Hey kids, parents, teachers, People from around the globe! My name is Don Dixon and I am an author, illustrator, as well as an animator for feature films! I most recently published my children’s book Darwin the Dreamer, a story about bullying and the power of imagination! I also just wrapped up working on the movie SCOOB!
Today I would love to talk to you all about the creative process! This process involves delving deep into your imagination to make your wildest dreams visible to the rest of the world! Your audience! I love talking about this because I have made a career out of it for over 20 years!
The first thing I do is what we all do when we dream, I close my eyes. But instead of sleeping, I imagine a new world, a new character or a new idea! I try to see it as clear as I can. Then I open my eyes and begin to draw what was in my imagination.
Creating Darwin The Dreamer
Take Darwin the Dreamer for example, I saw him as a little blue guy, in the story he is blind so in my imagination I saw him having big glowing white friendly eyes. I knew that I wanted to use simple shapes that anyone could draw. I wanted kids from all over the world to be able to draw Darwin. So I began with a round circle for his head, then, a bean shape for this body, followed by two circles for his glowing eyes, a happy curve for his smile, some simple stick like limbs for his arms and legs, and lastly a little swoop shape for his hair, and voila! We have Darwin the Dreamer!
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly going through the steps of the creative process, when we hum a tune in our head, or scribble a doodle down, we are tapping into that skillset. The key is to nurture it.
Nurturing Your Skills
Some of the best ways to nurture any skill is to simply do it on the daily. The quote, “Practice makes perfect” could not ring any truer. But with this practice, must also come fun, which in turn will bring repetition. I have been drawing since I was 7 years old, and I am still trying to master it. The thing that has kept me going has been that it has always been fun for me. What is also important with practice is finding the education to move up in the ranks and to be better today than you were yesterday. Luckily in todays world we have so much access to online tutorials and groups to share your work in and get feedback. Feedback and critiques are so important to growth. I had parents who told me how great the work was that I was doing, but they also were quick to challenge me with something new. This created a fearlessness to try any and everything artistically.
I mentioned earlier about all the access online from drawing to animation to creating your own books. I also find having an Instagram page to be very motivational and almost works as a visual artistic diary that you can look back on and see the growth of an artist.
The creative process can also be very nurturing for dealing with tough situations in life. In 2015 I lost my mother to LUPUS. In order to work through my grief I created the children’s book, Dandelion. This by far was one of my most powerful experiences as an artist and creator. To see people and children respond to the story in such a positive way, and in a way that helped them grieve some of their own loss is truly a powerful thing to witness, and such a huge part of the creative process because that is the fuel that ignites the flame of imagination in us all. It is what makes us want to keep creating. It is the connection.
I love being an artist, I love connecting with the world through art. When you can take a powerful story and bridge it with well-crafted imagery, it is one of the most beautiful things to witness.
Every great idea begins with a creative spark. We all have it. Like I say in Darwin the Dreamer, “At first these were things they could not see. Darwin showed them all the things they could be. Imagine, dream, and believe. You will be amazed at all you achieve.” So, get out there and draw! Children of all ages! Get scribbling!
Watch The Lulu Interview With Don
About Don Dixon
Born in North Carolina in 1978, Don Dixon grew up in a household with a 7-foot robot which looked after him and his sisters. Don’s father created robots for companies like Atari and Worlds of Wonder, eventually moving the family to California.
Don became interested in animation when he saw Michael Jackson’s music video, Thriller, fascinated by Michael’s transformation into a werewolf. When Don’s father explained it to him by creating a flipbook, Don’s enchantment with animation was fueled.
At the age of 15, Don received a full scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. It was here that he began to really take his art seriously and dive into learning more about fine art.
After majoring in Visual Arts at Interlochen Arts Academy in 1996, Don went on to Savannah College of Art and Design, completing his education at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, and graduating with a BFA in Animation and Digital Media.
Don’s first job was at WMS Gaming in Chicago doing animation in both 2D and 3D. From there, he moved to Texas to work at Green Grass Studios, then on to Florida to work at Ignition Entertainment doing video game animation, followed by a stint in Hawaii working on the hit TV Show Veggie Tales.
Currently, Don works in Dallas, Texas, at Reel FX working on feature films such as, The Book of Life, Free Birds, Rock Dog, Sherlock Gnomes, and most recently, SCOOB.
After losing his mother in 2015, Don became interested in writing and illustrating children's books. He wrote his first book, Dandelion, to help him deal with the painful loss of his mother, and then friends read his book and wanted a copy to help them cope with their loss. Seeing the positive response ignited a new passion and purpose in Don, so he self-published his first book.
The photos of families reading the book to their children, dressing up as dandelions, and drawings by the children, motivated Don to do even more.
His second book, Darwin the Dreamer, is a story about hope, joy, and the power of imagination when a blind boy overcomes the threat of bullying. The message is that although we cannot see something, we can still make it a reality.
Who could know that a young 12-year-old black child who loved to draw, would transform that love and joy into a 20-year career? Don believes his calling is to inspire others, especially children, and help them create a better world.