What is your name and your current occupation?
Cedric Hohnstadt. I own an illustration studio where I specialize in character design.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’ve driven school bus, worked in a canning factory, and even done medical studies. Fortunately I’ve been able to make a living as an artist now for about fifteen years.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve done advertising concept work for brands like Coca-Cola and Walmart; designed toys for Hasbro and Disney; designed characters for VeggieTales; and supervised the animation of Mr. Potato Head for the Hasbro website. I also illustrated a Gospel tract with over five million copies in print. You can read it at www.freecartoontract.com. Recently I launched a Kickstarter called the Pose Drawing Sparkbook. It’s a tool to help artists put more life into their drawings and I’m getting a lot of great feedback on it. By the third day of the campaign it was featured in Kickstarter’s “Popular this week” section under the “Publishing” category and it received over 800 “likes” on Tumblr. Your readers can check it out here: http://kck.st/12K2otL
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m a life-long Minnesotan so all of my animation-related work has been done from my home studio. In 2000 I attended a week-long animation workshop at Disney where I first caught the bug. I taught myself Flash animation and slowly built up to bigger clients. Somewhere around 2005 I went to Comic-Con where I met Tom Bancroft, who hired me to do some inking on his comic book series “Opposite Forces”. From there he recommended me to some people at Big Idea, the company that does VeggieTales, to do some work on their TV show 3-2-1 Penguins! I’m now working on some VeggieTales character design, and I’ve also been doing animation for a new series from Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, called “What’s In The Bible?”
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My studio is in my house so I’m able to set my own hours. I love the freedom but it also means the hours can get quite wacky. Client projects tend to come in waves so when I’m busy I’m *really* busy. I still pull all-nighters on occasion, but I just turned 40 and that’s starting to get old.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love doing character design or just sketching in my sketchbook. Client work pays the bills, but the real fun is when I get to play around and just explore ideas at my leisure.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The best part about freelancing is you get to be your own boss. The worst part is that you have to be your own boss. I spend a lot of time doing non-drawing tasks like email, phone calls, contacts, self-promotion, administration, etc. I wish I had more time to just draw. Also, I rarely do Flash animation anymore because there’s too much mouse clicking and hardly any drawing.
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?
For a few years now I’ve been drawing on a Cintiq. It was expensive but for me it was absolutely one of the best purchases I could ever make. I can draw so much faster and more efficiently than I could with a Wacom tablet, and I don’t have to spend time scanning in and cleaning up my artwork.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
One of the drawbacks of freelancing is the instability. I never know how much money I’ll be making from month to month. In a sense I’m perpetually unemployed because I’m always on the lookout for new clients and more work.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
In 2000 I met Andreas Deja at a Disney animation event, but I was so new to the industry I didn’t know who he was, and I wound up accidentally insulting him. You can read the story in an old blog post here: http://www.cedricstudio.com/2007/10/how-i-insulted-a-master-animator/ I’m also a member of the National Cartoonists Society. A couple of years ago they had their annual awards dinner in L.A. and I was able to have a lengthy chat with Eric Goldberg. That was pretty cool.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Freelancing can be tough. There have been a few times where work slowed down and money was scary tight. Fortunately those times have been rare enough that I’m still in the game after all these years.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m working on a new resource for artists called the Pose Drawing Sparkbook. It’s a tool designed to help artists put more life and personality into their drawings. I launched it on Kickstarter about a week ago and it’s doing well so far. A lot of people seem really excited about it. You can check it out here: http://kck.st/12K2otL
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Thanks to a song we memorized as kids, I can recite the names of all fifty states in alphabetical order. In case there was any doubt about my nerd cred, there you go.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Draw every day. Be open to constructive criticism. Be as responsible and professional as you can. Be someone people *like* to work with. That’s just as important as talent.