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First Portfolio & Disney Interview

I’d never seen a true portfolio put together. They used to have places like Woolworths and Crest. Not having much money at all I ran over there and got a couple of those inexpensive drawing pads and the obligatory pencil. I went back and spent a weekend and just filled up every page on those two pads from end to end. That was my portfolio.

So I waited until the day the appointment was set up for and was told to sit in the waiting room and sat there for the first time i saw what portfolios were. They’re fancy looking things. They were in the hands of people who were properly dressed, you wore a jacket and a tie. And then their conversation was to my ears, very sophisticated. I really can’t say that it overwhelmed me or anything like that. I wouldn’t allow it to do that. I just made myself as dumb as I could so none of this affected me.

Then I went in, was called in, clutching these two pads and was ushered into this office. His name was Mike Nelson who was doing the interviewing that day. He said, “let me see what you got.” So I handed these two things over, and he spent quite a bit of time looking through it, flipping through it. Then the question came up, are you in a hurry to get somewhere else, and I said no. He said if you can hang around for 15-20 minutes, I’ll be back. He picks up these two pads and disappears. Then he came back in, looked at me, and said, “Can you start Monday?” Needless to say, I was totally stunned. I had no idea this was going to happen, so I said, “sure, of course.”


animation

Date: August 6, 1998

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Janice Tanaka

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio
Iwao Takamoto (April 29, 1925 – January 8, 2007) was a legendary animator for Walt Disney and Hanna Barbera, most famously designing Scooby Doo in the late sixties. Incarcerated at Manzanar after graduating high school, Iwao leveraged his art skills into a job at Disney upon returning to Los Angeles, working on classic animated films like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. He would go on to mentor other Japanese American animators such as Willie Ito, who worked with him on Lady and the Tramp. After leaving Disney for Hanna-Barbera in 1962, Iwao continued animating, as well as producing and directing films like Charlotte's Web (1973) until his retirement. (June 2021)
Willie Ito
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Willie Ito

Disney Drawing Tests

(b. 1934) Award-winning Disney animation artist who was incarcerated at Topaz during WWII

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Willie Ito
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Willie Ito

His mentor, Iwao Takamoto

(b. 1934) Award-winning Disney animation artist who was incarcerated at Topaz during WWII

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