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Interview With Artist David Rabbitte


Photographer: Denise Vasquez Artist: David Rabbitte

Featured Interview in PROMOTE Magazine issue 4 June 2024


How old were you when you started creating art?


I think I was around 4 or 5. I barely remember what I was drawing at the time, it was probably The Six Million Dollar Man, since that was my favorite show in the 70s! My mother was an art teacher before she was married, so she encouraged me a lot and gave me a good foundation.


Did you always want to be an artist?


Not always...when I was very young, my first thought was to be a policeman when I grew up. I had no concept of what it would involve, I think I imagined it would be fun to be in a uniform and have gear on my belt, but my family educated me that I may be put in dangerous situations, so I eventually changed my mind. Honestly as much as I liked drawing, I had no idea what I wanted to do once I left school, I just figured that it would be something creative.


Where did you grow up?


I was born in Massachusetts and lived there until I was eight. My father decided he wanted to move us to Ireland near his parents in the country, so everything changed after that. Did the rest of my school years in Ireland, including college. It wasn't until I was 24 that I moved back to the States.


Did your environment growing up in Ireland inspire you creatively?


Really it had the opposite effect. We moved from the U.S. suburb lifestyle surrounded by pop culture to a remote area in the countryside, and there wasn't much to inspire a creative 8 year old, so it drove me to collect what I could on my favorite tv shows and movies and draw from them. I had to use my imagination a lot.


When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in graphic design, illustration and animation?


I started thinking more about it as I came near to graduating high school. I had a lot of ideas develop during my college years, but there was nothing concrete I said to myself “this is what I want to do as soon as I finish.” I wanted to do all kinds of things like illustration for book covers, paint movie posters, do concept art for films, build and animate stop motion models, direct movies, build sets, on and on. When I left college things eventually came along I didn't think of until the opportunity was there in front of me.


Where did you study?


I studied in two colleges – for my first year I did a foundation course in art at my local college in Galway where I got a basic training in drawing, painting, graphic design, sculpture, screen printing, etc. I moved to Dublin after that to attend Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, to do a 3 year Graphic Design course. Although it wasn't exclusively graphic design, I also did a lot of illustration work, storyboards, poster art, and they allowed me to join in a couple of times a week in the animation class.


Does your education lend a hand in finding work? How do you find work as an artist?


After I had finished college, I searched around for a while, and my animation teacher informed me that Don Bluth Ltd Animation were looking to hire background artists for their feature films, something I never considered before. I sent in my portfolio and was called in to do a test, which resulted me in getting hired. They had a very high standard, and I had to really bring up my game just to keep up, as I was working among some very talented artists. In many ways I learned more at that studio then I ever did in college, and I still use the lessons they taught me in art I do today.


What made you move back to the states?


It had been on my mind to go back after I visited some friends in the US the year before I started working at Bluth, and Don had an offer from 20th Century Fox to come direct their first animated feature at their new studio in Phoenix Arizona. I moved back to where I was born in Massachusetts for a year to figure out what I wanted to do next, and realized moving to Phoenix to rejoin the crew at Fox was the most obvious choice! Funny how things work out like that, you never know where you are going to end up! I'm happy I made that

decision, and they were great people to work with.


Do you have a preference: graphic design, illustration, animation or painting?


It's hard to have a preference, because I enjoy them all for different reasons. I guess illustration right now is my favorite, because it's what I have been primarily doing lately, and I can see finished results in a relatively short time. Painting is enjoyable, but you need a lot of patience as it takes a long time to get done. Animation is something I do mostly when my job requires it, and that takes commitment, and graphic design is just helpful in that it adds to my illustration.


Do you find that the more skills and experience you have the more opportunities you create for yourself?


I would think that's a true statement, yes. Working in feature animation gave me a great deal of experience and understanding on using rules and techniques in art, lighting and color that I otherwise would have had to figure out on my own. That knowledge helped lead to other work, like the slot game industry which I work in now. Then doing art for slot games helped me push myself further in digital illustration and graphic design. I was also required to work digital animation, so I had to learn After Effects software and apply it to the art I made for the games.


What projects have you worked on?


Most recently I have been doing several projects for Topps Star Wars Card Trader digital app, many of them are based on the themes I am given for the sets, and I illustrate scenes from the Star Wars films, tv series, animated series, etc. All are drawn in pencil first, then I bring them into Photoshop and digitally ink and color them.

For the animation industry I have worked as a background painted for Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent, The Pebble and the Penguin, Titan A.E., and Curious George.My current full time job is illustration and design for slot games.


Does being an artist require you to go where the work is?


Yes, definitely. Moving to Phoenix was a major step for me, as I had no relatives or friends there, apart from the people I worked with before, so I was starting my life all over again. Then moving to Reno was another big change, as I had stayed in Phoenix for 20 years (not intentionally!), and many of the art studios producing casino games were in that area. It's a lot easier to move when you're young, but when you've been in this for a while you'd prefer to settle in one place.


How did you get into doing casino gaming art?


I was working freelance from home for a few years and I had been thinking of getting a full time job in some artistic field, and I remembered some of my friends who I worked with in animation moved over to casino gaming. I knew there was a local game studio who I did a little freelance work for a few years ago, and thought I should call and ask about full time work. Turns out they had an opening, and I got hired. I worked there for a couple of years, and that gave me a good deal of experience which led me to getting hired in Reno, Nevada at another gaming company. I'm grateful for the opportunity as it has kept me busy with steady work for over 10 years. Currently I am working for Aristocrat Gaming.


If there was anything you could change about the industry, what would it be Any new projects in the works that you are able to talk about?


There are always new games coming out of our studio, but if you want to see them, you have to visit the Oklahoma casino market, that is where our studio's work can be seen. Some games that are already out there are The Hunt for Aztec Riches, Silver Dollar Shootout: Black Hat Burt Busts Out, The Hunt for Meatloaf's Treasure Tails (Meatloaf is a dog), and there are others. We have new ones in the works that are part of the same series with the same characters.For my Star Wars Card Trader art, my new works can be found in the set series 'Women of Star Wars', 'Suns of Tatooine' and 'Star Wars Flat Files.' I am working on another piece for series 2 of Flat Files.


Any advice for new up and coming artists?


What I always say, don't give up! Explore different possibilities, don't just limit yourself to a few ideas. You never know, one opening could lead to bigger opportunities. When you're working on a project, don't be afraid of making mistakes, just keep at it and be patient with yourself. I rarely draw anything perfect first time, it usually requires a lot of trial and error before you create something you're happy with. Stay positive and get out of your comfort zone, meet other creators and get inspired.


Where can people find you online?


My portfolio can be seen at www.DavidRabbitte.com


Anything else you want to add?


Thanks for the interview! I hope this will help inspire other artists in their career.


Click the link to purchase your copy of PROMOTE Magazine issue 4 June 2024!


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