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Check out Jesse Dean’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Dean.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am currently a storyboard artist on the animated series, Bob’s Burgers. It all began in 1987 when I was born in St. Petersburg Florida to a couple of wild animals for parents. My dad worked construction, building tennis courts and odd jobs (very Florida) and my mom worked in project management with long hours, which basically means I was raised by Blockbuster Video. My young brain sponged up all of the crazy cinema classics that I probably shouldn’t have been watching for my age, but am grateful for now. When I started to draw, I was re-creating everything I was watching from the movies. Robocop, Back to the Future, The NeverEnding Story, Jason and the Argonauts, etc. All of my early drawings were fantastical and detailed.

Fast forward to 2001: Living in NorCal.

In high school, I was spending more time drawing on the sides of my scantrons than I was actually spending time studying. In these years, I was mostly watching comedy with some animation sprinkled in there. Chappelle Show Studio Ghibli films were heavy influences. I knew I had limited options for careers so I started considering being a tattoo artist just so I could get paid to draw all day. My mom called a family intervention on me and everyone decided I needed to attend a 4 year university.  So I decided to go back to my homeland and attend art school at the University of Florida in 2005. After I was denied, I attended Santa Fe Community College where I started to actually properly study Drawing and Painting for the first time in my life. I went there for a couple years before re applying and getting accepted into the art program at UF. From there I hit the standard speed bumps of realizing I wasn’t the best artist in school anymore and I had to step up my game. By the end of the program in 2010, I had my wits about me but I didn’t want to be a gallery artist, SO I decided to continue my professional student career and take my skillz to grad school.

My girlfriend, our little dog Pootie and I decided to move west. My 3rd time moving from Florida to California, and not my last. At that time I decided to study 2D animation at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Three years of learning traditional animation from industry vets prepped my mind and body for the grueling hours of being an animator. I graduated from there in 2013 with tiny animation reel and high hopes. Pretty quickly after graduating, I received my first “job” offer from Bento Box Entertainment in Atlanta GA. This pretty much kicked off my career in TV Animation. Since then, I’ve freelanced in and out of tv and have worked on shows such as Archer, Aqua Teen, Squidbillies, and now Bob’s Burgers.

Please tell us about your art.
My art has grown throughout the years. From using superheroes on Marvel covers as reference, to freeze framing Conan the Barbarian, to sitting in a flowery field drawing the trees in the distance, it has all informed what I create these days. 80’s and 90’s campy goodness resonates big time.

I am a huge fan of mixed media. I mostly let the art guide itself. I try not to plan too much and just create. If I have an assignment for design or animation, things get a little more planned out, between sketches and the cleaned up deliverables. But when I am just drawing to put some lines on paper, I pretty much just let my hand go. With a very loose pencil sketch to get a basic composition, I will then just hit the drawing straight ahead with a fine tipped Micron or V5 pen. I let the process be its own energy. I just keep drawing until the character or environment has filled up my page. I rarely go into a drawing knowing what I’m drawing. I go into autopilot and figure it out as I’m going.

If I decide to take the illustration further, I will scan it and bring it into photoshop for coloring and textures. I like to bring in real photos to layer and texture my pieces. It gives them a tangible feeling like you could touch the animal fur, ocean water, or the clouds in the sky. It heavily contrasts the cartoonish characteristics of the illustrations I draw on the paper.

In the end, the drawings and art I create are for myself. However, If I can get someone to laugh or squint their eyes as they get in close to see all of the hairs and teeth, then I get that little extra tingle of joy.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
Success to me is measured on a couple of levels. #1, is the basic thing of being able to pay bills. This is obviously going to be close to number one for everyone because we all need food and to put a roof over our heads. If you can make that happen by creating artwork, that is a huge accomplishment. It’s not a natural born talent. It might be something you gravitated towards since childhood, but it’s really something you’ve worked on for so many hours/years to gain control of the skills to be able to apply them. Pat yourself on the back.

#2 definition of success as an artist is being happy with what you’re creating. This can sometimes go against #1 because to make that money, you have to suck down your pride or creativity and create some garbage and awful design work for an unfulfilling, brain-melting project. If you can get yourself into a good headspace, creating work, and it is genuinely making you happy when you get to a good stopping point, then you are succeeding.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The main load of my work can be found on my website,

The rest of my doodles and what not are posted on my Instagram @messylames. Feel free to follow along, but I do also post a lot of basic food and dog related stuff so be prepared for that.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Rene Evans

    February 26, 2019 at 18:30

    That’s my boy! I am so proud of my son. Wild animals and interventions? Hmmm….he has a wild imagination!

    Haha! Congratulations, Jesse. Your mother loves you dearly!

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