Genndy Tartakovsky is behind some of the best-loved cartoon creations of the last decade. And, as he prepares to create for the big screen, he predicts a triumphant return for 2D animation.

Acclaimed animator Genndy Tartakovsky says it’s only a matter of time before Nemo is found out. 3D dominates 2005’s animation landscape, but Tartakovsky believes 2D will come back – and he could be the man to bring it about.

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Tartakovsky has been one of the leading lights in traditional animation for over a decade – and he’s still only 35. He’s the creator, writer, and director behind the hugely successful cartoons Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, and when George Lucas wanted an animated series to precede the Star Wars Episode IV: Clone Wars movie, Tartakovsky was the man he called. 
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“I’m a traditionalist to a fault,” he says. “I really love simple 2D animation. I have an appreciation for 3D, but its success still comes down to story and character.
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“To get a job at Pixar, for example, you still have to know how to draw,” he continues. “And you have to know the basic foundations of animation. So, they still teach that in schools and you still have to have a foundation in drawing to become an animator – even a computer animator.” 
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Born in Russia, he emigrated with his family to live in Chicago when he was just seven. His education in animation started immediately. “When we emigrated, it was really the first time I watched television,” he says. “There were all these different cartoons and TV shows and I guess I just fell in love with it.”
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It soon became clear that Tartakovsky’s love of cartoons was more than just a childhood obsession. “For some reason, I never grew out of it. I’ve talked to other animators about this. What happens to us? Why do we want to do this? It’s a weird mental defect.”
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For Tartakovsky, his preference and passion for 2D cartoons harks back to being a kid. He says the sheen of 3D takes away the child-like urge to draw the things he sees. “It’s hard to look at a 3D film and then go draw the characters, because you can never really get it to look right. Even after I saw The Incredibles, no matter how much I liked it, I didn’t come home and want to draw it.” The accessibility of 2D animation makes it a more involved media, he says. “There’s something about the hand-made feel to it – the imperfection – that makes it more real, more human.”
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The classic 70s cartoons inspire Tartakovsky’s style – Popeye, Warner Brothers, and Hanna Barbera played a big part in his childhood. “My style is rooted in traditional cinema,” he says. “It’s very streamlined, without any excess.”
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