What is your name and your current occupation?
Boom Cookie. I am an illustrator, currently designing for animation.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation
One of my first jobs was for a local movie theater that only had two screens (I watched Disney’s Tarzan and Notting Hill about a dozen times)… and UPS on the night shift packing trucks. That was only fun because I worked with my girl friend, and we’d have farting contests to see who would have to evacuate the truck first. Once in college I held a job as an office clerk at a rental agency. And the worst was when I tried telemarketing for home security systems. I had to quit when I found out the call lists were for the parents of newborns… and I didn’t want to know how they got that info. All that before I realized – OH, I can make money from my art work!!
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I sure enjoyed working on “Robot and Monster” for Nickelodeon. The crew was amazing, the style was fun, and the writing was awesome. ‘Twas a good fit.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in Massachusetts (USA). I always loved animation, so it made sense to pursue the business when I dedicated myself to art. At 21 I moved to San Francisco to go to art school, and I really loved my classes. I met with the head of the animation department every semester to get her advice on what classes to take, and in my last year she suggested I try for an internship in Burbank, CA. I was accepted, and moved to Los Angeles without knowing hardly anything about the city other than what I had seen in movies, and only knowing one person there. Talk about a culture shock!! It was unlike any place I’d lived before. But hey, if I can move from one end of the country to the other, why can’t I moved from the Bay Area to SoCal? I learned a ton during my internship, it gave me a lot of food for thought. After that I got my first pro job as a concept artist for a small video game studio, and after about a year and a half made my way back into the animations studios.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I get in to the studio. I sit down (or sometimes stand) and draw. I draw for anywhere from 6 to 10 hours straight. Then, I go home, and hope that what I’ve drawn is good enough for my art director and I won’t have to come in on the weekend to make revisions.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Two things: the drawing, and my coworkers. Working at an animation studio is one of the few places I’ve felt like I can understand, and be understood by, the people around me. I love being part of a team because we are all working towards a common goal, and it’s wicked cool to see the fruits of our labor. I kind of feel like the drawing part goes without saying, but seriously… I feel like the more art work I produce, the more I grow as an artist and person. Love it!!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Sitting on my butt too much. It makes me fat.
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 almost exclusively either on paper or in Photoshop. I JUST started working in Sketchbook Pro, and I’m enjoying that a lot so far! Most everything for my employers or clients is drawn and painted digitally, because that’s what they want. Nearly all of my own work is done traditionally, including painting. To me, anything else isn’t the kind of art I am good at, or want to do.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The creative side of animation is natural. The business side I needed to learn. One of my college teachers, who works for Pixar, once said that we get in to doing artwork because we are introverted artists… it’s our way of expressing ourselves. Once we decide to make a career of it, we need to learn how to be exactly the opposite of who we are naturally… we learn to be extroverted, to network and to sell ourselves to the studios. I think that may be the most difficult part for me.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Oh yeah, I’ve been super fortunate!! I’d say it started with my mentor and friend Terryl Whitlatch, who is one of, if not the world’s foremost creature designer. She worked on the new Star Wars movies and has done a lot of design work for Disney and Pixar, etc. She really inspired my interest in design markers as a medium, as well as never letting me get away with calling anatomical parts by their layman’s terms… (“scapula, not shoulder blade…!!”). I once met Syd Mead during a portfolio review. I like to believe I almost worked with him (he said he enjoyed my work)… but I guess the project he was developing didn’t get greenlit. I’ve met Peter DeSeve and Nicolas Marlet… hung out with Eric Canete… drew a lot of knowledge and inspiration from them, as well as Bryan Arnett when I was an intern! So far I’ve worked for Dave Pressler and Butch Hartman… I’d say those folks are some of my biggest inspiration, but I meet and talk to people that I consider Great all the time!!!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Ha ha, oh man. I think you’d have to get more specific than “a tough situation”… The universe has tested me numerous times, as it does.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Definitely! very excited about doing an album cover for the up-and-coming musician/composer Nick Nielsen! He’s got a kickstarter project for his debut album “Electric Monkeys”. Check it out and donate!! You can buy prints I’ve done on my Society6 page… Also, I’ll be publishing a sketchbook of my work sometime this year. (Yes I know I’ve been talking about it for a few years now but really, I mean it, it’s going to happen this year!) You should follow me on Twitter @BoomCookie for news on that (and rambling rants), or my Tumblr, or ‘like’ my Facebook page, or…
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I like to discover peoples’ totem animals, wiggle one ear at a time, do voices and mouth-fart.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Keep It Simple Stupid !