I realized a little late that today, July 7, 2017, is exactly my 20th anniversary of working in Hollywood!
My professional art career really began in 1991 when I started illustrating my first children’s book, and my career in animation actually started in 1994 back in South Carolina for a small cinder block studio behind a car wash working on computer games (anyone remember King’s Quest VII?). When that studio folded, I spent a couple of years illustrating children’s books before the lure of year-round sunshine and Mickey Mouse came calling.
In the summer of 1997, a fresh-faced young Chad made the move to CA with eyes bright and wide to work for Disney where his first project was behind-the-scenes on Mulan. (My shirt is correct – my first Disney boss was Walt Sturrock who had hired me.) I remember flying out on a Friday, and had the weekend to start looking for an apartment. When Monday morning rolled around, I started work.
That first month was tough. I lived out of the Burbank Hilton (now the Marriott), worked by day, apartment hunted at night, and somewhere in between I illustrated the cover for a book I was still under contract to produce. Yep, set up a make-shift studio in my hotel room complete with an airbrush compressor. (I also remember being robbed in that hotel room, and the Hilton did absolutely nothing to compensate me for the items stolen from my dresser – one item being my favorite Mickey Mouse watch. Haven’t stayed in a Hilton since.)
While my time at Disney was almost ten years collectively, other studios also found use for my abilities. Eleven feature films, three television series, several DVDs, many web cartoons, and even a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade have encompassed the past twenty years! It has just flown by! With my slate currently open, I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds!