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Mentor of the Day: Mike Yamada

Feature animations.  Live action films. Video games. Commercials.  Architectural renderings.  Publications.  Mike Yamada does it all and more!

Michael Yamada graduated in 2003 with a degree in Product Design from Art Center College of Design. Today, he works as a visual development artist at Dreamworks Animation where he contributed to several of their films including Kung fu Panda 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots, Monsters vs. Aliens, Bee Movie, Flushed Away and more.

On his blog, Mike talks a little about working on Kung Fu Panda 2.  “I was given great opportunities by art director Tang Heng and production designer Ramone Zibach to tackle many of the large design projects in the movie – the interiors of peacock’s fortress, the fireworks factory, etc – as well as work on parts of the movie making process that I little experience in. My favorite memory was pitching ideas for the final battle. I had ideas for a harbor/water showdown inspired heavily by stylized action sequence in naruto and the movie hero. Tang always wanted things to be as pushed as possible and I dreamed up what I called the most expensive (and probably impossible) sequence ever. Surprisingly they went for a lot of my ideas and I’m glad to see them as part of the movie.”

In his spare time, Mike also works as a concept designer and illustrator for live action feature films. Some of the live action films he’s worked on include Jonah Hex, Clash of the Titans, “Z”,  and Avatar/Project 880.   You can see his impressive resume on his website.

With what little time he has left on his hands, Mike has graciously decided to join the Motivarti Mentorship Program.  Mike says, “One of my favorite things about teaching was individual interaction with students, however with a class you don’t really get the chance to spend much time doing that. I’d like to create an individual plan centered around the mentee’s goals as well as areas I think they can work on. I’d love to help them achieve their goals and grow as an artist.”  So whether you’re looking for general industry/career advice or to work on specific portfolio pieces, Mike is here to help!  He’s open to taking on up to 3 mentees from anywhere in the world and with his extensive career in multiple avenues of the entertainment industry make him an ideal mentor for anyone hoping to have something similar.  Apply soon!

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