What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Rachel Mouawad, and i am currently an animator at Caustik studios in Beirut, Lebanon.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
The only jobs i’ve had are in the animation industry, so i don’t really have any crazier job experiences yet!!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I have worked on many inspiring projects that i’m very proud to have been a part of, but my favorite so far would have to be my final film InsideOut. This was done during my year at Vancouver Film School in the Classical Animation program where I was introduced to many great artists and teachers which made the project so much more interesting to me. Working with such a great group of talent is truly a life changing experience, to say the least.
How did you become interested in animation?
My interest in animation started at a very young age watching cartoons such as Warner Bros, Hanna-barbera, and of course the Disney classics. It grew stronger when i started to discover how these cartoons were actually made. I found myself compelled and attracted to the process of making cartoons as much as i was in watching them. So i knew right away that this is what i wanted to do. I guess you just know when you know!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Lebanon. After receiving my BA in Graphic Design in college, i moved to Vancouver, Canada, and enrolled in the Classical Animation program at Vancouver Film School, where i was introduced to the entire process of animation and was inspired to keep animating. After graduation, i moved back home to Lebanon and landed a job at Caustik Studios in Beirut as an animator, and have been working there since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A typical day for me, other than working on whatever project is due the soonest at the office, includes immense amounts of coffee, ‘stalking’ art blogs to be inspired by, Quick warm up illustrations (whenever i get the chance), and walk cycles. Lots and lots of walk cycles! Then, when the day is done at the studio, i’m back home working on some more illustrations to post on my blog. I have this constant need to draw random people that i come across during my day. I guess that’s what keeps me going everyday.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I honestly believe that animators have the best job in the world because it is less of a job than it is a hobby. (At least that’s how it is for me!). I find a sense of satisfaction when my characters come to life in a very believable way. Convincing the audience that a certain character is alive and has a certain personality is what satisfies me the most. So i would have to say that the part that i like most about my job is my job itself.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I have to admit that while working on a projects with traditional animation, filling out the dope sheet is the least thing i like to do. I know its essential but it doesnt exactly make my day!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Adobe Photoshop and Flash are very close to my heart. I draw in my sketchbook quiet often as well because i don’t want to lose the pencil-paper feeling, so i try to draw a sketch on paper whenever i get the chance.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Getting the right opportunity to promote and show your work and talent as an animator would have to be the most difficult part about this business, especially when your relatively new to it. However, i do believe that challenges are what make you stronger.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
During my stay in Vancouver, i had the pleasure to be taught by Marv Newland, who has inspired me immensely.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I lost a close person in my life when i was around 17 years old. It was a tough situation for me because i didn’t know how to cope with something as sudden and severe as that. I learned a lot about myself and my life from that point on, and have gradually learned to appreciate the people around me.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Being part of the Caustik team means being part of fun and interesting projects on a regular basis. We are currently working on the production of The “Unfold” Story, which is a 3D animated short about a child who lives in a city ruled by oppression and censorship and stumbles upon a banned superhero book that drives him to fight back and rebel in his own personal way. It is called The “Unfold” Story because of the fact that the environments and the characters have a paper craft style. Our main drive for creating such an animation was to depict in a cute and funny way the major events happening lately in the Arab world and to encourage freedom of speech. I am very excited about this project because its a new kind of style to work on for me.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can make a very loud sound with my tongue and i can twist my shoulder to a certain point where my shoulder bone can pop up under my skin !
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The biggest word of advice i’ve learned to appreciate so far in my experience is to draw everyday. Go further with your knowledge and talent and be confident in your work. The animation industry is a big and fully packed one so there are plenty of artists to be inspired by. Be inspired
InsideOut – Animation Short