What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Ian Dorian. I currently work as a concept and character designer, toy sculptor, and, Adjunct professor.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I have done lots of things that required me to really learn about myself, I worked for butchers, sold hardware, worked for the government, and as an investigator.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
To be honest, I’m proud of everything I’ve worked on. Not because I think I always did a smashing job. Because I’ve had failures almost as much as successes..or is that the other way around? Hahaha! I have to say I really enjoyed the early years working for a start up studio. I created some of my best characters and had the chance to work with some great talent. Jim Krueger was a great guy to work with. He was the writer on a big project I created and developed. He taught me a ton. He was very open minded and very accommodating to the needs of the company. I also enjoyed working as a sculptor for a few Toy and Game companies. I still haven’t created my dream “piece” yet but being able to challenge my 3D skills is a lot of fun. As far as my current work goes working with Atlas Model Railroad Train Co. is always a pleasure. Those guys are so involved (in a good way) in everything they produce and they have been very supportive and creative to what we are doing. Mila (Milafilm.com) Is a project I recently joined. It’s an animation that deals with the survivors of war. Cinzia Angelini (the creator) is a wonderful person to communicate with and the team is very down to earth and top professionals. I’m glad to be a part of such a great and ambitious project such as this one.
How did you become interested in animation?
Bugs Bunny, Battle of the Planets, Ninja Scroll, Thundercats, Transformers, Johnny Quest, Jungle Book, Every single Pixar animated film especially Monsters incorporated, Ratatouille and Toy Story….and the list goes on. Animation has always seemed like a dream set to pictures. The drama! The tension! The sadness! The ability to go beyond your fears! The ability to do what is necessary regardless of the outcome! Mannn oooohhh man!! Was I ever hooked?! Since I was a little boy I imagined that one day my twin brother and I would create and produce our own cartoons. We attended a school for the gifted and talented in NJ and spent much of the week creating characters and stories just as other kids do, but, we recorded them on paper. We sculpted them. We wrote stories about them….about us! I didn’t realize until decades later when I had visited my boss Joe Kubert (Joe is a kind and helpful man) in his studio after I finished teaching an advanced anatomy class and we were discussing the creative process. He said to me after looking at some of my work…. “Remember Ian, We are story tellers first.” This was a very valuable statement. It was like Joe had decoded what Jack Kirby told me when I was 19. Jack said “Ian, You may not always get the perspective perfect, and you may not always get the anatomy just right, but, If you create from the heart and live in that world. You’ve got em! They’ll believe the unbelievable!”
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Elizabeth NJ. I was a first born American of an Armenian Father from Marseille, Franceand a Jewish Mother whose family was from Eastern Europe. I got into the animation field the way everyone else does. I had big dreams, worked hard, sought out contacts, took chances, worked for free and reaped benefits from the kindness of others..
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I get up around 6am and start working around 7am. I check my inbox to see if I received any comments from the powers that be then do warm ups usually in the form of pencil sketches. I make my ritual 4 hour call to one of my best friends Mark Texeira (we are virtual studio mates via the phone) and I get to my real work. A day will usually last till about 7pm or 8pm. After that I do my reading and research to improve my skills and to write my lectures for the University and college where I teach. I eat when I get hungry and since I work mostly freelance I do the everyday things somewhere in that time like laundry, cleaning, cooking.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
My favorite part of the job is the feeling of accomplishment when I am done. Oh and wearing Superman pajamas while working.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
What I like least????….. Hmmmm???.. I’d have to say the occasional down time, waiting for approvals and go-aheads, and when I can’t get the colors right! (Refer to Lust for Life: Kirk Douglas)
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
As a character designer and sculptor I usually work with old school stuff, pencil, ink, wax, paint. But I really enjoy working with computers as well. I was not a fan at first but my friends at my old studio (Big Iron) really pushed me to get used to working digitally and now I can say I really love it. Thanks Matt, Mark, and George.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Probably when theres down time and I’m thinking why didn’t I create the slinky? LOL!
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I have but they are the ones we’ll all talk about twenty years from now.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Uhhhh???!! I’ll abbreviate..Orphaned young, Gang, abuse, poverty. How’s that?
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Well I started a book inspired by situations in my life that also deals with genocide, war, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Oh and Gods and Tech =P
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Well, lets see, I can calculate distance and time well and I can dance. I have a knack for martial arts and I’m good with kids (is that an unusual talent?)
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? Trust everyone and no one. Work hard, work smart. Don’t be a prick…It comes back to ya! Realize most ambitious people see you as a vehicle towards their ambitions. Some (and I mean some) people see you as a partner in a goal worth sharing. Provide something. What do you have to offer and is it better and so unique that you are the one they’ve gotta have. Give of yourself, but, don’t give yourself. Remember you didn’t fail because someone else succeeded. Don’t blame…resolve.