Interview with Illustrator Ovi Nedelcu
Alyssa here! I’m thrilled to introduce the enormously talented Ovi Nedelcu. Ovi has worked everywhere from Dreamworks to Simon & Schuster to Disney, so basically he’s much more qualified than me to talk about visual art. Let’s get on to the interview!
1. What does your daily routine look like? Do you draw every day of the week, or do you take certain days off?
My daily routine is to try and get up early (around 6am) and do some early sketching to get the gears going along with a good cup of organic coffee.
After that I jump into my work load for the day and try and get it all done. Since I freelance and work from my home studio, I’m able to jump back and for between doing work for animated films and picture books depending on schedule and deadlines. I try and go to bed around 11pm-1am and then start back up again. I ALWAYS take the weekends off to recover and clear my mind.
2. In terms of storytelling, what makes KidLit different from other age groups? Why do you enjoy focusing on this demographic?
I like picture books because they allow me to tell the story with illustrations and limited amount of words. So the focus is more on visual storytelling as opposed to text. As an author, I write and illustrate, but I consider myself an illustrator first, writer second. I write because I have to, not because I want to.
3. Just Like Daddy was your first self-written and illustrated book. How was that different than working for a major company like Dreamworks? What were some pros and cons?
Working in animation is like being a cook in a huge restaurant, you are just PART of the puzzle, whereas writing and illustrating a book is like owning your own food cart and doing it all by yourself with maybe 1 or 2 others. Doing a book, it’s YOUR art and voice that is published, as opposed to film, where you are just one voice in a choir of voices led by a director.
One con for doing books is you are isolated and pretty much work alone, whereas in animation it’s fun to collaborate. Film allows you to get inspired by all the other artists around, and you know that you are all working for the same cause: to create a work of art (film).
Fortunately I get to do both, but if I had to pick one, it would be books because I’m selfish that way, ha.
4. When you worked on the film Kubo and the Two Strings, you mentioned that you went over just about every sequence and created story beats to help develop the tale’s tone. Could you expound on that, and share any insights about examining beats in writing/illustrating?
Sure. Storybeats in a film are basically all the major story points that happen in the story. A “BEAT” is basically an illustration of a moment in the story that illustrates what is happening at the point. There are about 15-20 storybeats usually for a film, and from that you get an idea of what the film will look like and see all the emotional beats and story points that need to happen.
It’s very similar to making a picture book. You pin up all your pages on a board, and you can see the “beats” to the book when you step back to get an idea of the overall story. Same exact thing.
The difference begins after that stage. In a film, you take those beats and each beat becomes a sequence to the film and from that beat you flesh out that section of the film and try to match the story point from the illustration into shots.
In a book you just finish illustrating that storybeat and add text. So the process for both a book and film start the same, they just end differently.
5. As an illustrator, do you have an agent? How does that work?
Yes, I have an agent. My agent basically scouts work for me and also negotiates my deals with publishers once someone is interested. They get a % of the profits.
6. What project was one of your favorites to work on? Why?
So far, my favorite project to work on was my book Just like Daddy because it was something I got to create from scratch and finish myself.
7. What sources of information and inspiration have helped you on your journey?
Probably too many to name — numerous artists from books, film, industrial design, literature, photography, etc. But probably a few of the most influential would be:
- the Provensens
- Tom Oreb
- Milt Kahl
- Chuck Jones
- Brad Bird
- Leo Lionni
- Bill Peet
- William Steig
- Arnold Lobel.
8. Any new projects we should watch for?
Always, I have a book coming out April 2017 called Cowboy Car, written by Jeanie Franz Ransom and illustrated by myself.
9. What KidLit books would you recommend to young writers/illustrators?
I don’t know if they are “KidLit” books specifically, but I would recommend:
- Drawn to Life: Walt Stanchfield
- Comics and sequential art: Will Eisner
- Understanding comics: Scott McCloud
- STORY: Robert McKee
- Invisible Ink: Brain McDonald
- The Illusion of Life: Ollie Johnston & Frank Thomas
- All books by: Ed Emberely
- Writing with pictures: Uri Shulevitz
- Picture This: Molly Bang
Ovi Nedelcu is an Author/Illustrator, Character Designer, Visual Development and Story artist. He has worked for clients such as Laika, Dreamworks, Simon & Schuster, Disney, Sony and Cartoon Network. Ovi majored in Illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Today He lives in Portland Oregon with his wife, kids, and animals. He is thankful for all the Lord’s blessings.