Aaron Kirby was born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan and from a very early age developed an interest in mid century design. It started with vintage cars naturally, (It’s the law there) and developed into an appreciation for all the fun and futuristic designs of this era.
After receiving his BA in Advertising and Graphic Art at Michigan State University, Aaron moved to California to pursue a career in film. While working on his Masters at UCLA, he was given the opportunity to work for Turner Feature Animation; the feature division of Hanna Barbera (one of Aaron’s favorite studios growing up). Working on a project combining film making AND drawing was a dream come true for Aaron. After several months working late hours on his own animation, he submitted a test and was offered his first artistic position at a feature studio -- a very rare opportunity in the small world of feature animation for an “untrained” artist , and he excelled at it.
Aaron always has a smile on his face and when asked “what college did he receive his animation training?” He normally replies - “Turner Feature Animation and DreamWorks”; and rightfully so. Turner Feature Animation had an extensive collection of artists who were at the top in the industry, and DreamWorks had an elite talent base with a large European influence. Aaron was able to study animation from some of the most talented animation artists in the world while working on actual production work. Aaron readily admits it wasn’t the easiest way to get into animation, but he would proudly put his list of instructors up against those who received an actual diploma in animation.
Aaron has worked on feature films at Turner Feature Animation, Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Disney, Blue Sky, Starz and other animation studios. He was a member of the very first animation crew at DreamWorks. While working on his first two feature films at DreamWorks; Prince of Egypt and El Dorado, he worked on the female lead characters. After 1000s of drawings of females from literally every possible angle, Aaron developed a talent and a love for drawing women. Aaron had always been a fan of pin ups and the mid century illustrators that painted them and now Aaron had the confidence and ability to develop his own art.
Aaron worked in animation when “animator” and “artist” were synonymous, and this is something he sorely missed when computers took over the industry. So while he loved animating on the computer, he now started to focus more on design and development work and continues to refine his mid century illustrative style to fulfill his “artistic” needs. Like all artists in animation he uses the computer for much of his work, but he utilizes it as a high tech paint brush or pencil and hasn’t really embraced the filters and brushes you can use to “cheat” an illustrative look. “I find it interesting that when drawing animated characters, we strive for perfection in our draftsmanship.’ ‘But now on the computer we strive to add the imperfect or “human” touch to a piece or scene.’ ‘The computer by nature generates “perfect” arcs, value and symmetry, this needs to be fixed to create successful art or animation.”
Aaron moved back to Michigan to help open a feature animation studio, but an unfortunate change in political policy forced the studio to shut down. However, moving to Michigan Aaron realized how much he missed the state and he knew this is where he was meant to be. Since returning to his home state, Aaron has been busy designing art work, directing, sculpting and animating on a large variety of projects. The computer has allowed him to work in his favorite place on projects from all over the world. It’s a very exciting time and Aaron is finally able to be out of the shadows of the major studios and gain recognition as a talented artist on his own merit. Aaron created Atomic Sketchbook www.atomicsketchbook.com with the intent of continuing to work with the studios, but also to develop and create his own personal work.