Colin Stimpson

What is your name and your current occupation?
Colin Stimpson. Visual development artist on Despicable Me 2.


What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
While I was at school I would get up at 6.00am to clean the local supermarket. I did it with a group of school mates so it was actually fun! The others would steal Cadbury’s Creme Eggs to eat for breakfast, but I have to say I never did!


What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I have recently had a children’s book published by Templar called “Jack and the Baked Beanstalk”. It’s the first story that I have written as well as illustrated. It’s due to released in the US in July.  As for my favorite movies, I thoroughly enjoyed working on “The Emperor’s New Groove” during my time at Disney. The highlight was an amazing research trip to Peru. Recently I worked as a visual development artist on “The Lorax”. I am big Dr Seuss fan so it was a great opportunity to spend time studying his shapes and caricature.

How did you become interested in animation?
I have always loved the classic Disney films. As a small boy I went to see 101 Dalmations and have been hooked ever since. I remember going home from the theatre and describing the movie from start to finish, scene by scene, to my very patient mother.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Surrey, just outside London. My first job in animation was for a very busy commercials company called Hibbert Ralph Animation. They were a great company to work for and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I am now a freelance artist working from home. I try to be disciplined with my hours so always make sure I am at my desk by 9.00am. The commute up the stairs is not very far so I have no excuses for being late!
I work through the day, sometimes in the afternoon I go for a run to get some fresh air. I often work in the evening too, being at home makes it easy to work long days without it being stressful.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I tend to enjoy the beginning and the end of jobs the most. There’s something exciting about having an idea and gathering all the reference before getting started. It’s also very satisfying delivering the artwork once it’s finished and approved.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t like design by committee. When ideas are watered down by large groups of people it can be frustrating. It is much more enjoyable if the direction is clear.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work in Photoshop on a Cintiq tablet and a Mac Pro. I trained as a traditional artist but now love working on the computer.


What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I have worked in the business for 26 years so I am used to the ups and downs. I think it’s much more difficult for those just starting out.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
While I was at Disney I was lucky enough to have lunch with legendary background artist Maurice Noble. There were only four of us around the table and he spent two hours telling us first hand stories about Walt Disney, Chuck Jones and Theodor Geisel. It was wonderful!

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I have been very lucky in life (knock on wood)! There were couple of minor car disasters though, like driving through a flood and blowing up the engine of our Volvo. I also absentmindedly reversed into my friend’s new BMW!
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am developing a couple more book ideas for Templar. They are a wonderful company to work for and always produce beautiful children’s books.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I have the worst singing voice known to man. I suppose that is a talent in its own way….

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Just work really hard at what you enjoy most and never give up. Somebody will give you a break if you are persistent!

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