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Pixar artists on holiday

As a full-time artist at perhaps the world's top animation studio, you draw all day, every day. So, what do you do for a break? We'll give readers one guess.

Enrico Casarosa's sketchbook rendering of a Vespa in San Francisco, done on the third worldwide SketchCrawl day, this past May.
Enrico Casarosa

We recently discovered what Pixar storyboard artists do on their day off. And it's shocking.

They draw.

In fact, if Enrico Casarosa represents the norm, they draw obsessively.

"I just can't help it," says the Pixar vet of three-and-a-half years. "It's in my blood."

It must be. Casarosa not only spends his days laboring over a Wacom computerized drawing tablet at the home of "Toy Story" and "The Incredibles," he also fills his off-hours with work on comic books, charcoal drawings and a growing pet project called SketchCrawl. He's even participated in 24 Hour Comics Day, churning out a cartoon chronicle that tracks his activities over a daylong period.

SketchCrawl, launched last August as a one-man event in Casarosa's hometown of San Francisco, is slowly becoming a group, and global, affair. The idea is to devote a specific day to nothing but wandering and sketching, preferably with a posse of like-minded pen and pencil pushers who can share their work, and the creative rush.

Casarosa's Pixar and comics compatriot Ronnie del Carmen has joined in, as have artists from as far away as France, Egypt and Japan--the first World Wide SketchCrawl took place in November, and since then, two more global events have happened, with participants displaying their handiwork online in the SketchCrawl forum.

"There's a nice tingly feeling to going out and drawing on a World Wide SketchCrawl day," Casarosa says, "with (lots of local) artists around you, and many more around the world, all drawing at once. It's really a nice feeling."


Casarosa's take on a cable car, from the second global SketchCrawl, in March.

Enrico Casarosa

And there are other benefits. Of his high-tech Pixar work with stylus and tablet, Casarosa says:

"It's a true hybrid form of drawing and painting, and a fast and powerful one. I love it, but I sure need to get my hands dirty in some charcoal after a couple of days of drawing on a computer.

"SketchCrawl was born, in part, because of a need to 'tech down' sometimes," he says. "Just a sketchbook, a pencil and some watercolors. It's simple, and it feels great. But of course I still need my PowerBook and my Photoshop and my InDesign ... to make these drawings into books or share them with other people on the Net ... We need both sides of that coin. I truly enjoy and need both sides."

The next global Crawl is scheduled for Aug. 27, but if you've already made other plans, there's no need to fret; though he loves the official event, Casarosa urges people to take matters -- and drawing implements -- into their own hands.

"I establish dates roughly every three or four months, but I certainly encourage people to just do it. Whenever ... A full day of drawing on your own -- your own SketchCrawl experiment -- holds a lot in store for whoever might want to try it. I can assure that."

Information on the fourth World Wide SketchCrawl can be found here. The event will be dedicated to Pixar's Dan Lee, who designed the character of Nemo in "Finding Nemo." Sadly, the 35-year-old Lee died this past January, of cancer. At the time, his family asked that donations in memory of Lee be made to the Alta Bates Summit Foundation.

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