What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Chrissy Fellmeth, and I’m currently a freelance animator, layout artist, and designer.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was a lifeguard, though I never had to save anybody. After that I worked in a pharmacy selling lotto tickets.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorite gig was working on the Klok Opera and season 4 for Metalocalypse. It was so much fun to be a part of a show I actually watched and enjoyed before getting hired! But of course, my own films are my passion and my favorites to work on. While its really tough to motivate yourself, when all is said and done and you see your finished product, you just couldn’t be any more proud of yourself.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Flemington, a small town in central New Jersey. When I was little my mom signed me up for art classes and it took off from there. I started getting into cartooning when I was young and my mom had found a small animation school in Cherry Hill, NJ that I attended for a few years every Saturday. I loved it! After high school I went to SVA to get my BFA in animation. During my junior year, I got an internship at Animation Collective. While working on intern-y stuff one day, the producer approached me to take a test for prop and character design. A week later, I was hired on for season 2 of Kappa Mikey. That was my first gig.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
When I’m working in a studio, its your typical 9-5 (more appropriately 10-7) job, come in, animate, animate, animate, go home. Usually I will take time after work to work on my films. When I’m freelancing, a lot of time is spent looking for gigs and getting my freelance done. But most of my down time I use to work on my films.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
My favorite part is getting paid to draw. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, get money for doing what I love. I also love hearing from friends or new people that I meet that they watch the shows I work on! That’s always thrilling.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Job instability is kind of frustrating. I would love to just be hired on and stay forever. Of course, no one wants to be unemployed, but I wish I could be staff!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
99% of the time I work in Flash. The demand for 3D and CG work has really put a damper on finding 2D work with Flash, so its tougher to find those kind of gigs. I’ve tried numerous times to learn Maya, but I’ve yet to really make any headway with it that I could consider taking on a position requiring it. Otherwise, I’m glued to my Cintiq! I use a lot of illustrator and photoshop as well.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding work and keeping connections. Networking is tough and you’ve got to be on it all the time! I deleted my facebook once and immediately realized I had no way of contacting most of the people I had made connections with on there. Instant regret!
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I worked as a set designer for a live-action film once. Everything live-action should be made into cartoons. It would just be so much easier! That was the most difficult, frustrating, and ultimately unrewarding job I’ve ever had. I just don’t think I have the heart for it.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
As a die-hard Ren and Stimpy fan, being invited to an artists brunch at Bob Camp’s house once was one of the highlights of my life. I was mostly terrified because here I am, going to eat at one of my heroes’ houses, and I had no idea who any of the people were. It was a great afternoon and I got to see Bob’s studio and admire his artwork. It was a really special day to me. I also went to LA to check out some studios on the west coast once and I got a tour of Nickelodeon along with some critiques of my portfolio. That was also superiorly awesome.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
After graduating college, I spent almost an entire year unemployed. I didn’t really know what I was doing after school, and kind of hoped something would just come along. The last place I had worked at kind of went under, so all the contacts I had made there were also looking for employment. I came within two weeks of having to move home to my mom and dad, and (unbelievably) craigslist pulled through for me and I spent six months working on shorts for youtube. That job kept me afloat long enough for me to stay in NY. It was a really hard year, though. I had a lot of doubts about my skills and my own work. When no one wants to hire you it makes you wonder what’s wrong with you!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Currently, I’m working on my latest film, Beardieux Montagne, set to premiere in November of 2014 at the LASS film festival. It’s going to be my best yet! I’m really excited for it. Its about an 1890’s fur trapper and his bear companion.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m a die-hard New Jersey Devils fan. I love hockey almost as much as cartoons.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Never be idle! If you’re not working, work on something for yourself. The more stuff you have to improve your portfolio or your reel the better. Also never stop learning. Study your favorite artists’ work. Practice, practice, practice. The worst thing to do is to lose your abilities as an artist and to work to get back to where you were before.