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Meet Willie Real

Today we’d like to introduce you to Willie Real.

Hi Willie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Welp, I drew a lot as a kid like many folks out there and I guess I never put my pencil down. It was an escape and I absolutely loved it. My drawing tendencies got me into trouble in catholic school (I blame The Simpsons) but after much love and support from mi familia, friends and a high school English teacher who was a beacon to me (support after school arts programs!)… I believed in myself and in the journey which led to art school. After getting my feet wet in painting, drawing, printmaking and illustration I decided to pursue character design in animation. The timing gods were good to me when I graduated and I got my first job at an animation studio in New York designing for animated features. I spent six amazing years in NYC before coming back to Cali, Cali. I worked with the smart kids in silicon valley for a stint and have mostly freelanced ever since. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with folks like Dreamworks, Pixar, Google and most recently, Netflix to name a few.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Honestly, it’s been relatively smooth for me but there were some bumps. Being rejected by the school I wanted to attend three years in a row wasn’t pleasant, but it definitely drove me. It taught me that rejection is like a bus line if you will, a bus line you didn’t know was going to take a longer route to the destination… and that’s ok : ) The biggest bump for me was a toxic experience that poisoned my love for the work. The stress physically manifested itself and I had to step away. It took a lot longer to recenter myself than I had anticipated but again, bus lines. Imposter syndrome lingered for a while after that but I surrounded myself with friends who inspired me and cultivated creative spaces. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and in time, those reasons reveal themselves. They did for me and I was grateful for the experience.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I design characters and their worlds for animated films. Saying that still makes me pinch myself. I fully immerse myself in the process and have fun along the way which hopefully shows. Personal work is what makes me most proud though. There’s nothing like sharing my experience and stories through a sketch, an illustration or a character design. Observational sketching is a favorite pastime of mine too. I like to counterbalance screen time with being outside, amongst nature or in beautiful decay where inanimate objects have so much life. Everything from an old truck on blocks to a large tree in the park. It’s so therapeutic for me… seeing, observing, making marks and taking it all in.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Thanks for your time! It’s an honor. Best of luck in your creative pursuits and don’t forget, bus routes 🙂

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Image Credits:

Bio picture by Guillermo Real Sr.

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