Zan Rice: The Man and his Animation

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[Interview: Artist]

Angela McKenzie animation

Weekends generally find children of all ages parked in front of their television sets or at the local cinema watching their favorite cartoon hero whether that be Powder puff Girls, Sailor Moon, Dora the Explorer, Pokemon, Mutant Ninja Turtles, or superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the Hulk.

Seldom is a thought given by these young spectators to the process and/or team of talented artists it takes to bring these animated characters to life.

Cartoonist and Sculptor Zan Rice, is one such talent. He is also versed in 3D Animation. A Native of New York, this multi-media visual artist recently made an appearance on Angela McKenzie’s weekly syndicated radio program “Initiative Radio” (IR) broadcast on the NPR, PRI, and Pacifica Networks.

Zan showed up to give Angela’s listeners a crash course on the computer-generated techniques he uses to turn flat drawings into animated three dimensional characters. He also used the IR forum to inform Ms. McKenzie’s listeners of the importance of keeping music and art an integral part of the public school curriculum.

A product of the New York City public schools himself, Zan reminisced with Angela about his own school days when as an oftentimes unruly and mischievous student, Zan, and his buddy engaged in classroom high jinx which irritated his teachers but alleviated his boredom.  Zan fondly coined those episodes as “sniffing in stereo."  However, it was art classes and his parent’s love that kept him in school and finally held his attention.

"For some children, the class room environment is too restrictive. They become irritable and unfocused." said the young artist. "By no means are these children dull or stupid.  However, the one-size-fits-all teaching technique offered by the public school system is not appropriate for all children. Music and art classes give children who are barely getting by a chance to learn lessons that interest and inspire them.  Hopefully, in turn, they take some of this focus back to their other classes or at least have their self-esteem boosted," said Zan thoughtfully.

Zan began drawing at age 2, and as he developed his love for art he spent much of his time analyzing and recreating the comic book styling of legends like Todd McFarlane, best known for his Spiderman depiction and the creation of Venom,  Spidey’s arch enemy.

Zan says animators Jim Lee (who is best known for his depiction of Wolverine and X-Men) and Bart Sears who is well known for his ability to capture the human anatomy in full detail, far outrank many of the comic book artists of the day.

Zan honed his craft at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where his teachers recognized and fostered his artistic talent. Currently, Zan works out of The B-Yonder Studios based in Manhattan.  These days his projects range from illustrations to 3D animations. When not working on behalf of his clients, Zan finds time to indulge in his own pet projects. He created depictions of Jennifer Lopez as an Amazon woman flanked by two leopards and did a computer generated digital image of himself which he calls Big Z. His most recent work is a poster he created for singer and "Initiative Radio" host, Angela McKenzie. 

"During my radio interview with Angela and after listening to her music, I was so impressed by her talent I thought a promotional poster was in order,” said Zan. “So, I went ahead and created an illustration that I hoped she and her fans would appreciate.” He completed the poster in one week.

The poster’s release also coincides with the one-year anniversary of “Initiative Radio.”

“The video game industry is very competitive field.  Oftentimes, Hollywood film professionals take precedence over young and upcoming digital artists. Finding work at the large studios for young 3D artists can be as difficult as it is for fledgling musicians to find major record deals. There is stiff competition between new graduates and grads from prior years,” remarked Zan. 

“Globalization has seen many of the jobs that American graduates would like to have being shipped overseas to places like India, Singapore, and Korea.  If beginners can afford the necessary equipment, I advise them to take the entrepreneurial route in order to gain sufficient production experience. Networking within the industry is a key component when breaking into the commercial ranks,” advised the young animator.

The B-Yonder Studios and The AMcK Initiative, Inc., (parent company of "Initiative Radio") are set to form a collaboration whereby they plan to work on numerous artistic projects designed to showcase his artistic creations and Ms. McKenzie’s musical talent, as well as aid the mission of IR and AMcK to foster media, arts and entertainment as an endeavor to uplift and educate the public.

Interested parties can view sampling of Zan’s creations at

For information about Angela McKenzie’s Initiative Radio’s activities see

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