Interview with an Illustrator

Interview with an Illustrator


Demonstrating diversity in both subject and genre, Nemesio’s talent has been showcased in prestigious galleries and museums throughout California and on the East Coast. Upon graduating from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA with a BFA in Illustration, Nemesio was introduced to the historical California Art Club.  Through the organization’s hosted activities, Ernesto has gained a profound passion for painting in Plein Air and has enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with other artists.

Nemesio finds inspiration in a variety of genres, which is reflected in his realist impressionist style of work. He approaches his portraits and figurative paintings with an appreciation for traditional French 19th century academic methods and ideals. Through his travels abroad, Ernesto has been exposed to and fascinated by many French and Spanish Naturalists and Orientalists.

His landscapes, on the other hand, embrace a more impressionistic feel that celebrate color and design. These paintings are ephemeral moments the artist cherishes as experiences in his life, including his travels abroad throughout Europe, Mexico and across the American landscape. In August of 2009, he spent an unforgettable month in Madrid, studying the paintings of Joaquin Sorolla during his retrospective at the Prado and the Sorolla Museum. It was a wonderful source of inspiration for Nemesio to paint in the footsteps of so many amazing artists before him, capturing the same glorious Spanish light.

In 2002, Nemesio moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to become a digital painter at Pixar Animation Studios. He has worked on acclaimed films such as The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, and Inside Out.

Nemesio is a mentor member of the California Art Club and currently resides in Berkeley, California.




How would you describe your creative process, from initial inspiration all the way to a finalized piece? I am constantly always being inspired by my surroundings and friends. I am especially inspired when I travel to European cities to paint in plein air or with a friend in the Sierras.

When you run into an artistic block, what do you do to get out of it? If I have an artistic block, I like to visit local museums or look through my art books for inspiration and examples of how other artists they dealt with similar problems I’m struggling with.

How do you keep up and stay in tune with all the different styles of art around us? With social media, it seems to be a lot easier these days to be exposed to great art all around the world. In the past I would spend hours looking through magazines, whereas these days I rely on my Facebook feed to stay in tune with the current market.

How would you describe your personal artistic style? I would describe my personal style as impressionism realism. Sometimes I enjoy painting loose and other times I lean towards a natural realism. I find both approaches fascinating and compelling depending on the subject and lighting.

There are so many styles of art out there; how does one stand out or get an edge? It’s hard to stand out in this current market. My approach is to remain true to myself and create artwork that is sincere and genuine. I hope in doing so, it will be unique and relatable to other viewers.


Do you prefer digital art or pen/pencil media, and why? As I work digitally full-time for Pixar, I love to get my hands dirty and work in oils. I love art history and learning previous methods and how other artists work with the same materials. I am fascinated with materials and process which I miss the interaction of when I work digitally.

You have worked on many films and contributed to the art world. What else is on your list that you need to check off as an artist? In the future, I would like to continue growing as an artist and put together enough work to exhibit and be represented by a gallery full time.

You’ve been in the animation film industry for over a decade now. What is the one thing that hasn’t changed over that time – that is essential to being an artist? What I’ve noticed hasn’t changed in the industry over the past 12 years that is essential to being an artist is having a strong work ethic, along with a personal point of view that communicates story successfully. As Bush + Leavenworth knows, story is key.

What are some upcoming projects that you have going for yourself? At the moment I am working on a self portrait and a series of figure paintings. Over the past couple of years, I have been spending more time working with the figure and less landscape painting.


Do you have any words of wisdom for new artists starting their careers? Advice I would have given myself when I was younger is to seek out the best schools possible that focus on drawing and painting fundamentals. Afterwards, I would suggest taking courses that focus on design and storytelling. It’s important to always follow and do what you love so that in the end, all the hard work involved is done with such joy and passion that you forget just how hard it was to get there.

To learn more about Ernesto, visit his website here:




Ernesto Nemesio

Ernesto Nemesio is an artist at Pixar Animation Studios.