What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Katya Bowser and I am currently a Freelance Artist focusing on Storyboards, Illustrations and Character Designs.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I haven’t had anything too crazy, but working retail at Hollister was interesting. There were some crazy managers who would do things like chase shoplifters out of the store with a broomstick. You encounter a lot of interesting people when working in retail.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Being a freelancer has given me the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects. I’m working with some friends on a short film called “Asylum”. Its been a fun process and I’ve learned a lot through it. I also had a great time while working temporarily at DisneyToons. I don’t know if my sequence will make it through to production, but it was extremely fun to work on! And my other favorite would be my first animatic I created and designed with Epipheo for Crowd Equity. It turned out really neat and I enjoyed working on it a lot.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. My dad got me interested in art and was the one who taught me how to draw when I was little. We watched movies and cartoons together all the time and I loved everything animation. One summer in high school I had an experience at a Christian youth conference where I realized I need to be doing art for the rest of my life. I then went to Ringling College of Art and Design where I studied Computer Animation. After graduation I focused my time on freelancing. Since then, I have been involved in all kinds of work. I’ve storyboarded for various live action commercials and animations, done character designs for various companies and businesses, and I’ve illustrated a few children’s books. My best friend, Jackie Hines, works on-site at Epipheo Studios and opened the way for me to do freelance work for them. My work for them consists of creating animatics, designs and assets. Now I am out here in Burbank, CA looking for more opportunities!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Being a freelancer I have the freedom to work from home. Everyday brings new challenges as well. Some days I wake up and can take it easy. I make my way to the computer, check my emails, take some calls regarding potential work and get started. I take breaks here and there. Sometimes I take my dog Mushu out for a walk (or just take a quick cuddle break with Mushu) go out for lunch with my husband, Seth, and other things like that. I try not to over stress myself. Other days can be a little more frantic. I might get a project that has a very tight deadline. So I get up, see the email, freak out a little and then get right to work! I keep on trucking through the project until I finish. Projects like these usually involve late nights.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love being a part of the early creative process. Coming up with the ideas and laying down the framework for how the animation, film or commercial will play out is exciting to me. I also love the exploration process. I love going through as many variations as I can before settling down on a certain design. The search for the right look can bring a lot of new discoveries I wouldn’t have found any other way.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I enjoy all the artwork involved with my job, but certain aspects of the freelance life is stressful. Sometimes it feels like I’m always on call like a doctor! But I appreciate the work that I get.
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 on a Mac Pro desktop. The computer is a monster! I do all of my work mainly with Adobe Photoshop and the Intuos 5 tablet. The biggest change I have seen is the variety of programs there are to create with. When I first started in school, photoshop was basically the way to go for everything. Now there are so many different programs out there, each one with its strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard to keep up with all the programs that are out there! But now that there are so many ways to do things, you can accomplish anything with any program and I enjoy learning how to work with all of them.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part for me in being in the freelance business is the amount of uncertainty. You never know what the next day will bring! But it also makes it exciting. There is always an opportunity to work on something you would have never expected.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
The CTN conference is a gold mine for meeting with animation greatness. So there have a been a few brushes with some amazing people there, but I have 2 that are my favorite. Those who know me know that I’m a Spongebob nut. I can pull a Spongebob reference out of any situation. So meeting Sherm Cohen (amazing storyboard artist who worked on Spongebob and many other awesome shows) in person was awesome! He is super nice, encouraging and all around amazing. The early episodes he worked on are my absolute favorites. I had spoken to him before through the internet, but it was a pleasure to meet him in person. And meeting his wife was super cool too, because she is just as cool as he is. My second favorite “meet” was also at CTN. I was manning my table, striking up conversations with people when I starting talking with this one guy. After some chit chat I asked him what he worked on and he says, “I created tv shows back in the Disney Afternoon days. I made Darkwing Duck.” My jaw dropped. I LOVED Darkwing Duck! And there he was, Tad Stones, talking to me and complimenting my artwork. It was pretty cool!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I guess you can say I’m in the middle of a tough situation. I’m working on making the transition from freelance to a studio job. It’s not easy! But thankfully, I have been blessed with consistent freelance work, supportive friends and family, and a hope in something that is greater than this world. Having support in tough situations is very important and I would be nowhere without it!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I have a lot of different ideas for side projects that I haven’t been able to start yet. But I do have a children’s book I made, Dex T-Rex, which is currently being reviewed by a few publishers. Hopefully it will get picked up!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I really like Martial Arts. Another thing my dad passed onto me. He is at a high level of black belt in Shotokan (can’t quite remember the degree) and he taught me. It’s one of the few sports I enjoy! I also took some Taekwondo in college. And I’m eager to get back into some more training!
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Stay focused and determined! Hard work can go a long way. And put yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to show your work to everyone. Put it up on a blog, go to conferences and get people to look at your work. You will always get valuable feedback and one day, the person you show your work to could be your gateway to future opportunities.