What is your name and your current occupation?
Anne Walker, lead character layout artist at Six Point Harness
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Working at a party supply store with a (possibly psychotic) owner, bookkeeper at Staples, smoothie wench at the Laguna Beach Jamba Juice. Also I taught piano.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Random Cartoons!!! Also, the The Mr. Men Show, and Good Vibes, my current project at 6PH, which is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever worked on.
How did you become interested in animation?
I always loved cartoons, but I really fell in love with telling animated stories in high school. Mixing storytelling and art made me feel more alive and at home than anything else in my life at the time – including being with my family in my actual home. I drew more than I listened in class. I spent prom night working on my epic (read: TERRIBLE) science fiction anime screenplay in my parents’ office. I was That Sort.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I originally came down to southern CA from the Bay Area to go to art school. The first two years at school were a blast; my third year was miserable. One of the high points of that miserable third year was an internship at Cartoon Network studios, where I met (stalked) a number of artists who were generous enough to share their time and wisdom with me. I learned that many of them had never graduated college, or in some cases had never even gone to school, period, and it occurred to me that I could break into the industry without suffering through another expensive year of art school. So, the summer before my senior year I
went up in LA on a daily basis, knocking on doors, submitting my portfolio, and generally harassing people until they answered my calls and emails. Renegade Animation offered me a temporary two-week job helping with BG design, and I accepted and promptly packed up my apartment and moved to LA. That two weeks turned into five years, on and off, and I’ve been in the industry ever since.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I get in around 9 or so, I settle in, check my email, and then I’m laying out scenes and helping to keep track of scenes and handing out notes and answering questions and tracking down missing scenes until around 7. There’s a break for lunch in there, when I sit outside and get sunburned for an hour or so and eat a sandwich. At night, if I can motivate myself, I try to work on my film for a couple of hours before I go to bed.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Being able to dive into a scene or a script and bring it to life. It’s intoxicating. You’re watching the birth of a character, getting into the character’s skin and bringing out all these nuances and jokes and emotional moments. Sometimes I still feel like I’m five, and I get to play pretend for a living.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
When the people running an animation production have no knowledge of or respect for the art they’re producing, and/or no trust in the people they’ve hired to do the job. I once worked on a production where the executive producer felt he needed to storyboard out part of an episode, because the storyboard artist – a veteran with years of experience – hadn’t captured his vision. The EP wasn’t an artist, so his boards were an illegible mess. Of course, they went straight into animation. It’s maddening!
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
See above. Also, the constant unemployment. A director of mine once compared it to being on a sea full of Titanics. You know the one you’re on is going to sink, so at some point you have to brave icy waters and swim to another Titanic, which is also sinking. Repeat ad nauseum, or until you drown in the frigid Atlantic. (Just kidding.)
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
“Ol’ Cintique-y,” Flash CS3, internetz.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
One time I saw Eric Goldberg at Comicon. I shook his hand and told him he was awesome. He seemed very confused.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I think everyone has been knocked on their butt once or twice. As artists and storytellers, though, we’re lucky to be able to channel those experiences into what we do, and as a result, create incredibly real and passionate pieces that are truly a reflection of who we are, and what we’ve been through. Sometimes you can even find healing through re-telling or drawing from these experiences. I’m a deeply strange, fucked-up woman, but I think it helps me make funnier cartoons.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
I’m currently working on a short that’s almost (almost!) fully animated. It’s called Debris, and you can find more art and details here: debrisfilm.blogspot.com. My new year’s resolution is to have it completed by the end of the year. Hopefully that’ll happen.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Keep drawing!! Draw everything – characters, machines, animals, life drawing, landscapes, friends, imaginary monsters. Take art classes while you wait for your first gig to open up. Don’t listen to nay-sayers and don’t listen to people who are telling you it’s not a valid career choice. Ignore them. You need to draw and make art like you need to breathe. Work your butt off, be open to advice from your mentors and peers, and don’t take no for an answer. If you want it enough, you’ll get it!