What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Cassandra Poulson and I am a visual development artist for animation.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked my way through art college in Savannah Georgia by bartending. I bartended at a fine dining restaurant and on a cruise boat. I was also able to make a little bit of money by doing fashion modeling for photographers and students.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
“The Girl and The Fox” was the first film I ever worked on. I met Tyler Kupferer, a now friend and writer/director of the film, at “The Animation Show of Shows” at SCAD. It was the beginning of my sophomore year. I think I was 19- I did concept paintings, worked on color and environment design, designed the “Fox” character, and served as lead background painter. It was such a personal project for me, and has a lot of heart in it from everyone who contributed. It’s been a shock to all of us that it’s made it so far in the industry. It is now a proud nominee for an Annie award! And has been a true joy and honor for me.
How did you become interested in animation?
I used to watch “The Jungle Book” over and over again as a toddler. And I’ve always loved to draw and paint and think of stories and characters- so I think it was only a natural series of events that led to my involvement in animation.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Portland, Oregon. But I’ve lived in Petersburg, Alaska, Savannah, Georgia, San Fransisco, California, and even some time in London. I went to SCAD for sequential art, knowing I wanted to work in animation. It’s been a continual goal since then.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I’ve been out of college for about a month in a half now. I drove from Savannah to LA in hopes of finding work. I feel like a “job detective” of sorts. And although I have no studio to call home yet, I do draw every day. And still keep in close contact with my friends from Base14 (The Girl and The Fox) until their eventual transition to the west coast.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love that I get to be creative. I want to push myself to experiment with color and design in animation. I also think there is a lot of room in 2D animation, especially, to bring new media into the modern era. This was our goal in “The Girl and The Fox”, which used completely digital media (flash to animate and paint and Photoshop for the layouts). In “Rain Dance” a more recent film from Base14, we experimented with “traditional-style” visual effects. I did a test in Photoshop that aimed at matching animated backgrounds with still background paintings. With new animation features in Photoshop, we were able to execute a traditional VFX technique, but make it smoother than ever possible before. And soon after we developed ways to quicken the process through paths, vectors, etc in Photoshop.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I do not much care for the job market at the moment…
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I have an extremely basic set up. I learned to paint with acrylics and watercolor in highschool, but now I work mostly digital. I have a laptop and a medium-sized Intuos tablet. I almost exclusively use Photoshop, but I’ve attempted to teach myself other tools like Maya, Flash, Toonboom, and Illustrator. And I still paint with watercolor and acrylic for personal art projects.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’m impatient at times. Most of my paintings were completed in under a day. I simply like moving at a fast pace. This makes it difficult to apply for non-paying internships and push pennies for so long. But it’s an integral part of business and we all must pay our dues.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
My God- I met Syd Mead once at SCAD. I distinctly remember his speech. “Gouache is French for ‘Bitchy Media”
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Half way through my final senior project class, my apartment was robbed. My computer, hard drive, tablet, and light box were all stolen. I had to file an incomplete for the class because I had lost all of the original files. The project was a film called “Blackcat Fish,” which was 100 percent my baby. Now all I have left are some small resolution jpgs from early development I had uploaded online.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
My eclectic taste in hobbies include Kung-Fu, fashion and art modeling, violin, and bartending. But drawing and painting is without a doubt my passion.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m very double jointed in my hands! I can wrap my thumb behind my palm, stack all my fingers on each other, and bend my wrist all the way over.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Since I am essentially both of those things (I suppose a student no longer), I really can’t feel up to giving advice. “Does anyone have advice for me?” That’s what I should be asking.