What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Brent Gordon . I am currently a Texture Artist and freelance character designer at Nickelodeon.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I supported myself through college by driving a city transit bus in Orange County California. It was relatively good paying job with flexible hoursto work around my class schedule at Cal State Long Beach. The hours were brutal! I had to get up at 4 am, start driving my route at 4:45 till mid morningthen attend classes in the afternoon, then come back and drive the evening route. I would then study until midnight and get up and do it all over again the next day.On top of that, I played and toured with a band during my college years.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
There have been many shows that I am very glad to have been a part of. I have designed characters for several Warner Bros. projects including Scooby Doo as well as many Walt Disney shows such as Kim Possible, American Dragon and Tinkerbell. One of the best looking shows that I have had the privilege of working on , is the new Kung Fu Panda series for Nickelodeon. It looks really great, I can’t wait for it to air. I also am enjoying my current show Fanboy and ChumChum for Nickelodeon. It is a fun show. I think the character designs for the show are really fresh and fun.
How did you become interested in animation?
I became interested in animation out of necessity. I had been graduated from Cal State Long Beach and I was trying to build my freelance illustration career and I had found it to really be feast or famine. I wanted a more stable, steady income so I looked at careers that employed artists full time. Animation was booming then because of the recent success of
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I had taken my portfolio to Disney and they had expressed interest in my work. They said the wanted to give me an ‘in-betweener’ test. My response was ‘Great! what’s that?” I was advised that I had better find out before the test. I started classes on saturdays at the Associates in Art for in betweening. After I completed this class, I took my updated portfolio to Warner Bros. I still didn’t have much of an knowledge of the animation process at the time. On the application I checked the box for ‘Character Designer’ not really understanding what that job entailed. Well, 3 weeks later I was hired as a character designer for the new WB show Histeria.It thought it was a great show. I would like to make special mention that I credit two people with really showing me the ropes in animation.. One of whom is Steve Lewis,, he was a first time director on that show.. he took the effort ( and it was) to guide me along the animation path.. Second of whom is the very talented Tim Maltby.. I really improved my drawing skills under his tutelage.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My principal 9 to 5 is working as a CG texture artist. I translate concept art into shading networks in Maya. I use photoshop, bodypaint, mudbox and maya in my work. I paint various texture maps and build shading networks. I moonlight as a character designer for various productions here at Nickelodeon including, Fanboy, Penguins, Dora etc.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really enjoy painting.. It just takes you for a journey.. My job is rewarding when I see my work ’live’ in the final footage.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Sometimes it would seem easier to learn to fly the space shuttle rather than stay on top of all the technical matters in maya.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
It is satisfying and interesting to work on many different styled shows.. it is also challenging to stay seamlessly working without too many gaps between productions.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I have had a couple really tough patches in my life.. One of which was a personal matter…a marriage engagement that didn’t come to fruition and more recently a tough time in my career.. I had been rocking along for over ten years as a traditional animation character designer for Warner Bros., Walt Disney and various other studios.. then all of the sudden work just stopped. I only found dribbles of freelance for over a year. It was a very discouraging time for me. I did manage to go back to night school. I took intro to Maya classes with Roger Dickes at Glendale Community College. Soon after I completed these classes, out of the blue, I got a call from Disney to go to work on the CGI Tinkerbell movie. I have been working with both traditional animation design skills as well as my Maya skills ever since.During the time I was out of work, I was confused and fearful about what was happening to my career. The only steps forward I could see at the time was to learn Maya. I look back in hindsight and I offer my thanks in faith to God for guiding my path the whole time.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I have played lead guitar in a band with a recording contract as well as many other performing bands.I play for worship at my church every sunday. I also am a budding song writer. I have a home recording studio. I write and record music as a hobby.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Take as many life drawing classes possible. Keep a sketch book going at all times and stay on top of the newest CG software. I would also advise one to diversify.Don’t put your eggs in one basket.. the more skills one has developed the greater opportunities one has to keep working in this career.
Just for fun, here is one of my original songs that I wrote and recorded in my home studio: These Shoes Don’t Fit