The West Coast Adventures of
MAPA Artist Arie Monroe
MAPA Artist Arie Monroe
This month, we catch up with MAPA Director Arie Monroe and her personal adventures in becoming a Hollywood animator.
For those of you who don't know, Arie took her amazing talents to Los Angeles recently...not an easy thing for a girl leaving her family here in Kansas City. But Arie says she plans to learn what she can from the big boys and then use those skills back here at home.
For now, she learns dozen of new faces each day as a caricature artist at the Universal Studios theme park. (Word is she is also moonlighting as a character clean-up artist for an undisclosed studio. She can't say where MAP-Animaniacs but trust us when we say it's a big one.)
"I love drawing caricatures," Arie says. "You really get to interact with a variety of people and personalities and you learn to add their personality traits to the drawing of them. They really enjoy when you pull out their personality in the illustration. ...Animation is like acting with a pencil."
We asked Arie to give us the lowdown on her California adventure.
"My work has started evolving again, Monroe says. "I felt like when I was in Kansas City my work became stagnant. So this is good."
Here is the rest of the interview:
MONROE: Well one of the major changes is I went from a freelance artist to a full time job. Currently I work as a Caricature artist at Universal studios while I look for animation work with my main focus being on character design, story and clean up. I had a friend that recommended my work and I got a little freelance stuff which I do after I get home from my other full time job. I am trying to get myself stable and soon I want to start updating my blog with new work on a regular basis.
I am also preparing for the CTN Expo. I am looking forward to it because I get to talk to studios directly and hand out samples of my work. Hopefully it will lead to a higher paying animation gig.
MAPA: Have you changed as an artist?
MONROE: My work has started evolving again. I felt like when I was in Kansas City my work became stagnant. So this is good. The freelance is challenging because I have to think in a very different way from doing spot illustration, sketch cards and caricatures. I am also looking forward to actually animating more.
My roommate is also an animator and we are working on a project together.
MAPA: Tell us a little about what your day is like going from one job to another.
MONROE: I love drawing caricatures. You really get to interact with a variety of people and personalities and you learn to add their personality traits to the drawing of them. They really enjoy when you pull out their personality in the illustration. It’s not just about drawing what you see but also about drawing what you feel: a very important key to animation. This allows me to put that into practice. Animation is like acting with a pencil. Today a friend at work referred to an animator as a really shy actor. In fact many of the people I work with are also aspiring animators and do a variety of art styles including abstract painting and fine arts.
MAPA: How's the commute?
MONROE: I recently bought a bike. Because Cali is pretty warm year round you can get a lot of places on a bike. It’s cool because I can do everything I do with a car. You can really deck out a bike with baskets and lights and mirrors so you can travel around town and do your grocery shopping. I am getting a lot of exercise. My commute to work is about 45 minutes but I hope with training I can get it down to 30 minutes. Buses also have bike racks so sometimes at night if I don't feel safe I can get on the bus for part of my ride home.
MAPA: What are you learning about the process of animation?
MONROE: I am learning a lot about the studio work flow.
I currently do character clean up. A person designs characters on model and then I clean up the roughs so that they can have time to do other things quickly. It is challenging balancing both to be honest. Sometimes they want artwork literally the next day or two and because I work full time I have to try and get it done as fast as I can.
Last week, I pulled an all-nighter to finish the project by morning and get it turned in and then slept 2 hours before going to Universal for work.
Because I am freelancing, I don't have to go to the studio. I just email in the project or Fed Ex if that is necessary.
I feel like I have a lot to learn though. I have a mentor that has been coaching me through some things.
Overall I am enjoying the adventure of being out west. On my next day off I am planning to visit Little Tokyo for sushi and shopping with some co workers/friends. It’s been fun seeing new things and meeting new people.