Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jedi Randy meets Randy Bantog, Fil-Am Clone Wars Concept Artist

Last February 17, I featured the creator of the Sith Kata Video, Tads Obach Acosta, who like me, was also named Thaddeus. Now, I get to feature another artist whom I again share the same nickname.

Carinderia patrons, meet Randy Bantog, a Fil-Am artist who is on the Clone Wars Animation Team. Bantog by the way in Tagalog means "famous", while Randy in any language means "ridiculously handsome and oozing with sex appeal" (okay, I made that one up again).

Photo from a 2009 Inquirer article

I chanced upon Randy's name while browsing the net, and saw an old Inquirer online article, "Fil-Am in Star Wars Art Team". I googled his name and found his blog, http://randybantog.blogspot.com/ which showcases his art, including the Star Wars sketch card below:

According to the Inquirer article, Randy is a product of the Art Center College of Design, where he took up Illustration and Concept Design.

Randy was also featured in the Asian Journal, a Filipino American Community Newspaper, where he shared some personal facts:

"I was born in San Diego, California on September 22, 1981. My father served in the US Navy for over 20 years, and my mother was an architect when I was a boy. I have an older brother who is a scientist of some sort. He tried to explain what he does, it involves shooting lasers into something or other, but it was way over my head. I’m sure he’s doing something that will save the world one day though! I also have an aunt (my mom’s sister) that live with us and is like a second mom to me," said Randy.

I took the chance and emailed him, and unlike famous artists who play hard to get, Randy was gracious enough to answer several questions that I sent him:

Are you still on the Clone Wars animation team? How was it working with the Star Wars creative team, and how cool was the work environment?

Yeah, I'm still working on the Clone Wars show, and it's pretty great. Being surrounded by creative people helps to keep me motivated to continue to push making my own work better.  The environment itself is amazing.  Most of the other places I've worked or visited have just been warehouse-type of buildings in industrial areas.  The ranch that I work at is isolated amidst mountains, grass, trees, a lake and wild animals.  It's fairly one of a kind, in that regard.

What keeps you busy nowadays?

I just stay busy with the work I do with the studio.  I do try to work on my own designs/paintings
on my free time.  But when I'm home, I try to spend time with my girlfriend and our two dogs.

When was the last time you visited the Philippines and from where are your roots?

The last time I was in the Philippines, I was only five years old.  As for where my parents originated from, sadly, I can't recall.  I think of San Diego, California, in the U.S., whenever I think of the word "home".

Can you speak any Filipino dialect?

I unfortunately can't speak any Filipino dialects.  I can only understand a little bit of Tagalog. 

When I was a little kid, the school districts told parents that were immigrants to only speak to their children in English, so as to not confuse them, when they are learning in school.  My parents, only wanting their kids to be successful, did what they were told to do.  But truthfully, it would have been better for me to be able to speak multiple languages. 

Randy's self portrait (posted in his blog on December 24, 2006)

Have you eaten Filipino food? Which is your favorite?

Of course I have!  I can't really think of a favorite.  Anything my aunt cooks is pretty good to me.

Honestly now, which side are you on, Sith, Jedi or Bounty Hunter?

I can't say...bounty hunter maybe?  That could be more fun.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character?

I think Han Solo is cool.  I wish I had his confidence and swagger.

Which is the most interesting SW character that you have drawn?

Probably the Son character from season 3's Mortis storyline.  I had the most creative input on that one, more so than other things that I've done on the show.  I did the human form and the large bat form for him.

I would say that around 80-90% of the time we are passed down reference from George Lucas, or from Dave Filoni.  But I had next to nothing, reference-wise on this one, and just went for it.  Those are always the most fun assignments.

Clone Card design of The Son

Who are your major influences in Star Wars art?

Iain McCaig and Dermot Power were my favorite artists of the prequel trilogy.  I even got to work for Iain as an intern at a studio he once had called "Ninth Ray", as an intern.  It was crazy to see him there, and I'm happy to say that he was the nicest guy to work for.  I also dug the work of Ryan Church, Erik Tiemens, and all of the other work of the artists that I can't recall the names of right now.  And later on, I really appreciated Ralph McQuarrie's and Joe Johnston's art from the original trilogy.

Do you have a Star Wars collection? Which is your prized one?

I have a little bit of Star Wars stuff, but nothing too crazy.  I have an action figure of the Mandolorian Police character that I got to do a design for, which is pretty neat.  And I have the Episodes 1-3 books, which were a huge inspiration to me, while I was going to school.

Outside of Star Wars, do you have a dream project, maybe a cartoon series or movie that you'd like to be part of?

Well, I like a lot of the superhero movies that have been coming out recently, and tend to really enjoy the visuals of the science fiction films that have been coming out in the last few years.  The movies District 9, Moon, Tron Legacy, Avatar, Suckerpunch and Battle: Los Angeles are all the types of films that look fun to me.

So pretty much anything along those lines.  Videogames are great to work on too.  They tend to push a lot of visual boundaries, and will try a lot more unique things.

Any words of advice that you'd like to share with aspiring artists?

Never give up on your dreams!  Work hard and don't let anyone put you down or tell you you're not good enough.

I've had those types of people in my life growing up, but I never let it stop me.  Surround yourself with others who share your passion, and you can all help each other grow creatively.

Thank you for gracing the Carinderia with your presence Randy! Here's to many more creative years with the Star Wars series! 

And by the way,  if ever you feel under the weather, don't call in sick. I wouldn't mind being your Clone (we have the same nickname anyway), as long as I get to roam around that workplace you call "the Ranch".

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