Art Grootfontein

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What is your name and your current occupation?
I’m Art Grootfontein, and I’m a freelance animation artist, designer and illustrator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?

I would love to say that I was a submarine cook for the British army, or a pet taxi driver in Singapore, but I’m afraid I didn’t work on anything weird before I start my art carreer…
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?

I think I’m usually happy only with the very latest things I did… recently, I directed a TV spot for Yoplait which I’m really proud of. This spot had been aired during the 2013 Emmy Awards night.  I had the chance to be in charge of the major part of the work (storyboard, design, animation) so it was pretty fun. And these days I’m working on something completely different : an fun eCard for JibJab, and I’m really enjoying working on it too.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business? 
I’m from Paris, France. I studied at the National School of Art & Design in Paris. There I learned graphic design and illustration.
I discovered later that animation was my true passion. I think I had a brain wave when I saw “Gruesomestein’s Monsters” from Mark Ackland and Riccardo Durante.  I understood then I’d have to work on animation !  So I trained myself watching hours of TV animated shorts and series, frame by frame, in order to understand how all this magic was done !  Then I started doing stuff just for me, and when I thought I was ready, I started entering some contests. I had the chance to win a couple of ones, like this bumper for a company named myToons, who disappear a few years later (its aim was to be the “youTube” for animation… fail !)I also did an animated greeting card every year, sending it to everyone in the animation world to get my foot in the door! Gradually, people saw my work, and so I started working on “real” stuff !

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job? 

First I eat some chocolate.  I sit on my chair and check my mails, hoping I wouldn’t get too much retakes on the animation I sent the day before.  Then I eat some chocolate, and I work on all the retakes I received by email.  When I realize it’s the end of the day, I try to wash myself as fast as I can and I eat some chocolate.  That’s it ! (Kids : don’t try this at home, it does’nt work so well)

What part of your job do you like best? Why? 

I love the beginning of a project, when everything is still possible. It’s the part where I feel I’m completely free to do what I want (even if i’m obviously not !) I don’t feel any stress at this time and I’m the more creative.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?

When Adobe Flash crashes !

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 work with Photoshop, Illustrator… and Adobe Flash.  As I started recently to work on animation, I can’t say that things really changed for me regarding technology. I never learned animation “the old way” with hole punch paper and peg bar…

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding paid gigs and new clients is probably the hardest part of the job in my opinion.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’m afraid I don’t quite understand the question. But I love brushes and travelling !

Describe a tough situation you had in life. 

One day, there was no chocolate at the store.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?

I would love to have time to work on something I really care about, a series concept about a skate team, but I don’t have much to say since I did not do much right now…

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Animation used to be my hobby ! And in a way, it still is.

But, I have to admit, I have a kind of everyday habit, but I’m not comfortable talking about it. The only thing I could say is that it has something to do with cocoa.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? 
“Hey guys ! I AM an artist trying to break into the business ! So please wait a few years more so I can find my place. Cheers !”
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