I don't know, Hollywood must be somewhere in my life's mission statement. For the third time in the past few years, Tinseltown has come knocking at my door again.
My first missed Hollywood opportunity came from Sony and Columbia Pictures. They were looking for a creative way to promote the movie Big Fish, a Tim Burton flick that hadn't been released yet. The movie featured a series of tall tales, so they decided to hire children's book artists to illustrate scenes that were featured in the movie. Since I was the first of several artist selected, I was given my choice of which story to illustrate. I chose "Catching the Beast". After a couple days, when neither the contract or the movie script arrived as promised, I called the art director. He informed me of their decision to hire bigger-name illustrators who had won major awards. My name is Don Tate, and I hadn't won any awards. They ended up going with Caldecott medalists, and honor winners David Small, Molly Bang, David Shannon, and Sophie Blackhall (Click here, then click "enter site" then click "tall tales" skip intro). No disrespect to any of these artist, they did a beautiful job, but I could've done just as well. I do feel good in knowing that originally, I was selected based upon one thing only: the art director liked the art on my website — awards or not.
The second flirtation I had with fame came was...well, picture this: I'm at work, my cell phone rings, and I answer. The caller introduces herself as Karyn Parson, the actress who starred alongside Will Smith in the TV show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". Needless to say, I bit a hole through my lip. She was in need of an illustrator to create the art for a children's book to be produced on CD. She had written the story, and it would be told by actress Alfre Woodard. She over-nighted her manuscript, along with a detailed story board. Unfortunately, I was over-booked with licensing commitments to squeeze in the 80 illustrations needed. Unlike the snooty character she playeded on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", Karyn is an extremely warm person. She gave me the ultimate compliment in replacing the screen saver on her computer with an illustration from my website. I was honored. Click here to see a portion of the story which ended up being illustrated by Mark Page.
I was recently contacted by my licensing agent. She wanted me to test my skills for an up and coming property. Apparently, Warner Brothers and Scholastic are rushing to put together a picture book version of a major animated motion picture to be release next year. I'd love to break the news here, but I don't want to get myself into trouble.
A property artist is one who can mimic the art and style of a particular creative property using a master style guide provided by the licensor. For instance, Walt Disney has been dead for years, but plenty of licensor-approved artist are still bring Mickey Mouse to life even today.
The problem is, first I'd have to test for the project. Scholastic and Warner Brothers would need to approve, then all 25 illustrations would need to be finished by mid-February. Judging by the style I was given, the illustrations would need to be built in a 3D program, then imported into a program like Painter to get the soft oil-like affect. This is not enough time for me, and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking on a project like this until I made an investment in a higher-end 3D program like Lightwave or Maya (both $2,000+ programs). I use an outdated version of Raydream ($99.00), which is fine for simple 3D rendering, but I ain't trying to illustrate Shrek with it. My agent urged me to do whatever I could to take this on because, under the circumstances, in her words: "this is going to pay some real money!"
I need some real money.