Artist - Fraeya Pinto

Brief Animation Biography
Fraeya is an artist. She loves drawing, not writing bios.

What part of Canada do you live in Fraeya? Why did you choose it?
I live in Burlington, Ontario. My family actually moved out here while I was working in London, Ontario. I moved back home when I decided to go back to school for my post-grad, and fell in love with the town. It's a really great place to live. We're a very short drive from the escarpment, which has great hikes and gorgeous views. Rattlesnake point and Mount Nemo also have caving and rock climbing. There's the lake nearby; I plan on trying paddle boarding this summer. Haha, and best of all parking is free. 

What inspired you to work in animation?
Honestly, anime. I'd always loved cartoons, but growing up in the Middle East, we had very limited exposure to them. The only way I could get cartoons was to buy vhs tapes at a bootleg video store ; I don't think we had actual distributers there in the 90s. It was just whatever this one guy could bootleg. So when I came to Canada, it floored me to see cartoons - these amazing things that I loved, that were geared toward adults. I remember being bowled over by Gundam Wing and Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. I just knew that I wanted to be a part of that world.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Pretty. At least I hope it's pretty. I look for appeal when I draw, in terms of story, character and composition. I also love light, and I hope that comes through in my work. I get really fascinated with the way light interacts with objects, and the different qualities it can take on. Soft light, hard shadows, early morning light, dappled light. It's just so varied and beautiful. 

Fraeys's artwork for Light Grey Art Lab’s 6 Degrees show.

Can you share a piece of art work that no one has seen before?

These are from a project we've had under wraps at Rune for a while. I can't say too much about it at the moment, except that I'm really excited for this to come out. It's a game and the concept is by our creative director Paul Wollenzien. These are some preliminary explorations for the world and characters of the game. I guess I'll be able to say more about it closer to release. 

What is one of your strongest pieces of artwork at this time, and what about it makes you feel that way?
I think I still have a soft spot for this one:

I think it's because I can still feel a story playing behind the image. I don't know what it is yet, but there's something there. And I think I like something about the lighting and mood of this piece. 

What role do you play in the creation of animation?
Right now I'm a jack of all trades. On our current project I've done concept art,  as well as the actual project backgrounds and character animation. I'm art directing this one as well. I work at a small studio where we can work on every aspect of production. Keeps things pretty exciting.

Spy Central design for Spygear

What is one project that you are proud to have been involved in?
Probably the spot we did at Rune Entertainment for Cineplex. We had a lot of artistic freedom on this one, and it was probably the first project at the studio where I really got to stretch my creative muscles. The client had an idea that they wanted the story to occur at an abandoned carnival, and it would slowly come to life. Paul and Rune really let me run with this one for my concept piece, and with the final backgrounds that I did for the spot.  The team did a great job with the story and additional backgrounds, as well as 3D integration and compositing. And the animation that Blame your Brother did really complemented it. I'm really proud of the way this one turned out.

How did you become involved in "Ladies of Literature: Volume 2 Illustration Anthology”?
I think a friend of mine posted on Facebook that they were doing an open call. I'm as passionate a reader as I am an artist. Something like this is a dream and I jumped at the opportunity. A few months before the open call, I'd had laser eye surgery and it just laid me out. I spent a week in bed unable to see, and listening to audiobooks. One of them was Neil Gaiman's 'the ocean at the end of the lane' . It was so beautifully written, I must have listened to it at least three times on repeat. I could just see it playing in my head from start to finish. So it seemed only natural that it would be the one I chose to illustrate for ladies of literature. At some point I would really like to do a series of illustrations about all my favourite moments in the book. They're all buzzing around in my head still.

What were the creative thought processes you went through during the individual stages of the Geisha illustration?

Haha, that's a pretty funny one to have noticed. I actually started that when I was in college. It was for a contest on called 'non-japanese geisha'. The concept was simple, you had to illustrate a geisha with any cultural/historical background but Japanese. I spent my childhood in the middle east, and for better or worse, I love Orientalism and I suppose I wanted to bring some of that culture to this challenge. I don't think I actually finished the piece because of the deadline, but I always liked something about the pose and face. So three years ago while I was browsing through my deviantart, I noticed it again and decided to finally finish it up. 

Here's the piece from 2006 when I started it:

I remember starting this by thumbnailing poses in my sketchbook. Once I had one I liked, I sketched it up and scanned it. I put down a brown base-tone then started painting in shadows on the skin. I also started to put in warm tones in the skin using a coral at 7% opacity. I remember I was really into vibrant colours (and I had a terrible monitor, so everything looked duller) so I started to build up her surroundings with an orange/purple colour scheme in mind. That's about when I ran out of time.

And 2013 when I finished it:

I think I have a better understanding of form and colour now. As a result of that I fixed up and softened her face, though I kept a lot of the original colouring for the skin. I also started to render the fabric a bit more, and fixed anatomical problems with her chest. And gave a bit more thought to her environment. Also toned down those crazy colours.

What project are you working on now?
There's a comic project I started with a friend that I'd love to pick back up. At Rune we're starting our first foray into games. And we have a second project in the works. I don't know how much I can say about it, except that it's some good ol' fashioned hand drawn 2D. And I've had a short film on the back burner for years. I'm still trying to get rights to the audio so I can get this thing made!

Who is one of your favourite Canadian animators?
This list is massive! Do I really need to pick one? Hmm, I suppose Robin Joseph. Been a huge fan of his work for a while. His light, his form, his colour; they're on point. Plus that guy has style for miles. There's something really distinctive about the way he draws. Usually I can tell it's one of his pieces before I see the name. 




What is one of your favourite art books? 
"Color and Light" by James Gurney. Hands down the best book for understanding painting. I pick it up every month or so and have a read through. 

Who is an up-and-coming Canadian animator that everyone should check out?
Jon Lam! I've had the pleasure of working with Jon a couple of times. His work is awesome. I love the way he draws faces. I'm sure in a couple of years this is a name a lot more people will know. Go check him out,

Are you involved with any animation organizations in Canada?
Not really. I go to life drawing at Toons on Tap and Dr. Sketchys every couple of months. But that's about it.

Mad Max themed Toons on Tap with Severin Stargher.
Photo Credit: Grayden Laing

What career or artistic goals do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
Get a comic published. Illustrate a book. Make a short film. Create a travel sketchbook. This one's vague, but true; work on something that will outlive me.

To see more of your work, where can people go?