What is your name and your current occupation?
Hello there! My name is Kenya Danino and I am a Freelance Visual Development Artist for BlueBells Animation Studio in India and I’ve worked with PennyFarthing Press Inc.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Well, before I even thought about pursuing a freelancing career I did a lot of small commission work here and there since my high school days. In doing so I was making some pocket change as well as practicing to better my talent in areas I struggled in such as anatomy and perspective. And to think when I got to college I was going to pursue the sciences haha, totally different ball game. Wasn’t quite my cup of tea to say the least.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Ah I’ve loved all my awesome opportunities! However, favorite project I have been and continue to be part of is working with the lovely Miss Karen Kiefer on her ongoing children’s book project entitled “The Misfit Sock.” The Misfit Sock teaches lessons of love, hope, inspiration and gratitude through a profound children’s story and introduces a wonderful children’s Christmas tradition. Karen is such a wonderful person in how she is and what she does with this project which talks to “misfit people.” They come in all colors and genders and try to fit in with society that views them as different but what they really have is a gift; a good reason why they don’t exactly fit the puzzle. You can’t lead what you fit in with. And that’s what Karen The Misfit Mama teaches.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from good ol’ Queens, New York. I hear this state used to be an animation central, now there are only a few sites left. Shame, but no matter, you make do with what you got around you when your climbing the ladder inch by inch to success. And that’s what I’ve been doing. When I was a junior in high school I was bold, submitting my portfolio to any studio I could think of. And though I was rejected time and time again I was always encouraged by these studios to keep on trying and building on my skill. I had a goal to see some idea of mine come to fruition on a screen and no rejection letter was going to stop me. This was fuel for rigorous practice. I patiently waited in my fishing spot for a catch and was blessed to catch a few nibbles.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well any day as a freelancer is a game of choosing the best time to go fishing! But in regards to my current jobs, usually the bosses check up on how my creativity is doing. Every person I’ve worked with acted as my creative coach; It’s actually quite awesome and uplifting rather than having someone breathe down your neck to get things done pronto.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The concepting of course! I’m one of those people who just..how do you say…draws till they drop? Can’t keep ideas in my head, gotta draw em’. Gotta share. Also as a freelancer in general, your mind and efforts are never stuck on just one idea, I find comfort in doing multiple projects at once. Keep creative juice flowing.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I’d have to say when I go through days when my creative juices are low in supply. Nobody I’ve worked with ever gave me a hard time. And even if they did, I’m a very patient and calm person in the mix of company or project distraught. The struggle is eminent in everything we as people go through I’m aware, however if there was a problem I’d trust it to be solved however long it takes.
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?
I’m always on the computer and eager to test drive new software to see how I can creatively utilize it in my work. Back at Boston College, I work in the basement of Carney Hall with a printing company called Collegiate Press as their Photoshop expert as well as being a student helper, Hi Rich and Tom! They teach me about how the printing industry works; knowledge vital to upcoming illustrators and authors. So I practice and study digital software and how there is a demand in knowing how to work the whole adobe suite for projects now-a-days. Still, I practice good ol’ traditional pencil, colored pencil and marker artwork because there something priceless about talent you can feel working through your hands onto paper.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Oh I forgot to mention, I’m only 19! I’m still learning about the industry and still coping with coming out of college and being able to fully secure my future with the knowledge I learned and continue to learn.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I know and converse with many of my friends in the industry via email and facebook to keep on par with the moves in the art industry. My two mentors Peter De Seve and Terryl Whitlatch are a blessing and I’m so glad to even be called their artist in training. Be that so, my dream is to actually meet them all in person someday. Everyone I know in the industry is constantly moving, always busy, always on their feet. If I keep climbing the ladder inch by inch, one day I’ll be amongst the busybodies too to thank them in person 🙂
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
All of these answers are so lengthy I apologize everyone! I just have a lot to share! Let’s just say, the struggle started with my family. The Aiken/Coleman/Danino family has endured a lot of hard times, but we’re a family that makes our way up from rock bottom. My mother has made her way up to being an excellent 8th grade English teacher. She always emphasized the importance of a good education to help one climb the ladder to success. I take my mother’s lessons and my family’s mountain climbing ways to heart as I continue in my journey to success in the field I’m pursuing.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I’m a multitasked that sometimes needs to pick one and stick with it haha! I have in total about 7 ideas in the works for books, graphic novels and motion picture pitches. The one that is being worked on first is a graphic novel set in the Jazz era using animals to portray the characters of a pianist who plays for charity and a rich lady who needs to be taught a lesson about how the world doesn’t revolve around one person. The goal is to finish this project by the end of the year.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Unusual hobbies or talents? Not that I can think of, unless you count effectively being able to pick up stuff with your feet like hands as an unusual talent.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
This is gonna sound weird but hear me out. As a beginner, and even when you’re up there with the big guys it’s ok to be in a turtle’s shoes. Yep. It’s OK to be a tortoise in a world of racing hares. You soak up more knowledge of your surroundings when you slow down your pace. And it won’t keep you from reaching the finish line either, because you’ll be the smart one avoiding all the hazards and obstacles. All the hares are bound to hit trees, fall in ditches, and take too long naps. So if you feel like everyone around you is reaching their dreams and goals faster than you are its quite ALRIGHT. Just keep your eyes open on the way to victory for the little things that are dangerous to your journey and things that will help you. As long as you are being YOU and trying your best every day, someone is bound to benefit from your gift of perseverance, determination and hard work. I don’t live for myself, to benefit off of my gift. Gifts are given so that gifts can be given. It’s a tradition. When someone gives you a gift, be it a talent or a beneficial trait, give back. With your gift help someone else discover their gift.