What is your name and your current occupation?
I’m Chris Cookson and I am currently a freelance animator, I work in Flash mostly but sometimes I get some AfterEffects and Photoshop work. I’ve been lucky enough where everything I’ve done before animation has been some kind of visual based work. The first job I did out of high school was making animated assets for the LED sign demo room at Trans-Lux (yes, that Trans-Lux of the 1959 Felix the Cat cartoon). It was a uniquely fun experience, they had this old LaserDisc system that would trigger all kinds of signs to light up in cue to music and audio, the audio was very much a product of the ’80s but they wanted me to modernize the visuals and make some colorful stuff for their new centerpiece display. Apart from that, I’ve done a good amount of web design work in my formative years. One of my clients was a Cuban percussionist who was really into anime and kung-fu movies. He even offered to pay me for making his site with a samurai sword, which to 15-year-old me, was the coolest thing ever. Though, if I were to ever come home with a samurai sword, my parents would probably kill me, likely with that very same samurai sword.
In terms of cool projects, a psychedelic TV ad for Linda McCartney’s line of frozen vegan foods has been really satisfying. What I loved was the ad had a different style than the usual aesthetic I get but had a lot of understated weirdness and quite a few distinct shots to work on. I got to meet Paul McCartney’s son-in-law and Rick Astley’s wife while on the project too which made me geek out pretty hard. A couple of months after I finished work on the spot, I started to see posts about it show up on sites like Motionographer, The Huffington Post and was linked by a lot of the sites I follow on Twitter, which made me feel real warm and fuzzy on the inside. I’m also really proud of a lot of the smaller commercial projects I have worked on at Shoulderhill Creative. For those, it’s great to work with a couple of my classmates from art school and since it’s not a part of a giant team, I feel a lot more creative ownership over what I’m making. It’s absolutely wonderful to have a chance to work more within my own style and have more room to experiment with the colors and see what kind of little visual jokes I can put in to the advertisement. Other projects like William Caballero’s documentary short film “How You Doin’ Boy? Voicemails from Gran’pa” were really great to be a part of. For that, he wanted me to make a squiggly text treatment based off of his grandfather’s handwriting to go up on screen in sync with actual answering machine messages left from his grandfather. Having the freedom to design the word treatment, as well as play around with text sizes was really fulfilling, the tone of some of the messages allowed me to really go crazy in some spots too, pushing the graphic element of it, trying to get it to match his grandfather’s own personal tone.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Stamford, CT and I’ve always wanted to either be a cartoonist or animator for pretty much my entire life. I taught myself how to use Flash when I was 12-years-old and would constantly look for an excuse to use it any chance I had, whether it be for making buttons or logos on the aforementioned web design projects I got or making short films whenever the opportunity arose. After making more and more stuff, over the years, my skills started to Continue…