What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Olatokunbo Betiku, but most people call me “Ola.” I am the Co Founder of Outside The Box Vision, where I do a bit of everything. I am also the Creative Director at No Limit Forever.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I used to teach elementary art classes. Kids are great to work with but they get bored easily. The job always seemed to be more about dealing with rowdy behavior and less with teaching art. I did enjoy it most of the time and it also gave me plenty of practice for dealing with other professional artist in the future. Most of whom can be children at times.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
For the last few years our company along with Urban Born have been going to schools and promoting literacy and health to young students. I really liked taking our characters to schools and putting on shows for kids. I think it is important to do a bit of volunteer work and promote things like literacy and good health.
How did you become interested in animation?
Since the age of 8, I have been reading books and learning about the animation and entertainment industry. I used to watch a lot of Disney shorts and cartoons on TV as kid. I remember seeing a behind the scenes look at how cartoons were made and understood the process almost immediately. I pretty much figured it would be a good way to get the stories I would make up in my head out there for others to see.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Prince Georges County, Maryland. I started doing animation as a freelancer, mostly doing my own shorts and posting them online. Around 2003 or so, local businesses started paying me to do online commercials and promo stuff for DVD’s. In 2006 I met Percy “Master P” Miller through a mutual friend and started developing ideas for animation and toys. I have been living in the Los Angeles area since 2009 working on whatever projects come my way and trying to make my way. In 2010 Percy and I started our animation company.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well typically I spend most of the day writing and drawing. I try to stick to a schedule that allows me to work on many projects at once. The cool thing about being the boss is that I get to make my own schedule, but then I also have to stick to it. I spend most of my mornings dealing with any website and freelance work. After lunch I focus mostly on animation related projects and research. I do try to spend a little time each day for myself just to relax and watch a few cartoons and shows just for fun. Then usually at some point in the day I have a quick conversation with P to see how things are going on his end and before you know it the day is over.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Conceptualizing at the beginning of a project is really fun. I also really like the editing part after all the work is done. Matching up the music and images and cutting together the shots to see everything come together at the end is always great to see.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
There is not a lot about my job that I dislike, I do tend to not be too happy about the socializing aspect of the business. I am a “super honest” kind of guy so it can be tough to hold my tongue and play nice in meetings where everyone is trying to get along. I respect the art of diplomacy, I just am not always that good at it.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Well I would be lost without the Internet these days, half my job is web related. I also am glued to my laptop and wireless mouse. I have a wacom tablet for drawing and my scanner comes in handy every now and then as well. I use a few different types of software when working, it would take a while to list it all so lets just say I use a little bit of everything all the time.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I have found that the most difficult part is getting out there and being noticed. There are so many people out there doing really good work and it is easy to get lost in all of that.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I got to meet and briefly talk to Andreas Deja when he was in Washington DC speaking at a Mickey Mouse event at one of the museums there.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I think my life now is the toughest it has ever been. building a company from the ground up with almost zero guarantee of success is tough. I love what I do and I believe in what we are doing with the company but that does not make it any less difficult.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I am currently working on a web comic called “TOKS” I hope to have that up and running before years end. I also am working on a few non work related animated shorts that I plan to post soon as well.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Time has not really let me develop any strange talents lately. I used to do a bit of tinkering with gadgets and stuff before I got busy with business. I also may be psychic as well but I have no real proof to back that up, it’s only a theory.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?I would just say to stay focused and try not to get too emotional over any setbacks. I have also found that even though art can be about competition it is important to not take it personally and try to make as many friends as possible. All of the advances I have made in life have partly been through teamwork and developing good working relationships. You can’t do everything alone all the time and trying to do so is just going to burn you out and make things difficult for you later down the line. Try to remember you got into this to have fun.