Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?
My answer’s probably not all that riveting. I mean…I grew up with anime, so I loved animation, but I never specifically knew anything about the process. I almost went into optometry until my high school art teacher convinced me that I should pursue art. My parents emphasized that they didn’t want me to go into fine art because I’ll likely end up begging on the streets, so animation was the middle-ground somewhat practical choice that was a trending profession at the time. I actually went to school for 3D animation, and probably walked out with an identity crisis on what I actually wanted to do haha.
Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
RYAN ARRINGTON.As far as how I got started, other than my dad getting me into art when I was a wee babe, I rarely kept track of the artists’ names. Mostly identifying series styles got me pumping out art in my golden years. Final Fantasy 7-9 (Especially 9), Digimon, DN Angel, Naruto, Samurai Champloo, Sailor Moon, a few CLAMP series, etc.
These days, I love works from Kim Jung Gi, Brosa Sergio, Seung Eun Kim, Mauro Belfiore just to name a few. There’s so many!!
Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?
Samurai Champloo by far~
Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble finding a job?
It’s a tough industry for sure and you’d be super lucky to get in without some mental struggles. If you really want it, all you can do is to continue grinding out what you personally love to work on to curate your portfolio. It’s better to work on what you’re passionate about and improve that way over trying so hard to be what everyone else is trying to be in order to secure a job. Networking is a big one. I used to hate the idea of networking because I always felt it meant asking for a handout, but now I realize that was totally the wrong way to think. You want to pick the brains of professionals, ask them in-depth questions on what they do to show how eager you are to learn. Follow up with them and maybe if you’re brave, ask if they’d be willing to review your portfolio. Just be genuine! My biggest emphasis with people is to not wait around for your portfolio to be perfect before applying. Companies won’t always be hiring when you’re ready to apply and your portfolio will never be perfect to you. Keep adding things to your portfolio regularly and apply along the way and eventually an opportunity will arise.
Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation?
I can’t say I’ve had a specific interesting story. I started out as an aspiring manga-ka on deviantArt, then getting into 3D animation and more Disney-esque styles, then I wanted to pursue concepting for games, and now here I am, back to my anime roots! I’d really like to continue transforming my art into drastically different styles and see if something sticks with me, and then maybe I’ll have a better story to tell.
Q: What’s it like working in Austin? And how is the creative community here?
I’m a natural born Texan, though not from Austin. I’ve only been here for about a year so I haven’t gotten to discover everything it has to offer, but it’s also quite overwhelming how many activities I have at my disposal! I’m currently mostly friends with my coworkers so I’d say it’s been excellent for creative endeavors!
Q: What is the best part about your job and working on the show?
I’ve complained a few times in the past that I just wanted a job that will push me to learn more and I’ve really lucked out finding it here. Being surrounded by such top notch humble talent forces me to be more proactive in keeping up with my skills!
Q: What do you love most about working on Powerhouse Projects?
I think I’m most excited to see my work get translated through the pipeline. I don’t generally get to see my characters move, so it’s super satisfying to see how the storyboarders will breathe life into a still model, which eventually turns goes into a cleaned and composited animation for the world to see!
Q: What is your favorite Powerhouse project that you’ve worked on?
Seis Manos, just because it’s the office’s passion project and the overall attitude of the production is incredibly positive with a wonderful sense of team spirit. They really make you feel appreciated and it keeps me extremely motivated to do better~
Q: Most challenging part of working at Powerhouse?
One of the more challenging hurdles that I notice coming up regularly is communication for the sake of continuity. Since we work between different departments (characters, backgrounds, and storyboards), it can get tricky to know who’s responsible for communicating to who what has changed, since it happens so often and so quickly. It can get quite overwhelming, but it’s cool to see us find solutions to bridge the communication gaps by bringing up suggestions and also individually taking on additional responsibilities.
Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?
The longer we work, the punnier we get.
Q: If you could be any anime character who would it be and why?
I’ve never truly had to think about this, but my elementary school friends and I used to pretend to be Digimon characters and I always identified as Tai. I love being the leader type and it’d be great to protect the digital world with a digital dinosaur pal!
About the Author
Hailing from "Parts Unknown" Virginia, Ryan scoured the United Stated searching for a place to call home. After a short stint in the "Entertainment Capital of the World" Ryan wandered into Austin with nothing but a Gameboy Color, his Star Wars Blu-Ray Collection, and too much hair product. Now a Production Coordinator at Powerhouse Animation, Ryan works all across the board on studio projects. A word of caution though, there are rumors that if you look in the mirror and say his name three times he will appear behind you and beg you to watch the Prequels with him.