1. What was your Program of Study Like? Do you think it properly prepared you for your present work life?
I studied Media Arts and Animation at the Art Institute of Tampa, and it was..interesting! It was great for introducing me to a lot of different programs - one thing I
like about an animation major is that it teaches you things that you can apply to graphic design jobs, animation, illustration, visual effects, 3d, storyboarding, and so much more.
Kind of more bang for your buck, but at the same time less focus on what you really wanna do. But thats why its important to work a lot outside of school too on your
I think it moderately prepared me. I'm not sure if what I learned just being thrown into the field could really be taught in a classroom. Its a lot of just, experiencing it all.
2. Did you have any jobs (art related or otherwise) during school? What about after?
During school I mainly focused on my studies. While I didn't have art jobs, I had a part time job as a waitress. Any free time
I had was dedicated to working on my own art projects outside of school or going to animation conferences. After
school I did a lot of freelancing for some minor game projects, and more recently I began work on Fox's Axe Cop
and Highschool USA for their ADHD block, as well as a new show that will be airing on FXX. I've also worked
on a few social games that will be released in January.
3. Where's your current job? What's a typical work day like for you? What kind of studio space do you have?
I work full time at Multimedia Games in Austin, Texas as an animator and illustrator. Depending on the day, the morning
is either reserved for different meetings or I get right into my current project. Meetings range from Pitches,
milestones (checkpoints for different parts of the game we are working on), or weekly updates. What I do also
varies a lot - we do a little bit of everything. So far I've done vector and traditional illustrations for assets and
backgrounds in the games, and animating in After Effects.
I have cubicle office (which sounds boring and bland but in an art environment it really isn't!), with a large cintiq
set up with another monitor to work from. It's pretty spacious and cozy! The hours honestly kind of fly by - the day can often be broken up by random
employee fun-times. Sometimes there is a wing eating competition, other times there are Arcade invasions. Just last week we all got out early and went to
an arcade, with complimentary food and tokens!
Suffice to say I love my job.
Suffice to say I love my job.
4. What have been some of your influences?
Saturday morning cartoons, Disney, and my wonderful friends and husband! I also take a lot of influence from
history - I find it absolutely fascinating. Thats probably why I took 6 years of art history (from highschool through college)
even though I only needed two years..ahaha. Some of my historical favorites are Klimt, Chagall, Magritte, Whistler, Turner, and sooo many more.
I'm particularly fond of the art nouveau period.
5. Since your specialty is character design could you run me through your usual design process? (I'm super interested in this one)
It changes slightly depending on if I'm designing a character for myself or a client. When it's a personal project, I actually don't really make a big plan on
what sort of character I want to make. It's very basic - I decide on one quirk and let the character develop -itself- as I draw them. Doing it this way,
I'm honestly always surprised by what I come up with. Through character exploration sketches I find that the drawings do all the work for me - the
characters form themselves, and are often better than anything I would have tried to write down -for- it.
Once a personality is figured out I start to play with shapes. The reason I do this afterwards is because there are certain shapes that illicit emotional
responses from people. Rounded, circular or cherubic shapes are classically sweet, innocent, kind or dopey characters (ex. animal sidekicks like Little Brother from Mulan.
Poe from Kung Fu Panda). Square shapes are more solid, down to earth, and/or sturdy. They're often used for macho/strong characters too. (ex. Pacha from Emperor's New Groove, Max from Cats Don't Dance). Triangular shapes tend to be unsettling - and are often used for villainous or conniving characters (ex. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Jafar from Aladdin, Frollo from Hunchback).
After that I do a lot of color studies - which is a whole other rant. I'm really particular about color, because it can do a LOT to change the look, appeal, and personality of
the character you're designing. They're similar to shapes in how they effect the viewer. A simple technique for me though is to take something relateable to the character and
do a few eyedrop samples for color schemes. (for sweet characters I use desserts!)
After that? Sheets and sheets of variations, especially for clients, so they can narrow down what they like.
6. Are there any techniques you're particularly fond of using when composing finished pieces?
Depth of field or soft light gradients to bring out colors.
7. Any bad habits you have trouble dealing with?
Forgetting what sleep is when I'm caught up in work or personal projects.
8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What about 10 years?
Drawing, dang it! Maybe on the moon.
9. Do you have any sort of dream project in mind that you'd like to someday do?
Yes! There are a few - one is a World War II short story I'm working on with my best friend, another is a 1920s comedy, and the third I'm actually starting to work on
right now, called Aut Animus Caput. Working on it with a few buddies! (you can follow the project at autanimuscaput.tumblr.com , not much there yet, but soon!) As
for what it's about..well. Just keep checking that blog.
10. Any advice for fledgling Illustrators trying to start working soon after graduating? (Or in general).
Do your work, don't be stupid. Don't be lazy. College will only do so much! One thing my employer said drew them to me rather than others is, a lot of applicants submitted their
school work - which believe it or not, employers WILL know thats what it is. You have to work just as much outside of school on your craft as you do in school! Go outside your comfort
zone. It's okay to like drawing just cartoons, or just realism, but TRY to do other things too! Learn the basics too, especially for fellow animators. Anatomy, color theory, all that. Sure,
the classes are probably boring in school, but you'll be surprised how much you're going to need them.
Network! Meet people! Go to work conferences like Siggraph or CTNX. A lot of people complain about the price of tickets for these conferences - but if you can spend 50 bucks
for an anime con and a lot of toys, you can save to go to a conference that will help you get into the career you want.