We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Smaldone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, what inspires you?
To quote a funny line by Ernst Haas about inspiration: “Don’t park…Arrival is the death of inspiration“. The concept behind this sentence is that, as an artist, I strive to remain hungry for inputs that are gonna feed my inspiration.
Life in general is a great source for that. Experiencing the external world, in any possible way, builds my personal database of sensations and emotions that I can go back to when it`s time to come up with something new. A database that defines my taste and my opinions about things, which is the point of difference required to express my own voice.
Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are also a goldmine of inputs of any kind. A nice ceramic vase, the graceful movement of a dancer, the fashionable haircut of a model…anything can set me on the right track to find the truth of a shape or of the vision that I am looking for. I find myself in agreement with Bonnie Mandoe: when the external world out there meets my internal world, that is a good day.
Research is also a fundamental part of the process. It means studying, analyzing, absorbing any possible relevant piece of information connected to what I need to do. Researching what has already been done or said on a given subject is a great starting point to study anything. Art generates art, so watching what already exists gives me inputs and pushes me to channel my ideas to produce something new in line with my goal.
Once I have some ideas, I start doing them, and then the inspiration comes. It has to find you while working. What Paul Dano says at the end of “Ruby Sparks“ is pretty true: “Any artist can attest in the luckiest, happiest state of his mind that words, shapes, and ideas are not coming from him, but through him”. Ideas usually come wholly by themselves, artists are just lucky enough to be there to catch them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an animation cinema professional with more than ten years of experience, both as a senior modeler and lead artist, with a focus on bringing characters to life for tv shows and movies. Coming from a traditional sculpting background, I specialized over the years in character modeling and visual development sculpting, collaborating with studios like Illumination, On Entertainment, Sony, Laika, Dreamworks TV, and Netflix.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others. What are you most proud of or excited about?
I think what really sets me apart is my ability to combine my experience and tailored skill with a natural facility to work within an established team. I definitely value coworking relationships and I always seek to build those relationships with every team member at all levels. My passion for this industry and the people in it is what makes me a valuable addition to any team. I’m a quick decision-maker and I value communication as a key skill, which I think, makes it easy for me to relate to other people.
This empathy is very important in this industry, both between colleagues and between the creative department and clients. By being a good communicator, it becomes easier to manage time and whatever need might arise during production. I’m very good at self-management and self-discipline. This is a high-stress industry, and I think it eventually becomes too easy to stop trying as hard to be the best one can be in this position. But with a positive attitude, which I think is one of my biggest assets, everything becomes possible, especially when it comes to a professional setting. In this industry, I’ve seen a lot of people just giving up or losing motivation. When I am at work, I enter a completely different frame of mind. I know that for each and every hour I spend on my pc, I’m setting an example for the company I`m working for. I take care of my mental and physical health outside of work so that when I work on my characters, I’m at 100%.
Finally, I really enjoy learning new things and I am constantly seeking out new learning opportunities. I’m excited about taking on changes and challenges because I genuinely find them fun.
How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I originally come from Southern Italy, a place where there is absolutely nothing related to visual art and animation cinema production. It took a good deal of energy and determination, but today I`m happy and proud that I engaged myself in this adventure. It was a rather interesting, long journey to get to where I am today professionally with the inevitable ups and downs and the uncertainty which goes with covering such a distance in a professional field that is anything but traditional.
I had to overcome several difficult challenges over the years: from adapting to different languages, countries, and cultures to adapting to an extremely competitive environment where one needs to be at the top of their game all of the time. This can sound rather overwhelming or discouraging but it isn’t. It`s ok to be aware of the difficulties along the way because this pushes you to look at your own motivations in pursuing your goals and gives you confirmation that it is what you really want to do. It`s also important to never be afraid of failure. In fact, I think it is an essential part of the experimental process that gets you to succeed in what you do.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I think my story is nothing out of ordinary: an artist coming from Italy, land of talent and creativity! I am sure the world has seen more unusual things, I can tell. *joke*
The point of difference of my story (and hopefully that of every artist out there) is the awareness behind the journey. Being conscious of my perception and of my choices makes my voice – I hope – authentic. As artists, the journey we engage ourselves in is not just a sequence of successful collaborations, but a journey to discover the truth about ourselves.
The goal, in our own art when it comes to making choices about a shape or a line in that particular position or when it comes to making choices in our lives as well, is to strip away the non-essential and go back to the very core of things. In this world of too many choices that we live in, we get to seize those conscious ones that are the point of difference in our voice, in my case as a woman and as an artist.
That inner awareness brings us back to the simplicity of things. Coco Chanel said it first: simplicity is the very core of true elegance.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I`d probably start from the amusement parks: the Universal Studios tour in Hollywood, the Warner Bros studio tour, Disneyland is a very fun place to be too. A special mention for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter within the Universal Studios for all the fans of the saga: it`s really an amazing full immersive experience!
On the fun side, I also like the Pacific Park and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. In the Santa Monica area, I`d spend some time at the Eames Foundation too and then longing for the beach, I`d hang out around Venice beach, on the Venice walk board. Abbot Kinney is also a charming neighborhood to go around. Gjusta bakery in that area is great for having a snack.
If later, we find ourselves in West Hollywood and we are in the mood for a massage, I`d definitely go to The Now.
For a nice cocktail on a rooftop, I think I`d go to the Mama Shelter in West Hollywood, and once there, if hungry I`d stop at Terroni because it`s always time for pizza.
Los Angeles downtown can be fun, especially if there is a nice concert scheduled at the Disney Auditorium, which is also great to visit for its modern architecture. And on a Sunday morning, I`d definitely stop at Bottega Louie for brunch.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family, friends, and the awesome colleagues I`ve been working with all through these years.
Momo, desing by Ryan Lang Nephtali, desing by Glen Keane Horse, desing by Bill Schwab Issunboshi, design by Ryan Lang