What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Andrew Dickman, I’m currently a storyboard artist
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before I got into the industry I took a lot of freelance jobs doing flash animation for several clients who liked my work. I remember taking a job in Hollywood to do flash animation for a studio I can’t remember the name of. It felt even though I was an amateur coming into the studio, I was teaching them how to prepare everything for flash animation. My job there was very short lived and I felt they didn’t know exactly what they were doing. I have no idea if the project went through but it was a very odd moment for me. Around the same time I did an animated music video for a band in Germany, which I heard made it to television over there but there’s little I really know for certain. I seem to have done a lot of flash animated music videos at the time for both myself and other clients, it seemed to be a thing I wanted to do until I found my niche as a storyboard artist.My first job in the animation industry was actually pretty crazy as well because I was both so excited to finally get in, but also scared as hell because it was Loonatics Unleashed at Warner Bros. Before I even was a part of the production I knew the kind of reputation the production had and it wasn’t very appealing. However, getting the job got me very excited and at the time I was still in Orange County, so even though the drive on the 405 to work took 3 hours each day I still was happy as ever to have the job and I worked with tons of nice people there. I’ll never regret working there despite how crazy it was.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Honestly, I’m glad to be a part of any production when it allows me to interact with coworkers at a studio. When I do freelance work from home, it’s nice to have the freedom of time but I rather be in a comfortable working environment if I can. And of course, having my own cartoon short made was pretty awesome.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always been interested in drawing since I was 5, I would do nothing but that growing up and would sometimes get in trouble for it at school because I would draw during class and so on. When it came to trying to find out what I wanted to be when I grew up, the usual options for a kid at my age in elementary school is fireman, astronaut or the president. So whenever we had projects about careers, I’d always kind of go for fireman because it seemed like the only option I had, haha.At home I would always draw in my books, adding a little character into the illustrations just to sort of be a part of it somehow.I never really found out there was a thing called “career in animation” until I was 10 years old. My father worked as head of catering at the Disneyland Hotel and they were holding a special event where animator Eric Goldberg came to speak at a panel in the Hotel. It was there I learned that there are actually people working in the business of animation. I still have a photo of myself with Eric and a signed drawing he made for me hanging on my wall to remind me of my original inspiration. From then on I knew what my goal career was.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in California and have lived in Orange County for most of my life. Animation was something I really wanted to get into and thankfully had a very supportive family that did what they could to keep me busy with the interests I had. I went to several programs like GATE, Orange County High School of the Arts and then went to Art Institute in OC.My first job in the industry was at Warner Bros. in 2005 working on Loonatics Unleashed as I mentioned before. I really lucked out with that job as I was applying for character design, a particular position that I was continuously warned is difficult to achieve for a newcomer. I actually came to the front desk to come pick up my portfolio, that’s where I met Thelma who was the receptionist. She called down Ron Myrick to look at my portfolio and I got the job right there, I was shocked! It was also April 1st that year so i thought it was all a joke, but sure enough that’s where I got my start and learned a lot from that experience. I guess I owe it to Thelma for starting my career actually, haha. She was a treat.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My typical days as of late are busy, since I juggle a lot of my own work as well as freelance work and my regular work. I try to keep a balance but then I lose track of everything I have to do and it ends up being more than I can handle. But I manage and everything works out in the end, haha.I have to say though, driving to Hollywood has been the most tiresome, stressful times for me. I live in Burbank and there’s only one way into Hollywood from here and you can never tell if it’ll be backed up from construction or other wreckless drivers. It’s funny, I came to live in Burbank to relief myself the stress of having to deal with the 405 and most of the jobs I’ve had since I’ve moved are either a bit of a drive away or always hard to reach. I’m not complaining mind you, just something I noticed that I thought was funny.Otherwise, a usual day at work is in a nice, quiet environment where I’m close to my fellow artistic comrades I can both look up to and work with.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The people. I’ve met with some pretty harmful folks during my years in this industry, but I’ve mostly ignored them to focus on the people I really seem to get along with and find fascinating. We’re all artists so we’re all interesting and characters in our own right. I’ve learned a lot from them and I hope I come across the same way. I’ve always loved meeting up with people who’ve had more experience and hear their stories, whether they be positive or negative experiences, they’re still fun to listen to.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I’ve always felt that it seems the people with the most money have the least to offer and always get in the way of the procedure. It’s a shame that artists and producers are never like-minded enough to get along and that really hinders on artists because they have to put up with so much, and if they hit the wrong buttons, the one with the most control have the say anyway. I’m not saying all producers are a pain to deal with don’t get me wrong and there are a lot of producers I’ve met that are pretty decent and fun to work under, but from the experiences I’ve seen, there are way too many hands in the cookie jar as it is. It seems that productions go through too many changes and unnecessary ones at that because of this, and it muddles up the end result.I honestly am still baffled as to why these types of people are needed when it comes to an animation production, and I guess that’s why I’m an artist and not in any other position.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part is finding work on a continuous basis. I’ve had several breaks in-between jobs that have gone longer than they should have because once a production ends I have to find the next one and that can get grueling. I always have the toughest time looking for new work because I still don’t know as many people in the business as I’d like to. In that regard, I have to really work on saving up money because you never know when the next dry spell is going to happen.Also, I can’t stand tests. Tests are the most pointless part of looking for work as they waste so much time for the artist. I feel that when I’m given a test, it’s almost like saying you didn’t get the job, but here’s some work to do for free. If an artist has the credentials, that’s good enough, stop making them feel like amateurs! I know artists who’ve worked for years, more than me, and they still have to take tests? That just gets my goat.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
The Cintiq has always been a great tool, but that’s all it is. I still love to draw on paper once in a while, but I can’t help but go back to the computer and work on Adobe Flash or Photoshop and Premiere. Frankly those are the top three programs I’ve always used in my own process whether it be animation, storyboarding or just drawing in general.I feel like what really destroys a lot of creativity in animation is the lack of roots, it’s good to have experience in all sorts of things, but we can’t be good at everything.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met several names I never thought I’d meet up with, including voice acting talent. I’ve always loved sitting into recording sessions and watching the actors get into it. There are only a few people I’ve met whose names I’ve recognized who turned out to be a little less than I had expected personality wise, but for the most part, the majority of my experiences have been positive and I always hope to work with them again. And even if I haven’t worked with them, I still enjoy the time spent.If there’s anyone I feel is the most spectacular meeting in my life is with Bob Givens, a man who’s worked for almost every studio that I can name off the top of my head in animation history. He’s just so cool and his stories are incredible.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
So far the toughest situation is knowing that a series I created is being mishandled and I can do nothing about it. I’m not sure I want to go into a lot of details with it, all I can say is that when pitching shows, a creator should beware the dangers.Despite that, it’s all a learning experience, though I lost something I had originally created, I have several others. It’s just one of those experiences I could have done without, haha.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Currently I’m trying to get some animated cartoons and projects done on the side, but time is usually in the way. Nothing really meant for profit, just something I could put out there on YouTube and Blip TV when I get the chance. If I can entertain at least a few folks, then I know I’ve done my job.I’m also currently working with several producers on a website called “That Guy With the Glasses.com” (TGWTG.com for short) I’ve always loved these guys, they make a living off making comical reviews about bad movies and video games and getting to talk with them has been a blast.I tried to start my own review show called “Animated Anarchy” a show that puts a comical spin on some very badly animated cartoons of the past. I managed to make three episodes and I have a fourth script ready for filming, but like I said, there’s never enough time in the day for everything, haha. Overall, I just did it for fun.I tend to have a bit of creative ADD as well, whenever I devote my time on an idea, I usually focus a lot on it for a few days or weeks and then I have to focus on work, and the cycle continues on something else I hold interest in.Despite being a casual gamer, I have a huge appreciation for video games and their series. I love series like Super Mario, Mega Man and etc. and I’ve always wanted to have a hand in video games at some point in my life.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with yourtongue or metallurgy?
Most of my hobbies usually involve collecting things, I’m really into art books and I enjoy watching other artists’ work. I’m also a bit of a video gamer, but not that much seeing as the kind of titles I like to play only come out every so often. I’m something of a “casual gamer” I suppose. Most of my time is dedicated to my art and I’m always trying to develop projects and such. So my talent is more of a hobby than anything, heh.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I would actually suggest to find your niche, I don’t feel that the industry is a good way to get into when you don’t know what you want to do. I came in thinking that I would make a living being a character designer, but in the end, I felt that storyboarding was something I felt more comfortable doing in the industry. I don’t know if many people have that kind of luck in experiencing that sort of thing.The industry is a very fickle beast, at times it’s wonderful and at times it’s difficult to even get into, but overall I think more people should be warned of the risky career.
All Character Copyright Andrew “AWD!” Dickman/Starfield Creations