Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

I came to the US when I was about 12 years old, attended pretty typical public schools, thought about going to college, but skipped it all together because I started working professionally. When I was about 17 years old I “ghosted” background/environment designs for various animated television shows like “The X-Men”, “EXO Squad”, and other shows of that caliber. Then I got my first in-house position as a character designer on a show called “Phantom 2040” when the original designer left to go onto another project.

Since I didn’t take any classes or do any type of professional training to be in this industry (a fact that I know was a detriment to my over all development as an artist), my best “schooling” were the other professionals around me. Very early in my career I made it a point to pay attention to any and all of the people around me who were willing to take the time out and give me pointers, help me out by showing me how they would do things – something I still carry with me to this day.

How do you go about drawing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?

That’s really such a broad question considering the types of jobs I do. If it’s client specific, then I make sure to fulfill any and all of the requirement that the client calls for – if it’s an advertisement campaign, for example, I need to make sure their product is prominent on the final image associating the feel and look that perpetuates their brand.

If I’m drawing conceptual designs for different shows I’m on, then I make sure it fits the character description as described in the script, how the overseas animation companies will animate the design (if it’s too complicated or of there’s enough information in the pose I chose, etc) and if it’s something that will give the show a specific style and look that will make it its own identifiable entity.

If I’m drawing for myself, I rely specifically on the emotion I want to convey with the image if I were to exhibit the image somewhere. I make sure pay attention to the body language of the figure, the facial proportions so that the image is engaging and speaks to the viewer/audience as personally yet universally as possible.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

As an Art Lead and Concept Designer for Cartoon Network’s “Ben 10: Alien Force”, I get into the office about 10:30AM and go through morning approvals for work that have been turned in by the freelancers and make notes if there are any significant changes that need to be made in order to accommodate the directors and their storyboard crews. I address notes and questions that the overseas animation studios may have about missing background designs on shows that have shipped. I look through and compare the “call-out” list for BG designs versus the storyboards in hopes of consolidating multiple designs in order to not kill the in-house designers with work. If there is a new script that’s been turned in, I read through that draft and make a mental note of the things I have to do rough conceptual designs for so that the Production Assistant can have something to hand out to the storyboards artists so they have a point of reference for when they have to do their section of the script. After all is said and done, it’ll be about 3PM and I can start on my art responsibilities for the day. There are never enough hours to get everything done. And what I’ve just described to you is an ideal day – minus the panic attacks our crew goes through when something comes along and throws all of that out of whack.

I work with Executive Producer and Art Director Glen Murakami, the man behind the success of the “Teen Titans” animated show for Warner Bros. In this production his approval supersedes mine and if he sees something wrong or an element that needs to be changed in the designs (conceptual, final or otherwise), all of that have to be addressed before anything can be shipped overseas.

Glenn Wong is the Lead Character Designer for the show. When a conceptual character design leaves my office it goes directly onto Glen’s desk and he proceeds to save my ass by making the concept I just did onto something that’s animation friendly. He’ll put the image “on model’ which will keep it within the style and in the visual context of the show. On top of all that he has to coordinate with other artists in his department for incidental characters, turn-arounds for the main models, etc. He’s an art monster.

Norm Ryang is the Lead Prop Designer. As with Wong, once a rough prop concept I come up with is cleared by Murakami, it goes to Norm and he makes sure it’s something that can be turned and animated, adds the flair that it needs in order to be identifiable to our show, and turns the rudimentary scratches I turned in for approval into something cool and unique. Norm’s daily responsibilities go far beyond what I’d have patience for. He, along with Glen Murakami and Glenn Wong, are some of the key reasons why the show looks as good as it does.

At the end of the day, around 8:00PM or so, I get home and start on my pages for whatever comic book I’m working on - the latest book being “Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin” for Marvel Comics. That’s another four hours or so. Like I said, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

On the animation front, I’ve worked on Aeon Flux, Masters of the Universe, Pitch Black: dark fury, The Batman, Justice League, and Legion of Superheroes. Currently I’m on the revamp of the Ben10 show for Cartoon Network.

Comicbook-wise, I’ve worked on one-shots and fill-ins for both Marvel and DC Comics on titles like Superman, Deathlok, Mr. Majestic, Ladytron, and Cybernary 2.0. I just recently finished my last issue of Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin.

What are you working on now? (if you can tell us)

On the independent front, I’m working on a creator-owned book for Image Comics with writer Jonathan Tsuei called [JUMP], and another graphic album for Tori Amos.

Who do you think are the top artists out there today?

I can tell you which artists I gravitate to personally; whose work speak to me. I scour import book stores for Claire Wendling’s work, as well as the work on an artist names Benoit Springer – I model a lot of the stuff I do now after his work on “The Volunteer”. Miguel Prado is a real inspiration. Hugo Pratt’s work is humbling and teaches me so much. I’ve been pouring over Robert McGinnis’ work lately. And he doesn’t draw too much syndicated work, but Bill Watterson is always going to be in my Top 5.

There are also other artists online whose blogs and art sites I try to visit whenever time permits, but the one that immediately comes to mind is Gabriel Pennacchioli. He’s a designer and story artist for Dreamworks Animation, and his drawings are a really good example of how to pear down action and emotion to basic communication. I’m always blown away by his work.

Could you talk about what types of tools or media that you use?

I’m really simple and almost boringly basic when it comes to my drawing tools. I use a mechanical pencil loaded with blue lead, .05 in size. And I ink my work with watercolor brush pens. When I do end up coloring something traditionally (which is few and far between), I use the brand the COPIC makes. When I color something digitally, I go to the standards that are Adobe Photoshop coupled with some kind of graphic tablet made by WACOM.

What part of drawing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?

For me, the most fun part of drawing is the drawing process itself. When I draw things correctly, when I draw them terribly – that’s all part of the process and experience for me and I’m enjoying myself the entire time.

I don’t find any particular one part of the physical act of drawing any more laborious than another. There arte times when I’ve got to draw something that pretty extensive by way of pencil or pen mileage. In those cases, it presents me with the daunting task of finishing, but it’s not ‘hard’, per say.

If I have to answer that part of the question, I think the most difficult aspect of drawing is the planning and thinking that goes behind the image before my pencil ever hits the paper. As random and ‘off-the-cuff’ as I make some of my images, I am really laboring over it in my mind before I actually start drawing.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?

I do anything and everything that is NOT drawing. That may be surprising to hear, but the less time I spend at my drafting table – whether watching movies, or talking to my other friends in the industry or looking at and analyzing other people’s artwork – the less time I spend just laboring over my own work and just sitting there in a bubble the better off I am for the long term in keeping my sanity and maintaining my creative juices.

I find a lot of my creativity comes right after I’ve run a few miles. So I try to do that every morning before I start any drawing. It releases tension and frees my mind from aggravation. I become really focused right after a good, long run.

What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?

I like drawing women because I draw them so terribly. Hah! In all seriousness, I like taking myself out of my comfort zones of drawing what comes naturally to me because I never want to get complacent with my approach. I know that seems somewhat sadistic – to draw the things I don’t particularly care to draw - but I think that’s when I find myself having the most fun when I draw, when I’m challenging myself to push past whatever reservations I have regarding any subject matter because I’m not quite proficient at it yet. And at this point I’m having the time of my life because I am so NOT proficient at drawing many, MANY things!

What inspired you to become an Artist?

My cousin Ferdinand was an amazing illustrator. Back when I was just a child I saw him drawing anything and everything under the sun. But the thing that put it over the top is when he drew ‘Star Wars’ related stuff. I was so flabbergasted when I saw those images I had never seen Star Wars before and I thought to myself, “What in the world are these things? Robots, and spaceships, and aliens? I’ve got to find out what this is all about!” And from there, I got my first comicbook in elementary school – there was no going back at that point! So, Ferdie, Star Wars, and comics – in that order, I think.

What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

From Jim Lee, I learned to be professional. I learned that regardless of how good you are artistically, you’re going to be judged on how well you can deliver on your deadlines. Stay studious, stay disciplined, but most importantly, come through on the things that you promise.

From Peter Chung I learned to not work on projects that don’t inspire me; projects that don’t do anything to make me want to jump out of bed, drive an hour into work, jockey a drafting table, day in and day out. It does nothing for the soul.

From Lauren Montgomery I learned how to instill life into my drawings. I learned that’s it’s less about posing and more about how they exist in that environment, how they act. It’s easy to make something look like they’re standing there like an action figure or some toy, but it takes a different skill set in order to communicate life in a drawing.

And most importantly, from Sam Liu I learned how to tell a good story. I learned to think about how sequential images can communicate a huge gamut of emotions, even on the most subliminal of levels, and how to hand hold the audience through those emotions in order to get the most effective reactions out of them.

What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?

I’m not online much because there’s always something pending on my desk. Most of my internet time is spent on e-mails, downloading or uploading something to a client’s FTP, or onto my own blog. So when I manage some time away from work, I have these places bookmarked and high-lighted:

But because I’m trying to learn color, painting and technique, I go to Craig Mullins site ( on a semi-regular basis. He’s so good I always strive to get anywhere close to his work whenever I’m trying to paint my environments. I’m guessing that’s the consensus for everyone who sees his work.

I can hardly get enough of Tadahiro Uesugi’s ( work. I try to go there at least once a week. The entire site is in Japanese, but that doesn’t deter me – such gorgeous, gorgeous work. He’s got a book out right now called “Three Trees Make a Forest” that everyone should get.

And again, there are the artists whose work I mentioned earlier, but only when time permits.

What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

Above all else, maintain your professionalism. This is, in such a fickle industry, the one true commodity that any working artist can have for himself. Don’t overextend yourself on work only to fall short when it comes time to deliver. That’s career suicide in the short and long term.

Also, always, ALWAYS think long term. For example, sure you could probably do a job that will pay ridiculously well financially, but if all is causes you is stress loss of sleep, then I don’t know how much that will do for you when all it just takes away from your mental health you know? Those are the things you need to consider before taking on projects. But the reality is, when you’re first starting out, you may not have that luxury, but once you’re e in there, once you have some notches on your belt, I believe it’s worth considering the points that I’ve just mentioned.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

My blog is located at: KAHNEHTEH.BLOGSPOT.COM. You can send any and all correspondence to my e-mail address: ERIC.CANETE@GMAIL.COM

Finally, do you have any of your work for sale for people that like your work can know where, and when to buy it?

Most, if not all of the images that you see on my blog is for sale. For the most part, the images sell immediately to private buyers who see the image, then contact me privately through the e-mail address I mentioned above. Come to think of it, I have very few originals from the images that I post! That’s sort of sad to think about! Haha!

Eric Canete Gallery