What is your name and your current occupation?
Dave Redl. Gun for hire cartoonist/animator/animation director and for corporate America, “New Media Director” (which means I make stuff move on computers.)
I worked in construction building low income housing in Newark NJ where I saw a 10 year old strip an abandoned car under a minute while nailing up roofing shingles. I worked in a garden center that was struck by lightning and crashed a golf cart used to transport flats of geraniums because I was listening to Led Zeppelin on my Walkman. I worked a night shift at a factory loading clothes onto trucks with a dude named Steve, also a Zeppelin fan, who proudly showed me a corner in the rafters that was hidden from security cameras, perfect for naps and complete with a potato sac bed. Unfortunately, I split before solving the mystery of which restroom was used by fellow co-worker, “Roberto” who had ridiculously enormous and feminine breasts.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
All of them. If they put food on the table and made my boss happy… I was proud of them. Not every gig you get looks good, possibly due to “tweaking” or “corporate politics” so you must find pride in doing what you can with what you got. For example, I was Layout Animation Supervisor, where I drew nothing for a TV show canceled during production! But the people I worked with had kind things to say. That left me proud of being a good boss even though I have nothing on my reel to show for it.
How did you become interested in animation?
For as long as I can remember. But growing up on The Smurfs, I preferred
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from New Jersey and started as a print cartoonist / illustrator. I drew Betty Boop and Popeye for King Features Syndicate dreaming of one day having my own comic strip. The internet took off in the late 90’s and I hoped to animate Popeye but had a hard time selling new media to an old media industry. So I took the leap working for design company Funny Garbage who believed in online animation. Eventually their prospects dried and now I’m a gun for hire, trading my skills for cash.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Very lonely. Usually client(s) present a concept, we talk about it then they send me off to carry it through. Sometimes its quick; draw this, I do and 2 weeks later I get a check. Sometimes it’s endless meetings with non-creative people and the production becomes a tweak-this-thing-until-we-run-
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
When I have my list objectives before me, and have a sense of how to get there. It’s good to be a little scared as that fear is what makes the work exciting and challenging.
When I have no objective before me and no idea how to get there. Times like that, fear becomes paralyzing.
Networking. There is no class that teaches how to get work because it’s a human condition we’re taught our whole life. It’s a “class” we are in from birth. Think of the hot girl in high school. If you really look at her she’s not that hot at all. Perhaps she’s a bit heavy, out of shape, has bad hair, or wears too much make-up and has a really horrible personality. You mention another girl who IS smoking, but since she’s not in the right click, she’s overlooked. You start to think you’re flawed not seeing what everyone else sees, until the reunion years later and the girl once deemed “hot” is not, while your pick is now fawned over. Then the conversation turns to, “I told you guys that years ago!” The animation business is like that, where the best person for the job is not the person who gets the job, rather the one who runs with the right click. This is not specific to animation as it is a human condition.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Everyday. I’ve seen some guys completely imagine a cartoon in their head and as if they were tracing over it, drew a perfect character in one shot on paper. But I’ve seen great web cartoons and comic strips that no one’s ever seen which left lasting impressions and inspirations on me. Greatness is not just the known. It’s what inspires you.
Losing a long time once stable job with a wife, son and mortgage in tow. When you’re young and with no responsibility, it’s easy to say screw it. But with responsibilities, fear becomes palpable. The key is to be brave, which can only happen when you know what’s at stake. It’s easy to jump off a bridge when you know you have nothing to lose.
There’s always Family Pants.com newly added to family pants new ground.com Currently I’m working on staunchly political cartoons and several web / iOS apps. But unfortunately it’s too early to provide a link to. Perhaps when I do finish, I can submit a link?
I can grow hair faster on my chest than on my head. If I were a rapper, I’d be called “Vanilla Gorilla”.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Once I contemplated quitting cartoons and animation after not finding work and eventually running across a potential boss who told me to quit my aspirations as a cartoonist for a real job. I had a postcard of my hero Hal Mayforth and for the hell of it called what I assumed to be a disconnected number. Hal answered on the 1st ring, “Hal Mayforth!” I stammered my name and explained I was a fan of his and that after much failure was considering quitting cartooning. He interrupted me in anger and said, “Look… first of all, do you want to be a cartoonist?” I answered sheepishly… “Well yeah…” “Okay… then the first thing you gotta do is tell everyone to go fuck themselves!” I was so surprised by the blunt over the phone smack in the face I in retrospect wished I had recorded it for replay when someone asks advice to get in the business of drawing silly little pictures for a living. The answer is, “don’t give up”. Also, if you should spot “Roberto” with the big ba-zooms lurking about in New Jersey clothing factories, end the mystery of which restroom Bobby ventures into!
Great stuff Dave!… and um… Vanilla Gorilla? Haha!