Bobby Khounphaysane

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My Name is Bobby Khounphaysane (Koon-pie-san) and I am a 2d animator & Character Designer (with some storyboarding and background designs mixed in there) for DipDive Animation owned by Will.I.AM, which we are in the process of launching soon in the next few months or so.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to work at a box factory and received a crazy amount of box cuts on my arm doing assembly line.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Let’s see, there’s actually been a few, but the ones that popped into my head was getting the chance to do a Nick Halloween commercial. It was a 5 second spot and the segment was done all in Toon Boom traditionally, which was fun (and tiring) to do! Another was heading a pilot show where I got to helm the designs from the get go, from characters, to storyboarding, and backgrounds.

How did you become interested in animation? 
I became interested in animation ever since I was a wee lad, watching Saturday morning cartoons like Thundercats, GI Joe, and Transformers. From there, I couldn’t stop watching cartoons and have enjoyed it ever since.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 
I am from Rochester, NY and I got into the business when a representative from Art Institute showed us what programs they offered when I was in high school in Minnesota. Animation was one of them and I knew that I had to have that as a career because of my love for cartoons. After graduating, I was one of the very few left that stuck with the program, but had lost a lot of motivation because most of my peers didn’t make it with me and the prospect of being in animation as a profession looked grim. After doing odd jobs as a clerical worker, I had the opportunity to move to California, so I quit my job, gathered my savings, and left Minnesota to the west coast. After still doing mundane jobs, I got my break as an art intern at a small production studio and from there worked tirelessly interning full time (for free)  and working full time as a stock boy at Sams Club. After a few months, the company loved my work and determination and brought me on board. After that, the rest as they say is history 🙂

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job? 
I usually start the day by grabbing some coffee, read through some of my favorite artists blogs, and do a random doodle as a warm up. From there it all depends on the project and what state we are at. It can range from doing character designs, rigging them in Toon Boom, storyboarding, background designs, or animation.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
It has to be either doing character designs or animating. For character designs, I get to draw and create all sorts of creatures that my mind can conjure up from personal experience and through the plethora of references that helped shaped me as a person, i.e. video games, comics, movies, etc… For animation it is a simple answer for me, I get to make the unbelievable believable.

What part of your job do you like least? Why? 
The business side of things, because I have to be out of my creative state and attend to other aspects, like reading contracts and such.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Knowing if you’ll be here for the long run or sustaining yourself when there is a drought (job wise).

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis? 
I work on a cintiq 12wx (which I hope to upgrade soon), a mac pro with quad core, two monitors, Adobe creative master suite, and Toon Boom.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness? 
Not yet, but hopefully soon!

Describe a tough situation you had in life. 
When both my mother and my best friend passed away at the age of 13 and 15. They were two of my biggest supporters of me when growing up that nurtured my love of drawing, but also encouraged me to get out of the darkness aka my room. You know, like play outside, get fresh air, and meet new people because they can inspire you as a person or you can inspire them
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?

I’m working on developing my own show that reflects my interests and inspirations, which I hope to pitch soon. I also try to do my web comic, MSG, but so far I’ve only done two over the course of 3 years :-/ As for hobbies, I’m an old school 16-bit rpg player and love to play games like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana, along with fighting games like Street Fighter. I also like to get some sun though, so I do some jogging and hiking.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metalurgy?
Uuumm, I’m double jointed on my right thumb.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 
Ask yourself if you really want to go through the hardships and struggle that Animation can bring. It is definitely not an easy field to get into, but the rewards outweigh the downside. If you are willing to do that, then work towards a main goal, then break that down to smaller more easily approachable goals that can be easier to obtain in stages. For example I want to be Walt Disney is your main goal, then break that down to smaller chunks in various levels, like have your lower levels be getting an internship, then the next level could be getting hired in a small production company, etc…

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