Bob Harper

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Bob Harper, Flash Animator at Lakeshore Learning.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?I did everything from waiting tables to working in a comic book shop. For side money I did professional wrestling and standup comedy/magic.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?I really enjoyed working on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.  It was great working with a bunch of super talented folks, proving that Flash can be used for something fuller then web stuff.

How did you become interested in animation?
As a kid I loved cartoons, especially…. Looney Tunes and Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Being from Texas, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to study or learn, so I kind of didn’t think about it until I reached adulthood.  That’s when an onslaught of cartoons caught my attention including, The Simpsons, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and especially Ren and Stimpy I was like WOW! That’s a cartoon I wish I made.  These all broke the mold of the toy based cartoons of the eighties and gave us new characters to really get into, reminding me of the things I enjoyed when I was a kid.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Dallas, Texas.  I learned cartooning from a variety of professionals who I met at comic book conventions and at the store I worked at.  I drew every day, consuming as many books and videos I could on animation and cartooning. I found a small studio in Dallas, in which I got to work on a couple of projects. Soon thereafter I moved to California to pitch ideas and find work and landed at a small studio in Santa Ana, and after that a licensing company in Irvine. I taught myself Flash and then worked at some small studios before finally getting to work at Cartoon Network for a few years, and also freelancing for Disney TV, and Film Roman and others. Since then I’ve worked some other shows at a variety of studios and am presently doing animation for a Learning Company for their interactive division, and my free time is spent developing projects that I will produce in a variety of formats.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Pretty much attack each game that comes my way on how it needs to be animated and then actually animate it.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like problem solving.  Each game is unique in style and play, so it’s cool to figure out different techniques and try different types of animation for each one.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Too much to do and too little time.  I wish I could devote a lot of attention and detail to every aspect of each game, but the company has a quota and deadline, so some sacrifices have to be made.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Adjusting to different styles. When I first got into cartooning, it was stressed onto me to develop an individual style, but once I got into the industry, you needed to show you can handle different styles, if you want to get work.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use the Adobe Creative Suite, especially Flash and Illustrator.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I actually learned cartooning from Sergio Aragones. I got to meet Chuck Jones, which was great.  I also got to work directly with Craig McCracken.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Where do I begin? Well the one I feel comfortable about talking about in regards to animation, is having to endure working at some places that were high stress and horrible.  I just kept thinking about where I want to be with my career and just kept striving for success.

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’m going back to my roots of my style and creating a variety of family friendly projects which include a silly superhero, a story about sumo wrestler, and a zany gang of characters led by a talking llama. I’m writing and illustrating books, comics, apps, shorts and have a slate of features I wish to produce.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metalurgy?I used to be a professional wrestler and magician.  My current hobbies, besides playing with my kids, include poker and exploring puppetry, due to my fondness for the Muppets.  When I have time I like to read classic stories.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Don’t do it! It’s hard and too much competition, which makes it tougher for me. For those who insist in pursuing it, decide what you really want to do in the business and then find someone you can ask or model your habits after to reach that goal.  And never give up!

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