Growing up, Art’s sister probably didn’t appreciate the unflattering caricatures he sneakily sketched on her lunch bag. Nor did his parents approve of him drawing on the walls of the bedroom he shared with his brothers. But these were his first canvases. His fondest childhood memories are of times spent at Grandma Becky’s house, staying up late and drawing by flashlight. Listening to the rich tales of her childhood in Mexico inspired Art’s love of storytelling.
The first films Art saw in the theatre included THE BLACK HOLE and E.T. He imagined how fantastic it would be to take part in those adventures. He taught himself how to draw E.T., breaking the character down into shapes, painstakingly crafting every detail. The advent of the VCR opened up the world of Disney Animation, introducing him to BAMBI and PINNOCHIO. He rewound them over and over again, replaying his favorite moments, studying the artistry and movement. He dreamed of telling stories that touched others as those touched him.
Art’s formal training began at thirteen, when he was accepted to the Conservatory of Fine Art at Cal State L.A. Art rode the bus every Saturday for an hour and half to get there. Walking through downtown to change buses, he would often see things kids shouldn’t see. He even saw a man get stabbed in the street. But he never told his parents, for fear they would make him stop going to the art classes he loved so much.
After High School, Art yearned to continue his training. However, with such a large family, full-time art school simply wasn’t affordable. So he went to work at a drugstore while taking classes at a community college. One of his assignments was to emulate the style of an artist he admired. Art chose Disney veteran Ron Dias, and tried to reach out to him – but all he got was the runaround from the Disney operators. Finally, he posed as an L.A. Times reporter, and was connected to Ron. After Art admitted his ruse, Ron was only too happy to help, and invited him to the studio in Burbank. Art was in awe. Walking those hallowed halls only further solidified what he wanted to do with his life.
Under Ron’s mentorship, Art enrolled in classes at the American Animation Institute, making the long commute to North Hollywood. He studied under top industry experts. His skills and portfolio grew in leaps and bounds. When he wasn’t at school or work, he was at the Los Angeles Zoo, drawing constantly.
It all paid off when he landed his first job in the animation industry. A month shy of his twenty-first birthday, he was hired as a cleanup artist on the Turner animated feature CATS DON’T DANCE. His dreams were finally coming true. He was so nervous on his first day that he threw up twice on the way to work.
But Art thrived at Turner. As his work on his first film came to a close, Art was recruited by the Walt Disney Animation Studios to work as an assistant animator on FANTASIA 2000. He continued to grow as an animator and where once he was merely a visitor, now he was a veteran.
Art then took his talents to Disneytoon Studios, where he designed characters for BAMBI II. He was then given the opportunity to storyboard, and was immediately hooked by the story process. Now his creativity and artistry could truly shine. He worked as a story artist on BROTHER BEAR 2, the first four TINKER BELL features, and the theatrical release PLANES. Art was promoted to the head of story on the upcoming PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE, and head of story on an unannounced theatrical feature from Disneytoon Studios.
As a director, Art has taken the reins of several projects, creating three Tinker Bell shorts: HIDE N’ TINK, NO CROAKIN’ AROUND, and BEE’S EYE. More recently he was brought on as a director for the Warner Animation Group where he successfully rebooted one of their animated features. He is also now a published illustrator with the release of the Little Golden Book for PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE.
Art lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife of eighteen years and their three dogs. He spends some of his free time working with Padres Contra El Cancer, a local pediatric cancer charity. Plus he remembers how much he appreciated a helping hand in his formative years, so he does everything he can to mentor young artists hoping to break into the animation industry.