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November 2011 Artist Interview: Mike Ricoli

November 8, 2011


How did you start creating art?
When I was in grade school, I created a comic about a rabbit. After that I wrote cartoons for school newsletters and decided to major in art after high school. In college I developed an interest in animation and painting and now wish for a career in animation.
Is there a comic in particular that sparked this interest?
A lot of comics, such as Garfield and Mother Goose and Grimm I found inspiring. I also loved the Disney animated shorts. Drawing and making cartoons were extremely important to me because I was able to make my own cartoons and show people.

What’s your medium and why do you gravitate towards it?
I like oil on canvas because I love scuplting the oil paint into what I want to paint. I also like the way colors mix the best with oils.
What inspires you?
The way I use color is my main motive, my challange is finding new ways to make colors work well together. As for painting styles it would be the impressionist. Another artist I find very inspiring is J M W Turner.
Do you go into a piece knowing which colors you want to explore with or do you you have a general idea of the ares/colors you’ll explore as you’re looking at the blank canvas?
Normally I have an idea of which main color I want to use before I start painting, then I add more as I see the painting progress. For example, in “Midsummer Thoughts” I picked purple to be the main color of the painting before applying any paint to the canvas. As I progressed with a purple canvas, I allowed red, viridian green, and orange to mix with the purple. At the end of the painting, I applied yellow carefeully so it would work well with the purple.
Is there a difference in the way you approach painting and the way you create the drawings that will be used for animation?

Yes, I am stricter about detail and perfection in drawing with my cartoons than I am about painting. Usually with painting I explore new ways to paint, such as ways to apply the paint and how I use colors. Occasionally I will do drawing before the piece, but normally I just start painting on the spot. When it comes to drawing I have a certain way of creating my cartoons. I first start out with a storyboard and brain storming, then I draw it in pencil, then pen, erase the pencil marks, and lastly colorize it. If I feel the character doesn’t look right, I will fix it or start over.
Do you have certain themes or stories you enjoy telling with your animation work?
The plot (or theme) of the cartoon varies, but usually follows the same characters. I like writing very short stories for children to enjoy and I do enjoy making my cartoons motivate children to be creative. I keep the story very simple with a small joke or fun ending. The story involved an idea, a few things that happen in the middle of a story, and an ending. A few of my previous jobs have allowed me to see that children don’t have a long attention span, so I keep my cartoon stories short so children and quickly read them and then go onto the next activity they wish to do. If the story was too long, a child may become bored and not finish it. If I animate my comics in the future into a mini show, it will be about the length of a commercial break.
Would you prefer to work for a developed animation studio or do you enjoying the creative control of creating your own?
I probably would like being in a developed animation studio. I love working with others and creating new ideas with them, especially people who are fun to be around. However I do like having some control over my own characters I created.

What are your professional goals?

To sell my paintings and have my cartoons published.

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