Tom Riffel

 

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Tom Riffel, and currently I am working freelance, in addition to being a co-founder / content creator of the Toonocracy collective.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Most of my non-animation experience was either slinging coffee or slinging data. Well, entering data. Neither one super crazy, but I did have one data entry job where I was inputting the personal information of women prisoners into what was supposed to be a prison pen-pal website. Needless to say, some of this information was, ah… Highly inappropriate, despite their surveys specifically saying not to include anything R-rated. Also, at the coffee shop, people liked using the walls as toilet paper. Not really sure how that works.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
I’m very fortunate to say that I have been pretty consistently happy with most of the projects I have been on, but my absolute favorite job was working on The Problem Solverz at Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network is my goal, and being able to work on a series produced entirely in-house and with really great people was a dream come true.  A close second would be the last non-freelance job I had, which was at Hot House Productions, working on a pilot. Like The Problem Solverz, it was all done in-house with a small crew of great people.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I grew up in South Florida, but didn’t do anything animation-related until I moved to Chicago. Initially I wanted to be a director, so I went to Florida Atlantic University for film studies and ended up with a useless BA in communication. After an aimless year, I went back to school for animation. Post graduation (Part 2), I was able to get a job doing animation for an internet startup company, and then moved on to doing some digital animation and traditional clean up for Calabash Animation. A few years later, I took the plunge and moved to Los Angeles.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Currently, I wake up, make the long trek from the bedroom to my office, and get crackin’ on work in silence. When I’m working at a studio, Continue…

Andy Sykes

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Andy Sykes. I go by the name ‘Hexjibber’ onlline. I work as a part time lecturer at The University of Leeds, where I teach Animation and Digital Storytelling. I also work as a freelance commercial illustrator and animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I’ve worked as a visiting artist in schools. Working with kids is rewarding, but very frenetic and tiring. I’m lucky that most of my jobs have been related to art in one way or another.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I created 3 animated films with funding from Screen Yorkshire, called ‘Special Glue and Other Stories’. One of the films, ‘Stupid Table’ won the award for Best Short at Bradford Animation Festival in 2009. You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbkLwF8O7Jw, I have self-published 3 illustrated books. The first ‘The Hexjibber Colouring and Activity Book’, is a subversive activity book for adults. I created some bizarre adverts for it here: http://www.hexjibber.com/colouring-book/.’The Hexjibber Anti Revision Book’ is a creative procrastination book. ‘Hexjibber Hobbies Vol.1’, is a compilation of the first year of my illustrated blog http://hexjibberhobbies.blogspot.co.uk. I am currently working on Vol.2, which is a complete story, centring around my recent battle with insomnia. I enjoyed creating large scale interactive art projects for Light Night in Leeds. It is an art festival that takes place on the first Friday of October, involving installations, performance and projections. It is great get so many people involved in creating illustration and animation. You can see some video of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2xAmTbg34, I created the ident for the Bradford Animation Festival in 2010, with illustrations from Tom Wooley. It is Jekyll and Hyde meets 90s anime. You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wd0NIOuvbc

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Leeds, which is in the north of England, in the UK. Think Winterfell in Game of Thrones. It’s a bit like that:) I studied Interactive Arts in Manchester (which is also in England), where I worked mainly in animation. I taught myself Flash and started creating short animated films. It took me a long time after graduating before I started to make a living from it. I did some work for free for experience anywhere that I could find it. I created a lot of visuals for nightclubs and gradually started getting bits of paid work. Shortly after graduating, circa 2004, I applied for some production funding from NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) to make some ‘Pocket Shorts’. These were short films designed for mobile phones. These films started to get shown at festivals, which helped raise my profile a bit. Then I got some production funding from Screen Yorkshire to make ‘Special Glue and Other Stories’ in 2008. This did quite well at festivals and won an award. It has been a long drawn out process.

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Alen Esmaelian

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Alen Esmaelian and I work as a Background, Prop, and Character designer at Rough Draft Studios.

 

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve been working in this industry for 6 years and prior to that, I used work for Pizza Hut as a customer service representative (fancy way of saying that I used to take customer orders over the phone).

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Without a doubt, my proudest moment was working on Futurama alongside the very talented crew at Rough Draft Studios. I was particularly proud to see my finished designs for Bender’s robot monastery on episode nine of this current season.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born in Tehran, Iran but I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area (San Fernando Valley) since I was two. I started to exhibit a love for animation and design at the tender age of 5, when I used to Continue…

Stephen Brooks

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FII2N-t–0g

What is your name and your current occupation? 
Stephen Brooks, freelance animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Worked at a Saw Mill in Alaska, Vacuum Cleaner salesman in Florida, and Ski Instructor in New York.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
Moshi Monsters, I did all the character animation for Furi & Luvli. It was great to be apart of the beginning of the game and see it explode the way it has. I also did a teaser spot for Nate Quarry’s comic Zombie Cagefighter where I got to choreograph a fight AND animate a zombie attack simultaneously… which is just special.

How did you become interested in animation? 
On a trip to Disney World (or Land… one of them) I saw a demo of Continue…

Chris Burns

 

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Chris Burns, Owner and Lead Animator of EXIT 73 STUDIOS (exit73studios.com)

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
The craziest job I ever had, had to be a carpenter/roofer. I worked with a bunch of super manly, blue collar dudes, who’s life mission was to win concert tickets on the radio, and win pick 4 lotto. The money was good, and you couldn’t beat the hours, but I knew pretty early on, that I wanted to pursue a career in art.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
In 2007, when I was lead animator at AUGENBLICK STUDIOS, there was a stint of 3 projects that completely blew my mind. It started with the web series called GOLDEN AGE, which was a documentary style narrative of obscure cartoon characters from different time periods. From there we went on to animate a 4 minute cartoon for the feature film THE TEN, in a segment called THE LYING RHINO. Right after that we started animating the first episode of SUPERJAIL! It was really lightning in a bottle for the whole studio, we had a super tight team of very talented artist, pumping on all cylinders… It actually paved the way for the studio to go all the way to the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. THE TEN, and all the webisodes of GOLDEN AGE where proudly featured there. It was very surreal, as an animator, going into theaters and seeing your work so big with an audience.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from eastern Long Island, which made my choice to go to SVA very easy, being it was so close. I interned at a bunch of Animation studios, B3, NOODLE SOUP, WORLD LEADERS, and 4KIDS ENTERTAINMENT. NOODLE SOUP, provided me with Continue…

Ryan Ortgiesen


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 Continue…