What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Shaun Bryant and I am a character designer currently doing freelance work in Austin TX.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I had a gig as a sign holding Santa for a florist in upstate NY. Thankfully they had a warm greenhouse I could thaw out in.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
There have been a lot of fun projects, but the one that I think I am most proud of so far is creating a cast of fun characters for the Texas Dept. of Agriculture. They were used in television and print ads promoting healthy eating among school children.
How did you become interested in animation?
Comic books, Saturday morning cartoons, and Disney movies fueled my creativity as a kid and made me want to come up with my own characters and stories.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
My dad was in the Navy so we moved around a bit. We settled in upstate NY when I was around 8 years old. As a kid it was awesome to be able to live in an area with so many beautiful trees and mountains. It was a great place to build your imagination. I got into animation after studying at the Joe Kubert School and Full Sail University.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I am between jobs now so its all about staying sharp, and trying to build my artistic muscles while getting my name out there. My routine is in the morning I grab a coffee and scan facebook, twitter, and a few of my favorite art blogs for inspiration. Then I pick a topic and draw, draw, draw. In the afternoon I try to draw on livestream.com and share what knowledge I have with the people who are watching. In the evening after making dinner for my wife and me, I grab another coffee, and draw a little bit more before crashing for the night.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I love creating new ideas, and tearing them down to make them better. One of the biggest things I miss being a freelancer, is that collaboration in the studio, everyone working together to make the idea or story better.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I have worked a lot of non art related jobs and compared to them there isn’t much I dislike. The thing I find the hardest is trying to get noticed. Images have such a short shelf life and there is a sea of artists out there now and distinguishing yourself is getting harder and harder. I just try to keep at it and draw as much as I can every day.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I go between digital and traditional quite a bit. In my digital work I use a Wacom Cintiq 12w and mainly Adobe Photoshop CS5, sometimes I also use Maya and Zbrush to create character designs, backgrounds, or turnarounds for difficult characters. In my traditional work I use a lot of pilot brush pens, col-erase colored pencils, uniball gel pens. Lately I have been experimenting with unconventional mediums and have created my own sketchbooks out of grocery bags and cardboard boxes.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The lack of job security is the most difficult to deal with. It is hard to make plans when you don’t know how long the work is going to last.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Going to the Kubert school allowed me to meet a lot of comic greats! Going over your work with Joe Kubert is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Also I can’t say enough about the CTN expo, I met and was able to listen to so many inspirational artists there Moebius, Chris Sanders, Don Bluth, Bobby Chui, Sherm Cohen, and Stephen Silver to name a few. If you love animation check it out for sure!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
This past year has been my toughest, with long stretches where no work was available. I am sure it will turn around, I am just paying my dues and soldiering on.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
Recently I have been holding a livestream where I do my daily sketching and answer questions about my process. People also send me their designs and I do paint-overs and give design tips and tricks. It has been a lot of fun interacting with viewers and sharing what knowledge I have picked up.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
My useless talent is that I have a knack for remembering faces. Movies and TV are fun because I pester my wife by asking if she knows what else this actor/actress was in then I cite the bit parts they played in TV shows or movies we saw years ago. I am like a walking talking IMDB
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
First, be confident in your skills and practice every day to keep them sharp. It is easy to get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself because you aren’t as good as “insert name here” artist, but the only way to get better is to consistently work harder than that artist. So draw, draw, draw! Second, put your work out there for people to see. Start a blog, a youtube page, a flickr page,a facebook page, or a thread on an art forum and post your work frequently. Immerse yourself in the animation community.