Artist Jim Salvati has a message for his students at the prestigious
Art Center College of Design in Pasadena: Even "normal people" can make
it in the art world.
"I'm a very regular guy; there's nothing fancy about me," says Jim,
who grew up surfing the beaches of Southern California and went on to
graduate from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in 1982. "I
tell my students that you don't have to be extremely talented to make
it. You can make it in life on passion and determination."
Jim has plenty of those two attributes, and he most certainly has
"made it" in the art world. He's been a prolific artist for movie
studios and theaters, with a client list that includes Disney, Warner
Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Radio City Music Hall. He
was the master illustrator and conceptual artist behind many of the
memorable images and finished paintings associated with the "Harry
He describes his style as "painterly realism", and his favorite
subjects are people. Ask him about a painting, and he will tell you the
subject's personal story. Salvati sees his paintings as his portal into
various cultures and different areas of society. "I like the connection
between people and their culture," he says. "The different emotions,
gestures, moods, environments, and style of people in my life and those
that I cross paths with, all become part of my storytelling".
"Even with my Disney art, I think it's important to show who a
person or character is and what is the most interesting part of their
life the part that is bold and has guts." Character and boldness can be
observed in the scenes that Salvati chooses to depict. They are often
not only a defining moment of a film, but usually the most emotionally
charged and sometimes heartbreaking. Bambi alone in the woods, the
Huntsman with Snow White, and Scar leaving Simba in the canyon, are all
turning points in the story, and when the main character had to show
their "guts" or courage.
Working in oil paint, Salvati uses panel and sometimes mounted paper
preferring the option of layering paint to create a lot of texture, as
he feels that an uneven surface adds to the emotion of the story. "My
paintings are extremely thick and layered and oil allows me the time I
need to play with the color," he says.
For the past 22 years, he's been teaching at Art Center himself, a
gig he's found just as rewarding and inspiring as painting. "I love
teaching, and students respond to my style because I'm so down to
earth," he says. Abyproduct of his years as an instructor is his strong
connection to artistic diversity as well as a careful observation of
the changing world of art and how art interrelates with technology. His
experience and knowledge cross many boundaries into Print, Film,
Animation, and the fine arts.