What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Ryan Ortgiesen. I’m a freelance animator and director in Brooklyn, NY. Thank you for this opportunity, Mike.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’m not sure “crazier” is the right word. Hmmm, maybe zanier. I’ve had a lot of terrible jobs including foundation repair, digging trenches and evicting people from their homes. I’d say the worst was when I worked on this vineyard in France. I chopped wood for six hours a day, put up scaffolding on a five story castle with no safety equipment and was eventually fired. Longest week of my life. It was just like that one episode of The Simpsons.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Thus far, I’ve mostly worked for clients doing smaller project and some work for Cartoon Network. My proudest work is my own personal projects because I feel most passionately about the ideas and look. Passion will always spawn greatness within yourself.
How did you become interested in animation?
Being a product of the late 80’s-early 90’s, I was inundated with a barrage of fantastically crappy cartoons, particularly “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and possibly a little “Jem” thrown in there (she was, after all, truly outrages). When I was around 4 years old, I would create full 20-page comics with these awesome characters, and since I couldn’t write too well, I would explain the panels to my Mom who would type it up. I wish I was still that creative; I think I’ve lost a lot of brain cells. Later on, my influences were Ralph Bakshi, John K and awesome graphics I’d see on the backs of skateboard decks.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from The Great Northwest, particularly Gig Harbor, WA. I didn’t become interested in pursuing animation until college. Despite Matt Groening going there, my college wasn’t particularly known for animation, so most of what I’ve learned I taught myself. I still have a long way to go and a lot more to learn but that only sparks my interest in the possibilities. Recently moving to NY, I’m still trying to get involved with the animation community, so most of my clients I’ve met over the internet.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
My day starts at about 4:30am with my cat incessantly meowing for food, which leaves me a little groggy when I wake up slightly later for work. The rest of the day is like every other freelancer, looking for work, working on work, checking email and drinking coffee for work…..If it just wasn’t for that jerk cat.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Every aspect of animation is pretty rad. Character design, the small intricacies of fluid motion and expressing emotion through color variation and line thickness, all very interesting . Manifesting a living character out of an idea is always really satisfying. Animators are like real life wizards!
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Working from home can become maddening. Inking is not my favorite part of the animation process, especially in Flash. It seem like they would have improved the brush tool by now, but apparently it’s just gotten worse. Pretty much everything that doesn’t involve the actual creative process is less appealing, but in comparison to some of the other jobs I’ve had, my least favorite parts are still awesome.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I wake up to a digital clock, then utilize Flash, Photoshop, After Effects, Final Cut, and then a couple of screens. One of them you can draw on but both of them burn my retinas.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Being a freelancer, it can be difficult to find clients. Then it can be difficult to get said money from client. Sometimes I have the mob break their legs, sometimes I don’t involve the mob.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Hmmmm, not really. I did get drunk with some of the heads at Titmouse once. That was pretty cool.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Besides my cat meowing, everything’s been pretty much peaches and cream.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
If it’s not a clients project, I always have a couple of projects I’m working on. I seem to have too many ideas to feasibly complete…..I mean, it’s a secret.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
Writing this makes me realize I need to get more hobbies and talents. I’ve been skateboarding for about 14 years, so I’m decent at that. Also, I can turn cherry stems into gold with my tongue.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Be excellent to each other.