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Mentor of the Day: Dean Yeagle

Dean Yeagle is probably most known for his infamous character ‘Mandy’.  But did you know she was originally based on what the Coppertone girl might look like grown up?  Now she has a wide audience with both men and women. She doesn’t use guns or karate chops – she’s just herself, a sexy but innocent and, as Dean hopes, a charming character.

But Dean Yeagle, only started drawing Mandy in 2002 and before that had an extensive career in the animation/entertainment industry. Dean started in animation in Philadelphia, PA for a tiny company called “Animation Arts Incorporated”.  There he was able to learn how to do a little bit of everything.  Then he had to go into the service during Viet Nam. After that Dean and his wife moved to New York.

For the next seven years he worked at Zander’s Animation Parlour as a designer and animator and eventually a director. In 1986, with partner Nancy Beiman, he opened Caged Beagle Productions, Inc., a full-service animation studio, and has produced, directed, designed and animated innumerable TV commercials and CD-ROMs, with clients across the United States and Europe.  Currently, he also does work for corporate clients, designing characters for various products, and works on a continuing series of children’s books, designs the occasional toy, and contributes cartoons to Playboy magazine.

In both an interview on khuantru.com and an interview with Jake Friedman on Animators Unite, Dean is a big advocate of artists developing their own voice and style.  “If your stuff looks like everybody else’s, nobody will know you, and nobody has to come to you to get that particular look. You develop your style by drawing and drawing and drawing, and you incorporate pieces of everybody’s work that you like. There are many very good artists out there, and you need to be able to stand out and be recognized.”

To help you develop your style, “You take pieces of everything that moves or delights or inspires you, mix it up with your personality and Voila!  You’ve got a style all your own, stolen from everybody.”

“My style comes from my years of animation, so all I could say is if you wanted to ape my style, spend thirty years or so animating.  But basically a style comes from all the influences of your particular life, all your enthusiasms, your inspirations.  So that should make everyone’s style unique.  And it’s very important to develop your own style.  In my own case, I try to keep in mind the simple directive:  Draw better!  I’m not at all sure that comes close to answering the question, but there it is.”

In addition, Dean believes it’s important for young artists to be ready to jump to the next thing every five years or so.  “Look how animation has changed since I got into it.  A big, unfortunate fall-off in traditional, 2D animation, but a whole new way of producing animation, with CGI.  I wish both were equal, but who knows…suddenly The Lion King, in 3D, is the top box office champ for the last two weeks.  I’ve gone from TV animation to CD ROMs and websites, then to Playboy cartoons and publishing my own books and doing original artwork for galleries in Paris…none of which I’d have imagined when I started.  Always stand with your knees bent like Bugs Bunny…then you’re always ready to jump.”

And now, Dean is looking to help one mentee from anywhere prepare to make that jump through the mentorship program!  Dean feels he could help best with someone who is familiar with his work and wants to work in some similar way, either in animation, illustration or comics.  However, he doesn’t feel like he would be helpful with superhero comic advice, but animation style character design or pinups or children’s illustrations or advertising work would all be something he’d be able to help with.  So if you’re interested in any or all of those fields, don’t pass up this opportunity to learn from a legend!

Partial Client List:

  • Walt Disney Productions
  • Warner Bros.
  • MGM
  • Jim Henson Associates
  • Playboy Enterprises
  • Blue Sky Studios
  • Marvel Comics
  • Hanna-Barbera
  • Holt, Rinehart and Winston
  • Random Hourse
  • Western Publishing
  • Brøderbund
  • Animus Productions (UK)
  • Hahnfilm (Berlin)
  • Swan Studios (Denmark)
  • Hollywood Road Productions (UK)
  • RIck Reinert Productions (LA)
  • Imaginengine, Inc. (SF)
  • JuniorNet
  • Nestlé
  • Kraft/General Foods
  • Dannon
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Grey Advertising
  • Avrett, Free and Ginsberg, Inc.
  • Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, Inc.
  • The Coleman Group
  • Wallace/Church
  • The Biondo Group
  • Brand X Design
  • Video Gaming Technologies, Inc.

More info about Dean and his work can be found on his website or at  http://gallery.bellefree.com/dabeagle

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