Layron DeJarnette has contributed to projects for several giants in the entertainment industry, but it’s the work this freelance artist has done to inspire children that he enjoys the most.
“The work I did on “Sing-Along-Read-Along,” a direct to DVD series for LeapFrog Enterprises, has been one of my most enjoyable professional experiences,” said DeJarnette. “I was a story-board artist and flash character animator for the series, which is sort of like “Schoolhouse Rock” in that it uses animation to teach kids. This was a wonderful project to work on because it helps motivate children to read on their own. I’m a big kid at heart and I take delight when I can work on projects that teach, motivate or inspire children.”
“Aside from working on projects aimed at children, I also enjoy illustration, directing and doing 2-D character animation for commercials, tv, and film because it involves storytelling, acting and satisfies my passion for drawing.”
Working under the name DeJarnette Designs (http://www.DeJarnettedesigns.com/), the artist does illustration, animation, storyboards and conceptual art for several clients. He interned under Walt Disney animators in the feature animation department at Walt Disney World in Orlando and has illustrated and designed characters for Disney’s “The Proud Family” cartoon show and comic strip.
DeJarnette has also worked as an animation director and character designer at various studios, including Duck Studios, Hyperion Pictures and Klasky Csupo. Some of his animated commer-cials include the award winning Chevy S-10 Gargoyle advertisement and A & W’s Blondie & Dagwood spots. Direction credits include: three international Gansito spots for Marinela in Mex-ico City, Mexico; an animated short for MGM/Mirage in Las Vegas; animated title open credits for “The Punisher” (2004) and animated title open sequence for “In Her Shoes,” starring Cam-eron Diaz.
Other clients include Warner Bros. Animation, ABC, Fox Atomic, Lionsgate, PBS Kids, Spike TV, Scott Free Deuce Three Productions, Wayans Bros. Entertainment, Lifetime, Bratz, MGA Entertainment, Bahr/Small Productions, ESPN, Toyota and AT&T.
“A lot of companies tell young or unknown artists that they want people with more experience, which becomes a paradox because in order to gain experience you need to work at a company,” laughed DeJarnette. “What I did to combat this issue was make my portfolio not look like a stu-dent portfolio. I gave myself projects to work on as if they were actual jobs in the industry. I had to develop a portfolio that represented me as an artist. Whatever skills I told people or clients I could do had to be backed up in my portfolio.
“Once I started getting the big name client jobs, I used them to get more jobs and started net-working with other artists, clients and employers after which jobs started coming by word-of-mouth and referrals. Having a website with art samples also helped.”
Currently, DeJarnette is finishing up “How To Really Stink At Work,” his fifth book for come-dian Jeff Foxworthy, and animation projects for Topps and Sega. He is also working on a chil-dren’s book and a few animation projects of his own that he plans to pitch and post on the web.
DeJarnette acquired the knowledge, skills and discipline necessary to deliver quality work in the professional world as a student in the illustration department. He also learned the value of con-necting with those in his profession.
“Interacting and networking with other artists has had a tremendous impact on my work,” DeJar-nette said. “I’ve always viewed being an artist as an ongoing learning process. I learned a lot from faculty members, students and industry professionals. The growing never stops. I love see-ing what new and creative things are emerging on the art scene that can motivate and energize me.”
After graduation, DeJarnette was invited to become a teacher’s aid for a portfolio prep class at CCS. A year later, he filled in as a substitute instructor for the last semester of a figure drawing class. Recognizing his teaching talent, the department asked him to teach an anatomy class and, later, animation.
“The animation drawing class evolved when a Walt Disney recruiter came to CCS to look at stu-dents’ portfolios for their internship program,” explained DeJarnette. “I knew the recruiter through my experiences in the Disney internship and was asked to be part of the portfolio re-view.
“As we were looking through portfolios, I realized that many of the students did not have the type of artwork that the Disney recruiter was looking for. So, I was offered a job right there on the spot to teach a class on drawing for animation.”