Scribble Artist Interview with Jerrod Maruyama!
Scribble Town (ST): Somewhere in between Disneyland’s heart racing Space Mountain and the soft butterfly tummy flutters of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage adventure rides we have the beautiful artwork of Jerrod Maruyama. His work is currently on view at Disneyland’s WonderGround Gallery. Jerrod went to San Jose State University where he earned a degree in Illustration. He loves drawing, watching cartoons and visiting Disneyland whenever he can.
Jerrod, where are you and what are you up to these days?
Jerrod Maruyama (JM): I live in Sacramento, Ca where I work from home as a freelance illustrator. I do all kinds of different projects for many different clients. I specialize in character concepts and designs. Sometimes I’m working with existing characters – putting them in different poses or costumes. And sometimes I get to create brand new characters from scratch. It’s a fun job and I’m always doing something different. But it’s also a lot of work.
ST: It sounds like a fun job and perfect for you! When did you start drawing? Was there somebody that encouraged you or was it the cartoons themselves that called for your creativity?
JM: I’ve loved to draw since I was a little kid. I would get obsessed with certain characters or movies and draw them over and over again. My friends and family would certainly enjoy my drawings. I loved drawing for other people whether it was birthday cards or posters, I would always draw with an audience in mind.
I think that’s why I became an illustrator as opposed to a fine artist. I would get a lot of positive feedback on my drawings from lots of people – but there was never really any one person who encouraged me to go to art school or pursue art as a career. Drawing was just something I did.
ST: I love your new take on cartoons such as Modern Mouse and Alice in Wonderland. Hipster Mickey is so great! It’s amazing how you managed to keep Mickey’s personality going even with the new threads. How did you get the vision for these characters?
JM: I’ve been a life-long fan of Disney animation. So, I was thrilled when Disney contacted me and asked me to create some art for their WonderGround Gallery. It was a new concept for the company and they wanted artists to bring their own interpretation of classic Disney characters – including Mickey Mouse. I have several pieces currently in the gallery with more to come. The gallery changes shows roughly every six months or so. New artists and characters are featured with each new them. The gallery is located in the Downtown Disney district at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. The next time you go to Disneyland, stop by and see all the fun artwork.
ST: Scribblers, when you get a chance go visit WonderGround Gallery!
Are you a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s animations too?! How did you come up with those pieces for the The Supah Mash-Up Art Party? Everything there is supah dupah cute!
JM: I love the films of Studio Ghibli. They’re such fun stories told in a way that’s completely different than what we’re used to in American feature animation. For the Mash-Up show, I got to work with Jared Andrew Schorr- a super-talented artists that works with cut paper. Since we both love Miyazaki’s work we thought it would be a fun concept to collaborate on. We both chose films we love and did individual pieces as well as working together on one large tribute to My Neighbor Totoro. It was a really fun project and my first time collaboration with another artist. I was so pleased with the results and hope to work with Jared again soon.
ST: What is your process for getting your work out of your head- do you sketch with pencil, paint, computer graphics, etc. ?
JM: I always start with a paper and pencil sketch. I am always drawing. When I’m sitting in front of the tv, I always have my sketch pad near by. You never know when inspiration will strike and you have to be ready. Once I have an idea down on paper, I scan the image into the computed are re-draw everything in Adobe Illustrator. It’s a powerful tool for artists but takes a little time getting used to it.
ST: That’s right- strike while the iron is hot! Now I’m wondering, what your studio environment is like. That’s where the magic happens!
JM: I am at my computer almost the entire day. Whether it’s drawing, updating my website or promoting my work through social media outlets, I spend long hours standing in front of my computer. I have a really high desk that allows me to stand or sit when I feel like it. I like listening to music when I work but usually it’s music without words. I find myself easily distracted by songs so I usually listen to classical music or contemporary movie soundtracks. If I’m doing Disney work, I find listening to Disney music puts me in the right mood!
ST: From being a fan of Disneyland to now creating art for them- I’d say you are living your dream! Any tips for us Scribblers?
JM: If you like drawing, do it all the time. Give yourself a made up assignment and do it to the best of your ability. Draw what you love and push yourself to get better. Everyone will tell you your drawings are great and that’s nice to hear. But you have to continue to improve your skills and learn more about the art you love. Don’t be shy about your work. Show it to as many people as you can. Get their feedback. It can be difficult to hear negative things about your work but try to listen to what other people have to say. Some of it will be helpful and constructive and some of it won’t. But you will always learn something from it. Take classes when you can and draw as much as possible. Keep your drawings. Keep them in a sketchbook or even a box for all your doodles. It’s important to see your progress and fun to revisit old drawings. It’s not an easy job being an artist, but it can be a lot of fun and very rewarding.
ST: Thanks Jerrod! For more inspiration please have a look at Jerrod’s website http://www.jmaruyama.com.