What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Larry Rains, I’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 Children’s hospital spots in Memphis, Tennessee. Every time I watch them I can’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? I’ve always loved animation, but didn’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 wasn’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. 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 children’s 3D animated video series called The Bug Rangers for 20th 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! Not everybody gets to sit around all day and draw and make cartoons. I feel very blessed that I’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. “Can you get this done by Friday?” Why? – I hate rush jobs. 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, you’re looking for the next door to swing open sometimes. Luckily for me I’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 don’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?
I’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 it’s an awesome feeling to be sitting in the theater after watching a cool animated movie like “How To Train A Dragon” or “Rio” and look over to my family when the credits roll and say “Hey, I worked with that guy or gal!”
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 it’s ended up being one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’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. She’s a very talented writer and artist also. Who knows! ; )
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’ve got a rare collection of Tiki memorabilia. I picked up a Tiki lava lamp in a surf shop in Clearwater Beach, Florida and I’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? Don’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. I’ve never owned one piece of software that can do it all. http://www.larryrains.com