What is your name and your current occupation?
Ed Olson – concept development/character designer animator: http://designloftstudio.com/index.html
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
While going to college I worked construction during the summers. Construction paid well so I could go to art school 9 months out of the year without having to work during my semesters. After graduating, I spent several years teaching art, film and television, but didn’t think about animation as a possibility.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Rescuers Down Under (clean-up) Pinky and the Brain (storyboard) 101 Dalmatians 1996 live-action release (storysketch)
How did you become interested in animation?
I was teaching live-action and television production at California Lutheran University and faced the financial challenges that comes with the under-financed nature of education. I had a friend who worked as an assistant at Disney. He told me about the program there and the test you had to take to get started. I sat for a few months straight practicing in-betweening, took the test at Disney and started there on Rescuers Down Under. The hardest part was learning to sit for 8 hours straight a day.
(I earlier had a B.A. in art but got interested in filmmaking at the end of my B.A., so went for a Masters in Film and Television production at the University of Iowa. I made documentaries for PBS in North Carolina and Iowa and taught live-action film for years, but never utilized my art training up until the point I started at Disney.)
While at CLU, I decided to utilize the drawing skills and subjected myself to a grueling self-training, re-introducing myself to my drawing skills which had been developed in art school. I passed a drawing test and Disney and my new career was launched.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Minnesota, but moved to California to attend The American Film Institute as a Producer Fellow, which was still part of my live-action film work.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Unless there is a tight deadline, I spend about 3 hours a day doing the “business side” of The Design Loft. This includes emails, marketing, bidding on jobs online, networking and looking for opportunities. Then I take a break, go for a walk, and come back and start the most highly creative part of what I do, drawing. A lot of my work is hand-drawn, even when it comes to Flash animation, and then it is scanned into the computer for painting and line clean up. This usually lasts about three hours, then I go into the computer mode, which requires less creativity… this also lasting about four hours. Soon a regular basis I am working around 10 hours a day.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The drawing. It is the time when I feel that the creative abilities are used to their best.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The marketing. It is somewhat tedious, but has to be done.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The finacial instability. Clients pay in sporadic ways, and projects are always variable.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Windows PC, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Was instrumental in shaping the end of 101 Dalmatians (1996) with Stephen Herek directing.
See my profile on IMBD http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0975075/
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Animation in general is tough, but very rewarding. Concept development requires getting very involved with a client’s hopes and dreams, and then you ride the emotional roller coaster with them and they try to make their baby come to life in the marketplace.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
If you are truly supposed to be doing this, you will be doing this.