eloquently. They are, of course, touching and emotional so they stay with you long after the film ends. But they also elevate the films they're featured in. I think Carl and Ellie's scene in particular is so powerfully effective and comes so early in the film that it takes you by surprise. And you have to love a film that finds a way to surprise its audience.

Jessie's montage. Toy Story 2, 1999. ©Disney/Pixar. 

Jessie's montage. Toy Story 2, 1999. ©Disney/Pixar. 

2. One of my favorite works of yours is the Pixar-inspired piece titled, Kawaii UP. Besides the film, what other things influenced this piece? 

My love of all things cute it is a constant source of inspiration for all of my work. I have such love for that film and the characters that I wanted to pay tribute in some way. Putting my own "kawaii" spin on these fantastic designs just seemed the natural thing to do. It's what I love to do.

Kawaii UP by Jerrod Maruyama. 

Kawaii UP by Jerrod Maruyama. 

3. Many creatives are fearful of making pop cultural references in their works for fear of compromising the integrity of the original character or property. How would you encourage an artist to explore their own style in the process?

That's a difficult question to answer. I don't believe there is one "right" way to do anything. I think you have to do what comes naturally. Try to find what appeals to you about the character. Animated characters are already caricatures of real life. So in many ways, fan art is a caricature of a caricature. You just have to find some appealing aspect of the subject and either exaggerate that characteristic or go in a completely opposite direction. Either way, you have to bring something to the depiction. Otherwise it just looks off-model.


Want to check out more of Jerrod's work? Make sure to visit his site by clicking here.