What is your name and your current occupation?
Kris Wimberly. I put lines on paper, and people give me money for it.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I always start my story with attributing my break into the animation industry as a custodian at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It’s a much longer story, but people always go coconuts when I start with that tidbit.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My first job right out of college was on SpongeBob SquarePants. In fact, a few years later, I’m still here! Not sure it’s possible to ask for a more amazing start to my career than that! I’ve also had the opportunity to develop and pitch animated shows, which is both challenging and a blast!
How did you become interested in animation?
Probably since before I could even write words, I knew I wanted to draw for a living. I remember being completely captivated by the magic of the animated cat in the Paula Abdual music video “Opposites Attract” back in like 1986. Other than that, I always knew that storytelling and gag writing would be right up my alley because I’ve been a hardcore fan of old Looney Tunes and classic Tom & Jerry cartoons. Therefore, storyboarding really0 called to me.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Southern California, born and raised – mostly Orange County. Even though I’ve lived in this animation capitol, I never had any real connections or ties to the animation industry. I’m the only artist in my family, but I always knew what I wanted and I worked extremely hard to build my own bridges. I spent many years building rapport with industry professionals and honing my skills to be as competitive as possible.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
What’s great is that this happens everyday for me. My dream studio has always been Nickelodeon. It contains all the things that appeal most to me about animation. Being that the people who worked on Nickelodeon shows during my impressionable years work on SpongeBob now, I get to see and work with the people I consider celebrities! Sometimes I feel so out of place as something like the “punk kid who geeks out about cartoons” when I’m eating lunch with these people who worked on shows like Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats, Doug, and so on.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I have an ice cream blog! Ice cream is my vice. I love it, and it loves me — especially milkshakes! So naturally, I decided to start a blog to document all my best experiences with frozen dairy desserts focusing primarily in the state of California so that others can indulge. But being that I travel so much, I’d probably highlight places outside of the state if they were worth blogging about. It’s all still pretty new, but worth a glance if you dig ice cream like I do! Other than that, I’m a HUGE movie and music junky. I really don’t know how anyone can be an artist without completely depending on these other forms of storytelling, so I collect them a lot. (I especially love super heroes and ninjas.)
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I seem to have the mutant power of prescience. I’ve been extremely accurate with this lately. In fact, sometimes it’s a little scary how accurate I can be. As far as hobbies, I’ve been told that I have an unhealthy obsession for Batman. That’s usually brought up right about the time I show the Batman Huggies that I’m wearing.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
It’s funny you ask this because I actually do have one piece of advice that I hand out all the time. I’m often in a position to meet with and offer guidance to interns here at Nickelodeon and other aspiring artists and students, and the last thought I always leave them with is this: there is always room for anyone in this industry who wants it badly enough. I honestly cannot think of any reason I’m here other than the amount of effort I give. The ones who are wishy-washy or unfocused about wanting to be in the animation industry are the ones who will not make it, and are left with a bitter taste in their mouths. But I truly believe that if I can make it here, anyone else can.
Who is that Uncle Sam looking guy in the final piece of sample art?
He and the patriotic Batman in the background look like they would be a really fun characters.
Thanks for providing insight Mr. Wimberly. I hope to follow in your foot steps (of sorts) and get into Nickelodeon!