What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Larry Rains, Iâ€™m a Fulltime Freelance Animator, Illustrator, and Storyboard Artist. I currently own and operate a small Animation shop in central Arkansas called Big Kahuna Media.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? I used to do Chemical and X-Ray analysis for a Japanese tire cord manufacturer. One cool thing that came out of it is that I learned to speak a little Japanese. I also worked as a graphic artist designing skate board decks.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I guess if I had to pick a project it would be some of the storyboard work I did on the Le Bonheur Childrenâ€™s hospital spots in Memphis, Tennessee. Every time I watch them I canâ€™t help but smile a little. I am proud to be a part of something that is for a good cause, and it was cool to work with the actor Morgan Freeman.
How did you become interested in animation? Iâ€™ve always loved animation, but didnâ€™t really embrace it until later in life. I started off with collecting and drawing comics growing up and I even self published a few comics when I got older that were distributed by Diamond Comics worldwide. It wasnâ€™t until I attended a Dragon Con convention in Atlanta, Georgia one year and met an editor from Dark Horse Comics that I decided to change course in careers. I had some simple looping Flash animation on a monitor at my booth advertising one of my new comic books and it caught his eye. He told me he was impressed with my work and asked me if I had ever thought about a career in Animation. Â Animation? : )
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I originally grew up in Kokomo, Indiana, but after High School I moved to central Arkansas and attended college at the University of Central Arkansas for Art. After about a year of college I decided to drop out and do some freelance motion graphics work for a few local TV spots. After a couple of months of doing that I put together a demo reel and sent it out to a few studios. I got an offer to work on some animated movies at a place called Wacky World Studios in Tampa, Florida. At Wacky World I worked on a childrenâ€™s 3D animated video series called The Bug Rangers for 20thÂ Century Fox. After a few years of doing that I took a job back in Little Rock, Arkansas at a place called Dempsey Film Group. At Dempsey Film Group I worked on a ton of national commercials for clients likeChloraseptic, Cigna / Nations Health, IDT Telecom, Subway, Ranger Boats, Sun Com, Terminx, E-Diets, and J.G. Wentworth to name a few. At the end of summer in 2006 I got an email from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers asking me about doing some freelance animation work for them. I accepted and ended up handling all the animation for the opening game kick off for that season. A few months after that I decided to start Big Kahuna Media and eventually went to work for myself fulltime.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Since I own and operate my own business, I have to wear many different hats. I usually start my day off early in the morning for about an hour answering emails and putting bids out for future projects. After that I fire up the Wacom Cintiq and get down to business. What part of your job do you like best?Why? Drawing and Animating!Â Â Not everybody gets to sit around all day and draw and make cartoons. I feel very blessed that Iâ€™m able to make a living doing what I love to do.
What part of your job do you like least?Why?
Having an animation project dropped on my lap at the last minute. â€œCan you get this done by Friday?â€ Â Why?Â â€“Â I hate rush jobs.Â Not being given a reasonable timeframe to complete an animated project is never a good thing.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The Animation industry at times can be Feast and Famine. Being a guy with a family it can be very challenging and even a juggling act at times. Once a production or project is done, youâ€™re looking for the next door to swing open sometimes. Luckily for me Iâ€™ve been able to roll my talents into different areas of business like cartoon illustration and storyboarding. I stay very busy, I think because of it.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I mainly use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, ToonBoom Animate Pro and Anime Studio Pro. I donâ€™t think I ever go a day without opening one of those programs up.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Iâ€™ve had a great run over the last 10 yrs and have gotten the opportunity to work alongside a lot of very talented people. It would be hard for me to just mention or single out just a few. All I can say is itâ€™s an awesome feeling to be sitting in the theater after watching a cool animated movie like â€œHow To Train A Dragonâ€ or â€œRioâ€ and look over to my family when the credits roll and say â€œHey, I worked with that guy or gal!â€
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Making the decision to walk out of a good fulltime animation job at a studio and then go to work for myself. Even though it was tough decision to make at the time itâ€™s ended up being one of the most rewarding things Iâ€™ve ever done in my life.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Iâ€™ve been tossing around the idea with my wife about self publishing a few new comics or maybe doing an online comic for fun. We used to have a great time getting out and hitting the comic cons together. Sheâ€™s a very talented writer and artist also. Who knows! ; )
Any unusual talents or hobbiesÂ likeÂ tying a cherry stem with your tongueÂ orÂ metallurgy?
Iâ€™ve got a rare collection of Tiki memorabilia. I picked up a Tiki lava lamp in a surf shop in Clearwater Beach, Florida and Iâ€™ve been hooked on buying them since.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? Donâ€™t buy into the propaganda that a place like Pixar or Disney are the best places to work in the field, they have a huge rotating door and chew and spit people out on a monthly basis. Think outside the box and keep many tools in your toolbox. Iâ€™ve never owned one piece of software that can do it all. http://www.larryrains.com