What is your name and your current occupation?
My name’s Randy Bishop and currently, I work as a freelance illustrator and character designer which is fantastic.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Oh goodness… I’ve worked a lot of jobs before being able to support my family doing freelance. I’ve worked landscaping, retail, construction; I even drove an ice cream truck one summer. That was a cool job.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Right now I’m actually working on a project that I’m really excited about. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a old timey radio performance show that has a great fan base and a lot of great people working on it. I was approached by the creators to illustrate one of their properties into graphic novel form and it’s been a blast to work on. It always helps when you enjoy associating with the people you work with. My very favorite project to work on is a personal project I’ve been collaborating with a friend of mine on for a few years. It’s a property called Monomyth that we’re very proud of and very protective of. We’ve had to put it on the back burner for a while until we get the time and funds to really work on it full time, but once we get started it’s going to be phenomenal. We’re planning on telling an epic story directly influenced and surrounded by multiple ancient mythologies including greek, norse, egyptian, as well as others. It’ll be done in graphic novel form, but we like to think of it in terms of animation. The stylization of the characters as well as the storytelling itself lend it to eventually being made into an animated franchise.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Idaho which isn’t a place where you’d normally think of starting a career in animation, but I’ve always loved cartoons and comics and I’ve always known that’s what I wanted to do.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I’m lucky and cursed enough to be able to work full time from home. Typically I’ll wake up around 8:00 because that’s when my kids get up. Depending on the day, I’ll either get straight to work or help my wife with whatever she needs help with. I work a lot of odd hours because different jobs have different demands.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The best part of my job is that I get to do what I love and I’m able to take jobs that I want to take. Being my own boss is great because I get to set my own hours and listen to my music or have a movie playing while I work.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
There are definitely drawbacks to working from home. It’s hard to get things done when your wife knows you’re right upstairs and can call an you whenever she wants. Being responsible for my own schedule and how many projects I take on in order to pay the bills also dictates a lot of long hours which can be hard on the family. I would love to have a studio job where I’m able to rub shoulders and collaborate with other creative types all day. I find that things get a little lonely when you work by yourself all day every day.
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 work digitally most of the time. I use photoshop and illustrator for everything that I do. I’ve been working on a cintiq 21ux for the past few years and LOVE it. It’s sped my process immeasurably because I feel just as comfortable busting out rough sketches on my screen as I do on paper. The thing that frustrates me about working digitally is that things are constantly changing and it’s hard to keep on top of all of the new technology and software updates. I’m still working with CS4 which puts me a ways behind what a lot of people are using.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The hardest part about being in a creative industry is the competition. I’m confident in my abilities, but there are so many other artists out there who are just as talented and competing for the same jobs that I desperately want. I’ve decided that persistence is the only thing that will get me anywhere. I just keep plugging away, snagging whatever jobs I can and things have been consistently moving in an upward direction. All I can do is keep it up and hope that things keep moving forward and I snag that job that punches me through the barrier between barely scraping by and making a good living.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I was fortunate enough to attend the CTN animation expo last year which was a blast. There were great artists all over the place and quite a few that I had looked forward to someday meeting. I almost plowed Peter De Seve over in the hotel lobby because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. I was able to meet and talk with people like Brittney Lee, Bobby Chiu, Doug Tennapel, Mike and Victoria from extracurricular activities, as well as executives and other artists from studios like Disney, Sony, Laika, and others. It’s an expo that I can’t recommend enough to anyone who works in or wants to work in the animation industry.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
This is an excellent question. Adversity is a great tool, I think in determining who we are and where we go in life. In high school one of my friends took his own life. It was a really rough time, but I was amazed at how the rest of the student body rallied around those of us who were directly effected and supported us through it. I learned a lot about myself and my friends and it’s played a big part in who I am and how I see things now.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
As I mentioned before, Monomyth is a project that I am very excited about. We’ve done our best to weave our own mythology seamlessly into the established mythologies of ancient cultures and tell a story that we’re very passionate about. We’ve been taking our time to make sure that every aspect of the story makes sense and is something that we know people will become invested in. I’m also in the midst of establishing a small studio and print shop with a few colleagues of mine who, like me, have been wanting to work in an environment where they’re surrounded by like-minded creative types.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I don’t know about unusual talents, but I was in a band for a long time that received a bit of regional recognition. There’s absolutely nothing more fun than creating something that other people can get passionate about, including music.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
As an artist who is just now approaching the light at the end of the tunnel, all I can say is that you need to get all of the feedback from working professionals that you can and work your hardest to apply their feedback to your work. There’s no room in the industry for people who don’t feel like working hard. I’ve seen a lot of people who graduate with an art degree who are producing the same quality of work when they graduate as they did when they entered college. That’s bad. Artists should be able to recognize where they’re weak and be willing to work in that area until it becomes a strength. We should always be evolving as artists and able to adapt to whatever challenges we meet in the industry. Be 100% committed to your craft.