My professional career began in 1977 when my High School art teacher saw a trade-paper ad asking for portfolio submissions. She suggested I put together a portfolio and submit it in hopes of getting a professional critique prior to my graduating and going to art school. I think she also hoped to humble me and put in check my cocky attitude. Neither of us had any real idea what the job was and really didn't care - we both assumed there wasn't any need to know. Surely a job was out of the question - I was still in high school after all! To our surprise my slap-dash, disorganized portfolio was accepted and I was hired by Ralph Bakshi Productions to work on the feature film Lord of the Rings. After we got over the shock of what my salary would be, my art teacher got together with my counselor and figured out a way that I could still graduate by finishing my senior year by going to night school. So much for art school. I never get back on that track and only took a few intermittent classes later.
I started my first job in the animation industry as a photo-rotoscoper drawing Orc eyes and teeth on Photostats. I came in contact with many other young artists and this is what finally humbled my raging High School ego. I quickly realized that others had equal, and often much greater talents, than I did. I got to meet many seasoned artists (Mike Ploog, Dave Jonas, et al) and animators (Irv Spence, Marty Tarras, et al). It wasn't long before I was given more and more responsibility (mainly by being in the right place at the right time and being able to do what was needed) and worked my way up to inbetweener for Bruce Woodside (still a good friend today) and I was given a chance to do my own animation (ok, rotoscoping) on a long scene of horses galloping that no one else wanted to tackle and I was too dumb to know better.
I stayed with Ralph Hey, Good Lookin' and American Pop and then left for a while to do layout on The Lone Ranger for Filmation where I shared in office with Dave Stevens (pre-Rocketeer) and Russ Heath. I also met my future wife, Judy, there in the accounting dept. I left Filmation to work for Ralph again and this time I was Animation Director and Key Animator on the Bakshi / Frazetta feature Fire and Ice.
My next job was almost a five-year stint at Disney Pictures animating on The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective and development and story on Oliver & Co. During that time (and after) I also worked for a variety of studios free-lancing doing animation, storyboards and development for most of the major studios including Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros TV, Disney TV, DIC and Saban. When I left Disney I directed for a short time for Ralph on his Mighty Mouse series and then I spent 12 years working on and off with Rich Animation on a series of direct-to-videos, doing character layout and storyboards, and was Animation Director / Character Designer / Key Animator on The Swan Princess.
I then moved to Saban and directed on Pigs Next Door, which led to my job as one of the directors and the character designer on X-Men: Evolution. I also freelanced, at this time, on a number of Disney direct-to-video releases. After the second season was finished Dreamworks hired me on as a story artist. I continued to do all the character designs for X-Men at night while during the day I worked on DW films such as Madagascar, Moby Dick, Shrek 2 and Over the Hedge.
I continue to live in Southern California (that's where most of the work is) with my family and expect to work with a pencil in my hand until the day I drop.