What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Dave Wolfe. I recently started a game company called Cosmic Games, and these days I spend most of my time programming.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I never really had any crazy jobs, but in high school I was a telemarketer and during college I did tech support for a dial-up ISP. Both jobs were pretty terrible but they paid better than most part time jobs.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I think the show I’m most proud of working on was Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends for Cartoon Network. I was introduced to it while in school and loved it, I never imagined I’d be working on it just a few years later. I also really enjoyed working on Slammo & Sloshie for AOL even though the final product didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always loved animation, I grew up watching Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, and I would draw my own cartoons all over every scrap of paper I could find.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Virginia, near Washington DC. I started out by modding Quake and Quake 2. I made a really bad model of the Predator to replace the player model in Quake, and I was hooked. There was no animation classes at my college, so I emailed a few animators at Pixar and ILM to ask for some advice. All of them said to drop out of school and use the tuition money to buy a computer and a copy of Lightwave or 3ds Max. So I took their advice, and a year later I was doing some indie game art, some logo animation, and eventually got fulltime job modeling engineering components for training software. I decided I wanted to focus on character animation so I took a 1 year classical animation course at VanArts. We had a class on Flash animation and I loved it, and a few months after graduating I moved to Los Angeles and joined the team at Animax.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I pretty much just write and debug code all day and try to keep my dog from getting too bored. I do occasionally spend some time doing business stuff or doing game art. Some of the games I have planned for the future will have heavier art requirements so I’ll probably be spending more time doing animation again.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like that I’m my own boss, and I’m working on my own games. It’s really great to not have to deal with picky clients, directors that don’t know what they want, constantly changing project requirements, etc.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The non-creative things that come with owning a business, like accounting and taxes.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I use Flash, Photoshop, and Illustrator for 2d artwork, Lightwave and Messiah for 3d, Audacity for sound fx, and for coding I use FDT, Visual Studio, and MonoDevelop.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The toughest part of being in animation is worrying about your next job. It can be hard to find long term work, and you never know when the show you’re on is going to be cancelled.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I know it sounds cheesy, but just about everyone I’ve worked with has been amazing. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredibly talented people.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
There were a couple years where I was trying to make a living as a freelance game artist for indie game studios and it was very difficult finding work and getting paid.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Well my side project has turned into a full time job, at least for now 🙂
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Nothing unusual, but I do enjoy adventure touring on my motorcycle and one day I’d like to ride around the world.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be persistent! And you have to be a tough critic of your own work. Your friends and family are likely to tell you that your work is amazing, so take their praise with a grain of salt 🙂 Never stop pushing yourself to do better.