What is your name and your current occupation?
Andrew Pickin. Co-owner of TTA studios. Animator and Artist.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Head of engineering and Mechanics at Tenpin Bowling (not quite crazy but a far stretch from animating).
What are some of your favourite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m from a fine art background, so some of my favourite work is actually children’s illustration, although one of my favourite projects so far was working on a music video for the band OBEY: it was just complete artistic license. The more creative the project the better; it doesn’t have to be big, just interesting.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Staffordshire (the creative county) in the UK, though I now live in Shrewsbury, a beautiful historic town rather like a Harry Potter set.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Busy. It’s a complete mix-match of projects, which is why I find the job so exciting. Though I do find myself working most evenings as well.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I prefer animation projects that are art-based in some way, though to be fair, I enjoy every project as I usually have to learn something new for the first time. The learning curve seems never-ending, but it keeps you on your toes.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Paperwork and finances. Does anybody like this stuff?
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?
Good animation hardware (Interpro Workstations I can recommend) and software play the obvious main roles. Maya, 3ds Max, After Effects, Mudbox, Z-brush, Photoshop, Unreal-UDK. You guys know the score, the list is endless. The software is evolving all of the time, it’s pretty hard to keep up, but if you’re surrounded by people that know what they’re doing, and are constantly trying to better themselves, you can’t go far wrong.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Originally the most difficult part was getting the ball rolling and procuring clients, but once the ball started it got steadily faster and faster, which was great! The most difficult part now I would say, is managing to squeeze so many projects into a short space of time with a handful of deadlines. Regulating a good workflow and planning ahead is the only way to keep on top of things.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I worked alongside the stop-motion genius Barry Perves whilst studying at University, which was great. Events like FMX in Stuttgart are a fantastic place to rub shoulders with the best, chatting away to Pixar guys and animators all the way from Studio Ghibli.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
So far, so good (fingers crossed). Of course things get tough from time to time, but I’ve been extremely lucky.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Outside of animation I’ve always written stories. I’ve just finished a new novel which I hope to get into publication sometime next year (again, fingers crossed).
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can still spin upside down on one hand for quite a while. Eleven years of breakdancing will do that to you.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Get to know as many people in the animation/art industry as you can. If you’re applying for a job, freelance in the meantime; it’s a great way to build up your work experience. Nobody is just going to hand you the job of your dreams, you’ve got to work for it, so learn as many tutorials in your spare time as you can, watch and study as many different types of animation/art as you can. Go to festivals and sit in on the master classes. Most importantly though, get your Show Reel sorted. It’s the one thing that people will want to see. Keep it short, around 1 minute (if your reel is 3 minute’s long and you edit it down to 1 minute, the stuff that’s left will look great compared to the original), the same for an art portfolio, only show your best stuff, as people will judge you by your worst. Other than that, just have fun with it. The animation industry is a great place to work, and you never know where it might take you.