What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Michael Hill. I’m a Lead Artist at Hound Comics, character designer and creator of the new original spy series Operation Spyhard.
I’ve done it all! lol From unloading trucks and stocking dairy to making hams and sacking groceries. The jobs weren’t crazy but a lot of the people were. lol I should write a book. Hmmm…………..
Since I’m new to the animation industry, I haven’t completed a project as of yet but I’ve met some of the amazing artists who have worked on projects like, Young Justice, Justice League, Batman TAS, The Boondocks, Batman Beyond, DC and Marvel animated features, and more! Incredibly humble guys who have respect and advice for genuine new talent that are serious about growing in the industry. I’m honored to learn from their years of wisdom and success.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama but I will soon be relocating to Los Angeles to have direct access to all the major studios. Gotta go where the opportunities are! I got introduced to the industry through some of the pro’s seeing my art online. They told me I had the potential to have a career in animation and how I can go about pursuing it. It was priceless advice.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
A typical day for a character designer can be very demanding considering how many characters that it will take to fill a tv episode or animated feature. It can get up to a hundred or more sometimes. The lead artists on the project are the ones who design the main characters and the associate designers design the secondary and background characters. Once you understand the concept and scope of your assignment, you’ll draw up several concepts to be submitted for approval. Once your designs are approved, then you finalize it for further production..
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The best part is working with other amazing artists from all walks of life and watching your art come to life for all to see!!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
It can become time consuming but when you have the necessary self motivation it takes to get the job done, it’s not as bad as it can seem sometimes. Some guys listen to music or watch movies as they draw to give them the drive to finish strong.
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?
Most of the work is done in Photoshop or Illustrator but Sketchbook Pro is useful as well. Technology is growing so rapidly that even seasoned artists will takes classes sometimes to keep up to date with growing industry standards. It’s very important to always be learning and improving.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
There’s a good and bad side to everything so there may sometimes be small conflicts throughout the production process simply because that’s reality. It’s important to know how to pick your battles, learn from your mistakes, and adapt to your environment while maintaining a professional workplace demeanor. Always be flexible and self motivated!
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I have had the opportunity to speak with such great artists as; James Tucker, LeSean Thomas, Jerome K Moore, Sam Liu, Sean Galloway, Dave Bullock, Shane Glines, and many others. Great guys!!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
There was a time when I was 21 that I lost everything and had to rebuild my life from scratch. It took years for me to get everything back in order. I’ve been drawing since 4th grade but it was this situation that made me realize that I have a great talent that I love to do all the time and I can make a career out of it where I can make money with a big animation or comic company or independently if I enhanced my skills. That’s when I took a 2 year art program and began networking online looking and learning from wherever I could and now I’ve gotten compliments from guys who made the cartoons I grew up on! It motivates me to continue going for my goals.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m the creator of Operation Spyhard, a new and original spy series that features a group of genetically enhanced super powered secret agents who conduct covert missions for the United Nations Security Council. The series follows the Bourne Identity, James Bond, and Mission Impossible action-adventure formula, with the agents being an homage to mainstream super heroes. It’is a top-secret shadow op’s program that recruits only from the most elite soldiers in the world and was formed in direct response to the severe need for high threat level international security enforcement in order to protect the world from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It uses behavior modification training and genetic enhancement engineering to make the agents extremely effective nearly unstoppable living weapons. The agents also received specialized training in highly advanced weaponry, expert hand to hand combat techniques, and tradecraft in order to prevent or take collective action against mass atrocities. Check it out.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I do enjoy brain teasers. I also love collecting and posting art on my deviantart page as well as finding and meeting new artists with different styles that challenge me to match their excellence.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
A friend of mine from Warner Bros. gave me this great advice,” There’s no one specific way to get hired . Folks have done it in a variety of ways and from many different backgrounds. The only thing they have in common is that they have a good work ethic, they know how to work in an office setting with other people (you’d be surprised how many potential artists just don’t know how to do that), they live in Los Angeles, and they have honed their drawing skills to professional levels through years of hard work and practice. Character designers have to be able to draw young kids, old fat people, dogs, aliens, accountants, etc. Drawing superheroes is probably only about 5% of the job. Also a character designer has to be able to draw a character from all angles for model sheets. We all have started out being the best artists we know where ever we’re from, but it’s a whole other ball game when you work amongst some of the best artists in the world. It’s very humbling and you have to be prepared to constantly improve. The thing is, being here requires a lot of sacrifices and if it’s something that you absolutely, positively, within your heart of hearts want to do, then go for it!!”