When you first have a conversation with Goro, the first thing you notice about him is his energy not just for art but for life. He was raised with both German and Japanese cultures. This might give you a hint to where he gets his intimidating work ethic and great loyalty to friends and family. We first met at the work, I worked as his Art Coordinator on Merry Madagascar. But where we really started our friendship was at the gym! Imagine running three miles while lifting a BOSU balance trainer above your head or in my case on my head. We would work out with a group at the gym every morning at 7am before work. Goro would arrive at 6am and practice breakdancing before our workouts. I found that Goro attacks every challenge creative or not in this same way...intense practice and patience. When I sometimes succumb to some of the negative creative doubts in my head, I often find inspiration in Goro's creative practices and his work philosophy.
Goro is a very accomplished artist. He worked at PDI DreamWorks for over 7 years and was there until it recently closed it's doors this year. He has contributed as an artist on films like Megamind, Madagascar 3 and Penguins of Madagascar. He has also illustrated children's books and even created his own gaming app called Monsta Bounce (it is a really fun game!).
But all these facts you can find on his IMDB. It is the details in his website that really tell you about the depth of his character and his artistic talent. He helps others with painting tutorials and tips. He also mentors beginning painters. But do not be fooled that is not the extend of his work, Goro currently has a full schedule working with Oculus (one of the world's leaders of VR technology). With all this on his plate he even had time to answer some Questions Over Coffee. I hope you get as inspired as I did after reading his answers to my 6 questions!
NWF: How do you take your coffee?
GF: "I'm not really a coffee drinker. I actually started drinking it after working at Oculus. I mainly drink it to stay awake so I wouldn't consider myself a coffee drinker. I usually drink green tea or water."
NWF: "What is your favorite thing to paint?"
GF: "Robots! I like the idea of giving technology a personality. The robots in my paintings show human emotions. I find the juxtaposition an interesting concept to explore."
NWF: "What is your least favorite thing to paint?
GF: "Probably traditional Sci-Fi urban environments. A lot of post apocalyptic environments have already been explored. I want to create something unique and new to me. I try to paint a different take on Sci-Fi."
NWF: "When you are first asked to design a character, how do you first approach finding a creative solution?"
GF: "I first try to understand the character as a real person. From there, I can start to design details like what type of glasses he would be wearing. When I designed characters in the past, I would use a physical character sheet with questions. I would answer the questions so I could view the character as a real person. I do not really consider myself a character designer though. I think my strength is color, light, and storytelling. When I paint, the story is a very important element. I want the audience to see that there is a story in this one image that I have created."
NWF: "What advice would you give your younger self?"
GF: "I should have taken Japanese School more seriously! I can speak but if I had a job interview in Japanese and they asked me to read something, I wouldn't be able to.
I would also tell myself to not get stressed out about obstacles in life because stressing about it doesn't help to change it. Just try to overcome it.
Anger is also a waste of energy. If you hit people with negativity you will most likely get neutral or negative responses back. But if you approach the issue with positivity then you are more likely to get a positive response back. Respond to issues when you can be rational about it. I try and resolve conflicts that way now."
NWF: "What is one of the best creative projects you've worked on and why?"
GF: "I guess the best creative projects for me have resulted in the most memorable moments in my creative career so far.
Merry Madagascar (DreamWorks TV short film 2009) was a milestone because the project was my way of working in the US. It was also my first project with a big company.
Agent Omicron (personal short film) was also a special project for me because it represented a time where everything ran smoothly with the pipeline and it was a project with perfect teamwork!
Penguins of Madagascar (DreamWorks 2014) has a special place because even through the ups and downs, I learned a lot from the process and a lot of After Effects! It was the only project where I was the first artist on the team in vis dev and the last artist to leave because I created the credits for the film. This film was very special for me.
Henry (Oculus short film 2015) was also special because working on it made me feel like I participated in a new era of technology. Currently, It feels like we are building something in a garage but this new technology is something big!"