What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Mary J. Sheridan and I am a 2D Effects Animator, I have been in the business for 25 years.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Cleaning an office space for a truck hauling company .
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My first feature was “All Dogs go to Heaven” at Sullivan Bluth Studios in Dublin, Ireland. It was my first job in animation and I was a trainee inker. My mentor was trained by Disney inkers and I got to see original cels from Sleeping Beauty which was all hand inked and learn the techniques of the old inking masters. My first job as an effects animator was with Steven Spielbergs animation studio Amblimation on the production “Balto”. It was a great experience and one which opened the door to working with DreamWorks SKG in Los Angeles.
How did you become interested in animation?
My uncle was a great fan of all cartoons, from Wile E Coyote & Roadrunner to Tom and Jerry to the great classics. He loved watching them all. Myself and my cousins would gather around him and laugh together. I remember Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of cereal, doesn’t get much better than that! Its a tradition I kept with my own son.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from Dublin, Ireland. When I graduated from art college I couldn’t find work so I left for London. Unknown to me, my mum submitted my college portfolio to Sullivan Bluth Studios and before I knew it I was offered my first job in animation!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Well I work freelance at the moment so it has to be very structured, I work from home. I like to work an eight hour day or more depending on production needs and deadlines. 1. cup of coffee 2. sharpen pencil 3. draw.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I get to draw and get paid for doing what I love. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with very talented artists and visionaries who to this day still keep the art of classical animation alive.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
The last day of a production is the toughest. I meet great people and its always sad to have to say goodbye, being part of a team and creating magic is a bonding experience. Meeting those same people again and sharing memories is always what keeps you going.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Well I am a traditional artist, my studio consists of an animation desk, a line tester, a 27inch imac with the latest software and from which I upload my work to remote servers, for approvals etc.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
I would say its the down time, being a freelance 2D artist in a 3D world is very challenging. You have to have the drive and faith in your talent to keep going and keep your passion alive. I have been blessed to be able to continue to make a living as an effects animator and to share that experience with other great artists.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Everyone I work with is an animation great! I have been very fortunate to work with some of the greatest names in animation to this day.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
I have realised in life that tough situations are learning experiences which guide us to new opportunities and remind us to always stay positive and believe in yourself.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I am an oil painter and a photographer, I have a website where you can check out my latest work and my animation
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I love browsing through thrift stores and collecting old things, I have been known to collect toys shhhhh
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
If you are planning on working in the animation biz , most commonly now the 3D world always have traditional work in your portfolio, draw and paint learn how light and textures work through painting and life-drawing. Take traditional classes in sculpting etc, look for intern opportunities. Â Go to conventions and meet with people in the business, make connections and keep up with changing trends. Stay ahead of the game and always respect who you work with and what you work on, its a small business and your reputation is what will make the difference if it comes down to hiring choices. Have fun and keep passionate!