Francesco, also known as Franny, is the talented doodler and animator who has contributed his artistry to many of today’s most beloved animated films. Even better, he has quite the animated personality to match his tremendous talent. Check out his cheeky story below.
Say hello to Francesco:
Who are you and why are you here?
My name is Francesco Giroldini and I’m originally from Milan, Italy, but I’ve been living in the U.S. for the past ten years, which is why my Italian sounds so suspicious these days. Recently, I went back to my hometown to have some focaccia and although I ordered it in near-perfect Italian, the cashier insisted on talking back to me first in English and then in Spanish. I kept telling her – in Italian – that I was Italian, and this was my hometown, but she couldn’t care less and she kept talking to me in broken English. I spent four years studying Computer Animation in swampy Florida and three years in California working at Pixar and DreamWorks before moving to New York. Nowadays, I work on animated movies – the most recent ones being The Peanuts Movie and Ice Age 5 (yes, there’s five of them). I take care of the cinematography, along with a team of other digital artists.
Favorite place in the world?
My favorite place in the world is a tiny cafe in the Lower East Side called Tiny’s Giant because it’s close by me and they let me doodle Donald Trump with small hands on their receipts. I don’t have a picture of it, but you can google-map it and street-view it. I do have pictures of my Donald Trump doodles if you are interested though.
What’s your dream project?
My dream project is to make my living from doodling silly stories, making short films, and eventually my own animated feature films. If my employer is reading this though, my dream project is lighting animated movies (which is what I do now).
Do you experience inspiration blocks?
Every time I get an inspiration block, I try to remind myself of how silly that is considering how wonderfully complex our world is and how many fascinating mysteries still exist. Then I usually doodle something silly like funny dinosaurs, until I break out of the block. I believe the best way to stay inspired is to be very prolific and create enough momentum with your work that even if you were to encounter such blocks, you would be too busy to notice.
Tell us about your move from Italy to the States.
The first week or two in the U.S. were truly traumatic because I spent it in a hostel in Tampa next to a New Zealander (kiwi?) and I understood nothing of what he was saying, and no one understood what I was saying either. My hostel was on Plymouth Street, and I arrived on a rainy night (it’s only torrential rain in Florida). So imagine me going around swamp-town at night asking locals, “where’s PLAY-MOUTH STREET?” I could have died a dozen times that night; instead, I followed a stranger who offered to help through a pitch-black park and found my hostel. Two months in, I became aware of the “Italian stallion” stereotype in the U.S. – that was great. It’s still great actually. College was awesome – I learned a lot and I met some really awesome people. With each passing year, my Italian gets worse, but in return, I get better at sexting so I really can’t complain. My time in California was spectacular and my time in NYC is even better; I mean Eataly is right here, c’mon Eataly!
You teach through tutorials – tell us about that.
As a kiddo, I’ve always wanted to have someone around me who could answer all of my questions, but I had no one – yeah, not even Jesus. -enter sad violin- Now that I’m in a position to be that person, I want to earn all the Karma points I can and give back to the community. I’m a true “belieber” in that regards and I continue to write tutorials for my coworkers on a daily basis. Once I become a permanent resident here in the US ( if anyone is interested in marrying me, this is my okcupid profile), I’d like to devote even more time to teaching and mentoring.
What is your background?
I’ve been doodling my whole life, so I guess my background is in traditional art and illustration. In high school, I became proficient at building websites and basic animation, so after studying Computer Animation in college, I found myself with a pretty broad set of skills ranging from doodling to coding and making animated movies. For the past six years, I’ve been specializing in lighting and compositing, all while stepping up my painting chops. I’ve become pretty good at digital cinematography, which is both a very artistic and yet technical field of expertise.
What mediums do you work with most frequently?
For my doodles, I tend to work inside a regular sketchbook and I use a combo of brush pens, watercolor pencils and markers. Sometimes, I work with water colors in a separate sketchbook that has thicker paper and can take in more water without freaking out. For my digital work, I use Photoshop; if it’s animated, I use After Effects. For my short films, I use Maya to animate and Nuke for the compositing/grading.
Out of your works, which is your favorite?
The work I’m most famous for, which is also my favorite, is a short film I made with a friend in college called The Monk and the Monkey. This short film was our graduating short film and it’s ultimately what propelled both my friend and I into landing jobs at DreamWorks animation.
Check out the film and screenshots below:
Show us your doodles! 🙂
Here’s a bunch of doodles I made. Some are doodles for my comics, others are figure drawings of models or random people. I also included a few political caricatures of Trump and Sanders, and a doodle of a church in Istanbul.
What impact do you hope your work leaves on society?
Some of my work is something that I do because of necessity, as I can’t go for more than a few days without doodling. Other work is meant more specifically to be shown to other people in order to stimulate a conversation. In the long run, I hope to create work that can discuss heavy topics with a little bit of levity and humor.
What was the most memorable response to your work?
I’ve seen some people cry watching my short film, The Monk and the Monkey, and I have to admit, that was pretty rewarding. I kind of felt like a little shit for making someone cry, but at the same time, I felt good about it. Go figure. In general, I hope producing good work increases my chances of getting laid – isn’t that why we do art in the first place?
What themes do you explore in your work?
I like to explore themes that I struggle with myself on a daily basis. I believe the world can be pretty hard to navigate and I don’t believe I have all the answers, but I think asking the right questions is sometimes worthy in itself. Right now, I’m working on a comic about Gay Marriage because it’s a topic that I used to struggle to understand and I’m hoping I’ll be able to change a few minds through it. In the future, I’d like to work on a comic about Gun Control because it’s a hot topic here in the U.S. and a difficult one to discuss without devolving into a shouting contest.
Professionally, where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
Ideally, I’d like to go back to making my own short films and spend more time on my personal projects like comics, etc. My goal has always been to tell stories, so hopefully five years from now, I’ll be able to devote more of my time towards that goal.
What do you look for in figure models?
I look for shapes I can push and pull. The harder models to draw for me are usually the conventionally pretty ones because you can’t push and pull them much without breaking their character. Although most folks think of my work as caricatures, to me, these portraits are as real as they get because they capture the essence of that person. I gloat when someone with a really unique feature appears in front of me, and after a short debate over the ethics of exaggerating someone’s potentially embarrassing feature, I exploit their shapes as much as I can. I heard of an interview where Picasso discussed a sculpture of a goat he had made and said that to him, “she’s more of a goat than a real goat” – I agree with him. Sometimes, caricatures can cut through the noise and go straight to the features that define someone’s character.
How difficult is it to find figure models?
I go to figure drawing places like Society of Illustrators and Drink ‘n Draw to find models. I’ve tried to repurpose my online dates to act as models, but every time we ended up having sex almost immediately, so sadly, that’s a no-go.
What challenges do you face in your work currently?
Work is pretty chill, actually. My biggest challenge is to produce great work without causing it to stand out from the rest of my peers. Continuity is of paramount importance in a feature film, and when a dozen people work together, sometimes they gotta sacrifice their individuality for the greater good of the movie. I try to be efficient at work and save some energy for my after-hours hobbies, like doodling or playing the electric guitar. I sit on a yoga ball at work though – that’s pretty challenging, right?
What is your most life-changing event?
I don’t know if I believe in “life-changing events” anymore. Life after losing my virginity has supplied me with a steady rate of life-changing events, but as I grow older, these tend to be less influential, as I’m pretty set on my devious ways already.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
My okcupid profile.
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Accidentally letting out a big fart after chuckling at a joke that is not even funny. This already happened actually – during my first day at work, just before they took the picture for my badge, so I’m practically fearless now.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
A threesome. Someone offered once. I’m such a fool – I shouldn’t have turned it down. Offering to lift the pants up for some of the kids who walk around the hood with their pants down is a close second.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Francesco, here’s some contact information:
Franny, thanks for the candid chat – you’re too much fun! 🙂
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.