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Cartoon life

From doodling on textbooks to landing a job at Cartoon Network, what inspires Daniela Attard is a constant itch to draw, says Melanie Bonnici Bennett.

It is normal to dream about remaining young at heart. One way of achieving that is landing a fun, artistic and creative job with an employer that, years ago, made your childhood special. Whether that job involves acting, illustrating, writing, branding, game programming or even voice acting is just a detail – the important thing is that it’s a job that keeps you forever young.

For young Maltese artist Daniela Attard, this dream became a reality when she landed a job with popular children’s television channel Cartoon Network, making local headlines in 2015.

Over a year on, I decided to catch up with her and see how she is doing at Cartoon Network’s European division in London.

What first inspired you to become an illustrator and designer?

As a child I was always interested in making and crafting things. I became increasingly interested in drawing when I started playing online games. I didn’t have the opportunity to study art at school but I began to draw on every textbook and desk that I came across. This sometimes got me in trouble but certain teachers were encouraging.

By the time I was 18, I was still not sure whether to study art or science. I considered art to be a non-career choice and so went for a science degree, only to quit after a few months. Instead, I decided to take the plunge and pursue the arts, opting to read for a degree in art history.

Although art history was cool, I wanted to be a bit more hands-on and so I spent my nights learning how to draw and struggling to keep awake during lectures. Attending life-drawing lessons at the Malta Society of Arts and investing plenty of hours in video games and cartoons led me to develop a more illustrative style.

How did the opportunity to work at Cartoon Network come about?

I left Malta in 2012. Originally I wanted to study illustration at a Masters level and then return – however I found myself feeling at home in a bustling city. I did a lot of personal work and attended various events where I sold prints of my drawings while studying.

After graduating, a classmate of mine recommended me for an internship at Cartoon Network. I got the position and was eventually offered a full-time job. It was a combination of luck and skill – plus, being a nerd definitely helped.

What is your biggest inspiration?

I have an itch to draw all the time and I feel guilty sitting down and doing nothing – which is both a blessing and a curse. I try to maintain discipline by doing as much life-drawing as I can afford to (generally twice a week), where live models inspire me to illustrate human figures. I also draw while I commute to work, whether it is by bus or by tube. I challenge myself to regular exercises, such as drawing one self-portrait every month.

I didn’t have the opportunity to study art at school but I began to draw on every textbook and desk that I came across

What is your typical day at work like?

It is a nine-to-five type of job and I generally need a constant stream of coffee to kick-start the day.

Every day is different as we generally work on multiple brands or shows and have different creative briefs for each one. It is difficult to describe my job title and what my team does but we are multi-skilled creatives.

In my case, I deal a lot with drawing related projects and concept art for product design and themed entertainment. More recently, we have been working directly on show production especially character design and brand direction.

The hardest task at the end of the day is going home to carry out my personal work, unless I have life drawing practice or some other activity. Despite sometimes feeling tired or lacking motivation, I find that watching Netflix or Youtube videos while I work does help.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love drawing character art and storyboarding – however I also enjoy our more fashion-related projects. I love the fact that I can work on various projects – one day I’m designing a pair of shoes and the next I’m drawing potential park rides.

What advice would you give aspiring local artists?

Work hard on learning how to draw the fundamentals before you start abstracting or stylising. A personal style is something you develop over time. Learn about the old masters and contemporary artists. Share your work! Hang out with other creatives to motivate and challenge each other. And finally, carry a sketchbook everywhere you go.

To see more of Daniela Attard’s work visit www.instagram.com/ielladoodle and www.facebook.com/ielladoodle.

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