brief career autobiography by Paul M. Carhart
my drawing ability from my dad. When I was a kid he would draw pictures
of Disney characters for my siblings and me and we would inundate
him with requests. One day, I don't remember how old I was, I asked
him to draw me a picture and he apparently didn't feel like doing
it. So, he informed me in no uncertain terms that a drawing is only
a series of lines that meet in the right places and that I could
do it myself if I tried. Try I did. It wasn't long before my own
versions of Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny were decorating the family
I got older, I began creating my own characters. I found that I
had a natural talent for drawing and it was something I could do
well. I did have significant problems drawing hands, which merely
caused me to work harder to get them right. By the time I was in
high school, I was the school newspaper cartoonist which continued
into my junior college's newspaper.
natural extension of this was to attempt to develop my own comic
strip and try to get it published in local newspapers. Unfortunately,
as I discovered, the newspapers only publish comic strips that
are syndicated and competition is tough. I soon put aside my
professional cartooning aspirations and went to school to study
graphic design, which I perceived as a more "marketable" profession,
always keeping a sharpened pencil close by as a hobby.
later, I was approached by Joe White, who had gotten my number from
an acquaintance of an acquaintance, to design character models for
an animated prime time television property he was developing. I
accepted, and "The Corporate Sandbox" was born. Initially, he was
the writer and I was the artist. However, with his input on the
look of the character, and my obvious aspirations to write, it wasn't
long before each of our roles within our creative relationship were
not easily defined. It was while working on this first property
that we formed the partnership of White & Carhart. We then developed
two more animation properties, one based on a character I had created
before and the other based loosely on a premise I had started to
develop. All three properties are currently looking for a home in
and out of Hollywood. Developing these properties for animation
immediately held an appeal for me because I would not only be able
to create characters, but I would contribute to the writing of the
back story and story premises. Joe and I billed ourselves as writers
who tell stories with both words and pictures.
I have done some portraits in my youth and some straight illustration
for clients, most of my artwork to this date has been in the realm
of the cartoon. For some reason, I gain much more pleasure from
doing a humorous drawing than I do from one that closely imitates
life. Thus, Joe White and I have maintained our association and
friendship over the years. "The Corporate Sandbox" and our second
property, "Janet's Pet Peeve" have both been turned into single
panel cartoon strips. Both strips have been published on the White/Carhart
site until we opted to close the site down on November 1, 1998.
Additionally, "Janet's Pet Peeve" has been published both in print
(in Wichita, Kansas) and on the Internet at the Animation Nerd's
Paradise which was associated with the Animation
World Network. Joe and I had started development of a few other
properties for animation and live action but we shelved them due
to my move to Colorado.
as a child, while creating and drawing my own cartoon characters,
I was dabbling in graphic design without even knowing it. I used
to create lettering for my characters, as if they were on TV and
I was creating the opening titles. I know, strange musings for a
kid who should be out playing cowboys and Indians with his friends.
In retrospect, I realize that I was always fascinated with imagry.
my junior year of high school, I enrolled in Advertising Art, taught
by Mr. Richard Williams, who also taught the school's Printing and
Vocational Printing classes, which I also soon found myself enrolled
in. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had a solid background
in photographic typesetting; darkroom procedures; inking, running
and cleaning offset presses; creating, printing and cleaning silk
screens; as well as easily operating the folding machines and hydraulic
paper cutter. On some days, I even taught the class. In order to
spend more time in the print shop, I took Journalism as my English
class in my senior year, in which my jobs basically consisted of
being the school paper's cartoonist and printing the paper. I also
had to write one article out of every four assignment periods which
led to another venue of creativity...writing.
thing that I had that most of my high school classmates didn't was
talent. I saw my newfound knowledge of printing as a means of furthering
my artwork. A few years after I had graduated from high school,
I did just that. I began producing a series of shirts based on one
of my characters, selling them mainly to my co-workers at Douglas
Aircraft where I worked for three years before getting laid off.
It was then that I began studying graphic design full-time.
attended Platt College, Irvine (now Newport Beach), brushing up
on my traditional design skills under the tutelage of Ms. Patti
Denys as well as learning computer graphics on the Macintosh under
both Ms. Lesley Ringer and Ms. Dianne Marlin. I found that I enjoyed
being invovled with every aspect of design from the photography
to the final mechanical, even the press checks. I knew I wanted
to be more than a mere graphic designer. Two months into the program,
I was freelance illustrating and designing. I graduated at the top
of my class with a certificate for Outstanding Performance. The
day after I graduated, they called me and asked me to teach the
Saturday Workshops at the school. I accepted and continued to do
it for another two years. I found that I could learn from other
student's mistakes without actually having to make the mistakes
myself and it gave me a valuable insight on how to work with others
one on one. Even though I have moved to Colorado, I still maintain
my association with Platt College to this day.
Art Director Emerges
to my extensive print background, and in additon to teaching the
Saturday Workshops and freelancing, I was able to land a position
as Art Director with Carol Wior, Inc., a mid-sized women's swimwear
manufacturer who wanted to start their own art department from scratch.
I saw this as a tremendous opportunity and wasted no time getting
job at Carol Wior, Inc. encompassed much more than the swimwear
calendars, brochures and hang tags that needed to be produced in
order to sell and represent each year's line of swimwear. Because
Carol had never had an art department before, it was also my job
to design the first in what would become an annual event for Carol
Wior Inc... The Miami Mart showroom which would launch each year's
line of swimwear to the buyers.
I have always considered being a show designer for Walt Disney Imagineering
as my dream job, I approached the challenge of designing a show
room for Carol Wior, Inc. just as I would if I were designing an
attraction at a Disney theme park. Working with Erich Ehrlich, Carol's
National Sales Manager, I began learning the ins and outs of how
the swimwear was presented so I had a good idea of what would be
required...and how to surpass what was expected. We both agreed
on a Beach theme. Since there are not any Polynesian islands around
Los Angeles, I took a trip to Disneyland and took pictures of Adventureland,
specifically the Tiki Room and Swiss Family Robinson attractions.
I did conceptual sketches, designed signage, lighting and hanging
racks. I devised thatched changing rooms for the models, designed
and had a juice bar built and had the far wall on the room covered
with a mural of a sunset. There was even a waterfall in the finished
room, visible as the customers entered the room over the planked
island room was so successful, that a year later, I was commissioned
to design a Hollywood Supper Club themed room at the same mart the
Wior, Inc. is mainly the home of The Slimsuit. However, during my
tenure, the company launched a new line of junior swimwear known
as Hazel, for which I also designed a show booth
addition to the themed signage that I created to go with my show
designs, I have also been involved in other signage projects, most
notably the work that I did for Dekra-Lite, a manufacturer of holiday
street banners and lighting arrays.
Carol Wior, Inc. had no idea what a good Art Director was worth.
Two and a half years later I moved on, mainly for monetary reasons.
Before my resignation notice was up, I had landed another position
designing for the Internet, something with which I had no previous
the office and security of my Art Director position at Carol Wior,
Inc. was not easy to do but I knew it was time to move on. The opportunity
to design for a whole new medium was more than enough to ease my
worries and I dove in whole-heartedly, embracing the new technology
at a time when designing for the Internet, the Web specifically,
was all too new. Most Web designers at that time were technical
minded and not versed in the creative process. They were not designers
and had little or no mind for communication. I attained a design
position with Internet Exchange International, Inc. (IEI) who actually
had the correct notion that a web page should communicate a message
to the viewer. Their largest client at the time was Toshiba America,
Inc. and it wasn't long before I was working on the Toshiba America
adapted well to the digital medium. I liked that I could work at
low resolution and that I had total control over the finished image
without entrusting my work to a printer (browsers are, of course,
another matter). I began experimenting in animation in Macromedia
Director, authoring Shockwave spots and was at the forefront as
the animated GIF emerged as the primary form of advetising on the
Web. Eventually, I was promoted to Interactive Advertising Placement
Director where I did more administration than design or animation.
Luckily, for me, the company got a huge inflow of animation work,
including PointCast spots for Toshiba America. My administrative
duties were re-assigned to another and I was back on the creative
team. I pioneered ways of reducing color depth in GIF images before
mainstream software hit the marketplace and even authored a couple
of papers on Internet creative which I have reproduced in the articles
section of this site.
stayed with IEI for two years before leaving on good terms and starting
own Internet Development company with my long time friend, Chris
Weil. Since leaving IEI, I have done freelance and consulting work
for them on two occasions.
Power of Story
you're writing fiction or an ad campaign, it all starts with the
concept or the kernal of a story, even if it's not all revealed.
can take it's form in many different ways. To me, it is coming up
with the seed of an idea, a slant or POV from which the artist can
approach a given subject and then how that is expanded and extrapolated.
Unless I am creating a story, poetry or music, this almost always
results in conceptual art: A picture that personifies the idea,
getting a visual representation of the concept so that it no longer
exists only in my mind. This is true of my collaberative efforts
as well. As I brainstorm with others, I begin sketching things down
so that it begins to take shape. Not only does this allow for alterations
as all people involved view the project taking form, but it also
ensures that everyone is on the same creative page. As the concepted
project continues to expand and experts in other skill sets are
brought in, revised and more detailed concept art is often called
for to fill in the new comers on what the final project should be.
I was working at Internet Exchange International, Inc. (IEI), I
had the good fortune of meeting an experienced and seasoned concept
and ad writer by the name of Alex Kecskes. Alex immediately saw
the merit in my work, seeking my visual input in his ad writing,
and took me under his wing. We clicked immediately and IEI utilized
our unique synergy, teaming us for two long-running Internet advertisment
campaigns as well as a couple of web site designs. The main difference
between Alex and I, besides age and experience, was that I was also
an artist. My concepts usually expressed themselves in the form
of concept art or a brief storyboard in order to get my message
across to my superiors and the client. Being a team player, I would
often re-draw Alex's storyboards as well, to better sell the concept.
By the time Alex had moved on, I was an experienced ad writer in
my own right, contributing useful concepts to every brainstorming
and concept meeting and re-writing other's ads to better communicate
the desired message to the targetted audience. Again, I had branched
my creativity out into a new direction and again I found a sense
of acomplishment in doing so.
me, a storyboard is merely an expansion of conceptual artwork, often
used to bring to life the concept or idea behind a story-related
project in a linear fashion...thus the term: Storyboard. Pioneered
by Walt Disney and his staff of animators in the thirties, storyboards
are currently the standard used in giving visual life to film scripts
(animation and some live action), TV animation scripts, commercials,
CD-ROM games and even theme park attractions. A good storyboard
will address every story and production issue that will eventually
rear it's head, except perhaps budget. Dialogue, physical humor,
character interaction, sound effects, score, camera angle, mood,
lighting, composition and even character design to a certain extent
will be explored as the story is visually expanded for all to see.
The term for basically an evolved form of storyboard is called "animatics"
which basically takes the properties of a storyboard and puts movement
to it. George Lucas makes extensive use of animatics in the creation
of his Star Wars
in 1997, Joe White, my animation writing partner, informed me of
an opportunity, in the form of an investor, who was willing to drop
some money into the production of an animated short for one of our
properties. We jumped at the chance. Joe wrote the basic script
which we fine tuned together, adding some of my own contributions
and rounding out the humor between the dialogue and the more physical
slapstick. This provided me the opportunity to do something I had
always wanted to do...storyboard an entire film, albiet a short
one. The final film was available in the NTSC VHS format at the
White/Carhart website until we closed the site down on November
1, 1998. My own drawings were roughly animated by a couple of students,
but the writing still stands up and there is a 3D modeled version
of our character in the cut scenes as well. I am generally quite
proud of it and the storyboards from whence it came.
1998, I was once again given the opportunity to design in the three
dimensional realm. A client approached me with a project with which
he needed help. For Holiday Headliners, I was commissioned to do
the logo artwork as well as develop collectible plush character
variations of an original design concept. These designs would be
later made into patterns which would be cut and put together by
a seamstress. Although I had never attempted such design work before,
I was quite pleased with the results.
moving to Colorado, I obtained a job as Art Director for Galapagos
Studios where I created top-selling T-shirt designs as well as managed
freelance T-shirt artists. I created their art department from scratch
and drove all of the company's national direct mail catalogs and
their e-commerce website. It was an exciting position but I was
offered a better one. Lucky for me, I had groomed my replacement
well. Six years later, Matt Anderson still runs the art department
my mind was at ease when I left Galapagos
to work for LSCI Interactive (now
30 dps). I even continued my relationship with Galapagos by
continuing to create T-shirt designs for them as well as re-design
their website. Many of my T-shirt designs are still available and
their current site is my design (although they update it now themselves).
LSCI, I produced animated Flash pieces and designed graphical interfaces
for database-driven websites and CD-ROMs. I also edited sound, designed
cartoon characters, concepted and produced ads, wrote multimedia
scripts, art directed and produced four color print media. It was
the sort of job I would have never left on my own. However, in the
wake of the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, things became difficult.
Unfortunately, and against my wishes and the wishes of my boss,
I had to move on.
mid-2001 I landed the job of Webmaster for Westone
Laboratories, where I managed several websites as well as contributed
significantly to the company's print image.
and I were married on August 2, 2003. On April 19, 2004 amidst some
complications we welcomed Melody Hannah into the world (she was
two months early).
mid-2004, my dad was diagnosed with a rare cancer in his jaw.Lori
and I decided it would be best to put the house up for sale and
return to California so we could spend time with him and the family.
After surgery, radiation and chemo therapy, and several stints in
the hospital, my dad finally excepted the Lord. He passed away the
following day. We didn't make it. The house hadn't sold in time.
So we came out for the funeral and we had to ask ourselves if we
still wanted to move back to California. We decided that everyone
dies and we'd like to spend the time we have left with family (my
mom and Lori's parents are still very much alive plus we both have
in October 2005, I left Westone in Colorado and we returned to California
where, after a few months freelancing, I accepted a fulltime position
in the Interactive department at The Designory in downtown Long
Beach where I made significant contributions to the Nissan Shift_2.0 campaign. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to the head of Interactive Production where I managed three production artists and a handful of freelancers. I also have been given Art Director assignments on several Nissan projects.
After a few years of doing that, I was moved to the Audi team where I contributed to multiple digital editions of Audi Magazine and worked on the digital Audi Library, first in it's Adobe DPS incarnation and then in it's proprietary content management incarnation, which won a gold ADDY.
I was then moved back to the Nissan team in January 2018 to take what I had learned the previous year and apply it to Nissan's digital offerings.
Also, starting in January 2018, I began The Creative Underground weekly-updated YouTube channel where I talk about and show behind-the-scenes for all of the different projects I'm working on from books to music to the revival of my 1992-era comic strip, "Elvin's Pet Peeve." Please go check it out and subscribe!