An Interview with Jay Shuster

Jay Shuster joined Pixar Animation Studios in September 2002 as a concept designer on the Golden Globe®-winning “Cars,” where he translated the ideas of director John Lasseter into characters and environments for the film.  Shuster went on to work as a character designer on the Academy Award® winning feature “WALL•E,” and a character art director for Disney•Pixar’s 2011 release, “Cars 2.”

Jay is a true artist who prefers to work with his hands and admitted that his office is stacked with prototypes and models of characters and settings from past projects that are just too hard to throw away. Thanks to a degree in Industrial Design Jay has a deep working knowledge of raw materials, while a passion for automotive design allows him to create fantastic characters with the precision of a real model.

Jay’s description of Pixar is one that paints the picture of a creative gathering of the industry’s most talented professionals. He explained that every division of the company thrives with inspiration and is allowed to flourish by Pixar itself. While technology is ever changing Jay prefers to work with his hands, or in 2D, and doesn’t use anything but the pre-set factory tools when it comes to diving into Photoshop or any other design programs. This dedication to traditional working styles allows him to make happy accidents that can result in unknown yet successful turnouts. Jay’s work style sounds like one that would be dampened by the changing workforce, but he explains that Pixar is extremely open to his work methods along with many other approaches out there. Going into a project with an open script and a bank of inspiration allows the team’s creativity to remain unharnessed. While Jay was able to focus solely on his set and character design as a Sketch Artist, he explained that the transition to Art Director was seamless. The team does whatever they need to do to finish a project, working together to create the best product possible no matter what the role.

Jay Shuster will be speaking at IIDA’s Leaders Breakfast this year. Click here to learn more about the event or to purchase tickets.

Jaclyn Giuliano, IIDA
Herman Miller

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