What is your name and your current occupation?
Kristen Campbell, I’m a Character Designer/ CG Modeller.. currently available for freelance or fulltime work!
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I guess this isn’t so crazy, but I used to work at a lot of foodservice jobs. I’ve worked at Jack in the Box, Subway, Cousin’s Subs.. Subway was a really fun job, actually. They have really strict guidelines on how much meat, cheese and veggies are supposed to go on sandwiches. Did you know you’re only allowed 3 black olive slices on a 6″ sub? That’s crazy! I used to load people up.. so much so that the contents of the sandwich would ooze out the sides. People would specifically ask for me by name, and that was awesome. My first “artsy” job was faux finishing a house in West Hills, CA.. in the middle of summer. It was super labor intensive, but it was so much fun.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorite project would have to be the Picture Book Foundation’s Art Blocks for Ghana auction. I’d never been part of such a huge collective before, and it was really intimidating. I got to see all the pieces first hand at the LA event, and I was so stoked that my piece sold. I would love to do more gallery events, I really love the comradery that comes with them.
How did you become interested in animation?
Snow White blew my mind when I was little, that movie made me fall in love with animation immediately. I was crazy about Disney as a kid, and I still am. My best friend’s mom worked for Disney, so we were always going to Disneyland as kids and watching Disney movies.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in Northridge, CA and I’m now living in Glendale, CA. I didn’t really start drawing until I was 16, and I didn’t start thinking about art as a career until I was 18 and wondering what I was going to do with my life. I enrolled in a Watercolor class at a local community college and that’s when I discovered how much I really loved art. There was a portfolio day at Laguna College so I went down with my work to show the schools. My boyfriend (now fiance) nudged me towards the Art Center and CalArts booths. I submitted my work to both schools and CalArts accepted me into their Character Animation program shortly after that. I spent 4 grueling years at CalArts and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. I can’t say enough good things about the school, I learned SO much and have met so many amazing people.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Typically, whenever I’m not working on freelance, I’ll work on my CG modelling. I’m really trying to focus on that lately, because I really want to be able to bridge the gap between 2D and 3D. I feel like there’s a void between the mediums, and being able to translate designs effectively between the two is really what interests me.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I really love that I have flexibility in my schedule right now, so I’m able to work on personal projects on the side.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Gosh, I don’t know, I really have nothing I dislike right now. I wish I had more structure, I guess. I really liked having a 9-5 schedule because my day was very structured and I knew where I had to be and what I had to be doing. I have a good routine at home, but sometimes I wake up a little late!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Photoshop, Flash, ZBrush
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Politics. I’m not really into drama, I’d rather just keep on working.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve been to a TON of really amazing lectures at CalArts. Brad Bird, Andreas Deja, Pete Docter, James Baxter, Mark Andrews, Glen Keane, Chen Yi Chang, Joe Moshier, Tony Siruno.. really I could go on for hours, but those are the handful that really stood out to me. I think my favorite lecture was by Harald Siepermann.. I have a ridiculous art crush on he and Uli Meyer. Don’t tell my fiance.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I recently lost one of my best friends in a car accident. I think that’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever encountered. He was an amazing musician, and we would frequently support each other at gallery shows or concerts. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him, but I know he has my back and he’s watching out for me.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Horseback riding! I’ve been horse crazy my whole life.. so it was inevitable I’d get my own horse when I had the means. Currently, I have a 14-year-old Polish Arabian horse named Phantom, who resides in Chatsworth. I’ve had him for 9 years.. and we’ve been through a lot together. I also run the yearly Shark Week Sketch Jam on DA, and on http://sharkweeksketchjam.blogspot.com/. I’ve been drawing sharks for shark week for years, so I thought it might be cool to have a jam where everyone can submit their work into a big group and get to share their drawings with folks around the world. It’s been a BLAST, and it just keeps getting bigger! Come draw sharks with us this year!
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m an expert whistler. I can even whistle through my teeth.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Draw what makes you happy. Art is a fun, beautiful, inspirational thing and you should always be enjoying the process. Surround yourself with positive people and talented folks you admire, and ask lots of questions! Never get discouraged if you see an artist who you perceive as being better than you, you shouldn’t ever compare yourself to others because you’ll end up miserable… and being miserable is not what drawing is about. Experiment with different styles and always remember that whatever you create should be appealing.