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.

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

Behind Every Camera There Is...

Woody's Boot: Jojography via Favim.com

Woody's Boot: Jojography via Favim.com

There are a long list of phrases that photographers, in general, dislike. Good hearted people will mistakenly say things like, "Your camera takes great pictures". But the truth is, the camera doesn't take great pictures. My camera is only the tool. My camera is my paintbrush. The image sensor (and sometimes film) is my canvas. The lens is my chisel and the world before me is my giant block of marble. What comes out of my darkroom (digital or otherwise) is a unique representation of how I see the world. It's not the way the camera sees it.  

Painters look at a canvas and see swirls of paint working together to create a painting. Sculptors look at a chunk of rock and see a three dimensional creation that they need to dig out. As a photographer, I look everywhere and see shadows. I see depth. I see colors and tones and textures. I work with light and angles, painting with light and sculpting with my lens.

Jessica Chastain as Princess Merida in Latest Disney Dream Portrait by Annie Leibovitz for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

Jessica Chastain as Princess Merida in Latest Disney Dream Portrait by Annie Leibovitz for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

Sadly, in some circles, photography is undervalued as an art form. There is this idea that because something that already exist can be reproduced then it lacks artistic integrity. Yet, I don't see filmmakers struggling with this. The truth is that art is the creation from out of my mind. Photography is simply my medium of choice. Still cameras and two dimensional images make sense to my brain and to my imagination. Whether I choose to share that with paint or stone or digital images or stick figures really makes no difference. That is why I do this. That is why I love this.

For this event, I think that photography is one of the more challenging mediums to work with. If you are going the character route, you have to find locations, models, possibly make up artists - all before you even take a single shot. Finding landscapes to match existing animation is tricky as well. But this is where creativity and imagination will shine. As photographers, it is up to us to take the visible world in front of us, the concept we are in pursuit of, and CREATE. You may want to use silhouettes, special lighting, expressive colors, and anything else that comes into your mind to put together an image that will excite the imagination of others. Best of luck to you in your pursuit of some amazing images!

Save the Date

for the love of pixar save the date

I'm happy to announce that over the next few months I will be collaborating with some of Pixar's most enthusiastic fans to raise awareness and support for 4 causes though an art exhibition. The exhibition will take place this Fall in San Diego. Please save the date! 

We've got some very exciting stuff planned so stay tuned (additional details to come).