Jon Suzuki

What is your name and your current occupation?
Jon Suzuki/ character designer

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Not so sure I have ever had a job that would be considered ‘crazy,’ though I did manage to survive working at Toys R Us during Christmas rush.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Working on Teen Titans was a thrill. It remains one of my favorite working experiences to this day. I feel like i learned a lot under Glen Murakami and working alongside great talents like Derrick Wyatt, Hakjoon Kang, Ben Jones and Norm Ryang. It was a tight knit special group. Great chemistry- something that is tough to come by. Outside of animation I got to work with Jeff Matsuda. Awesome experience, and hopefully we can finish what we set out to do, though I feel i can’t really talk much about it.

How did you become interested in animation?
I just love/hate to draw and be creative. Plus I love/hate cartoons.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born and raised in Los Angeles. I am forever indebted to 2 people as far as getting me into animation: Charles Zembillas and Marge Dean. Charles has helped tons of animation students break into the business. He’s got a tremendous motor. He truly has a passion for what he does and it is infectious and inspiring. Marge has served as sort of a guardian angel for me. She got me my first gig (for whatever reason she saw some glimmer of talent from this aspiring illustrator) and helped me land other gigs as well. I probably owe her my house, my car, my toys…..

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Come in, surf the web, chat with friends, both in person and on aim. Ok, only partially kidding. Right now it entails a lot of drawing drawing drawing. At the same time, it involves a lot of following up and working with other people on the production, from fellow artists to coordinators to the overseas studio.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like the idea of working/collaborating with other artists and i enjoy the creative process. I’m really not so much into the finished product so much as the journey to get there, even though that can be tough or seem impossible at times.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Deadlines. Deadlines suck. They sucked in high school, college, everywhere, right? Who’s with me? It’s a necessary evil, i guess. Emphasis on EVIL. But without them, nothing would get done. Over the years it seems the schedules have gotten tighter and tighter, but we don’t necessarily ideate or resolve design problems fast enough to keep up with the schedules, at least for my liking.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’d have to say, I wish i had more time for family, friends and other hobbies. The job can be fairly consuming, where it is on your mind all the time. Mentally, especially, it can be quite exhausting.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Wacom cintiq. Apple Mac Pro w/ Quad Core. 12- gauge auto loader. Phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Bruce Timm! Glen Murakami! Iwao Takamoto, Joe Barbera.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
How about being broke for a really really long time?

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share the details of?
……………i do enjoy golf….i wish i knew more people from other studios who played so i can get a real handicap/join an animation golf group. anyone wanna help me out? we are having an animation golf tourney in may, and between 4 major studios we could only muster 4 people! one from each studio!! ughhhh..pretty sad.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The obvious response is to draw/paint and repeat cycle. It’s all about the pencil mileage, the whole ‘outliers’ idea that you spend about 10k hours working at something and you will get pretty darned proficient at it.I feel it’s also pretty important to take in a lot of what’s around you. Always be a student and be receptive to varying points of views/art styles. We are fortunate enough to have access to so many different types of media with the click of a mouse. Bang! Instant!  I’d take advantage of that. I understand if, say, anime is your ‘thing.’ But it’s also good to be inspired by Ren and Stimpy or John Singer Sargeant’s watercolors, or Jack Kirby’s run on ‘Fantastic Four.’ Take a look at all avenues/media/ art styles/ disciplines. Take it all in. There’s a lotta goodness out there to be inspired from.

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