Featured Friday: Mariel Hester

Q: Where did you go to school?
I’m a self-taught art school dropout. I went to SCAD for about a year, couldn’t afford it!

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?
It never really occurred to me that I could work in animation. Animation’s not really a career choice in the small southern town where I grew up. As a kid, I drew a lot of pictures and read a lot of book, so I wanted some kind of vague drawing job doing illustration or comics. If I had known that storyboarding existed, I’d definitely have started doing it earlier because I’m enjoying it here.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
The original Yu-Gi-Oh is soooo good– great characters and beautiful style. Favorite movie’s got to be Yu-Gi-Oh: The Dark Side of Dimensions, the whole thing is eye candy.

I also love Yu Yu Hakusho and Saint Seiya. Mostly shows from the ’90s.

Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?
My initial inspiration for all this art stuff was Eichiiro Oda’s One Piece. It was my first exposure to manga, anime, just anything from Japan, and it blew my mind. Nowadays, the inspiration comes and goes but 90’s anime has always been that anchor that reminds me why I got into this stuff.

Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble finding a job? 
Keep drawing and make sure you’re showing your work to people, either in person or on the internet.  I’ve always been kind of a social recluse but I put my art up on social media because I wanted to share my anime draws with other anime-drawing people.

I’d also say try not to get dejected if your work doesn’t get much interaction, that was (and still is) a situation I go through–but know that someone will see your work if you put it out there. I have a friend, one of my favorite artists, who followed my work for a couple years, we talked online a few times, and then one day out of the blue, she recommended me for the job I have now.

Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation? 
Well, it’s been kind of a long, unremarkable journey, to be real honest. I drew a lot in my free time, wanting to make it my career, but because I couldn’t afford art school I had to support myself  by working retail jobs. That along with tabling at the odd anime convention here and there.

Q: What’s it like working in Austin? And how is the creative community here?
Austin’s amazing! There’s so much to see, eat, and do here. As for the creative community, I haven’t really met many other artists than the ones at work, but they’re great~~

Q: What is the best part about your job and working at Powerhouse?
Learning from the people around me!

Q: What is your favorite Powerhouse Project that you’ve worked on?
I’ve only been on Castlevania, so that one~

Q: Most challenging part of working at Powerhouse?
Keeping up with deadlines and working quickly on boards. I tend to focus a lot on the small details so I’m learning to work loose and focus more on the big picture. Also, it’s my first time working around other amazing artists, so trying not to compare my skills to those of my friends is a challenge too.

Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?
I’m still pretty new to animation and its production so uh, I’m not really sure? Sorry, I’m blanking LOL

Q: If you could be any anime character who would it be and why?
Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece~ I love his positive energy, and his big smile, and his passionate heart. I really aspire to be able to be free like him someday.

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