Mark MacKay

What is your name and your current occupation?
Mark MacKay – Freelance Animator/Character Designer/Illustrator currently working for JMG Studio.


 What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing too exciting, I’ve done the usual, line cook, busboy, grocery bagger, Assistant Manager at a local Pharmacy, and more of the same.


 What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The project I am currently working on for JMG Studio is very exciting and I’m proud to be a part of it. Sorry I can’t give out too much information at this time.

How did you become interested in animation?
I’d say after seeing Disney’s “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” when I was a kid, or pretty much any Disney animation for that matter, I was hooked. That was it, I knew I wanted to be an animator.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Gorham NH, a small town near the base of Mt Washington. I went to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts in Dover, New Jersey where I majored in cinematic animation.

 What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Everyday is different, It’s hard to say. I usually start by reading emails, then I jump right into drawing, either by hand or on the computer, for whatever current project I’m working on.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I enjoy the creative end of it – drawing, coloring, designing, storyboarding, etc.  It’s the fun part, I get to be the character. I love making the characters come to life.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The business end of it is the worst, although it is important. The billing, the contracts, and bookkeeping are my least favorite because there is nothing creative about it. I’m not a facts and figures guy, not exactly the most organized either. I’d rather have a good secretary (my wife) deal with those things.


What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Where I live makes it challenging to get the work I’d prefer, but it is beautiful here in New Hampshire. It’s a good thing we have access to today’s technology to keep me in both worlds.


What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Although I prefer to draw 2D, a lot of the work I’ve been getting lately requires me to work with Adobe Illustrator CS5. Of course, it’s also difficult to get around these days without constant access to the Internet and emails.


 In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness? 
As a matter of fact, I have. When I was a sophomore in High School, I wrote a letter to Disney Animator Milt Neil who was teaching at the Kubert School at the time. He replied with a letter of great encouragement, it is one of my prized possessions and hangs on the wall in my studio.


Describe a tough situation you had in life. 
When I graduated from Kubert school, I was trained in 2d animation, right at the time when computer animation was taking over the industry. Financially not in a position to further my art education with an additional 4 years of college to get up to date with computer animation, I found myself quickly falling behind the times. Thankfully, a friend and former teacher, John-Marc Grob of JMG Studios, has helped me get back into the game.


 Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Although animation has always been my first love, I’ve always enjoyed character design. I figured children’s book illustration would be a great way to pursue that. That is when I started a blog as a way of building a portfolio for children’s book illustration. Coincidentally it brought me back around to animation.


Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Although I don’t have any unusual talents, skills, or hobbies (like squirrel juggling), I do collect Disney memorabilia. Not that it is such a vast collection, I’m not a hoarder or anything… yet!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Love what you do and keep up with the times, this is a fast changing industry.
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One Comment

  1. *A-hem!* For the second-to-last question, you forgot to mention that you’re an expert at doing chicken calls. *A-hem-hem A-HEM!*

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