James Bowman

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What is your name and your current occupation?
3D Animator and 3D Animation Educator –
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I had a number of jobs before getting into 3D Animation. After undergrad I worked at a video store, then became a substitute teacher, worked as a sports and youth sports director at a YMCA, and finally before heading on to pursue my career in animation I was a photo retoucher at a camera store.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’m very proud of my last finished film called “The Question”, which deals with a question mark character named Joe, who longs to find himself and become an exclamation point. My favorite project is my very first film called “Life’s Journey”. I’ve come a long way since completing this film in 2002, but it always inspires me to keep going.

How did you become interested in animation?
I first became inspired by animation when I first saw the film, Watership Down. Being about five or six, I know I was too young to see this film. But

beyond the profanity and violence, I just fell in love with the story, the colors, the music, and the characters. It also didn’t hurt that my older brothers were artist as well, whom I always tried to follow in everything they did.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Columbus, Ohio, but moved to New York City to study 3D Animation, and hopefully break into the industry.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
It truly depends on what I’m doing. When it comes to my personal work, I work on what’s needed to be completed in my pipeline. I’m currently finishing my modeling and texturing for my current film called “Kassi”. Outside of that, I’m writing the larger story, for which “Kassi” is a part of. When I’m teaching, I look for ways to enhance the lessons, then engage the students in discussion and critique. All in all, I’m trying to stay on top of and improve my creative skills. You can see a little of my creative work and some sample works of my students.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I consider myself an animator, and just enjoy observing and creating movement. But I almost enjoy teaching animation more than creating it.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
I used to loathe rigging. But now, I kind of enjoy the challenge of creating a character rig that makes it easier to animate.

What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I primarily work with Autodesk Maya. But I’ve expanded into working a little with 3DS Max, Mudbox, and Sculptris. I also work with Audacity, Gimp, Music Maker 16, and Vegas Movie Studio.

What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The hardest part about this industry is the instability. Most 3D Animation positions are contract, and there is always that fear of having to look for the next job. I remember right before 9/11, there was this bright eyed sense among my classmates, that we would all get well paid, full-time jobs after graduation. After 9/11, it just seemed that the industry changed to a more freelance industry.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Well, my first film was screened at a number of film festivals throughout the US. And from those screenings, I received a number of distribution offers. The offers weren’t for much money, but they and the festival screenings, were a validation that I was doing the right thing.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Within the last ten years, having to deal with underemployment, family sickness, high cost of living, student debt, and self doubt from rejection. (Although this could possibly apply to any animator)

Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Like I stated earlier, I’m working on a short film called “Kassi”. This is a part of a larger series, which I choose not to fully go into at this time. Just be on the lookout in the future.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
It’s not unusual, but I can play the trombone.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Study your craft and get to know as many people in the industry as you can. Most jobs may not necessarily come from your talents, but moreso by who you know.

 

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