Interview: Sandro Cleuzo

Interview: Sandro Cleuzo
Name: Sandro Cleuzo

Where do you live: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Known for:
Character Animator, Character Designer and book author

Currently working with:
Freelancer Character designer and animator on projects for Laika Animation studios and Reel FX/Warner Studios.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
Since I was around 13 years old I knew I wanted to work in animation and I actually got hired in the field when I was 15 years old.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
Florence, Italy because not only is it a beautiful place to live but for its history in the arts and the renascence. Just to walk thru the same streets that Michelangelo, Raphael and Da Vinci walked is incredible.

How would you describe your creativity?
Restless. I can not stay one day without thinking of a new idea for a drawing or book or animation. I am constantly creating. In fact, I have drawers full of sketches, animations and paintings that are still there to be rescued one day.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I started professionally in 1985 when I was 15 years old. I applied at one of the major animation studios at the time here in Sao Paulo and was hired as an assistant animator.

What do you do at the moment?
Character design and animation for multiple studios plus work on my new personal children books and animation projects.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Try to find a business oriented partner, a manager. Most of us artists are not really good as business people so it is important to have someone dealing with the business side so you can concentrate on the creative side.

Tell us how it all started.
I used to draw since I was a little kid so drawing for me was a normal thing and a way to communicate. I am self taught, never went to art or animation school, so I had to learn by myself studying animation frame by frame, comics, art books, etc. At 14 years old I got an internship in a comic book studio and after a few months got a professional job in an animation studio that produced TV commercials. That studio became my school, so I learned on the job. I started as an assistant animator and moved up to animator after a couple of years. In that studio I did everything, storyboards, layouts, animation, camera work, etc. That gave me a great overview of the entire process. After 4 years in that studio doing TV commercials I moved up to animated feature films when I applied and got hired by the studio of Don Bluth which, at the time in 1990, was located in Dublin, Ireland. I worked there for 4 years and 2 more years when the whole studio moved to Arizona in the US. Then, I moved to the Walt Disney Feature Animation studios in Burbank where I worked for many years as Animator and Supervising Animator. I returned to Brazil where I continue to work for major studios in the US and Europe.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
The team that you are working with and the freedom that a studio should give to its artists to create.

What is your favorite film?
It is hard to pick one but in live action I love the Italian movie “The Bicycle Thieves”. in animation I love Disney’s Pinocchio.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
The animator and director Richard Williams because of his passion for the art form. He always give me inspiration to continue in the field.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Taking one full year just to study classical drawing in Florence, Italy.

What is luxury for you?
Being able to afford any art supplies, softwares and hardwares, books and DVDs that I need to do my work.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
One director I was working for chose me as a designer among others and said that he wanted me because I injected personality in my characters. That was great to hear. Also at Disney, in one of my reviews, someone said that I was Milt Kahl reincarnated. Milt Kahl happens to be my all time favorite animator and artist. I do not know who said it because the review did not specify who said what.

What do you fear most?
Not have enough work and being forgotten by the studios.

What is a happy life to you?
Being able to keep working in the field of animation and have enough work to keep paying my bills and to continue creating my books and projects.

What does a regular day look like for you?
I wake up around 7:00 am and after catching up with e-mails and messages I have breakfast and then head to my studio around 9:00 am. I work all day until 7:00 or 7:30 pm with a 30 minutes break for lunch. Sometimes I work traditionally on paper and sometimes digitally on a Cintiq, it depends on the work.

Tell us about your dream project.
Making my first animated feature film that I am developing at the moment.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I have many but Richard Williams and the late Milt Kahl.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
I think I have a classical animation style. Again, I am really influenced by the work of Disney artist Milt Kahl and I study his work constantly. I also try to change styles sometimes and try other ways.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
 My wife and daughter.

What inspires you?
Great quality work in any art field, especially in animation.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
As a technical book in my field, The Illusion of Life by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. In literature I would say the Michelangelo biography by Martin Gayford.

Check out Sandro’s awesome blog

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One Comment

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  1. Mr. Cleuzo characters haves the better best personality, he makes his characters come to life and tell a story without one word of dialog, its truly magical and a contemporary true and living draftsmen of animation. I pick up my pencil every time of the thought or site of his work.

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