Red Cap Artist Spotlight: Chris Sasaki

May 22, 2013

We are so excited to introduce a brand new, very talented artist to our Red Cap Cards family: Chris Sasaki. If you haven't had a chance to view his newly-added greeting cards on our site, make sure to skedaddle over there soon, as his charming style is not one to miss! When he's not designing cards for us, Chris works as a character designer at Pixar Animation Studios in San Francisco. We were delighted to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his life and amazing work!

A little birdie told us that you grew up in Hawaii–so did Hal! Which island did you grow up on? And how old were you when you left?
Actually, I'm not from Hawaii, but my extended family is. My great-grandfather worked in the cane fields there at a young age, and my father grew up in Honolulu. That's where I spent a lot of my childhood summers, and my grandparents still live there. Matsumoto is still the best shaved ice I have ever had!

Did you draw when you were a little kid?
As soon as I was able to hold a pencil, I was always drawing. I remember spending hours and hours drawing with my grandfather, who is an architect. He was always encouraging me and those are some of my favorite memories. I still love to fill placemats at restaurants with doodles, just like I did as a kid.

Chris and his good buddy, Beans

Obviously you work with a lot of different mediums. Do you have a favorite? What was the process that you used for creating your collection with Red Cap?
The mediums I choose are always different. I like to explore and keep things exciting. I hate to narrow it down to one thing. For the Red Cap cards specifically, I used ink, crayon, and colored pencils. When I have the time and opportunity, I always gravitate towards traditional mediums, although I do some tweaking and touch-ups digitally. I feel like it's a nice break from doing things at work, where I mostly draw digitally to accommodate changes and the intense time constraints.

Do you have a favorite card in your collection?
I think my favorite card in the collection is the boar “Thank You” card. It was the first idea I thumbnailed. I drew a lot of thumbnails, and a lot of things changed, but the boar is one that stuck.

boar thank you card by Chris Sasaki for Red Cap Cards

Currently you are a character designer at Pixar. Did you always want to work in animation? What characters or films have you worked on most extensively?
Actually it's interesting, I always loved to draw, and loved the classic Disney films (101 Dalmatians especially) but never really thought I would make a career out of it. In high school I really didn't know what I wanted to do afterwards. Then I saw Monsters Inc. and it became a big turning point in my life. It had great characters, a lot of heart, and a great story. Within that week I applied to animation schools.

Amazingly, the first feature film I worked on professionally was Monsters University and it has been incredible to see things come full-circle. I got to design a lot of the new cast, and it was so rewarding to give back to something that inspired me to pursue animation in the first place. One of my favorite characters I got to design was a monster named Art. His design is like a furry purple rainbow, and the animators really went to town on bringing him to life. I feel like he really steals the show, and am so proud to have been a part of the process.

Image courtesy of Disney // Pixar

We think you would make amazing picture books. Would this be something you’d ever consider doing?
YES! It is one of my big-time goals. At Pixar, my job is to design characters for film, but the audience almost never gets to see the drawings. I would love to illustrate a story where my drawings are the final product.

We’ve noticed that you have quite a few tattoos. How old were you when you got your first one? What was it?
Yes, I do have a lot of tattoos. I love tattoos and how they can be a graphic memento of something people experience. I think that's the storyteller in me. I was always fascinated with tattoos, and would always be drawing fake ones on my arms with a sharpie when I was a child. So, naturally when I turned 18 I made it real. My very first tattoo was a tree on my left shoulder, which is a symbol for my last name.

I'm going to assume that you are a whiskey drinker. Is that a safe assumption? Do you have a favorite?
Yes! I love bourbon. I recently went to Brooklyn, NY and visited Kings County distillery. If I had to choose one as my favorite for this month, that would be it! But I'm always finding new and tasty ones!

Thank you, Chris!!