We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayley Kanbara and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayley, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always been the creative one in my family. I began teaching myself to draw when I was twelve years old by drawing my own silly (and unoriginal) stories with crudely drawn characters. As I entered high school, I began wondering what I could with my creative skills. I was writing my own stories and considered becoming a fictional writer, but a part of me was tugging me back towards art, particularly digital art. I’m a huge Disney and Pixar fan and always loved looking forward to the next film to see all the creative ideas that the artist and animators come up with. That part of me began to become interested in character and concept art.
After getting my associate’s degree, I decided to pursue a degree in graphic design by enrolling in Huntington University at the Peoria campus here in Arizona. There, I have helped clients with logos, pamphlets, and posters and enjoyed every single one. However, as much as I enjoy designing fun posters and logos, a part of me still remains after so many years. I couldn’t shake the idea of creating characters.
The artistic path that I’m working on following is creating characters that might one day bring happiness and memories for kids and adults who watch these films.. Whether I end up working with a prestigious company like Pixar or an independent animation studio, I want to be there to help create happy childhoods. I am more than happy with settling as a graphic designer and designing ads or posters for a client, but concept design is something I’m more aiming towards.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I do graphic design projects like posters or advertisements, I’m fascinated with the vintage designs found on old travel posters or postcards from the 1950’s and 60’s. I just love how designers created posters using subtle colors and mixing decorative and simplistic fonts. I used these inspirations a lot during my college projects. For example, one project I did was a horror comic book cover of Aesop’s Fable “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” As soon as I heard the words “Make a vintage comic book cover,” I immediately accessed the vintage knowledge, along with the creepy section of my brain, to design what has got to be one of my favorite schools projects.
With my passion in character design, I began studying the way Disney and Pixar designed their characters. Disney and Pixar have created characters are very expressive and have mastered the way of having characters with exaggerated, yet still proportionate designs. Currently my artwork still retains some styles of Disney and Pixar, but I have began working on adding changes to help make my art my own. I’ve began taking my interest in vintage styles and designing the into my characters.
For right now, I’ve been helping a team led by an independent director located in Phoenix by designing characters for a short animated film. It’s been everything I’ve wanted to do, and has been an awesome experience. Creating the characters in this animated film has helped me get out of my comfort zone of the types of characters I normally draw. I put aside my style of drawing cute creatures in vintage clothing to help give the director’s characters go from an idea to a reality, to give a face and personality to these written ideas. One day these characters in this short film just might make a child smile and create fond memories for them. That’s what I think is the most important part of being a character designer: to create childhoods.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to all the creative minds at Huntington University in Peoria, Arizona. To the students and professors at Huntington, thank you very much for everything that I have learned from you. From the critiques that helped me learn from my mistakes to the advice that I’ve taken with me after all this time, I truly appreciate everything you have done. Thank you!
Other: Behance account (current portfolio): https://www.behance.net/hayley_kanbara