Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Lebanese parents in 1983. Graduated From Sheridan College’s renowned Animation program in Toronto. He has successfully worked as a Storyboard Artist and Design Supervisor on various Animated TV productions for companies such as Disney, Nelvana and The National Geographic.
Pencil and Markers, are the preferred tools for achieving his specific style. His work is geared specifically towards Illustration and Film Animation. Currently Designing at House of Cool Studios in Toronto. His own independent projects continue to develop in ways he did not imagine.
LR: Hi Saud
SB: Hi Maroun
LR: Deviating from my usual question: What is the origin of your family name, any idea?
SB: It’s pronounced (Buk-su-ma-ti) in Arabic. It comes form the word buksumat meaning “bread crumbs”. My full name translates “Fortunate Breadcrumbs”.
LR: Saud, when I saw your work when you contacted me, I thought that is really an impressive portfolio. Tell us a bit about the history of your talent development.
SB: Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. Growing up, it became evident that visual communication came more naturally to me than verbal.
Thankfully, throughout most of my education, there was a strong emphasis on art and creativity, although that diminished drastically in High school. By 15 I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts.
One day I came across Toy Story on TV – it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it but it always captivated me. As the end credits rolled, I had an epiphany; there were actual people behind this effort. Suddenly I’d realized what I wanted to do. I moved to Canada for my Post Secondary Studies and began honing my skills for the study of animation.
LR: So, you’re from Tripoli, graduated from I.C. in Beirut, left to Canada after that, graduated from Sheridan College in 2005 and have been working for almost 2 years in this field. How did this life sequence affect your work?
SB: Although exciting, transitioning from one phase to another wasn’t very easy. Usually when you’re applying to any Arts program at the Post-Secondary level, you’re required to submit a portfolio while adhering to certain guidelines. After being exposed to the level of other applicants, it was evident high school hadn’t prepared me nearly enough. I had to find ways to develop my skills before considering a career in animation.
I took some time off and enrolled in art classes and workshops to refine my skills. I met some of my best teachers in the process.
My time at Sheridan is where I felt my work really began to excel, thanks mainly to my surrounding friends, and their exuberance. I explored styles and developed influences; it was a time of self-exploration for a visual language that seemed natural to me.Moving to the professional world after that was intimidating at first, but you slowly begin to develop confidence and expectations. Working in a team is a challenging aspect to any undertaking, there is always more to learn. And you always have to balance the development of your commercial work and your personal endeavors.
LR: You have worked on numerous TV Shows as a Storyboard artist, Lead Character Designer, Design Supervisor, and Location Designer. Tell us a bit about this evolution in your art production.
SB: After graduating, I knew Storyboard and Design were the directions I wanted to steer myself towards.
Each role requires a different mentality, a readiness. Various functions on different productions gave me invaluable insight into the different facets of production. It puts you in the shoes of the people you are working with; you have a better understanding of what is expected from you and what you can expect.
Storyboarding is usually a position that is worked towards, there needs to be a strong trust and confidence in the draftsmanship of the artist. You need to have an ability to visualize the sequential actions, and explore the number of ways you can engage the audience with the types of shots and cuts you are using; a strong grasp of film is highly imperative.
Designing has its own type of challenges. When you’re doing it for an animated show, you need to remember that these are elements that are going to be used by all the people on the production. You need to work around the limitations you may or may not have.Supervising is a different ball game; you shoulder more responsibility on the quality and efficiency of the work in your department. It’s more about managing people than creating the art your self. As an artist you have complete control of the image you are creating. But as a supervisor you have less control because you want to give the artists their creative liberty while communicating exactly what is being asked from them. Your duty is to guide and insure that they remain within the creative boundaries of the show. It becomes a more collaborative effort.
LR: You have worked on the Disney cartoon production “Get Ed”, which is a computer animated television series that was first released in 2005, and is now showing as part of the Jetix program on TV.
SB: This was my first attempt at the real world. I was fortunate enough to Storyboard on the project at House of Cool Studios. It took some time to adapt to the project and to the storyboarding process as a whole, there’s a lot to keep track of, you really had to be smart with your shot choices. Working alongside other board artists was an eye-opening experience to their different approaches, and their professionalism. It was a real treat seeing changes being done to your work. I really began to rethink and dig further into the science behind storytelling for film, and how to communicate with the audience more naturally. It was also intriguing to transition from drawing on paper to an entirely digital method.
LR: You know, I have always wondered what type of computer programs are being used today in the industry. It seems that they keep developing and evolving at an expedited rate that you loose track if you are not in the industry day in day out. From the hand drawn series of old days to the Maya software for animation from Wavefront which was eventually acquired by Desktop, to other high-end cutting edge software. What are the tools of the trade these days?
SB: Maya still dominates as an industry standard for 3D productions; however, some of the larger studios tend to develop their own software at times.
Flash has been heavily utilized for TV productions in recent years, and I can only see that developing and improving. Toonboom/Harmony follows in similar lines. And of course Photoshop and Alias Sketchbook Pro are essential to every production.
LR: You have also have worked on National Geographic’s project Iggy Arbuckle as a lead Character Designer. Tell us a bit about your experience on this project.
SB: I was given a lot of liberty on that project. My main task was to design the majority of the guest characters on each episode, building on feedback from the Director.
When designing, I always found myself drawing in my own method to keep the drawing subconscious and focus on getting the character, when satisfied with the results I would then cater it towards the design sensibilities of the show. I gained more confidence and understanding of how design may, ormay not translate to different styles.
I later assumed duties as Design Supervisor; I learnt immensely about teamwork, man management and gained a broader view of the production process and its efficiency.
LR: I know that on a personal level, you have been working on a comic based in Lebanon. We have interviewed on Lebrecord Joumana Medlej who has been working on a comic project, which I am sure you are familiar with, as well as Shadi Mallak, also in Canada. What can you tell us about your comic, and when do you think we can expect to see something published?
SB: I’m a great admirer of Joumana’s work, and really enjoy her comic.
I got the idea while still in college, it was much later I realized it would be ideal for a comic. The setting of the story is mainly Lebanon but it branches out to other countries as well. It revolves around 2 characters from very contrasting backgrounds and traditions. The fate of the world rests in the hands of our heroes and their ability to co-operate with one another. The story takes place in the early twentieth century and mainly addresses the coexistence of western and eastern cultures. Although it draws a lot from history the majority of the content is fictitious.
I’m hoping to get something out by 2009 when Beirut is the world’s book capital. Right now it’s still in development, but I’ll keep you updated.
LR: What other work are you working on as well on a personal level?
SB: I’m learning Digital painting at the moment. I’ve always wanted to add more color to my work and explore different methods to create texture. I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from fellow artists and coworkers. I’m not always satisfied with the results, but it’s a forgiving medium with lots of potential.
LR: Tell us a bit about your creative process, from concept to its final stage in short. What is involved in it, which parts you enjoy, which you hate (You gotta hate something!).
SB: My work tends to be character driven. I like every aspect of development but like most artists, I don’t spend enough time doing research.
When I design I’m always redrawing, again and again to refine the gesture in my head and build from there. I don’t like working tightly; I always prefer to keep things very loose and intuitive.
I hate deadlines, but I love that they’re there.
LR: What inspires you?
SB: Music inspires me most of all, Lounge and Jazz. My favorite Arabic musicians would have to be Layal Watfeh, Marcel Khalife, and Oumiema amongst others.
Medieval History and Modern Architecture, I rely on heavily for inspiration. Specifically the commercial work of Lebanese architect, Bernard Khoury.
LR: What do you think of the Lebanese market and the development in this field? I’m sure you have some ideas, comments, reservations, etc…, even working from a far place such as Canada. Give us your opinion on this matter.
SB: I haven’t worked in Lebanon so I cannot accurately comment on the market. However, with my little research I can give you the impression of a keen observer.
In terms of Illustration and Graphic Design there is a lot of talent and interest but a tough job market. What I have noticed though, is that artists tend to over shadow the quality of their work by over selling it. Confidence is great but you must let the work speak for itself. As an individual you want to compete on a global level not just within the Arab world. Versatility and exposure are necessary, and I think we lack a few resources to help us achieve that in Lebanon.
As for Animation I know there is a keen interest in the art, from an overwhelming amount of individuals. Their endeavors have been mainly experimental rather than commercial which is very encouraging in my opinion. I know there are a handful of studios that are practicing animation commercially. I would love to hear about their experiences.It has to begin at the educational institutions. School curriculums need to emphasize the importance of the Visual and Performing Arts as they do Sciences. Art is not always a subject that you can pick up at University. You have to broaden your scope and explore the potential of your talent way before then.
LR: Any last words?
SB: Yes, but I saved them for my deathbed.
LR: 🙂 , Thanks Saud, it was a pleasure. As usual, we will keep the news section updated with your latest.
SB: Thanks LebRecord.
Saud’s address on the web is: http://www.mrbreadcrumbs.com
Saud’s email: saud[[dot]]boksmati[[at]]gmail[[dot]]com