THE ART OF MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
For the 2001 comedy “Monsters, Inc.” Pixar Animation Studios devised all manner of squishy, creepy, cuddly, fuzzy, wobbly creatures to populate that tale of monsters who harness the energy of human screams to power their city. Now, the film’s prequel, “Monsters University,” (now in theaters), takes its familiar lead characters — the short, green, one-eyed Mike and his tall, furry sidekick, Sully, back to school.
Several new colorful characters attend the college, but one of the most curious is Art, a purple longhaired hippie-esque monster majoring in new-age philosophy. He’s one of the misfits of Oozma Kappa (“We’re O.K.!”), a fraternity Mike and Sully join.
With his wide, rainbow-shaped stance, he’s the kind of student who keeps a dream journal and is excited to “laugh with you and cry with you.” From his shape, to his no-worries personality, to the way he moves (and scares), Art proved to be a design challenge.
Dan Scanlon initially proposed making Art a theater major. So Mr. Sasaki began with drawings like this sketch, in which he looks more alligator-like and sports a scarf. “We were playing around with this longer-shaped, chest-out character, where he’s more theatrical and over the top,” Mr. Sasaki said. But the story went in a different direction and Art became more mysterious.
“With the design, I went through a lot of frustration because I didn’t know where to take it,” he said. “I remember as a joke I drew this letter A and put two dots for eyes in the middle. I thought, hey that’s kind of funny. Maybe he’s just all legs.” This sketch shows an early version of that shape. “I thought, with these legs he could do some really funny walks and would be funny for the audience to see.”
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