What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Nick Gibbons and I am currently the editor at Radical Axis in Atlanta Georgia and a freelance writer.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked at a magic shop for about 7 years. I loved doing magic for the first 4 years working there, then I sort of lost interest. The store was a magnet for insane people. Clowns, magicians, jugglers and mental patients would frequent the store on a daily basis. It was like a stationary traveling circus.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I worked at DNA Productions for about 8 years in Dallas. That is the studio responsible for Jimmy Neutron. I was around from the very beginning of that project, working on the movie and the series. The people there are all so fantastic and talented. It really was like being part of a family. Watching that little studio help break new ground in 3-D animation by showing the world you didn’t have to be in California to create magic, was an amazing experience.
How did you become interested in animation?
It feels weird to say I watched a lot of animation as a kid, because every kid watches a lot of animation, right? I guess the difference is I didn’t stop watching as I grew up. First and foremost I’m a comedian. I have written and performed comedy since I was in high-school. I love to make people laugh and with my affinity for drawing, animation just seem like the industry for me.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I didn’t do much research into what colleges actually offered animation as a viable curriculum so I enrolled at UNT, which was just an hour away from where I grew up. I got a drawing and painting degree with a minor in television and film. Toward the end of my years at college the internet was just starting to work pretty well and I searched animation studios in Dallas. DNA Productions popped up and I cold called them. They asked me to come in for an interview and gave me the intern position that day. I’m not the best artist, so luckily when started to make my own films it was during the time of Beavis and Butt-head. Animation didn’t have to look pretty to be relevant anymore. So I started to make little films in my free time at the Studio. Most of them are on my You Tube channel.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I usually get into the studio between 9 and 10 and make coffee. Coffee is a very important component of animation. Almost more important than actually drawing. Once I have that sweet black liquid coursing through my veins I retreat to my cave. Being the editor means I get my own dark depressing sanctuary to hang out in all day. I’m like an out of shape Batman without any gadgets or the ability to win a fight. The rest of my day consists of placing scenes that the compositors have finished into the final edit and tweaking it. Sometimes the directors for Aqua Teen and Squidbillies stop in to view and make changes to the edit. I’m like the editing chauffeur at that point. I sit at the front and they bark orders at my from the back of the room. I also get to use my comedy and writing skills at Radical quite often. We make little videos for our facebook page and I help brainstorm and write ideas for projects.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like plugging holes and plastering over cracks. A lot of technical problems pop when in edit and I really enjoy not having to send a file back after using my sweet editing skills to fix it myself. I also love getting a joke or gag through to the end product. It’s very satisfying to see an idea of yours come to life on an HD screen.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
This is a trick question right? My bosses might read this… so… I love everything about my job! It’s like working for Willy Wonka inside of a unicorn stuffed with pizza.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’m a writer and I have pitched a lot of animated shows. Some how I’ve gotten more rejection e-mails than actual shows I’ve pitched. Getting an animated show sold is a very very difficult nut to crack. It’s like the Da Vinci code with more albinos and less Tom Hanks’ mullets. My true love is writing. I want to either be a part of a writers room or sell one of my shows. I’ve worked at three major studios and I still can’t seem to get any traction. One thing I have learned after 16 years in the industry is that it’s all about right time and right place.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I primarily work with Final Cut Pro and Photoshop.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I worked at Blue Sky Studios in New York for about three years on Ice Age 2. One of the storyboard artists was an animation hero of mine, Bob Camp. Bob worked on the original Ren and Stimpy show. I was a rabid fan of that back in the day. We became fast friends. He is great guy and has so many insane stories.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
You know what, I’m the luckiest person in the world. I have had so many wonderful opportunities afforded to me throughout my life. A great family, great friends, great wife. Looking back and trying to describe a tough time would seem like an insult to what ever deity is smiling down over me. Any tough time has taught me a lesson that has improved or pushed me further. I’m not 100% where I want to be in the fantastical Nick Gibbons world I have created in my head, but no one ever really is are they? It took me a long time to figure out, but everything I have right now is great. If anything else happens it will be amazing. Basically I’m telling every one to stop taking your life for granted, step back and appreciate what you have. Even if you aren’t at the place you want to be, there are tons of people that would kill to be where you are right now.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
It’s funny you should ask. I’ve been working a lot on a series of mine called Toymageddon. I’ve written two episodes and a five minute short. The show is a cross between Mad Max, Futurama, Toy Story and The Venture Bros. I’m in the process of getting a Kick Start page going to raise money to make the 5 minute pitch short. It’s a fun show and I really think it has a lot of potential. Selling the show would be amazing, but my dream is getting Kid Robot to make toys of the characters in the show. By the way, if you are reading this and you are a producer, let me know so i can pitch you the show.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metalurgy?
I perform improv comedy on a pretty regular basis. That’s not really a talent though, more of a disease.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Make stuff!!!! Get off your ass and make something. It’s so cheap to do animation these days, that there’s no excuse for you not to constantly be creating things. The internet makes it so easy to get your creations in front of the entire world. Never rest on your laurels. Just because you have put together your resume doesn’t mean you need to stop working on stuff. The more you create the better you will get and the more you will have to show. If you aren’t the best writer find someone who is and animate something of theirs. No excuses excepted! Go go go go go go go go! Also, work on your people skills. When finding a job, 50% of the interview is about you. Your personality. Be nice, be personable, be respectful. You may be a freaking fantastic artist, but if you’re a jerk, there are 1000 dudes behind you just as good.
What a great interview. It was much better than “Cats.” I’m going to read it again and again.
I can’t wait to see more of Toymageddon!
Of course Cats wasn’t very good so…