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Featured Artist of the Month

Impano

The spotlight this month goes to Impano, an artist whose gallery, while modest, makes up for that with sheer exuberance for its chosen subject matter: Timon. Impano is a huge Timon fan, and her artistic career here for the past several years has centered upon mastering how that beloved character's essence can best be captured in art. Judging by these featured images from her gallery, she's got the secrets well in hand.
Hi everyone! Wow, what an honor... I am still in shock and disbelief. Finding THE email from Brian in my inbox left me speechless today. Where do I even start? I'm not totally sure, since I never thought my little Timon/meerkat scribbles would ever be worthy of being featured on the front page.

I guess that the best place to start is at the beginning... When The Lion King came out in theatres in 1994, I was still a tiny baby developing in my mother's womb. However, my mom saw TLK when she was pregnant with me, so I like to tell myself that hearing the amazing soundtrack of my future favorite film while I was in utero still had an effect on me. :P However, my true TLK obsession began when I was around 8 years old. My cousin bought me a copy of The Lion King: Special Edition for me for my birthday. At the time, I had already seen the film and liked it a lot. However, when I viewed it on DVD for the first time, it sparked a strange creative energy in me. I watched it over and over, pausing my favorite scenes of the movie and redrawing all of the characters. At this time, I realized I was growing a very special attachment to one character, but I will discuss that later.

I remember when I joined the archive back in 2007. I was 12 years old and (crudely) coloring my pictures in MS Paint. I remember being so excited to find a place to share my art with other people who adored TLK as much as I did. For a long time, I thought I was an oddball for wanting to draw TLK related pictures and write TLK stories, but seeing all of you guys changed that for me. Honestly, my friends here were a blessing to me in my young age. Heck, even now, at 19, after graduating to using photoshop and a tablet, my friends here still are a blessing and an inspiration to me.

Now, those of you who know me better and are familiar with my gallery already know which character I have a soft spot for. For all of you who don't know me, my name is Impano and I am a Timonaholic! Haha! On a serious note, I have always had an incredible love for Timon and Pumbaa, especially Timon. I have drawn him for more than 11 years now.. how the time flies! I remember when I watched The Lion King as a child and I was really fascinated with him. Not only did I think he was adorable, but his personality really stood out to me. I think of him as a sort of this unsung hero. He is very stubborn (like me!) and has his selfish moments (but, who doesn't?), but I feel that inside, all he wants is the best thing for his friends and family! However, I do enjoy drawing all of the other TLK characters, and you can find many of them in my mostly canon gallery, alongside my Timon pictures. <3

Wow, that was indeed a novel. *lol* I'm still completely amazed that my silly rant is being featured on the front page right now! I can't thank you guys enough for voting for me... I don't know who you are, but let me tell you, you turned a rather crappy day full of injuries, shots, and doctor's visits into a day full of tears of joy. <3 I am so honored to be the July 2014 AoTM. I never expected to be noticed here... but you guys sure proved me wrong. I love you guys! *cries*

Remember, Hakuna Matata, my loves!!
It's a little funny to hear from an artist who hadn't even yet been born when TLK was in theaters. Speaking as someone for whom it was the summer animated blockbuster of his high school graduation year, it's sobering to think of how ageless and timeless the movie's appeal is—and how it calls upon artists of all generations to try their hands at taking part in the fan-art world.

But it's especially rewarding when it's someone like Impano, whose tastes run not just to which characters are the cutest or which ones stand up best as the basis for customization, but which ones are perhaps the most animated, in the sense of being exaggerated in their actions and their expressiveness. Impano seems to have gravitated firmly toward the comic-relief team of Pumbaa and especially Timon, and it's easy to see why.

Many of the cast of The Lion King are designed in such a way that they can express human emotions recognizably while still retaining an essentially "animal" nature, so that (for example) when Simba and Nala fight when meeting each other for the first time as adults they can slip seamlessly into a feral, ruthlessly animal design without losing their basic recognizability. But Timon and Pumbaa exist in another part of the animation spectrum, where their emoting (like that of many classic cartoon characters, like Bugs Bunny and his contemporaries) is fundamentally human, with only a veneer of animal-ness to them. This allows them to express themselves in ways that let their animators really cut loose, exercising all their techniques for creating emotive expressions and body language that reads true-to-life in ways that are only possible with "human-like" characters.

This may be part of why Impano finds Timon in particular to be such a rich subject for her art, and the theme for the bulk of her development work. We can see her throughout her gallery gradually learning the details and the techniques for what makes Timon tick, including exercises like model sheets and character studies that show she's dedicating herself to the study of this character at a depth that goes well beyond merely how to make him look on-model. It's about how he acts, and in fact (as some of the surrounding pictures illustrate) how he might act, in unfamiliar situations we don't get to see in the movie.

This isn't, of course, to say that Impano has neglected the other canon characters. As we see in some other featured pictures here, and in her "Lion King" folder in general, she's got an enviable mastery of how characters like Simba and Zazu are put together, and she can render them just as expressively and as appealingly as she can with Timon. But it's Timon who gets the lion's share of Impano's attention, and the benefits he reaps (in the form of most of Impano's most notable pictures) are plain to see.

It's a joy to see the movie continuing to inspire new artists who discover it after the fact, not just ones who were fans of it from the day it was released. It's even more fascinating when specific elements from it can transcend a more generalized obsession and turn into something so specific, and yet so rewarding, as Impano has made from it.

Here's to many more years of great art from Impano!


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