Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing a father of two, and fellow Disney, Pixar, and Looney Tunes fan, Dave Wilhelm. Dave has been sending his kids to school with character drawings that show off his amazing talent as an illustrator. Each day when I view his work, I have all sorts of childhood memories resurface because of the love I had for some of these characters when I was a kid. He can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and his website.
Tell me a little bit about your background... Who you are; what made you interested in art?
My name is Dave Wilhelm. I'm a User Experience Designer by trade. Currently, I design websites and smartphone apps for a major car rental company. At heart, I'm an illustrator and I'm a big Looney Tunes and Disney fan. I grew up watching and loving Saturday morning cartoons. I'm not 100%, but they may have been the reason why I started drawing. I've always loved to draw. I went to college and got a BA in Graphic Design because I wasn't sure if I could make a living as an artist. I started my career as a Graphic Designer, but switched over to web design about 10 years ago. I've always been interested in art, whether it's drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, etc. I've always been drawn to it.
Who are your current art inspirations and how do they affect your artistic process?
I love Pixar's movies. Not just for their animation, but also for their storytelling. Most of their movies do a wonderful job paying attention to detail as well as drawing in the audience with the story. Some other artists and illustrators that I follow and draw inspiration from are Noah Elias, Will Terry, Jake Parker, Dan Santat, Dave Mottram and Von Glitschka. I love the different styles of each artist, but I also love seeing their process and knowing their story on how they got to be where they are today. Most of these guys have YouTube videos where they have shared their insight to their work and given advice and encouragement to aspiring artists and how they can get better at their craft. I may not ever get as good as any of them, but they all motivate me to want to get and do better. I also like watching the Disney artists, on YouTube, show how they draw the different characters. They give great instructions on how to draw the different characters. They make it easy. I've learned a lot from their different techniques.
What made you start sketching on sticky notes?
We came back from our first family Disney World vacation and I had a desire to draw Disney characters. I was hard to find time and decide what I should draw and I wanted something that would give me a little more motivation or incentive. One day on a blog, I saw Erik RVA drawing faces on Post-it notes. To me, this seemed like the perfect way to get back into drawing as well as surprise my kids each day, during their school lunch, with a drawing from me. After the first couple of drawings, my daughter started putting her drawings in a binder for safe keepings. This gave more incentive to draw. I thought this would be a great keepsake for my kids to have, especially when they are older. It would be a way for my them to look back and remember all the different things I drew, especially for them. Now, she has a binder full of pages of all the different faces I've drawn for her.
What are your thoughts on the art community in your area? Do you participate in any art communities?
St Louis has many different types art events. There's always something to see or get involved in. My wife and I enjoy going to many of the different art fairs that come through our area throughout the year. Most of them are pretty good. There are lots of different art fairs that bring people from all over the country here. Every year in September, there's one that blocks off the streets on the weekends that is really fun to go to. We also enjoy going to the St. Louis Art Museum. I don't really participate a lot in the art community just because I don't have a lot of available time, but I would love to try to show or sell my work in some of the local art fairs someday.
How have your children changed your life, both personally/professionally and as an artist?
My kids have reignited the passion I had when I was a kid. The years between getting married and my kids being born, I put a lot of my drawing and art to the side. I focused more on my career goals and trying to become a better designer. Before my son was born, my wife asked me to paint a mural in his bedroom, over his bed. She wanted a sleeping moon. Doing this painting sparked my interest in getting back into doing artwork. When my kids got to reading age, my wife and I read to them every night. We have a room that has one wall that is almost full of children's books. Seeing my kids get into the books reignited and reenergized my interest in drawing and it got me thinking about writing and illustrating a children's book. When I read the picture books to my kids, I would take time to look at the pictures and look at the simplicity or the details of the pictures. I've written a story and I've started some character design, but I just need to make time to work on it.
How are they involved in your art?
It all depends. I've gotten my daughter involved in different ways. We started a "Daddy Daughter Sketch Book." This was something I saw another illustrator do. We take turns drawing different things in our book. Sometimes we draw the same thing, but in our own style or we draw completely different things. My daughter has also drawn me several pictures. A few, she's colored and a few others, she asked me to color. I have these hanging up at work. Sometimes, when I'm in the drawing mood, but can't think of what to draw, I ask them to give me an idea and have them elaborate on the details. Sometimes I get what they are thinking right, other times, not even close.
How has your background as an artist affected your children? Do you think having an artist dad helps inspire their creativity?
I definitely think that doing my Post-it note drawings has sparked them to be more creative, but I think my kids appreciate art in their own way. Neither have an interest in the fine arts, but my daughter is always curious why or what makes an artist's work considered a "masterpiece." My daughter enjoys being creative, but she inherited her dad's flaw of being a perfectionist. She is always interested in trying different types of things other than drawing. My son isn't as interested in the "art" as my daughter, but he's interested in comics and 3D animation. He has his own Pinterest board loaded with pins of different superheroes illustrated or painted in different creative design. Both my kids have a very creative imagination. The ideas and the thoughts they have are always exciting to hear. I know that they may not get into art later in life, but having that creative mindset, I think will help them be creative problem solvers.
I would like to thank Dave for taking the time to participate in this interview. More importantly, I'd like to thank him for taking the time to draw for the sake of making an impact on his kids' lives. Show Dave some love on Instagram, Twitter, and his website.