What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Adam Fay and I am a freelance illustrator and designer. I am currently seeking character and background design work.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before working in animation I hosted at a seafood restaurant, was a cashier at my college campus bookstore, and one summer I did manual labor landscape work to “build character” as my parents said.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I had the great pleasure to work on the new Spongebob movie that came out a couple months ago. It was such a huge project, and I was completely overwhelmed. The work itself was really challenging, and it definitely pushed me, which I was grateful for. Most recently I was character and prop designer for a Comedy Central pilot, which was a lot of fun because it was a super small team of us, and it was all new. I really enjoyed being at the beginning of a project, helping set the style and look of the characters and props, as well as setting them all up in flash. It was cool to see it all start to come together. I have yet to see the fully finished pilot since I was there for the first half of production, but I still loved being apart of the small hectic group.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Marin County, which is north of San Francisco and south of wine country. It’s a pretty, but kind of boring suburb in the bay area. I went to a small high school in San Francisco, so I was able to hang out in more exciting places. I’ve always liked to draw, and always thought how awesome it would be to design the characters in my favorite games, movies and shows. When I was a kid I would make my comic strips, ripping off my favorites, like Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts. I majored in illustration in college, and when it came close to my graduation, I sought out an internship that give me some great experience and put me on the right path. My first internship was at a small studio called Brandissimo, which made mobile games and other apps involving animation and some storytelling. From there I have bounced around from various full time and freelance gigs for the past few years; working as background designer, character designer, layout artist, and illustrator. It also involves a lot of emails, networking, and a good amount of luck and timing.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I’m freelance right now, so my day usually involves a lot of working from home in my pajamas. If I have a project that I’m working on I’ll be sure to put in at least a full workday, if not more depending when it’s due. In between projects I try to keep myself drawing as much as I can. Sketching people in coffee shops, or finding a random topic online to work off of keeps me plenty busy. Apart from that I’ll scan job sites or send out emails to see what kind of leads I can find.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like the relaxed nature of freelancing. You can set your own hours, no commute, and you generally get a good variety of work (if you can find it).
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t like the inconsistency of freelance. You have to constantly be on the hunt for new work, which can get pretty stressful. I also miss working around other people sometimes. It makes it easier to stay productive and helps you not freak out as much.
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?
My main tools are my Macbook Pro and my Cintiq drawing tablet. It has kind of taken over how I draw now, I’m so used to drawing on it every day. Since Cintiqs have been around for a handful of years now, it hasn’t changed how I work much at all (mostly because I’ve only been working for three years). But drawing tablets are getting more and more elaborate, and it’s only a matter of time till cheap, smaller cintiqs replace sketchbooks as the way to sketch on the go. Which I think is pretty cool, although slightly depressing.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficult part for me is the grind. Everyone has to do it, and eventually you can break through and then things get easier, but the job insecurity is tough. Jobs can either line up back to back, or they could be many months in between. That’s the trade off for have a cool, creatively fulfilling job though. So I don’t regret it.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
The people running the show need to have a frequent, respectful and ongoing dialogue with the artists working for them. I know it’s not like this everywhere, but I’ve seen creators or writers have such a clear vision in their head for what they want made, that they will not think about how it effects the production as a whole. If artists are encouraged to bring up issues or concerns, then this could prevent problems from happening.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Honestly, just going to CTN and seeing all the amazing artists there is really inspiring. Everyone is usually so friendly and happy to help out, or give you some feedback. And talking to more seasoned artists who have worked on some of my favorite things, like Steven Silver, Andreas Deja and others, is really a thrill. And thanks to outlets Tumblr and Instagram, I’ve discovered and chatted with a bunch of really fantastic artists, that I wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
There was one time that I had to decide between betting a burrito or getting a burger for dinner. I compromised and ended up getting pizza.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
In my spare time I have been developing a couple of show ideas that I would eventually like to pitch. One of them is about a coming of age action/comedy that takes place in a world inhabited by breakfast foods, and the other is about two teens surviving life at a school for spies.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I am really good at recognizing voices. Every time I watch a new animated show or movie, I can pick out most of the actors. Also I’ve got some pretty sweet whistling skills, and I’m particularly good breakfast cook (my love for breakfast was part of my inspiration for my show idea).
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
You have to draw constantly, and be persistent. Keep in touch with people, have them look at your work, give feedback, or just talk shop. If people see that you are taking their advice and really working at it, they’ll notice. Also, don’t obsessively compare yourself to other artists. There will always be someone better than you. You are your biggest competition. If you see that you are improving, then you’re on the right track.