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I’m inspired by many different artists, but here are a few that have made a particular impression on me.
Joel Friesch – A mentor and a friend, I have a deep respect for Joel’s eye and his fair, but no bullshit way of telling you what he thinks. Joel was an Art Director at Tippett when I started and eventually moved into a VFX Supe role. When he left, he championed me moving into an AD roll to help fill the void – a pretty big void. Joel has the unique talent of drawing out the best in artists, getting what he wants out of them and giving them room to contribute creatively, which is a rare skill. He’s also a super talented sculptor and painter in his own right, which is part of why he commands the respect of artists who work for him. Check out his Scaled Art.
Brad deCaussin – Brad gets the credit and the blame for getting me into the VFX business. We met working for a quirky startup during the dot.com boom. The first day we had lunch together soon after he started, he told me all about the big hole the recent loss of his mom had left in his life. We’ve been friends ever since that day and we’ve shared the experience of growing up professionally. He went on to work on Lord of the Rings for his first film gig (no less) and eventually convinced me to talk to the folks at Tippett. For someone so talented, it always makes me smile to think that he is more comfortable doodling on a paper cup or a post-it note than he is doing a committed painting (which he is very good at.)
Nat Parsons – I met Nat as an undergrad at CCAC. We were both doing work about our fathers, as I recall, and I watched him work closely. Nat eats, breaths and shits art. He lives it everyday and it has always intimidated and inspired me. Though our paths cross infrequently, I am glad to call him a friend. Besides my own work, I probably own more Nat Parson pieces than anyone else. I still love looking at watercolor paintings he did 20 years ago. Take a look at his work… better yet sign up for his mailing list and go meet him at one of his openings.
Phil Tippett – If you know about Phil, you know that he is a film-making legend. To really understand why, you have to know more about him than his credit list. Phil is creativity in the raw and I’ve learned a lot about picture making working with him. Years before I ever knew who Phil was, I went to see an exhibit of Star Wars props and memorabilia at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in SF. I remember seeing one of the Tauntaun puppets, and thinking, “Are you kidding me? This is what I so totally bought into as real?” Seeing it there it was a crude mash-up of rabbit fur, electrical tape, and who knows what else. I instantly had a new found appreciation for movie magic. So yes, Phil is my boss and this may smell a lot like brown-nosing, but if you could see what the man can do with some chicken bones, hot glue, and paint you’d know why he is in this list.
Wrik Repasky – Wrik was a year behind me in the graduate print program at SAIC. I think he decided I was alright when he saw I was a card carrying member of the late night club and that I too slept on my studio floor regularly. He probably called all of that into question when I sub-leased him my cockroach infested studio apartment the summer I left Chicago. Wrik is the most passionate, knowledgeable printmaker I know. He is also living the dream I had when I went to grad school. Professor Repasky teaches printmaking to a lucky handful of students every semester. Mah-man is currently fulfilling one of his long time dreams of training at the Tamarind Institute. You can follow his progress on his blog.