Yvonne Grzenkowicz

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Yvonne Grzenkowicz,Animator.


What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I have worked as an Art Director (kid’s summer camp), Breakfast Cook, Burrito Maker, Dishwasher, Waitress, Box Office Ticket Seller, Art Teacher (workshops & lessons), Art Framer, Gallery Assistant, AutoCAD Draftsperson, Executive Assistant, and Artist’s Assistant, I did set work for a night, and had a Newspaper Art Listing column for a short while.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I was part of “Team Sesame” at Callaway Digital Arts and we build an iOS digital publication of “The Great Cookie Thief”. That was a really fun project.

How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always been interested in telling stories. Animation is an amazing and effective Art form in achieving this end.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Michigan and Georgia. I lived in Boston for a little while before moving to New York City. My background is in narrative / figurative Painting. I used to be a kind of a luddite. I got a job filing slides part time at an Architecture Firm. The job eventually turned into a full time position as an Executive Assistant and I suddenly had a computer on my desk. I began learning programs and teaching myself HTML/Javascript. Eventually I moved into an autoCAD Architectural drafting position. The idea of creating something within the computer and especially within the infinite virtual space of AutoCAD was fascinating. I was bitten by the technology bug. I purchased a home computer and started teaching myself how to model in 3dsMax and how to create websites with Flash.  From that point on I have made a living making things move. I signed up with Animation Mentor to get a proper training in the Art of Animation. I completed both the Advanced Character Animation Program and the Animals & Creatures Program. I was working as a freelancer during this period and I have been doing it ever since!

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It really depends on the project. I have a small working studio and I sometimes do remote work. My schedule changes depending on where the client is located and what the project calls for. I also work on site for periods of time at various studios. It’s nice to work in different parts of the city.  I enjoy meeting new people and working on different types of projects. I also like to ride my bike to the places that allow for bike storage!

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love the amount of freedom you have as an animator. There is always some sort of structure to the project and there are guidelines and maybe the layout has been done. However, within those project guides there lies a seemingly infinite possibility of choices.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t think crouching over a computer all day is particularly healthy. At home, I have the option of having a standing desk. Sometimes, on site, I find myself crouched over a desk like some sort of creature.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchbook Pro, Mischief, Flipbook, Audacity, Audition, Premiere Pro, Flash, and Maya all pretty regularly. I have a cintiq and an intuous graphics tablet and I rebuild/upgrade my PC when I need to.


What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
As a freelancer, I have to wear many hats. Time management gets a little tricky, sometimes. I have to be my own personal assistant!

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness? 
I was lucky to attend Bill Plympton’s first Animation Class which was held at his studio. The workshop lasted about 3 months. Bill was very generous with his knowledge on film making and work flow. I would leave class feeling like I could change the world with a pencil.  I have had a few brushes with Fine Art greats. I visited with Larry Rivers a few times, I was in correspondence with May Stevens, and I worked with Cristina Vergano and George Kokines  . . . all great Painters!


Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I was hit by a truck at the beginning of last year (while crossing in a cross walk as a pedestrian)! I am happy to say I was able to get up on my own power and yell at the driver, who promptly called the police on himself. So, I actually feel very grateful everything turned out the way it did, it could have been much worse.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I have been finishing a second hand drawn short film for some time now. It’s getting closer to being finished. I’m about 3/4 of the way done.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Unusual, no. I enjoy the usual stuff: biking, cooking, gardening, reading, playing video games, running (occasionally), traveling, theater, watching movies, etc. I would like to learn a second language and maybe take another stab at math classes.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Look everywhere for work. There are always people and studios looking for talent and some of them just don’t know where to look. Remember that all the experiences you’ve had up to this point help you make your unique acting choices. Make short films and attend festivals!
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