What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Curt Chiarelli and I am a designer, sculptor, illustrator and writer.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?So many candidates for the title, so little time. The boundary line between the absurdity of the jobs and the lunacy of those running these three-ring dog and pony shows were always somewhat blurred. One part-time summer job does stand head and shoulders above the rest because it played out like a bad TV sitcom directed by Ed Wood. I worked for a telemarketing company that peddled worthless coupon books to impoverished retirees for services and products not offered in the cities where they lived. And quite a motley crew we had assembled too: The top telephone salesman in our field office was a guy who looked and acted like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. A sullen fifty year old who suffered from some kind of anti-social personality disorder, his primary source of employment was as a pizza delivery boy. We nicknamed him, appropriately enough, “Psycho Ed”. He was one scary dude, but once he was on the horn he transformed into a regular Svengali of the shill. If you only knew him through his voice, you’d swear he was as debonair as Robert Mitchum. Little did his customers suspect that it was more like Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter . . . . If you think that was brilliant, you should have met our direct supervisor: a young, callow sociopath who charmed and bullied his way through all his daily interactions. He ended his employment with the company by swindling them out of tens of thousands of dollars and hopping a single-engine Cessna in a hasty retreat back to his hometown of Moline, Illinois. It remains vague in my memory whether or not he was ever tracked down or caught, but the direct result for his former employees was that everyone was laid-off, the office was closed and our final paychecks began to bounce like Flubber. All in all, the experience was more a source of bemusement for me than anything else: I was nineteen at the time and going back to college for the fall semester anyway.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m proud of them all, but some more than others. Ironically, the projects I’ve made the most creative, original and extensive contributions to are the ones that are the least known to the public. One project that I loved working on was a production design I did for an animation and effects house called Metropolis Digital back in the summer of 1995. It called for character and environment designs and I had free reign to indulge my own uniquely wacky style of German Expressionism on it. It was very satisfying, creatively speaking, and is still represented in my portfolio. Another character design assignment for the same company was of the San Jose Sharks hockey team mascot. I nailed the look immediately within three thumbnails. From inception through to finished full color illustration in fourteen hours straight. That one is also still in my portfolio. More recently, my sculpture work on the Boris Vallejo Mistresses of Fantasy figurine line has to rank up there at the top of the list. Boris remains amongst the best creative directors you can imagine. He had a certain constellation of virtues found in common with all the great ones: he was very secure in his abilities, communicated his ideas deftly and trusted you to do your job. You couldn’t ask for more than that and the results show.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m a born and bred Chicagoan. If you really want to know the origins of my involvement in animation you have to go back to the moment when Continue…