What is your name and your current occupation?
I’m Jennifer Patton – currently painting backgrounds on Scooby Doo Mystery, Incorporated.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a telephone tech support person for a mom n’ pop internet service provider (back when there was such a thing). I was a repo-girl for a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Distributorship – I wore wigs to work because my hair was dyed pink and they let me drive the company van to repossess vacuums even though my license was suspended. I owned and operated a retail skate clothing store in Fresno. Cashier at a Foster’s Freeze. Crew member on a sailboat in Mexico. Counter service/cashier at La Brea Bakery. Intern at Epitaph records. Telemarketer for The Shriner Circus in La Porte, Indiana. 10-key operator/inventory taker in New York State…
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I loved working on Lil’ Pimp – the first (?) animated feature done completely in Flash – written and directed by Mark Brooks and Peter Gilstrap. Those guys are funny. The crew was so fun on that one too. We had crazy parties and underwater beer bongs. Icebox.com was an excellent gig with a load of talented people. The X’s for Nickelodeon – created by the ever-enthusiastic and highly talented Carlos Ramos. That was a good show. Great crew. The Mighty B! also for Nickelodeon; one of the best shows ever. Awesome writing and boarding. Great art. An all-star crew and every last one of them a pleasure to work with; Seonna Hong, Bill Wray, Bryan Arnett, Alex Kirwan, Carey Yost, Chris Hacker, Cynthia McIntosh, Fran Giglio, Rae McCarson, Shawn Holt, Larry Murphy, and many, many more who I can’t think of right now. Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. which I’m on now is a fine television production, with a great Art Director Steve Nicodemus, and another highly talented crew that are loads of fun to have lunch with. I am also proud to have been a member of the original ‘Sony Color Room’ circa ’96-’97 and all it’s legendary shenaniganery.
How did you become interested in animation?
Not sure that I can really say I ever became interested in animation. I don’t watch it much. Don’t own a television…
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Fresno, in the Great Central Valley of California. I moved to L.A. sometime in the mid-nineties because I had 2 friends whose couches I could sleep on. One of those friends got tired of me being broke and crying about it, so he set me up with an interview at Sony with the Color Supervisor for Extreme Ghostbusters, Mike Guerena. It was the worst interview in the history of humankind and I left crying and feeling deeply ashamed. Mike later called me and offered me a job as a ‘scanner’ (I scanned the artwork for the colorists). I asked him, “Why?” and he said that he asked Evan Mack (still a dear friend) if he should hire me and Evan said, “Just hire her, dude – she’s cool.” I learned on the job – did whatever character color styling Mike and Evan and Jean-Paul Bondy would throw at me. I would take their notes, do it over, etc. until I was good enough to be asked back the next season as a color stylist. Eventually, while still at Sony, I worked my way up to doing background paint – again, with a great deal of guidance and help from my fellow artists; Kevin Hanley, Peter Ehrlich, Jean-Paul Bondy, Chris Haynie, Ron Russell, Brian Smith, Rachel Stratton, Azariah Owens, Kersti Myrberg and others.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I recently relocated to the SF Bay Area, and am fortunate to have been able to keep my job on Scooby, but now as a freelancer. I rent a little tiny office space in a San Jose Business Park. I come in every day 8:30-5, drink a lot of green tea, listen to a lot of podcasts (TAL, WTF, Pod F. Tompkast, Snap Judgement, Radiolab, to name a few faves) and most days I eat a candy bar or some chocolatey cookies around 4pm. Oh yeah – and I paint backgrounds for the kiddies.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
It’s just an awesome job all around. I get paid to make pretty pictures. Or sometimes spooky pictures. I learn a new painting style with every production I get to work on. I work with some of the most entertaining and hilarious nut-jobs in the greater Los Angeles area, if not the world.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
It’s very rare, but every once in awhile I still run into male bias in the world of animation. It’s a drag when it happens.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Macintosh Computer, Wacom tablet, Photoshop, iTunes, iChat, Safari, sometimes a Cintiq, sometimes Illustrator or Flash.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The commute! (kidding – I tele-commute.)
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
One time my husband David met Mr. T at Cartoon Network – He has a picture to prove it! He asked Mr. T, “In all of your travels all over the world, what do they call you in other countries? Like, when you’re in France, is it ‘Monsieur T’, or if you’re in Spain, is it ‘Signor T’, or is it always just ‘Mr. T’?” It is always just Mr. T. I love that story. Oh yeah – and I met Lil’ Kim when I was on Lil’ Pimp. I guess they’re not really “Greats of Animation”, but they both did voices…
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
no – not on the internet.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I have 2 small children – a boy (1) and a girl (4), so pretty much all of my time outside of animation is devoted to them and their hi-jinks. I am also on the development team and Board of Directors to start a charter school in Northeast Los Angeles based on the Waldorf method of education: El Rio Charter School: www.elriochatrterschool.org . I like yoga, cooking, gardening, vintage clothes shopping, and I collect and listen to records.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can give birth in a dining room.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? Unless your talent is unmistakably brilliant (and that is rare), you will not get away with being a dick to people in animation. And even if you are an animation superstar; the intern on your show today will be your boss tomorrow. So be kind, be cool, be easy to work with, and we’ll all get out of this alive.
I worked with Jennifer for many years, and hope to work with her again sometime. I almost had the ability to bring her out to Germany in 2003 to work with me on a (horrible) feature. But everything went upsie-daisey and it didn’t happen. That makes me sad. But she is 10000% awesome and her skills get better every time I see new work on her portfolio. I hope when I grow up, to be as awesome as she.
I feel like so many people wish they had the friend that would set up the interview and hook them up with the ‘dude just hire her’ connection. Not everyone has that ‘in’. I say this because personally I have known the right people and feel very lucky to have had a network. It’s still a who you know world in so many industries. I do agree with don’t be a dick, and hopefully you can make those connections that will get you in for an interview. Being an ass works against most people in any setting. But again, having connections are a privlege, not everyone out there has had the opportunity to be welcomed into the scene.