Louie del Carmen


What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Louie del Carmen and I’m a story artist at Dreamworks Animation

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing real crazy but I was an FM DJ in Manila before I came to the US and one of my early jobs after coming to America was a hotel room service order taker.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve learned from EVERY show i’ve worked on whether they were hits or not but I loved my last TV gig on the MIGHTY B!  KIM POSSIBLE was another awesome show.  INVADER ZIM was challenging and the people where downright insane. In other words: FUN.  RUGRATS was where I learned to board and eventually direct series so that was memorable.  The few episodes I boarded on GRIM ADVENTURES of BILLY AND MANDY really challenged and eventually elevated my work.  Really proud of those.  And of course, working alongside some really amazing, world class talent on KUNG FU PANDA.
How did you become interested in animation?
I probably didn’t recognize it but growing up watching Japanese toons like Tetsujin (Gigantor) and Mazinger Z as well as all the american fare like Johnny Quest, Herculoids and Space Ghost, I guess I was always interested.  It wasn’t until I was 22 that I realized it’s what I was meant to do.  I’m a relative late bloomer when it comes to animation so I am still very much a student of it, even after 15 plus years. 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from the Philippines and moved here to the US in 1989.  After realizing I should make a move to an animation career and after 2 years of drawing for a portfolio, I got my first gig as a character designer on the Nickelodeon show AAH! REAL MONSTERS which was being produced by KLASKY-CSUPO.  I took a character test and whatever I did impressed them enough.  Designers Alex Dilts, Chris Battle and producer Cella Duffy were instrumental and I am glad to say I am still good friends with them to this day.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Drawing lots and lots of story panels, attending story meetings and brainstorms, pitching, pitching, pitching…  did I say pitching yet? Fortunately all the crazy “let’s get panels to editorial” frenzy is balanced by enrichment classes like gesture drawing and film theory and guest speakers like James Cameron and George Lucas…

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
telling stories.  It’s a rather corny answer but it’s at the essence of being in the film making side.  Even something as mundane as a character walking the sidewalk can have so much weight and emotion that you can give life to.  When it’s working it’s the most beautiful thing.  When it’s not you want to gouge your eyes out.  The struggle becomes something rather addicting because you know the breakthrough moments are such a rush of exhilaration.  I also like the interaction, camaraderie and even in some minor way, the friction between your colleagues.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Short deadlines and not enough donuts.  I happen to think short deadlines sharpens your focus and thus better work comes out of it.  It’s just when you try to tap that well once too often.  You end up with work that could have been better.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I get asked to do things that aren’t exactly appropriate like paint murals for baby bedrooms or draw someone’s grandmother’s idea for a children’s book.  Other than that the biz is cool.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
A Wacom Cintiq, a stylus and Adobe Photoshop.  Everything a growing boy needs.  If Coffee can be considered technology, count that in as well.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I took Richard Williams masterclass and became an instant fan.  I think he’s the right balance of insanity and genius. He has such a genuine approach that you can’t help be inspired.  I’ve never formally met Glenn Keane but seeing him draw is really amazing and reminds me how much more of that mountain is left for me to climb.

Describe a tough situation you had in life
When my father passed away.  Something you prepare for but you’re never truly ready for it.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I self publish my own sketchbooks and comics.  I am in the midst of completing a 2 part graphic novel called STEEL NOODLES.  For the record I am not a comic-book artist so the work is piecemeal but the storytelling part is relevant to the animation story boards.  This is my way to get my own stories out there independent of the collaborative work I do within the studio setting.  It’s a great balance.  I also play guitar.  I used to be in a band and played around town in the early ’90s but now there is little time for it and all that I can do is strum my guitars every now and then.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can arm fart the song “More than a Feeling”.  I also like to do target shooting.  One of those is true.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be yourself.  Be independent.  To discover the limits of your talent you have to strive to go beyond it.  Becoming a great artist is a life long quest which never ends. You have to draw yourself to greatness.  No shortcuts or magic potions. Do that and everything else takes care of itself.  Above all else:  Be a good human being.

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