Joel Trussell

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Joel Trussell.  Director and such.  Currently directing Tom Hanks’ “Electric City” series at Six Point Harness in Hollywood.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Tip of the iceberg…

I waited tables at a Japanese hibachi restaurant.

I served Bloody Mary’s for breakfast on a golf course.

I reluctantly danced the “Macarena” while serving crab legs at a seafood restaurant.

I worked in the firearm, exercise equipment and toy department at a Service Merchandise store.

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What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
For 7 years I worked out of my house in Tennessee directing music videos and commercials which I dug pretty well.  I guess the “War Photographer” video I directed for Jason Forrest (DJ Donna Summer) was spread the furthest, but I had fun doing them all.

How did you become interested in animation?

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I lived most of my life in the Southeast… specifically Knoxville, TN.  Once I graduated from the University of Tennessee I moved to Seattle. Luckily, at the time there was an online boom of animated content and I was rushed in to work on Eric Kaplan’s “Zombie College” for

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What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Coffee, worry, revise, meeting, regret, approve, inspire, hollow laughter, hi fives, work deep into the night… rinse, repeat.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like being involved in all aspects of making a piece.  It’s more funner.

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What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Insane deadlines.  I don’t like to phone things in.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I don’t like to sit so much.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Cintiq & PC (work), 13″ Macbook Pro and li’l Wacom tablet (home), Flash and (both)

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Let’s be honest…we’re all pretty great aren’t we?

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I moved back to TN after working in Seattle for 4 years due to the dot bomb crisis.  I’d just had my first kid, 911 occurred and my mother passed away.  Moving back to TN seemed like career suicide, but it felt better than animating online games for cereal companies.  Luckily, thanks to the webbernets I was able to still easily communicate and work for people in several countries on interesting and profitable projects.  Triumph… 500 points!

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Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I like to paint sometimes. Here’s something to check out if you’re not reading this too far in the future…×1024.jpg

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be relentless, be interesting, be good.



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  1. Joel is certainly one of the most talented guys I have ever had work for me, in my capacity as an Art Director, or worked for, in my capacity as a contracted animator.
    WAR PHOTOGRAPHER happens to be my favorite Flash piece of his.

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