What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Kyle A Carrozza and I’m seeking new storyboard artist work. (I have to state my unemployment loudly, or people will assume I’m working and I’ll miss out on work. This has been my experience lately.)
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing super interesting. I used to scan volumes of encyclopedias for digital archiving. I spent quite a while working for a company that bills for ER doctors.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Getting to do my own short, MooBeard the Cow Pirate for Nickelodeon/Frederator for their “Random! Cartoons” show so early on was quite a thrill. Working on “Fanboy & Chum Chum” was tough at times, but a really great gig. I hope someday Nickelodeon airs the episodes I storyboarded. I’m very proud of how far my webcomic, Frog Raccoon Strawberry has come from where it started. I’m a huge proponent of learning by making things, and Strawberry has certainly helped me do that. A webcomic is a good place for trial and error.
How did you become interested in animation?
I found that interest very early on just being a kid watching what was on. I watched lots of cartoons as a kid, and I remember one specific day when I was watching some 40s Looney Tunes on the Albany UHF channel 23 (before it became a Fox affiliate) and thinking “THAT. That’s what I want to do!” I remember thinking, “Ok, I can’t draw like that, but I’ll do my closest approximation” and I made a bunch of the characters’ heads out of construction paper. That was the defining moment. I’ve never looked back.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Catskill, in upstate NY. It’s a quiet little mountain town. Too quiet. I was bored out of my mind, so I drew constantly. For a couple summers in high school, I stayed with my grandparents in Long Island and took animation classes from a guy named Brian Mitchell who had worked just about everywhere by then. I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia on a full-tuition scholarship and then went to work at a CD Rom studio in Connecticut called Funnybone Interactive. After that dried up, I made the big move out to California. This was just after 9/11 so getting my foot in the door was incredibly difficult. I didn’t have any luck until Frederator decided to pick up my short. After that, I worked for about a year on the ABCMouse website. I joined the second season Fanboy & Chum Chum crew as a storyboard revisionist and moved up to storyboard artist partway through.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
That certainly varies both from job to job and to what stage the storyboard has progressed. Like any artist, I might be in more of a mood to do one aspect or another at a given moment and I try to shoot for whatever will enable me to make the most progress in a day. For example, I might have a day where I’m better off blasting through with rough drawings and cleaning them up later. Other times, I’m happier laboring on a drawing until it’s clean. On Fish Hooks, which was an outline-based show, if I wasn’t happy with the way I was drawing that day, I could stop and write some dialogue for the next scene. I try to keep an even pace as best I can, but naturally there are fast days and slow days. They’re unavoidable, but I try to avoid having that scramble to get everything done just before the deadline. I don’t like working insane hours. It doesn’t bring my best work out of me. I’d rather keep a steady pace while I’m there.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I’m happiest when I get to draw a lot of character acting. I don’t mind when there’s a lot of dialogue if I get to draw a lot of emotions and I enjoy the challenge of making dialogue chunks interesting to look at.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I don’t care for it when in a script there’s something that will take a lot of man hours and pain to draw, but will very obviously be cut. If a bit is both no fun to draw, isn’t especially funny, and contributes nothing to the story, it might not be the first part I work on.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Finding new work. Unless they’re publicly announced, I always seem to be the last to find out about new gigs. Half the Fanboy crew is on Wander Over Yonder, but I missed out because everyone thought I was still at Fish Hooks. The gaps between jobs just kill me. I’m not good at being unemployed. Besides gradually getting poor, which is of course no fun for anybody, I’m much happier when I’m working at a lively studio full of brilliant people. That drives me to do better work on my personal projects when I get home from work. It’s harder to get inspired when I sit home alone. It’s easier to succumb to the lure of the wonders of the internet when I’m unsupervised at home.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?– Cintiqs are amazing. I’m now more comfortable drawing with a Cintiq than I am on paper. Programs like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, and Flash are a given. A little off the beaten path, my little Apple devices are a huge help as well. Having an iPod Classic that can hold just about every song I’ve ever heard enables me to have music (or podcasts, or standup comedy) for whatever my mood might be in an instant.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve gotten to meet a lot of my childhood heroes, and while not exclusively so, it’s been mostly positive. I always love seeing Doug TenNapel around and we had some interesting conversations at Random! Cartoons. Also at Random!, I requested Jeff Degrandis to direct my short since I’m a huge fan of his work with Bill Kopp, and they graciously provided him. That was great. Being recognized by Vince Waller in public places is delightfully surreal. I think my favorite example of a brush with animation greatness was getting to work with Ken Mitchroney at Fanboy & Chum Chum and have him give me his filmmaking crash course. I grew up on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Mighty Mutanimals comics which contain my favorite drawings ever. It was by chance that I got moved up to Storyboard Artist just as another director was getting promoted and they brought Ken in. He’s not a guy who minds telling stories about where he’s worked, so I’m a happy nerd. I’ve had the chance to work with Tom Kenny a few times. He’s a guy I can geek out with for hours on end. If you want to see me running around Tom’s house with a Spongebob outfit on, go to YouTube and search for “Ridin’ the Hook”!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Honestly, I’d rather not focus on one. I know nobody loves a good complain like a cartoonist, but I’m just not interested in that. Drama’s a waste of time. There’s too much fun out there to be had and stuff to be made.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
As I mentioned earlier, I do a weekly webcomic called Frog Raccoon Strawberry which updates every Friday at Dummcomics.com. I make it with my friends John Berry and Aron Shay and it’s sort of our playground for storytelling. I also record catchy, bizarre songs. You can hear them at tvskyleband.com and I post a new one monthly at thefump.com. I’ve been a hardcore Nintendo fan since 1988 and I’ve been getting into tokusatsu lately.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can move my hand in different unusual ways, including bending my pinky all the way back and pushing my hand forward. I can do a lot of voices. If voice overs didn’t seem like such a nightmarish thing to pursue, I’d consider going in that direction.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business? LEARN BY DOING. Don’t sit around waiting to be good enough or study yourself into the stone age. Studying is great, but if you don’t apply it to anything, what’s the point? Also, get out and be social! Have life experiences and try new things! If you hope to be any kind of storyteller, you have to get out and live.