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Mentor of the Day: Mark McDonnell

Mark McDonnell has often been asked by many of his students if he would be able to watch after them and lead them in the right direction, but due to his busy schedule, he’s often had to post-pone mentoring.  However, this time, Mark has said yes, and is willing to mentor one very lucky individual through Motivarti!

Mark is one of those artists that happens to do, well, just about it all when it comes to the animation industry! In an interview with Character Design Blog, Mark says, “I am very lucky that I get to try my hand at a great many things. From character design, layout, backgrounds, color key set ups, set design for 3D, beat boards, storyboards, theme park design, video game design, graphic design, and recently book design . . . I get to work on a great deal of different projects.”

Over the last several years as an animation and entertainment professional, Mark McDonnell has become recognized as a highly respected designer in many facets of the industry. He began his career in toy and product design working for Applause and Global Consumer Products helping to create toys and product designs for Warner Brother’s, Waterford Crystal, The Franklin Mint, Thomas Kincade, Goebel’s Hummel collectables, Keebler, Fox and Disney to name a few.

With an interest of stepping closer to the animation and entertainment industry, Mark left to become an Art Director at Technicolor Creative Services (TCS), a private branch that serviced many of the major industry studios. The primary client was The Walt Disney Company’s many divisions but also grew to range in a wide variety of studios including:

  • Walt Disney Feature Animation
  • Disney Toon Studios
  • Walt Disney Television Animation
  • Pixar
  • Miramax
  • Fox
  • H.I.T. Entertainment
  • New Line
  • Mattel
  • Sony
  • Legendary Pictures
  • The Jim Henson Company
  • Big Idea Inc.
    and many more.

After leaving TCS, Mark began his career in working in the Animation Industry by working on Tinkerbell and it’s upcoming sequel, North Of Neverland.

Mark McDonnell’s work as a designer has touched a wide variety of skill sets while working in the Animation and Entertainment Industry. He has worked as a character designer, a layout/set designer, prop designer, look development designer and as an instructor.  He’s a very passionate teacher and often posts demos on his blog, website, and YouTube.

When asked why he embodies so many roles, Mark says, “It’s a tough business so I set out to try to learn as many things as I can related to the creation of animated films and television shows.”  And Mark is looking to pass on his many talents and expertise in many areas to his mentee.

Mark starts off many of his drawings and designers (for both character, layout, props, etc) with questions.  He asks not what, but who this character should be.  He is looking to help his mentee develop critical thinking skills so they design more specifically instead of generally.  Mark believes the industry is founded on specifics and that’s a trait that needs to be developed, to see what a studio/production needs in order to get the job.  Mark will be giving his mentee specific assignments to his mentee to help them prepare their portfiolio for professional positions.  In addition, if Mark’s mentee lives locally, he would like them to visit the studio once or twice and attend the Gesture Drawing Workshop he instructs to give them more intensive focus.

So if you’re looking to develop your thinking skills in addition to your design skills, apply to be Mark’s mentee!  He’s open to taking just one mentee from anywhere in the world!

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