What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Chris Mayne and I work from home as a freelance character animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I can’t say that what I did before animation has really been all the exciting, although some of the people I’ve worked with…well, that’s another story. I’ve worked a variety of jobs though from making pizzas to selling jewelry to going door to door selling coupon books.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
The work that I’ve done on commercials for Lucky Charms and Trix Yogurt comes to mind first. I have to admit I geeked out big time. Animating an iconic character like Lucky the Leprechaun is just amazing and getting to have the kids in the Trix Yogurt spots deliver the line “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” is pure joy.
How did you become interested in animation?
Animation has always been a part of my life, whether it be watching cartoons on Saturday morning or drawing little stick-figure doodles during class. And of course I can’t forget comic strips! What adventure Calvin and Hobbes would be going on next was way more interesting than what one politician was saying about the other.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in Virginia and now live in Kansas. I didn’t actually decide to pursue becoming an animator until years after I had already graduated from college with a degree in marketing. I did my research on schools offering degrees in animation and found AnimationMentor (AM). I don’t know where I’d be today without AM. I can never thank the school enough for everything they’ve done and continue to do for me. It was actually through the school’s job board that I found my first gig four years ago, which was a small studio in Kansas City.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well, working from home definitely affords me quite a bit of flexibility, which is great since we have kids. I sometimes don’t start animating until the afternoon, but of course that means I’m usually working late at night as well. I usually will try to use the morning hours to check email, look at job boards, and do a little networking.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
It’s great getting to work on such a wide variety of projects and being in an industry where imagination knows no bounds. Still to this day I think it’s crazy I’m getting paid to have so much fun!!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Two words…rhymes with “Lunch Mime”. Ugh…crunch makes even the best cringe. It also makes our significant others do the same. It makes me sad just thinking of it…I don’t know if I can continue with this interview…
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I work with Maya on a Windows 7 machine and also use a Razer Nostromo along with an AirObic mouse.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Like so many others I’m sure, it has to be finding work. Working from home doesn’t make it easier since not all studios work with off-site artists. So it can definitely be a grind trying to line up the next project.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Not really in my travels, but I’ve definitely worked with some amazing people. Kenny Roy, owner of Arconyx Studios, is by far one of the most insanely talented and knowledgeable artists I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
The very first animation job I had really taught me some harsh lessons about the industry. It was hard enough being away from my family, but being in a situation where artists were just being exploited, treated unfairly and not even being paid made things worse. Although there are so many other things that could be said about everything that occurred there, it’s all in the past and I’m definitely in a much better place now!
Any side projects or you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Unfortunately all is quiet on my end currently. I hope to take part in a 11-Second Club competition sometime soon though.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
My wife thinks it’s pretty freaky that I can move my pinky toes by themselves…
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Like anything you want to do, you just have to keep working at it. But we are in an amazing industry with so many artists that have been in your shoes and are more than willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it!!