What is your name and your current occupation?
My name’s Leisha-Marie Riddel, and I’m currently an Animator on a Music Video.
Crazy? Not so much, but I was a Prep cook at a local Restaurant, and a Receptionist during the summers at school. Prep cook was 14 hour days, so that kind of prepared me for animation’s work hours – but I was a lot more physically active back then.
So far since graduating, I’ve worked on several mediums all of which I’m pretty proud of, but I think my favorite two so far would be the Music Video I’m animating right now – and the feature film that I worked on earlier this year.
I’m extremely honoured to have been a part of both of those projects and to have my name on them.
I was about four years old when I watched The Lion King, and after having my mind blown, I dropped my ambition to become a vet, and I started to draw. I dropped it a couple of times since, and picked it right back up again.
To be completely honest, I discovered that animating as a skill wasn’t really for me, but I enjoy the industry so much that I just can’t quit it.
I’m from a Suburb outside of Toronto, and I really got my start after my final film from Sheridan went from Viral for a few weeks. Even though it wasn’t done, it got 12,000 views in a week and a half – and that got me a lot of needed attention.
I can’t really say any job is the same, since I don’t have a full time one, but I wake up, and walk about 3 seconds to my computer desk and start work – whatever I’m working on. It’s nice to work at home, although I’m really longing for a proper studio job.
I think it’s the opportunities, that I get from expressing myself in the best way I know how. I’m pretty methodical in my success-achieving, so I often think of how can I further myself from a job – and my current freelance is opening a lot of windows and doors for me.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Truthfully, working 14-16 hours a day, while it’s a great project and I love it – I’m pretty tired.
I think the most difficult part for me, and really for anyone, is really figuring out your own unique signature as an artist, and how you can apply that to what people are really looking for from you. I always wanted to be in this business, but as soon as I realized that animating wasn’t really for me, I struggled to figure out how I could still contribute.
And I warmed up to painting, and character design, and I just went for it – and now I’m an aspiring visual developer.
Currently, I have a Desktop Computer with reasonable specs (though obsolete), a high contrast monitor – and a Cintiq 21UX, which is probably the most essential piece of technology you could own as an artist in this industry (although extremely difficult to ship 3000 km).
At school, I was mentored for 8 months by Scott Caple (previous Layout supervisor on Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame), and plenty other faculty from Sheridan have seen and done a lot. Outside of school, I managed to get into Walt Disney Animation Studios for a couple of days visiting a friend of mine, and I really got to speak to people there. I also worked for Chris Prynoski at Titmouse Inc, for a while.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
The toughest situation for me outside of school, trying to succeed in this industry was being rejected by three places that had led me on for a few months all at once. I had a serious identity crisis at that point, but I managed to get over it. I just had to realize that it would help me grow, and rejection ever since has charmed me.
I’m currently writing a Graphic Novel, whose publication date is unknown. It’s a romance, but it has strong sci-fi-fantasy themes as well.
I’m pretty boring. Although I can listen to a song or a movie on loop for several hours on end, like one day I listened to Le Fabuleux Destin D’Amelie Poulin from 9 AM to 9 PM.
Art is frightening, our industry is even more frightening, and the American economy even more so – but fear shouldn’t stop you. Just do it, the worst they can do is say no.
Do what you want to do, do what you love and do it so much that you do it well. Practise makes perfect, and since there’s no such thing as perfect, you’ll just have to keep on practising now won’t you.