What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Gerald de Jesus (pronounced “dee HAY-soos” instead of like “Jesus Christ”) and my current occupation is a Painter on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before I got into Animation, I did a lot of editorial illustrations for places like “Entertainment Weekly”, “Capitol Records” and “The Village Voice”, as well as gallery work for my personal stuff. Then things started drying up and I got really broke, so I helped my friend make floral arrangements at his flower shop. Removing the thorns off roses really sucked. I also had to do these really awful drawings of kids in wheel chairs or carrying crutches for this educational pamphlet…it was pretty demoralizing copying an art style I thought was atrocious. Hey, whatever it took to pay the bills!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
One of my favorite animation projects to work on was Nickelodeon’s “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera”. Not only was it a great looking show, the crew was just awesome to work with. Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua (the creators of “El Tigre”) had such passion for the show, it infected everyone and we worked our hardest to make it look great. It was sad that it was cancelled before its time, but we were recognized (post-humously) with a bunch of awards, including my first Emmy!
How did you become interested in animation?
It was kind of a fluke… as I mentioned before, I was struggling with finding freelance illustration work, when out of nowhere, my friend Tony Mora, whom I have known from going to Art Center with, gave me a call. He was working at Spumco at the time and asked if I wanted to learn this program called Flash and to learn how to make cartoons. Having nothing else to do, I said, “YES” and moved from San Diego to Los Angeles to begin my animation journey. At Spumco, it was there I learned how to animate in Flash, do digital clean-ups and just stare in awe at the awesome artists they had there. I got paid shit though, $6.50 a hour if I remember correctly. But it was worth it considering I got to learn under John K. and also become friends with a lot of people who are big shots in animation now.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I think the previous response answers this one as well!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I go in, paint some cool stuff, go home, and paint stuff for freelance if I have any!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I just started on “TMNT” and it’s with a crew I’ve never really worked with before and it’s pretty awesome working with new people. It is also my first CG show I’ve worked on, so it’s interesting for me to see how the production work flow is.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The place our crew is in is kind of run down…it looks haunted!
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I guess it would be the lack of uncertainty in how long a job might last… it could go on for years or it could end in a week. So I feel I sometimes have to work two to three jobs at the same time to compensate and it really kills my personal life. It’s also really hard to plan things out, because most of the time the only free time I have is when I’m laid off and I’m trying to save money and I can’t go on any cool vacations.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
At work, I work on a PC with Windows 7 and a Cintiq. At home, I’m on a Mac Pro with a Cintiq as well. I know a Cintiq costs a crap load of money upfront, but the time I saved by purchasing one has paid for itself a thousand times over.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Experiencing John K. was awesome! And seeing Mr. Barbera around Warner Brothers at Sherman Oaks was pretty awesome as well!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Well after one of my animation jobs unexpectedly ended, I was out of work for quite some time and ended up selling most of my DVD and video game collection to make rent. So nowadays it’s really hard for me to turn down work because I get paranoid about going through those lean times again.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I’m currently working on some secret painting for a Video Game art show event.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work hard and don’t be an asshole. Feel free to experiment with other aspects of animation, like layouts, storyboarding, paint, color styling, etc… you might have a knack for doing something else, plus it allows you to be flexible if something doesn’t come up in your desired position. From my experience, knowing how to animate in Flash and being able to design, paint and color style has kept me on productions much longer.