What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Nicola Coppack and I am a 2D Animator and Designer.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I have had few jobs before getting into animation but I wouldn’t say any of them were crazy. Mostly shops and cafeteria work, basically anything to keep me working so I could eat and live!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I have had two favourite projects, most recently I had the opportunity to pitch a short film, ‘The Night Light Monster’ to my previous studio Fabrique d’Images as part of a competition. The atmosphere for the pitches was really great! The story I pitched won and I directed it the following year. It was a fantastic experience being able to pick my own team and work with some really talented designers and animators. I couldn’t be happier with the result. My other favourite was my first job in animation where I had a fantastic opportunity to go work in China with a few of the graduates from my university. We had just finished Uni and were flying off to Nanjing to work as designers for a feature film they were producing there. The whole experience was amazing. The people, the place and the opportunity to draw and be a part of something like that was really special.
I’m from a small town called Thetford in England. I have always loved storytelling, as a child I grew up playing a lot of video games and creating stories with my brother which I think inspired me to keep drawing as I got older. After finishing school I went on to do an Animation Degree at the Arts University College Bournemouth which expanded my interest in animation. After graduating I got a role as a character designer for Glory&Dream Digital Studio then moved on to work as animator at Fabrique d’Image in Luxembourg.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I’ve had quite a few different roles so I’m not sure what a typical day would be. As an Animator working on a series I would say a typical day would be to get into work around 9am, check what scenes I’ve been given, go over the storyboard, check the deadlines and plan how long it will take me to do my shots and work out a schedule for myself before beginning animation. When I was directing each day was different with many different jobs happening at the same time. A typical day would be working out how to manage the project and the team at the same time as keeping up with my own background painting quota. It was pretty difficult! But very enjoyable.
I love so many parts of my job! But I have to say the most satisfying part for me is when I solve a problem. Which sounds like quite a technical thing to enjoy when there are so many other creative parts to choose from but it’s a really great feeling when are trying your hardest to get something working nicely and finally get it right. I think problem solving can be applied to everything you do.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I guess what I like the least is that working in animation often requires you to spend a lot of time in front of a computer or in a dark loft. I love being outside seeing new things and meeting new people. It’s where I get inspiration from and I think learning new things and visiting places is really good for your personal development. Having said that it doesn’t take me long to want to be back inside painting after seeing something that inspired me earlier in the day. So I think I wouldn’t like to do one without the other.
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?
I mostly work in Toon Boom Harmony, Flash and Photoshop. I guess being able to work paperless on a Cintiq has helped dramatically in opening up opportunites for traditional animation, which we were able work in for my previous project.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Consistency of work and the uncertainty of where you might be in a years time, it makes it really hard to plan your life.
I know a lot of talented artists who I admire but I’m not sure if they count. I can say meeting Shaun Tan at one of his lectures in London and getting some books signed was definitely a highlight.
Trying to find work opportunities straight out of university can be pretty tough, especially when your funds are low as it takes money to search for the jobs you need. Having good friends who know your situation can really help you though, I am very thankful to them.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m not working on anything at the moment having just finished quite a big project. I’m taking some time to explore Australia (somewhere I have always wanted to see), network and do lots of sketching along the way.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Unfortunately nothing unusual yet… I do like trying new things so who knows maybe tying cherry stems with my tongue is a hidden skill just waiting to be discovered.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work hard, keep trying, don’t be shy! Try to meet as many people as you can through networking, it’s not just about securing a job but a way to get to know someone who might have some insight for you or point you in the right direction. Always draw and practice what you love, you can always improve and the only way you will fail to get better is if you stop trying. I have to tell myself these things every day so I can improve too!