by R.C. Samo
Dora the Explorer, the world’s most popular kids show has made to an unprecedented eighth season. However, the bi-lingual adventurer needed more than just a compass and backpack to navigate her way through the world of animation.
Jay Shultz, is one of those artist guides responsible for the success of Dora. A graduate of the Columbus College of Arts and Design in Columbus, Ohio. Shultz, who grew up in Bellaire, Ohio, in a family full of engineers, his father, a mechanical engineer and his brother is an electrical engineer for NASA, took his inherent design skills into a completely different direction.
“My family couldn’t figure me out. Mom was supportive, but dad didn’t get it. I told my parents at 13 that I would be going to California and not coming back,” said Shultz in the courtyard of Nickelodeon Studios in Burbank, CA.
According to Shultz, growing up in Ohio was not the place to foster creativity. He said that anyone in the arts was considered a “non-entity,” they are people who have a completely different mentality. Everyone in school expected him to grow up and be an artist because that is what he always did throughout his school years.
“I got into trouble for doing part projects for the cute girls,” said Shultz about his K thru 12 experience.
Shultz’s career shot out the gate with, Anastasia , the Don Bluth animated feature with an amazing cast of Angela Lansbury, Kelsey Grammer, Meg Ryan and John Cusack, it had the potential to be a blockbuster – the only problem, not many people knew the legend of the Russian princess who was believed to escape the Bolshevik Revolution with the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II.
“Don Bluth was my hero. I like that he told Disney off and did it himself. He put me in the second highest position doing the story boards and I was scared to death. I drew all day and studied the other artists at night. I labored over them,” said Shultz, sharing this story with great reverence. His mindset while working on the film was just, “shut up and draw.”
The gregarious Shultz, who looks like he should be on stage with a European epic metal band has a list of credentials that includes another Bluth production, Titan A.E. and King of the Hill, before going to Nickelodeon in 1999, working on CatDog, following that he went on to doing background layout design for Dora.
“I’ve been here forever. It’s like being a senior in high school. Nickelodeon is a fun environment that still have that, ‘kids first,’ mentality. You can feel it’s a little more corporate with the move to Burbank (from North Hollywood, CA), but not confining,” said Shultz.
Dora and Diego have taken a life of their own. The show, which targets 3 to 6 year olds uses psychology, repetition and basic shapes to figure out what appeals to children. Psychological testing uses distractions to see if the kids will look away from more than a few moments, they know the scene needs to be redone. In some instances, there have been times whole episodes have been scratched because the kids were bouncing off the walks instead of being apart of the show.
“The kids are really going on an adventure with her (Dora). They will run out to help and grab stuff to help Dora. Adults don’t get it but it’s because they aren’t kids anymore,” said Shultz.
When not working on Dora, Shultz spends his free time remodeling his home in the San Fernando Valley, painting and drawing his own characters and creations.
“I still enjoy drawing with paper and pencil. You lack that, ‘Happy Accident,’ Bob Ross moment when you use the digitizer,” said Shultz.
His doodles are more impressive than some peoples laborious endeavors. If you ever get to meet Jay Shultz, he won’t pull any punches and tells it like he sees it. You’ll laugh until your face hurts with just one conversation…and if you are going to have a drink with the man, don’t forget the Red Stag Whiskey. Of which, we still owe him a bottle.
Visit Jay Shultz site at http://jays-doodles.deviantart.com/
Be sure to get your parents permission before watching full episodes and playing the Dora the Explorer game at http://www.nickjr.com/dora-the-explorer/?navid=characterNav