Featured Friday: John Vavir

So fresh and so clean

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Rocky Mt College of Art and Design or RMCAD. Right behind Casa Bonita off of Colfax; and if you’re from CO you know what all that means.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?
A: When I was in daycare and someone told me that people made cartoons and that cartoon characters weren’t actual beings of our world. Blew my little mind!

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: In general, my parents. Because they both take on everything with little to no complaints and handle things as if they are no trouble at all. Artistically, Ralph Steadman. My favorite quote of his is “There’s no such thing as a mistake. It’s just an opportunity to do something different.” Animation wise, the usual suspects: Glen Keane, Brad Bird, Masaaki Yuasa, Bruce Timm, Hayao Miyazaki, Tex Avery, Don Bluth and J.G. Quintel.

Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?
A: Rough call. But ultimately ‘The Simpsons’ is my favorite show. I have quoted it more than I know. I have watched every episode plus movie. And still look forward to any future adventures they continue with. Funny/sad side story, as a kid I would ditch anything I was doing in the evening just to go watch reruns of the show, as if it were a religious practice. As for an animated movie ‘The Great Mouse Detective’. And if you don’t know why then shame on you.

Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble finding a job?
A: Find what works for you. Animation is a tricky business to get into and there is more than one way to find fulfillment within the industry. Be sure to have a strong understanding of basic art principles such as anatomy, lighting and color. Know that animation is a patience game, and that at 24 drawings per second you will be drawing the same thing for a long time. Lastly, love movement. Be it acting, effects, or experimental, they all will take subtlety and devotion. With all these combined you will find an audience and possibly a studio to animate with.

Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation?
A: The last year I went to CTN where I was about to give up trying to find a studio to work with, and just remain freelance or keep animation as a hobby, I had a review with the Powerhouse table where they were shocked that I animated in 2D. That alone made my day! But when they contacted me a few weeks later with an interview and a test, I would have done a backflip if that wouldn’t have broken me in half.

Q: What’s it like working in Austin? And how is the creative community here?
A: Everything is very artistic here. It reminds me of Boulder, CO where there is a niche shop and restaurant for everything. Also, excellent beer and tacos!

Q: Most challenging part of working at Powerhouse?
A: Not spending the day being taken in by nerdom. Everyone loves something from many forms of culture that creates long, passionate and drawn out discussions. Giving a lot to learn from or to get another perspective that you just get lost in these conversations and always gives you something to walk away with. But once again, I have to draw those 24 frames at some point!

Q: What is the best part about your job and working at Powerhouse?
A: Getting to tackle artistic styles and ideas that I wouldn’t have challenged myself with. And seeing how others would have taken on the same subject matter and handled it differently. Opening a world to all possibilities in which to learn from.

Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?
A:  Yes. The trick to good animation is to have amazing character designers, background artists, managers and compositors as well as an amazing team. Then your animation will look amazing!

Q: What is your favorite Powerhouse Project that you’ve worked on?
A: Possibly the PH Christmas cards. One I animated a child being struck by lightning. The other I animated an adorable corgi! #corgisforlife

Q: If you could be any animated character who would it be and why?
A: Skips from ‘Regular Show’. He is super intelligent, strong enough to fight cosmic beings, immortal with eternal youth, fixes everything with his hands, lets weirdness roll off him like water on a duck and is a yeti. Ultimately, one cool dude.

My heart! “Operator give me the number to 911”
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