Today we’d like to introduce you to Bob Kato.
Bob, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I had been freelancing as an illustrator when I received a call from my alma mater, The Art Center College of Design, offering me an opportunity to teach. The idea of giving back to my old school appealed to me, and so in 1988, I began my teaching career, which I continue to this day as an Associate Professor. In the late 1990s, I began to transfer many of the skills I developed as an educator to the entertainment industry and started conducting drawing workshops for artists working at places like Universal Studios Creative and The Walt Disney Company. Over the years, my specialty has become facilitating workshops that feature characters in costume for the studios.
Around 2001, Disney Feature Animation decided to transition from hand-drawn 2-D animation to computer-animated movies. Many of the artists who were let go in the transition liked to attend my workshops. Some asked me if I would ever consider doing my own drawing workshop—something away from the studios and that anyone could go to. A friend and character artist, Rich Tuzon, knew of an available space and on August 1, 2002, The Drawing Club was born.
The Drawing Club has held costumed drawing workshops every Thursday night for over 15 years featuring hundreds of different themes and characters covering multiple genres from historical, fantasy, science fiction, action, drama, anime and pop culture.
When we started, I assumed the attendees would all be artists from the animation industry, but what actually happened was that a variety of artists—hobbyists, students, and professionals—of all ages ended up coming. I like that everyone feels comfortable at this workshop.
In 2015, the workshop moved to its current location at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I started The Drawing Club, we were the only weekly drawing workshop in Los Angeles that exclusively featured live models posing as characters in costume. There were classes at schools and workshops in the animation studios that focused on characters in costume, but all of the other drawing workshops in town featured nude figure models and classical music. Believe it or not, it took a while for people to wrap their minds around drawing characters in costume. People actually showed up wondering why the model wasn’t nude. Now I see these kinds of workshops popping up all over.
Please tell us about The Drawing Club.
Over the years, I have focused on running a high-quality drawing workshop that features the best models in Los Angeles in a variety of characters and welcomes all levels of artists. Since this is not a class, experienced artists are free to do their own thing, but if anyone needs instruction I am always available to help. I want people to feel comfortable and have a good time, so the details are important to me. The music, the visuals, the costume, the poses… everything has to be just right.
We have a great location at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra. Many workshops are in cramped studio spaces or storage rooms. Our workshop is in the very large main gallery surrounded by the current exhibition. The gallery features interesting art from pop culture. Exhibits change frequently, so it is fun to constantly see new art. Their bookstore is first-rate and Drawing Club attendees are offered a 15 percent discount! There is plenty of free parking in the back and there are excellent restaurants all around.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I never knew that watching cartoons every day when I was a kid would have such an influence on my career.
- $20 per session
- Address: Gallery Nucleus
210 E. Main St.
Alhambra, CA 91801
- Website: http://www.thedrawingclub.com
- Phone: Gallery Nucleus (626) 458-7482
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Galiher as Dr. Frankenstein
Stacy E. Walker in a Fantasy theme.
The Drawing Club Artists photo
John Mackey as The Invisible Man
John Tucker as The Hobo
Debra Haden as Clara Bow
Gallery Nucleus photo