Lori Hammond

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Hello my name is Lori Hammond and until recently I was the Program Director for Animation at a local Film school. Currently I am an Artist/ an Instructor/ a Consultant/and an Events coordinator for a couple of companies related to Animation & VFX industry.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before getting into the animation industry I suppose Barista of alcohol, could be “crazy” on certain nights with certain customers. (Laughing) especially since at the time I did not drink.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorite projects are perhaps “Princess and the Frog” working as a Training Specialist on that movie.  At Disney I was able to work with some amazing artists, as a trainer I got to work with Layout, Animation, EFX, Color stylist, etc. it was an amazing time teaching classes for the Disney Academy. I actually got to teach some of the greats such as Glenn Keane on some of the software for the production.  I also enjoyed a small short animation project that was started at Disney and is currently finishing up production called “Mila” by Cinzia Angelini, helping this production connect with some upcoming talent and watching that project develop has been amazing.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
Originally, I am from Illinois and I received my BFA at Northern Illinois University, where my major was Painting. I moved to New York after my undergrad days and attended Pratt Institute where I majored in Digital Arts with a focus on 3D Animation. I loved the fact that as an artist, not only could I develop more work from my original painted vision, but I could also get into that world and make things move.  When I graduated Pratt Institute in 2004 I moved to LA and took a temp job at Disney Interactive. It was at Disney Interactive (Buena Vista Video Games at the time) where I met my first connections into the industry. A lovely lady that worked there shared a link to a Disney job as a Training Specialist and I applied to this position.  I was shocked and amazed to get a call back within several minutes of my applying, even more amazed to find out that hundreds of people had applied for that position. I felt blessed and I have been teaching, training and working in production for TV, Feature Animation and in Education ever since.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well that depends on the job, recently my typical day as a Program Director of Animation consists of scheduling/budgeting/administrative issues (which is not the fun stuff of animation). But the day also consists of Game Fairs, Animation Festivals, student project development and working with amazing faculty that train and inspire students to their fullest potential. Currently I am working on a couple of events coming up for animation & VFX and that is a lot of fun; inspiring the students to do their best work helps to have a healthy competition.  For these events I love networking and bringing in special guest speaker in the industry to mentor/inspire the young emerging artists I find that this helps them see and understand the industry from those that have lived it and are creating amazing work on daily basis.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Again I’d have to say which job? As an instructor it is seeing the student develop and being able to find their voice, being able to put an aesthetic language together and achieving their dreams.  As an Artist myself it is the pure act of creation. The balance and joy I find in being able to express myself is what I want others to feel. With some of my past “jobs” I loved working as a team on such movies as “Bolt” and “Princess and the Frog” to feel a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie in a job, that is a great thing!

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The corporate part of any job is the part I like the least, I am an artist in my heart and in my soul and the politics and policies and the lack of understanding of the ARTS/Animation/VFX etc. by the corporation at times can be very heartbreaking and frustrating.

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?
The technology software that I am most familiar with is Maya, (that is my most preferred and favorite software) I have also used Zbrush, Nuke, Houdini, AfterEffects and of course Photoshop, Illustrator etc. For myself, I have been Director for the last 4 years so I am looking to brush up in some of those software packages very soon. I do a lot of drawing and painting and plan on having a show of my own Art work very soon as well. Technology changes but the foundations of Art, the aesthetics and theory are the same, if you know these you are much better off. Anyone can learn technology, not everyone can be an artist.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Once again that would be the corporate policies that come down on the artist. Finishing a production many artists are laid off or in education positions are ‘restructured’ and combined. The artist often takes the brunt of these budget cuts when in fact the company itself is still making money. I have been on both the artist side and the corporate side, but I find the “heart of the arts” is in the people that create the art and I think sometimes, those people’s contributions are overlooked.

If you could change the way the business works and is run how would
you do it?
Wow! That is a loaded question and a very difficult one. I think that the business is already changing…for the arts/animation/VFX industry I would say that mentorship/ apprenticeship programs are successful and should be implemented more. I see a large percentage of small start ups happening in Animation/VFX. I see artist teaching and selling their experience to smaller groups of emerging artists. I also see artists/animators going straight to YouTube and social media and selling their work online. I see the large studios starting to look like relics with ancient believes run by corporations and people at the top that don’t really understand the artist. I see artist getting frustrated with this and taking their work into their own hands. Their dreams into their own hands. The lucrative field of animation and VFX is in the unique voice, the unique soul of the artist. Not run down re-runs of “once great movie” ideas…how many times are we going to want to see the same thing over and over again?

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
That depends on what you mean by greatness…have I worked with great animators yes, do I think my self great? Well I love myself and my artwork as it stems from my heart. I would say people from my home town or people looking at my background might thing “wow” but I see everyone and myself included that works on art/animation/VFX as great in the fact that they are visionaries, dreamers and idealists most with a connection to the politics and world views of the times but also most just connected to the “source”. Where their is hope and light their is an artist dreaming.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
My life has not been easy at all, I’d prefer not to discuss these struggles actually because I think that everyone has had their share of discouraging times and hills and mountains to overcome on a daily basis. I have had illness, lost love, lost jobs, lost parents, lost family, and struggles with even getting out of bed in the morning due to illness, but I believe that their are reasons that we go through struggles, because the growth and change from those struggles takes us to places that expand our experience and our spiritual mind. I believe there is light in the most darkest of times.

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Currently I am finishing a group of paintings (12 total) for an upcoming show. I am also working on a couple of festivals coming up, with companies such as Toon Boon presenting a few workshops on Storyboarding and Harmony. I post details of the events via my Facebook and LinkedIN profiles feel free to check them out and like my page.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
NO cherry stem with my tongue but I did do some metal working as an undergrad.
I made a really cool throwing star with horse head designs. Other than that, not sure if its unusual but I took archery and studied Bala and Tap Dancing as a kid and I also love rollerblading and biking.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Really have a passion for what you do, be kind, work well with others, and network! Realize that software is just a medium; that the true artist knows composition, balance, color, design aesthetics, theory, history and a bit of acting. Not to mention, as well as the many latest designs in architecture, industrial design, graffiti art, jewelry, fashion, etc. Be Worldly and be open for criticism, you must fail a million times before you will be successful. All artists have failed at some point…it is yin and yang, it is balance. Do not be discouraged.
Also look to other areas outside of the big corporations, do not believe that a project is to small, it could just be the next big thing! Be OPEN to new and innovative techniques and ideas and do not plagiarize be original. You WANT to share your voice, be sure you have something to say. Know yourself as an artist and a person first.

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