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Interview

Hanna-Barbera background artist Art Lozzi – Page 3

Art Lozzi recommends an intriguing author...

READERSVOICE.COM: What was your daily routine when you were working at Hanna-Barbera at the Charlie Chaplin Studio on La Brea? Where did you live at the time, how’d you get to work, and what might you do in a typical day?

ART LOZZI: My routine at the H-B studio at the Charlie Chaplin Studio was to churn out backgrounds, one after the other, many at a time. But I loved it. Only fourteen of us fit into that building; the others worked at home.

I lived within close walking distance, up on Highland Avenue by the Hollywood Bowl then.

RV: How much time would it take to make one episode of a cartoon like Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound, and how many weeks work would it entail for a background artist?

AL: It would take about a month in all to produce a cartoon then. The bg’s took only days, maybe a week… maybe even two weeks.

Wherever it was possible many backgrounds were re-used in other shows… money- and time-saving. This, too, was why styles had to be characteristic to the show. Simplification was essential.

RV: What was the order of the production line when working on Hanna-Barbera cartoons, with layout artists, backgrounds, voices, scripts?

AL: Much of it was simultaneous. Story ideas, scripts, voices, story boards, layouts, animation, backgrounds, cel drawings, ink and paint camera. The order was determined by the production manager (Ollie Hansen while I was there)… mostly all at the same time.

RV: Can you describe what the layout artists do and how the background artists then work with what the layout artists give them?

AL: Once the style of the show is determined, layouts are made that complement the characters. The bg artists developed these and even made tremendous changes so that each show had its own characteristic backgrounds. I developed many of these.

I used the layouts mainly to see what the backgrounds had to contain: walls, doors, fields, houses, etc. But the style was determined by us.

Yogi’s woods had to belong to Yogi. The Flintstones surroundings had to look Flintstone and not Yogi. They were as individual and recognizable as the main characters themselves. Imagine Fred Flintstone walking by the Ranger’s cabin, past pine trees! Inconceivable! Colors too played an immense role.

RV: What was it like working side by side with Fernando Montealegre? What were your working methods? Did you work all day in the studio or go out for beers, or lunch, (and if so, where?)?

AL: Fernando Montealegre, Montie. We worked side by side. It was important to set the style as mentioned. We were good friends -and critics- and yes, we’d go out for lunch and beers occasionally. Where? Downtown Hollywood Boulevard for one. Laughed a lot too.

When new bg artists joined us, we had to insist on them using the established styles and not paint whatever they wanted. Later, after I left, it changed.

RV: What kinds of books and magazines do you like to read?

AL: Wide variety. For sheer entertainment I always liked good detective stories, mostly the English ones.

I’m particularly interested in mind-development books (Judge Thomas Troward’s The Edinburgh Lectures and others of his are exceptional).

I enjoy histories! Biographies. I’m not a Romantic or a novel-reader.

Magazines? News. There have been too many books that influenced my thinking to mention here.

[Thomas Troward (1847 – 1916) was born in India to English parents, and educated in England. After completing a law degree, he returned to India where he was an assistant commissioner and later a divisional judge in the North Indian Punjab from 1869 until 1896.

He wrote several books on spiritual and metaphysical themes, and influenced the New Thought movement. Titles include The Edinburgh Lectures, Law and the Word, and Creative Process in the Individual.

He was fascinated by the meaning of life, and studied ancient religions and yoga while in India. His books have been said to be very relevant to modern times, though written in the early 20th century. He was also a painter.]
RV: Can you recommend any titles of any books, fact or fiction, especially any out of the way stuff people might not have heard of?

AL: The above sort. Nothing, though, about animation. Check out the grand artists of the Renaissance, the Lives of the Medici, artists who have truly left marks.

RV: What sort of sources of inspiration do you use for your colors and color arrangements, and did you use for your animation backgrounds? Where did you collect ideas from?

AL: Color is personal. You have it or you don’t have it. It’s the arrangement of hues, tints, variations. These are either harmonious or they aren’t.

Is harmony essential, or is it counter to the project? If the purpose of painting something is to create disharmony on purpose, then know how to do it effectively. Otherwise it’s just plain bad painting.

One has to FEEL color… just as a good chef knows flavors, or a composer knows tones. Inexplicably. (Even the word “inexplicable” is very descriptive.)

Collect ideas? Ideas are born and created first. The collection is what you saved and kept. The rest gets tossed out, discarded.

RV: What’s the best way to learn about color and color theory? Are there any books you could recommend?

AL: I have no particular books to recommend, although I’m sure there are many available at bookstores upon request. I cannot see how color can be explained. Buy some colors and experiment. You’ll like it or you won’t. Test: Good color always brings a smile.

RV: Do you plan on staying in Greece indefinitely or returning to the U.S.? What are some of your plans?

AL: I’ll most likely stay in Greece. I make two month-long trips to the States every year. I’ve more or less “adopted” a family here and I cannot imagine living without them.

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