What is your name and your current occupation?
My Name is Benjamin Plouffe and I’m currently Co Art Directing a new and exciting Tv series “Penn Zero: Part time Hero” for Disney Television animation created by Sam Levine and Jared Bush.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
In high school I worked as stock boy and Dishwasher. During my college years I also worked a few summers as an Inventory counter. We would to go to all kinds of stores and just scan and count everything. The worst was counting huge bins of tiny screws at home depot.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m really proud of the “Penn Zero: part time hero” show I’m working on right now. It’s the longest project I’ve worked on ( since 2011) and the one I’ve contributed the most too
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born near Montreal Quebec in the early 80’s . My father was in the Canadian Airforce so we moved around a lot. I spent 3-4 years in Germany early in my child hood and lived on a few military bases in Ontario HOWEVER I’ve spent the majority of my life living in and around the Toronto Area. I currently live and freelance from South Korea. I’ve always been surrounded by Technology and Movies as a Kid. My dad loves action and blockbuster movies and gadgets. He would bring home the latest toys for us to play with. We always seemed to be ahead of other families when it came to New technology. As a kid/teenager I spent a lot of weekends in the movie rental stores and a lot of time playing video games (original gameboy, NES, sega genesis, pc games) . I also watched a lot of 90’s cartoons… In high school I wanted To get into 3d VFX / 3d animation Because of all the big blockbuster VFX movies coming out at the time not to mention the the first Toy Story. By the End of high school I joined some of the earliest online Digital Art forums and decided I wanted to do Concept art for Movies and Games after being blown away by Craig Mullin’s artwork. I also randomly found the art of Prince of Egypt book and was introduced to Derek Gogols work which is still AMAZING to me now. After high school I ended up taking an arts fundamentals Course At Sheridan college. My plan was to get into the illustration Course HOWEVER my plans changed when my roommate Bobby Chiu ( http://www.imaginismstudios.com/artists/Bobby%20Chiu) convinced me to get into the Classical animation Course instead. Bobby helped me A LOT with Life drawing! I also have to Thank Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi ( http://simplestroke.com/ ) for Giving me a shot and showing my portfolio at Blue sky studios back in 2005. …. I was first introduced to Dice’s work on those Digital art forums back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s , He’s one of the reasons I wanted to get into animation industry. a huge inspiration and Without his encouragement and Kindness I’m not sure If I would still be doing what I’m doing Today. I graduated from the classical animation program in 2005, Started my Freelancing career in the animation world shortly after!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
These days a typical work day for me as a Co Art director is Reading my work emails , writing emails and Sending notes, doing draw/ paint overs , Webcam meetings with the crew at Disney TVA and fitting in as much colour key work that I Can.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love Creating new worlds and playing with shapes , light, colour and texture. And seeing what other artists create for the show.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Having to give notes to other Artists that have more experience in the field than I do. Especially when the artwork looks GREAT but it doesn’t particular fit the style of the show.
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?
I’ve been working digitally with a Wacom tablet, pc and Photoshop that last 13+ years. For the kind of work that I do ( painting , colour, lighting Studies , vis dev etc) there hasn’t been any major changes. Computers are getting faster, Software is improving, More specialized hardware is available for artists ( cintiqs) etc.. I prefer working on a Tablet.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’ve spent the majority of my animation career as a Freelancer and As a freelancer I never really know if and when I’ll have work. This was especially tough when I first graduated from college. I’ve had a pretty good run the last few years But there’s always the thought of work drying up at the back of my mind.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I honestly keep away from animation business/studio politics and try to focus more on the work I need to do. I wouldn’t know the first thing about the business side of Things. That being said, Like any creative minded person I’d love to see more Experimenting and Original Ideas being developed. More creative freedom and Decision making by the artists.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Unfortunately Not really. As a freelancer living in South Korea I’m quite isolated from the animation world and other animation artists. I do wish I could meet and work with some of the artists I admire however I’m quite happy living in South Korea.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I cant think of any tough situations. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky in life so far. No deaths or illness or Any crazy life changing events. I’ve had hard times but nothing the typical person hasn’t gone through and nothing I can’t laugh about.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
No side Projects at the moment.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Nothing unusual. In my Spare time I like to Train new tricks to my 2 dogs( a Sheltie and an Australian Shepherd)
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I’d like to say that there’s a lot more to the animation industry than trying to get a job in feature films. A lot of animation students ( including myself at the time), all they want to do is get a mainstream feature film job. ! Feature film work is great and high profile work however There’s A LOT of exciting opportunities and interesting projects in TV and Commercials out there. Keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself!