Brad Graeber

What is your name and your current occupation?
Brad Graeber, Chief Executive Officer, Powerhouse Animation Studios, Inc.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked as an editorial cartoonist at 3 small Texas newspapers. It was good preparation for working in animation, having to contend with unmovable deadlines and getting something out everyday.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Personally I really enjoyed working on the Clerks IP with Kevin Smith, and we have had a blast working on Mickey Mouse and Oswald on the cinemas for the Epic Mickey game.

How did you become interested in animation?
Even in 3rd grade, when we had prototypal “what do you want to be when you grow up” project I knew that I wanted to be in animation. I really got hooked reading the Chuck Jones biographies later on in life.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Austin, TX. My first job was working at a “dot com” that did traditional animation. I went to Texas A&M’s Vizlab and did a lot of 2d projects in school.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
These days there is a lot of management, we run a crew of about 40 animators in Austin and we are generally working on about 20 different projects, all in different phases of development at any given time.


What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love the beginning of a job, where you a basically starting with a blank slate. The experimentation possibilities with style, design, boards, methods is always exciting.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
A lot of people in our industry are prone to hyperbole and drama, clients and colleagues. Egos abound and people are always trying to make things more dramatic than they are. At the end of the day we are making cartoons, and we should all revel in how beautiful a thing that is. You can work hard and be happy. You don’t have to prove you are working hard by being dramatic.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
We use a lot of Adobe…Flash, Photoshop, After Effects What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business? A lot of potential clients don’t understand the amount of work that goes into animation. One of my jobs is landing the contracts, so it can get frustrating, especially competing with inexperienced “animators” and overseas studios who lowball projects. I worked on a project that adjusted animation project costs from history to inflation, it can be sad how far the value has fallen.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Stephen Silver is a friend, we met working on the ViewAskew stuff. He is one of the most inspirational people I know. I also work with a great crew here in Austin. I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. Some animators are great self-promoters but there is a lot of unsung heroes out in the trenches.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
When Bruce Tinnin, Frank Gabriel and I first started Powerhouse, we had some very lean times. Traditional animation was thought to be a dead art form, we went months without work…but it all paid off in the end. Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?I used to do a cartoon called Captain Capitalism. I am working on a short about Krampus, the anti-Santa Claus. I am also fascinated by fight choreography, and am working on a couple short scenes in 2d and 3d to explore that more. Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?I collect Captain America memorabilia and have a decent sized collection including a Challenger I call Captain Ameri-car. I am a second degree black belt in Praying Mantis kung-fu…no joke.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Draw. A lot. Put out tons of drawings every day. Look at each one critically, none of them are sacred, and see what you can do to improve it…then forget about it and move on to the next drawing.

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