What is your name and current occupation?
My name is RJ Palmer and I am a freelance illustrator and concept artist.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Before getting into these work I never really had any other real jobs. The only thing I did was occasionally split and sell fire wood at home for some extra cash when I was in high school.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorite projects that I’ve worked on are ones I cannot talk about yet. Though outside of those I have been working on a video game pitch with some friends and am very proud of that work so far.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always drawn for as long as I can remember, it’s just who I am. So there was never a moment really when I decided I wanted to draw for a living, it was always just assumed. Though,
initially I did want to be a paleontologist, this thinking changed when I realized they didn’t just draw dinosaurs all day.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from a small town in the California redwoods called Boulder Creek. Currently I live in San Francisco as I still attend art school to some extent. I would like to thank Allison Theus for getting my first official contract work at Fantasy Flight Games. That was really the first professional work I had a chance to work on.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Being a freelance artist, my days differ wildly from one another. So long as I’m meeting deadlines and drawing in general, my schedule is fairly loose, especially in regards to when I wake up.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Definitely the best part of my job is looking back at something I just completed and admiring that I was able to pull that off.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The worst part of my job is not being able to show work until a long time after I’ve completed it.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I really just use Adobe Photoshop on my iMac for all of my work. I’ve got a second monitor and an iPad full up with references or movies running to help out with my workflow. Certainly one of the nicer things about illustration is not being committed to using a huge assortment of programs to get the job done.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I’d say the most difficult part is when a piece you’re working on is really just not turning out the way you wanted and you still have to finish it. Those can be the longest hours of your life when you’re slogging through a project you really just don’t like anymore.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve attended Massive Black’s Workshop SF the past two years and have met dozens of great working artists. I even got to meet and get my portfolio reviewed by a few of my idols; Jason Chan, Wes Burt, and Kekai Kotaki.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
The toughest situation I’ve probably had is coming to the realization that I wasn’t that good. Every kid who draws kind of decently gets something of an inflated sense of self worth, especially coming from a small town. When I was 15, I discovered deviantART and was met with what it really takes to be a good artist. It was certainly eye opening and I have been working hard ever since to attain that greatness.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Like I mentioned earlier I have been working on a video proposal for a while now with some friends. We have been world building and testing gameplay concepts for a while now. Its really more of a hobby project set as a long term goal, but I am very proud of the work I’ve done on it.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
One of my greatest hobbies, which seems to be less common these days, is just researching and learning. I love learning about a part in history or type of new animal I was unaware of. I can sometimes lose whole days to wikipedia. It has all become very useful to me however in my line of work. There is no greater source of inspiration than the real world.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The best advice I can give is to just keep doing it and be social, at least on the internet. Get your name out there, don’t be afraid to show your work to anyone. Always be carrying some method of self promotion, be it your portfolio on your smart phone or even just a business card. Just always be ready to sell yourself.
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