Gabe Swarr

What is your name and your current occupation?

My name is Gabe Swarr and I am the Supervising Producer/Director of “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” at Nickelodeon.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a bus boy and sandwich artist at Subway.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
El Tigre, Dexter’s Lab, Kung Fu Panda, Yo Gabba Gabba, Ren and Stimpy

How did you become interested in animation?
Ever since I was a kid I watched every cartoon on TV. When I made a little flip book in my reading book I was hopelessly hooked.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After moving to California, John K. gave me my first break by letting me intern at Spumco. I
slowly moved up the ranks from there.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A lot of meetings, almost all day long. I don’t draw as much as I used to, but it’s great to have the opportunity to stear this giant machine of talented artists.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love timing, and getting all those little character acting moments working. Those are the things that makes a show unique and the
characters feel alive and not generic.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Filling out my time card, it feels like math homework.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Feast or famine. When there’s work, there’s work, when there isn’t, you and your family just starve.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Cintiq and computer, I also love to write on my iPad.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
John K., Ralph Bakshi, and Joe Barbera

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
There was one time that I knew that the studio was going to basically shut down. We had to lay off everyone except for a core group. I knew about it for a couple weeks before everybody and couldn’t tell anyone. It sucked.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am currently doing a weekly animated/webcomic series called “Life In The Analog Age”. It’s a slice-of-life autobiographical comic all about growing up in a world right before the Digital Age. It revisits those hard to remember feelings you had a kid.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Not really, all I do is try to play video games with whatever time I have left over. I did play the drums for a while.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work really hard, email your heroes with questions, and don’t forget the reason you want to do art. That reason, that feeling, is the one thing that will get you through those tough times.

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One Comment

  1. Gabe Swarr follows what he preaches… it was my correspondence with him that helped me become a functional artist…enough to continue to get work and learn. I’m still impressed with how much he can get done in a day.

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