Featured Artist: Stephen Stark

A picture of Stephen pointing at Stephen. Yes, he is that important.
  • Q: Where did you go to school?
  • I stumbled my way into The College for Creative Studies in Detroit and met a whole bunch of people way smarter than me that helped refine what I wanted to do with art. Special shoutout to Dave for teaching me to love my art.
  • Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?
  • Honestly it wasn’t until Powerhouse that I even considered it. I wasn’t super knowledgeable about the industry, and thus assumed there was no place in animation for backgrounds that looked painterly like the ones we use in our shows. 2 years here, I am incredibly happy to have been wrong.
  • Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
  • Myself.
  • Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?
  • The Iron Giant for sure. It can be fun, heartbreaking, and is set in a fascinating/horrid period of America. 
  • Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble finding a job?
  • There’s a weird pressure in our culture that heavily implies you have to find your footing in an industry before you’re 30 or no one will want you. I’ve met so many professional artists that didn’t get their big break until after they were 30. I myself grinded away at forgettable tabletop RPG art that paid $100 per full illustration for 2 years before I got in with Powerhouse. It sucked, but it was what it was. These industries are tough to break through, but they are not impenetrable, and whether it takes you one year or ten, I know you have the capability to get in here. Please do not blame yourself for not getting in. You’re probably way more skilled than you’re giving yourself credit for, and just need certain things to align for you. I legitimately hope someone reads this and takes it to heart, and hopefully we can work together in the future. For now, continue doing the best you can.
  • Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation? 
  • I read a Teen Titans comic when I was like 12, decided I wanted to take up this whole drawing thing, got mad that I sucked and didn’t try again for like 4 years. I got back in, drew a bunch of anime stuff and then discovered this thing called “painting” and was like woah that’s neat lemme try that. Like 10 years or something like that later and I got okay at the whole painting thing and worked pretty boring illustration gigs until my former teacher rang me up one day to yell at me to apply to Powerhouse. 2 years later and they’ve for some reason allowed me to remain working here despite my best efforts. 
  • Q: What’s it like working in Austin? And how is the creative community here?
  • It’s 100 degrees everyday and I want to die. Other than that it’s really cool, you could spit in any direction and there’s probably some incredible food within 2 miles of you.
  • The creative scene here is cool, there’s a growing number of incredibly skilled studios like Rooster Teeth, Bioware, Arkane, etc so there’s a ton of creative people that are just willing to talk about cool stuff like art, philosophy, our growing hellscape, etc.
  • Q: What is the best part about your job and working on Castlevania?
  • I sit next to one of my best friends Sean Randolph who also happened to go to the same college I did. We talk to each other while working about the dumbest stuff and I apologize so much to the rest of our room for having to deal with us, we’re sorry. Oh the painting part is cool too. We’re given lots of free reign on what we can design for the show and Sam & Adam are always open to hearing cool ideas. 
  • Q: What do you love most about Castlevania?
  • I love how well the villains are treated in the show. They aren’t some stock bad for bad’s sake type of villains. Society at large has damaged these characters differently, and thus they all have very different views of the world. I think it’s important to have your character’s motivations not solely be driven by personal feelings, but shaped partly due to the world they live in.
  • Q: Who is your favorite character?
  • I think Isaac is a pretty complex character and his relationship with Dracula was one of my favorite things from season 2. 
  • Q: Most challenging part of working on Castlevania?
  • I think I want to push myself to be a better visual designer for sure. All of my coworkers have an incredible visual library and I often feel like I’m running to catch up. I will eventually though, but it really does take a lot of time.
  • Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?
  • There is a background in season 2 that is literally a raw, untextured 3D model, not painted over or anything. It shows up for but a millisecond, but I notice it everytime haha. Adam Deats did a tremendous job hiding it.
  • Q: If you could be any anime character who would it be and why?
  • The Mandrill from Polar Bear Cafe
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.