What is your name and your current occupation?
Kat Llewellyn. I’m an independent animation director, designer, animator, compositor and I co-own Dumfun Productions a boutique creative development company.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
So many. The worst was a job as a glass etcher in an unheated warehouse on the west side of Chicago. Another was Senior Editor for a comic book company. I hired artists and writers, set the direction for all titles and wrote several myself. It was extremely educational and I loved the work. The place was a zoo, totally dysfunctional and great fun, too.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I particularly enjoyed doing the animations for an American Museum of Natural History exhibit about Captain Robert Scott’s failed attempt to reach the South Pole. The animations were based on actual photos and newspaper illustrations from the time. Last summer I just released my first animated storybook app for kids called The Punky Dunk Project. There are things I’d change, but overall I’m pretty proud of it.
How did you become interested in animation?
Like everyone who likes to draw and ever watched cartoons as a kid, it was a natural attraction.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago. After working in comic books, I finagled a visiting artist position at the University of Illinois Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. It was an amazing opportunity and I had some terrifically supportive mentors. I spent a year and half there teaching myself 3D animation. From there I got my first job in the industry.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
If I’m working, I put in long days. When I don’t have a gig, I am looking for the next one and working on my own projects.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really enjoy the art of visual storytelling: designing shots, storyboards, animatics, camera direction, etc.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Maya, not in any order.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
In post production, one of the most frustrating things is being the last in the production pipeline. By the time the agency execs and creatives, the lawyers, the designers all sign off on a project, there is very often little time or budget left to actually do the job.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I was fortunate to meet Terry Gilliam while working on the comic book adaptation of Baron Von Munchausen.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I always have a slew of personal projects I am working on. Along with continued work on a several storybook apps, I am developing several animated series and co-writing a live-action feature film.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? My advice is similar to most of the other animator’s responses. Know as much as you can about every aspect of production, be flexible, and mingle, mingle, mingle. Help others when you can and someday maybe they or someone else will help you.