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Irvington Illustrator Lives Animated Life

Irvington resident Dan Shefelman works as an illustrator, professor and consultant.
Irvington resident Dan Shefelman works as an illustrator, professor and consultant. Photo Credit: Contributed

IRVINGTON, N.Y. – For illustrator Dan Shefelman, the draw of his profession is the act of creation.

“I love the idea of taking an idea, getting the challenge—can you make this idea work?” he said.

Shefelman, an Irvington resident since 1994, has spent his career bringing ideas to life in cartoons, animated features and more. Some of Shefelman's work includes Blue Sky Studio's original "Ice Age" film and helping develop the look of MTV's animated feature "Beavis and Butt-head Do America."

Shefelman's career began at the Austin American-Statesman, where he drew political cartoons for a couple years before moving to New York and Newsday. In New York, Shefelman began a transition to animation.

“The discipline of coming up with ideas is pretty much the same,” he said. “You have to start with nothing and try to pull in everything you can. It's a little more solitary than animation—animation is much more collaborative.”

Today he's consulting with overseas animation studios and pitching a feature to Dreamworks.

“It's not even far enough along that I can say anything about it, but I'm very excited about the possibility,” he said. “That involves writing, a lot of drawing and planning what the animation's going to look like.

Shefelman is also a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology —and is eager to brag about the school, calling it “a great place.” Shefelman teaches an upper-level course, helping students translate their illustration skills from traditional mediums like newspaper cartoons to film animation, web design and more.

“I started teaching at NYC and I had no idea how to do it,” he said. “I had a very hard time articulating my process because I had never studied art.”

Shefelman said he tries to teach his students discipline and let them develop their own critical minds.

“Right now my students are my biggest inspiration other than my family,” he said.

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