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From Disney to Art Teacher: The Journey of Aaron Blaise

ben marvazi 2020

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Aaron Blaise

Meet Aaron Blaise, an accomplished animator, artist, and educator with over 30 years of experience in the animation industry. Born and raised in Florida, Aaron discovered his love for drawing and wildlife at a young age. He went on to study illustration at Ringling College of Art and Design, where he honed his skills and prepared himself for a career in the creative industry.

In 1988, Aaron landed an internship with Disney's animation department, where he worked on iconic films such as "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Mulan." During his time at Disney, Aaron worked under the mentorship of Glen Keane, a renowned animator who helped shape Aaron's passion for the craft. Aaron eventually became a co-director of "Brother Bear" before embarking on a new chapter in his career.

After leaving Disney, Aaron started his own art education website,, where he shares his knowledge and expertise with aspiring artists and animators. Today, Aaron continues to work as an educator, animator, and director on his own projects, constantly pushing himself to learn and improve.

For Aaron, the driving force behind his pursuit of success as an animator is his passion for storytelling and character development. He finds joy in creating believable performances that resonate with audiences, and he thrives on the collaborative nature of animation. Despite the challenges of the industry, Aaron remains focused and dedicated to his craft, always striving to overcome setbacks and persist toward his vision.

On a typical day in Aaron's life, he can be found drawing and painting both digitally and traditionally, working on character designs, storyboards, or recording tutorials. He also makes sure to take breaks and spend time in nature to find inspiration.

To stay at the forefront of the latest advancements in animation, Aaron remains committed to learning and experimenting with new techniques and tools. While he recognizes the benefits of new technology, he also values the importance of traditional techniques and encourages others not to overlook them.

Aaron's journey into animation was unexpected, but his passion for bringing characters to life and telling stories through animation has never wavered. He continues to inspire and educate artists around the world, leaving a lasting impact on the animation industry.

Q & A With Animator, Artist, and Educator, Aaron Blaise

photograph of aaron blaise with a baby elephant touching his forehead with its trunk

Image from The Art of Aaron Blaise

Could you give us a brief overview of your background and where you find yourself now in your career?

I grew up in Florida and developed an early love for drawing and wildlife. I went on to study at Ringling College of Art and Design, where I studied Illustration. In 1988 I was accepted into Disney's Internship program for animation, where I was matched up with Glen Keane as my mentor.

I worked on films such as "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Mulan." Later, I became a co-director of "Brother Bear." After leaving Disney, I worked for another studio for a bit, but then I started my own art education website,, and I continue to work as an educator, animator & director on my own projects. 

At what moment did you realize your passion for animation?

I've been interested in drawing since I was a child, but it wasn't until I sat down in a room with Glen that I realized I wanted to be an animator. Seeing his passion for animation was infectious, and I knew then that I wanted to be a part of creating that kind of magic.

What do you think is the main driving force behind your pursuit of success as an animator?

For me, it's all about telling stories and bringing characters to life. I love the challenge of creating believable performances and making audiences feel something through animation. Watching drawings come to life has never lost its wonder for me and I'm always pushing myself to learn and improve.

sketches of a cheetah standing and running by aaron blaise

Image by aaronblaiseart via Instagram

Who has been a significant inspiration in your career journey so far, and why?

There have been many people who have inspired me throughout my career. In addition to Glen, I also worked extremely closely with Mark Henn. Mark and I were paired up several times. In the Florida studio, I animated the Beast, and he did Belle. 

He animated young Simba, and I animated young Nala. I did Rajah & he did Jasmine for Aladdin. Working with him closely on those projects as well as others, I really learned a lot.  

sketches of Nala as a lion cub with different facial expressions, she's happy, neutral, scared and sad and also walking around by aaron blaise

Nala Studies via Aaron Blaise

In your experience, what is the biggest benefit and challenge of working in the animation industry?

The biggest benefit of working in animation is seeing your ideas come to life on the screen and knowing that you're bringing joy to audiences. As well as working with other artists. No one person makes a film.  It's a collaborative process, and you learn so much through that back and forth. 

The biggest challenge is the amount of work and attention to detail required to create something that looks and feels believable. Animation is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and it takes a lot of patience and dedication to do it well. It's definitely a marathon and not a sprint. 

a realistic artwork of Rajah the tiger by Aaron Blaise

Realistic Rajah by Aaron Blaise

If you could give one piece of advice to overcome this challenge, what would it be?

My advice would be to stay focused and keep pushing yourself and persist. There will always be setbacks, but if you stay committed to your vision and keep working hard, you'll get there eventually.

Could you provide us with a glimpse into a typical day in your life as an animator?

One of the joys of having my own art education website is that my days can vary quite a bit. Some days, I might be working on character designs or storyboards, while other days, I might be recording tutorials or working on wildlife paintings. 

I spend a lot of time at my desk drawing and painting both digitally & traditionally. I also try to take breaks to get outside into nature to find inspiration.

a photograph of Aaron Blaise in a art class teaching animators and illustrators  in an art class room

Image by Mrs Swain's Art Class

Staying up-to-date with the latest techniques and technology is vital in the animation industry, how do you ensure that you remain at the forefront of the latest advancements?

I'm always learning and experimenting with new techniques and tools. I also enjoy collaborating with other artists and trying out new software and hardware. But, I'm also what you might call "old school". 

While new technology is great and can certainly help your workflow, the old ways still work too! It amazes me how sometimes people will jump to technology first and completely overlook a tool or technique past will still get the job done. People will try to over-engineer a solution when sometimes all you need to do is break out a pencil and a sheet of paper. 

What made you decide to pursue a career as an animator?

Originally I wanted to be an illustrator. I had no intention of becoming an animator. But I needed a job and Disney was coming to my college hiring so I put a portfolio in and the rest is history.  

Ever since I sat down in Glen's office that first time, I've been fascinated by the idea of bringing characters to life and telling stories through animation!

old photograph of aaron blaise drawing a character on a piece of paper with a blue pencil

Image by Wacom

What Animators Can Learn From Aaron Blaise

Aaron Blaise's journey from Disney animator to art educator is a testament to the power of passion, persistence, and adaptability in the ever-evolving world of animation

His unwavering commitment to storytelling and character development, combined with a dedication to both traditional techniques and new technologies, has allowed him to remain relevant and successful in the industry. 

Aspiring animators can learn from Aaron's experiences by staying true to their vision, embracing collaboration, and continually pushing themselves to learn and improve. By doing so, they too can forge their own unique paths in the animation world and create captivating stories that resonate with audiences around the globe.

For more informative interviews with animators, as well as answers to any other questions you might have about working as a freelance animator or studio owner, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and our Animation Business Accelerator Program, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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