Chris: And it kind of worked, that’s the amazing thing. It’s like, you know, is frustrating as that might have been as a student, it most definitely left room for you to later on invent a very distinctive and unique visual voice really.
Pascal: It’s an interesting thing, I still don’t think I can draw that well. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see some of my friend artists that are like (inaudible) or especially guys that work at Dreamworks or Pixar that are in the big studios that are like the actual draftsmanship is almost a requirement for what they do. But I definitely have something else that they don’t have which is what makes me unique, and what I like as well. Once in a while, I like to understand (inaudible) a little better but at the same time I’m like oh you know, there’s so many things I’d like to do. You know, I wish I’d be a cook (inaudible) or something like that. That’s not going to happen. The school was…I actually liked it when I was there, it was frustrating because when we all, most of us when we got…not most of us, but like at least half of us got there and wanted to learn how to draw. Like we quickly realized that what we were getting out of it was even better. And some people didn’t like it, the first year I remember a few kids left and then went to the (inaudible). At the time, (inaudible) it was like before 2000 it wasn’t as well known as it is now. Animation was just starting to like be (inaudible) and then having like the third year I was in this college so when the first girl I knew left to go to the (inaudible) it was like, “Where are going over there?” And in the end, she’s like “Oh yeah, (inaudible) God bless.” But you learn so much, first of all you learn about yourself, like your limits, that’s the main thing you learn about. Like wow, you’re so freaking limited and not knowing anything helps you to like go over and break those limits and try to explore which is something I think is sometimes seldom nowadays because I feel like…I just had a talk at school this morning where the teacher showed my work from the beginning of sketches (inaudible) to now sketches for people, I do a sketch every day and I post online. And I’ve been doing this for eight years now, nine years maybe, and from the beginning until now it shows like two different artists from the images between just like four or five different artists. And that’s something I think I got from the school, it was like I was drawing four different things.
Chris: Yeah, there’s a reckless abandon and a whimsy in your art, a lyrical quality that feels like you really found a way to harness the sort of raw experimental aspect but then still produce something crafted, a composition.
Pascal: This is a controlled accident now I guess.
Chris: Are you conscious of that? I mean is that something that you’re trying to do? I mean how does that kind of push and pull work?
Pascal: Oh absolutely, yes. Absolutely. You know, it’s funny, the more I go, the more unconscious I do and the more I go for that. I’ve gone to just find a really great point in my career if you want to call it that where now I’m actually asked to do that as opposed to trying to emulate the style which was the beginning of my career. And then again, I was one of the lucky ones because I only had to do this enlight, and copy, and stay on model and stuff like at the very beginning of my career. The first jobs I had, the very first animation job I had was with a company called Flying Rhinoceros and the first day I got there, they put me in front of a computer and asked me to animate something in Flash which I didn’t know how to do that. And I didn’t know how to animate either, they had seen my hand-drawn animations that I just started to do a few months before and they loved it and they assumed because I knew how to animate. And when they put me in front of the computer, I had no idea what to do. (inaudible) wanted to show me how does she use that…I knew the software, I just didn’t know how to use the way they were doing it which was in pieces as opposed to drawing. And when I was doing my animations, the eyes were way off the head and the nose and things were just like moving around and that was fine for me because I was getting the point across but for them it was like, “Oh my god, you can’t do that. You have to stay on model, do the characters like really straight and the animation has to have like (inaudible) or recall, you can’t have that many more frames in between.” It was like oh my god, I hate this! I actually hated it and I wanted to quit. Thank God, very quickly the storyboard artist that was there left and I was able to take his place where I got to draw and I didn’t have to (inaudible) at all or roughly a model due to my storyboards. And that was great, but what really happened is through the years later, I worked at something called (inaudible) in Portland and they actually asked me to work because my style was so loose and so energetic. And that’s what they were asking me to do and my main job there was to do (inaudible) for a commercial and every day I would do a 30-second commercial fully animated, fully timed with products, insertions and stuff like that which I was absolutely bored doing. But it was long hours of work, other times I didn’t really care…I actually like the commercials because the schedules were so much shorter, it was six weeks and you were done. But it was like you know, fifteen hours a day and I learned so much. I knew about telling stories but that’s really where I focus on how to tell a story efficiently, rapidly, get the ball from A to B to Z and just make sure that the person who was watching understood what I was trying to say. And on top of that, I learned what’s more important, that the idea of quality work varies greatly from a client to an artist to another artist. And that’s something that really really helped me with my artwork in general.
Chris: And what do you mean exactly by that?
Pascal: Well, everybody sees art differently. As an artist, you always tend to like dislike your art because you see what you could have done or you see your limitations but people who are not artists and see your image for the first time, they don’t have any idea your limitations. They just take it for what it is and a lot of times the way it looks comes second. The first thing they see is that they understand the image. They understand that you’re already like 80% of the way there, it’s pleasing to the eyes. Wow, you hit a home run. And for clients, it’s even different. For clients, it’s well in this frame, the product is not placed, oh my god, this is horrible, you have to change that! It doesn’t matter if the character is just a stick figure, just like a fully rendered Michelangelo, they really couldn’t care less about that. And that was such an eye opener because all of a sudden I realized oh my god, I could literally do stick figure animations and they will do it and they actually did. I did some of those Roush commercials with stick figures and they loved them and I did tons of those!
Chris: It’s almost like in a way, there’s actually more freedom than most of us allow ourselves to have, even artists. It’s almost like that was present in your mind for a long time which led you to respond positively to the curriculum at the art school and then later on flourish in these studios that are doing lots of different kinds of work. And it sounds to me the epiphany is based on oh yeah, it’s not just about what it looks like. It’s not just about what the expectations of a certain industry may or may not be for better or worse. I mean did it feel like that? Did it feel like freedom?
Pascal: Absolutely. Oh my god, when I was best. In a way I was freer than I’d ever been before in my art and in a way it was also…because I had to work so much it was like oh, I’m kind of like stuck here as well. Not stuck in a bad way, just like well, I still work because I had to put so many hours in and also I had to say when I was younger; I did like doing that. I did like working all nights and on the weekends and stuff like that and it was very unhealthy which later on I realized and I kind of changed my life around quite a bit. But I did love that and to be honest, every other job that I had after that I screwed up was because of the limitations I was putting on myself or that other clients put on me. Typically they came to me because of what I did, and sometimes I was thinking oh my gosh, I have to do this better, and in my head better was something I had already seen. And when I tried that, I tried harder, I was actually getting stiffer on some of those other jobs. And I did screw up some jobs I should not have screwed up and most jobs that have been done really, really well with were the jobs where I didn’t care and not in a mean way, more like oh well this is like a small budget so just stuff like this, I’ll just have some fun, it doesn’t matter. And it turns out, this is the best work ever and it took me a long time to be able to harness this sort of like I don’t care attitude and turn it into a professional tool because you get stressed, especially with a big budget. When you get commercials and your cut of it is tens of thousands of dollars you think oh my gosh, I have to do something really really good here. And that’s where I tend to like screw up, but then I was able throughout the years to realize that these were just jobs and be able to just let loose on them, and it helped me go faster, do better work, be able to edit it a lot easier, it just takes a little bit of practice and confidence as well I guess.