What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Nick Swift, and I’m a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I’m sort of in the middle of looking to continue my education and searching for a studio position.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I haven’t really ever been in any sort of crazy job before. I’ve worked as an assistant coach for a summer-league swim team, as a host and cashier at a Japanese Steakhouse, and a sales associate in a retail store. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting and inspiring people though.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’d have to say that at this point, my favorite projects are the student films I made while I was in school. They were my first forays into actual animation, and were wonderful learning experiences. They’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’m not quite in the animation business just yet, but I’m certainly giving it my all to get there. There aren’t many animation-related opportunities where I live, but I’m looking to move to where the work is at. I’d love to work as a character designer and visual development artist. Someday.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I wake up, do a little exercise, go to work,and use my breaks to sketch,do research, and anything else that needs to be done. Then I come home and tend to my blogs and websites for a little bit, and then work on whatever illustration or design projects I’ve planned for myself.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love designing characters and telling their stories. Maybe its the whole creation aspect, taking these ideas and bringing them to life, with their own histories and personalities. I really find people interesting, and I’m always curious to know what they’ve done and where they’re going. I guess that carries over to my drawings.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
To be honest, it has to be the fact that I’m not working in animation. I know I’m not the only one in this position, but I hate the constant stress and anxiety of trying to find work and figure out what my next move is to break into the business. Please don’t take that as me complaining though. Nothing comes easy, and that it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to make something happen.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
I gotta say, I really love my cintiq 22HD. Nothing beats being able to directly see what you’re doing, other than traditional media. I used an intuos tablet for a while, which was nice, but I hated the hand/eye disconnect. Now that I work directly on the screen, it’s really changed the way I work. I do most of my work in Photoshop, but I also use mechanical pencils, 4B and 6B Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils, Col-Erase pencils, Micron pens, and assorted brush pens. I also like to dabble in watercolor and gouache. I love the physicality of traditional media.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not currently working in the business. But what’s most difficult about where I’m at now is the lack of opportunities where I’m currently living. One of my big goals this year is to move closer to where the work is.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Actually, I had the great pleasure of meeting Teddy Newton back in early December, 2011. He visited my University and gave a talk about his short, Day and Night. He was a great guy, and he took the time to meet with me and take a look at my portfolio and student film. I also got to have lunch with him the following day. I also got to meet several great and prolific people when I attended CTN this past November, including some up-and-comers from Calarts- De’von Stubblefield, Jack Bird, Portlynn Tagavi, Emily Dean, Bosook Coburn, and my good buddy Zachary Shore. They really made me feel welcome, and it was great spending the day and hanging out with them. Thanks so much everybody!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I’d really rather not be too much of a downer. Life will always throws you curve-balls. You just have to remember to be resilient and bounce back from whatever gets thrown at you. “Keep moving forward”, right? Ha ha!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Right now, I have a couple more short film ideas that are in the pre-production stage. I also have a couple of comic ideas that I’ve been developing for the past couple of years that I’m looking to finally release this year- The Adventures of Jackie Sharp and Under the Moonlit Sky. Be sure to keep an eye out for them!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
You bet! I’m a decent dancer- I do a bit of Popping, Locking, and House dancing. Nobody ever expects it from me, but people sure get a kick out of it. I can also bend the top digit of my fingers, wiggle my ears, and flare my nose super fast like a rabbit!
I’m still trying to break into the business myself, so I guess just take my advice with a grain of salt. Anyways, always stay humble with what you do, and always be open to criticism. Don’t ever let your ego get in the way of taking advice and learning something new. Don’t be afraid of rejection, keep working hard, practicing, improving, and persevering. Keep that fire and passion inside you burning. I’m also a firm believer in “Good things happen to good people”. My Dad always told me, “Be cool, be kind, be courteous”. He also told me “If you don’t have gas in your car, you ain’t gonna go nowhere.”, whatever that means.