We had the good fortune of connecting with Claudine David and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claudine, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I always felt an art career was possible but I didn’t realize it was possible for me until I reached middle school. As a kid, I felt more joy doodling in a notebook instead of playing with dolls. I felt more compelled to write and draw on paper than play with dolls. I feel like it’s the field that will give me the most joy and self-fulfillment. It wasn’t until later in college that I learned that it wasn’t exactly an easy path. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my career, it’s that if there is something you want to do, you have to work for it. And it’s not going to be easy. There’s always going to be hard work for anything you want to do. So why not go for something you’re passionate about?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been drawing ever since I was 3 years old, I remember my parents telling me that around that age, I would draw with a crayon on the walls of our two-family home. Around 3rd grade, I made a little comic series about two siblings named Alexa and Tim who would go on spy adventures, which eventually turned into a slice-of-life series. It wasn’t until middle school that I really thought of considering a career in art. But after winning a National Art Award from the United States Achievement Academy, it was the defining factor of my decision. I received a graphics tablet in high school and made my first digital art pieces with it. In college, I met a lot of interesting people that helped me see more opportunities and possibilities. Observing my peers, practicing on my own, and moments when I least expect it is how I usually learn on how to improve my work. Throughout my studies, I’ve learned that it’s not always an easy path. During my Women in Animation mentorship, my mentor told me that the field is super competitive. But honestly, like I mentioned before, anything you want to do requires work and dedication.
I generally classify as a 2D artist and animator. I do enjoy animating and I’ve learned that it takes time and patience. It felt more of my niche as I made more work. I always thought I could learn digital painting but I can’t sit and stare at the same thing for a long time haha. Maybe one day I’ll learn. But for now, the canvas in front of me has to be changing. And that’s what animating gives me. Every frame is new and I can actually see my progress. I also enjoy drawing characters mostly from existing media but I’ll also come up with my own. I learned how to work with 3D software in college and at the time I wasn’t sure why I had to learn it. But after many years, I began to appreciate knowing it. Sometimes I’ll also listen to podcasts while I work. I recommend Animation Happy Hour as 3 feature animators from Walt Disney Animation Studios host it and it gives you an insight into the animation industry.
I’m currently working on an indie video game which has been great so far. It’s my first time on an actual production and I’ve learned a lot from it. While the team is small, they are super understanding. I also volunteered a bit for a local art gallery and got to learn the inner workings of a gallery. While the art gallery was focused on fine arts, I got to see a bit of the process of gathering artists’ work to be displayed for an exhibit. This experience ties with my belief that you can learn from anywhere. I’m not sure if you could tell by now, but I just really enjoy learning new things haha!
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?
Personally, in my town, it’s pretty small so I usually go to neighboring towns instead. Living near New York City, this would be pretty easy. But before we go straight for that, first I would show them around a few malls for a taste of the local life. Then I would take them to a couple main streets like the ones in New Brunswick and Metuchen. Food-wise, I enjoy ramen so I would recommend Ramen Nagomi in New Brunswick, NJ, and Menya Ramen House in Metuchen, NJ. Both restaurants are small but they serve really delicious ramen and other delectables! For me, I’m a museum lover so I would take my friend to the Montclair Art Museum, which is up north in Montclair, NJ; they have a lot of interesting exhibits and they hold an event every month called Free First Thursday Night, which is basically a free event where you can tour the museum and check out the studios where you can draw from live models. In downtown New Brunswick, Alfa Art Gallery is another pretty cool place to check out, that was the gallery that I had volunteered at. And of course, after all that, the next stop is NYC and the Met is an absolute recommendation, I love looking through historical works. For more modern art, the Society of Illustrators is another great museum. It’s pretty small but over there you can see illustrations from renowned illustrators like J.C. Lyendecker and Norman Rockwell. I’m more animation-focused but this museum is always interesting to visit and like I mentioned before, you can learn from anywhere. Like Montclair Art Museum, the Society of Illustrators hosts live drawing sessions for $20 a session. And if it’s nice out like a spring day, we can head over to any park and sketch the people and scenery! Just make sure there is food nearby, haha!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to shout out my parents for their encouragement and unending support and love in me and making me realize that I can pursue my dreams. My sister for her ideas and occasional help for my art, as she is also a creative type. My peers at Montclair State University who we’ve helped each other and are still helping each other to this day. My professors with their incredible wealth of knowledge and experience. And finally, three organizations who made me realize this field is worth it: Women in Animation, Rise Up Animation, and Asians in Animation!
All art belongs to me.