Kali Fontecchio is an artist and animator who has worked on the new Disney Mickey Mouse cartoons, Drawn Together- The Movie, Yo Gabba Gabba and The Looney Tunes Show to name a few. She is currently employed at Disney animation studios. 

Interview by Emma Kathan

kali fontecchio psychic gloss magazineARTIST KALI FONTECCHIO

See Kali’s work in the Mickey Mouse short: Croissant de Triomphe :

Did you start out doing more “classical art” or were you always more drawn to cartoon or caricature style of drawing?

From an early age I always leaned more toward cartoony styles, but it definitely fluctuated frequently during different phases. Depending on what artists I discovered, who I was hanging around and was influenced by, also when I was able to draw better after taking life drawing probably influenced my style. It will hopefully continue to evolve!

You are now working on the new Mickey Mouse cartoons, which look amazing. Can you tell us about how many people and how many hours go into making one of these approximately 3 minute cartoons?

There is a small crew of about twenty artists and editors etc. working in-house at Disney, but the cartoons themselves are animated in Canada by a whole other group of people. That probably makes like fifty people total? Currently I’m doing some development for Disney…

audrey hepburn kali fontecchio psychic glossAUDREY HEPBURN BY KALI FONTECCHIO

What helps to keep you going in the face of adversity?

Things are never as terrible as they seem in the heat of the moment, and even if they are, time heals all wounds, right? I keep going because drawing or writing songs etc. is the best feeling in the world and makes me happy, and being happy is AWESOME.

What inspires you on a daily basis?

SEAFOAM. Photos from the 60s, Talking Heads, clouds, butts, my friends, my boyfriend, Tumblr (haha)….”buttz” with a Z.

Who are some of your favorite animators both past and present?

I’ll broaden it to designers and other people involved in animation if I may… Miyazaki! His animation and strong female characters are some of the best. Bob Clampett, of course, golden age animation at its best. Akira Toriyama, his drawings are super solid and inspiring. My personal favs are his Chrono Trigger concept drawings! Ub Iwerks, the genius behind the original Mickey Mouse shorts, not really famous enough, to be honest. My friend David Gemmill makes hilarious animations in the style of classic cartoons, but with a current-day attitude. Also Myke Chilian! I worked with him on his Gwar cartoon for Funny or Die, and he constantly inspires me.

As we’re coming into a new year, can you draw a self portrait (just pen or pencil, or whatever is easiest) of your mindset and or activities in 2013?


My activities involved being coy.

What were you like as a child?

I was the one who was a class clown, but also weird and off-putting. In retrospect, pretty funny as proven here:


As a teen?

Super obnoxious on purpose, out to prove how mature I thought I was, and really into making weird sounding music. Obsessed with Neutral Milk Hotel, Vash The Stampede and Final Fantasy IX.

In your twenties?

Considering I’m still in them, slowly but steadily growing to be more comfortable and happy with myself, and making sure I’m number one on my list of people to keep happy. I do continue to get easily obsessed with things (i.e. sea foam, butts, David Byrne).

kali fontecchio mermaid

How have you seen yourself change so far in life in a psychological way?

I am a little more aware of myself as opposed to the past. I’m pretty impulsive at times, but I understand more about what motivates me to make certain decisions. Less dependent on the approval of others. Though the internet has bred the sort of social structure where we as a people feel like it is the most important form of validation. I try to view it as a place to, like in the real world just exist, but not letting it define me as a person.

This issue is about rebirth, was there a time in your life so far where you’ve felt reborn? If so, what were the circumstances surrounding this event and what was the outcome?

Shedding negative people willingly and also unwillingly. In the end I discovered there’s nothing worse than a black cloud personified, but the upside is sometimes the most creative energy comes from the pain of overcoming it.


Does there still seem to be a “boy’s club” mentality at Disney or do you see a more equal workforce?

Honestly, there are more and more women in charge,executives and such but there are still a lot of men animating and drawing in comparison. While I was at Sony Imageworks all my bosses were female except for Genndy (Tartakovsky). We’re slowly, but surely taking over, ha!

What new projects would you like to tackle within the next 5-10 years?

Ahhh! Everything…ha. Well, I would like to put out an art book, do an art show, make another album or one hundred more, tour Europe, the world, have a show, or a movie, or something. So, yeah everything.

kali fontecchio dancing gif

How would you like to see the world change within the next 5-10 years?

Men not only learn to treat women respectfully, but break long running stereotypes mentally as well. All student loans disappear from the face of the planet. People become more rational and loving on a massive scale. All weather resembles beach weather, a cool 70° with a soft salty breeze. We all say, “smell you later” as predicted by The Simpsons, and all emails and texts replace “goodbye” with “buttz”.

star trek kali fontecchio psychic gloss magazine

Spring Playlist by Kali Fontecchio

1. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel – Talking Heads
2. Digital Witness – St. Vincent
3. Into The Light – Siouxsie and the Banshees
4. Medicine – Matt Berry
5. Make Believe Mambo – David Byrne
6. Vamos a la Playa – Righeira
7. Náttúra – Björk
8. Porno – Arcade Fire
9. Bows & Arrows – PJ Harvey
10. Surf’s Up (1967 Solo Version) – The Beach Boys