What is your name?
Jasen Strong, but I was born with the name â€˜Alfie Vannâ€™ before being adopted. Iâ€™m considering going back to â€˜Alfieâ€™.
What is your current occupation?
Iâ€™m a character designer and illustrator. I work near the coast of Oregon near the 101 HWY.
What would you say has been your primary job in animation?
I got my job starting in 2-D clean up drawing, I loved it until the job and animation itself started to diminish & change over time. So, when the industry started avoiding hand drawings, I had to morph also. ThereÂ wasn’tÂ much to pick from, I wasnâ€™t really that interested in Story Boarding as much as I was creating characters and working with color, so Character Designing got me going and kept me involved in animation but not exclusively since I also work on Kids Books, Logos and other marketing ideas such as Toys and various other Products. I even worked once on concept art for an adult toy for women, it was supposed to… be hidden in plain sight, concealed to look like a cute bath toy but we really know what it does don’t we?… ((wink wink nudge nudge)) 😉
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked at Del Taco when I was in High School. Once there was a big corporate Del Taco meeting going on in our store and I was busy away doing my job and took out the bag full of trash out of the container. In the view of the whole meeting (but not to myself) was this cafeteria tray clearly visible through the clear plastic trash bag & I heard later that everyone wasnâ€™t paying attention to the meeting any longer they just watched me toss out this bag containing their property into the dumpster. I was labeled Mr. Magoo and fired. :DÂ Other jobs before animation were, going door to door selling Newspapers, a Vacuum Salesman and I was in the Army for 4 years with still no clue of what I wanted to do when I got out.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I enjoyed working at a small place called Xow!, Xow! in Burbank, CA is a private company that made Computer Software.Â I enjoyed the creative freedom. The company is closed with a good run of 11 years.
How did you become interested in animation?
I drew all my life but itÂ wasn’tÂ something I took that serious, it was more of a hobby at the time. I hated sports & still donâ€™t care about sports, maybe I would if one side of the team dressed up like Wookies and the other side dressed up like Frankenstein.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Hollywood Calif. I lived with a well known Photographer ( Earl Leaf ) for 10 years.I got into animation from a Disney lunch visit and was hooked, at that point I knew what I wanted to do. I when to Cal Arts the next year and that same year got a job at Disney but IÂ didn’tÂ accept, I was wooed away by Dreamworks plus I didnâ€™t have to move to Florida I was already living in Glendale where DW is currently.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I work at home, sometimes Iâ€™m required to fly to a studio and to give lectures but mostly I have it easy at my home in Oregon.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like a blank sheet and very little description of what the client wants me to design up.Â I’veÂ been working with this lady in Oregon on kids books for about 3 years off & on and itâ€™s a great job, we really like working together. She writes & I draw.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I donâ€™t like explaining to my parents that I actually do have a job.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Iâ€™m still a pen & paper guy but beyond that most of the time isÂ spent withÂ Photoshop and a program not made anymore called Streamline. I still canâ€™t get Illustrator to do what Streamline does & how it works.
a tough situation you had in life.
Iâ€™m guessing in life not just animation? If thatâ€™s the case I would say loosing my Mother to schizophrenia, it was while I was living in the Hollywood hills. This story is too long to tell but if anyone wants to Facebook me, the story is on there with photographs.
Any unusual talents or hobbiesÂ likeÂ tying a cherry stem with your tongueÂ orÂ metallurgy?
My hobby is being an adventurer & photographer. Since Iâ€™ve moved to Oregon, Iâ€™ve been really inspired by the Pacific coastline and photographing what we find. Reminds me of my childhood with Earl Leaf. My girlfriend and I are motorcycle riders. I bought a Harley Sportster a few years ago and really enjoy replacing parts on it & just zipping around. Â And my last but not least hobbyâ€¦ ok, I have a cat- this cat has a face that looks sad all the time, so my GF makes him dance & do happy things like dancing!! (Until he gets fed up after 20 seconds & flops over just totally spoiling our cheap entertainment.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Stick with it and stay focused.Iâ€™ll end with a George Carlin line, â€œDon’t sweat the pettyÂ stuff, and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.â€ 😛