Featured Friday: Tyler Richlen

The beard is the source of all his power.

Q: Where did you go to school?
Austin Community College. I just went to school to get my parents off my back. Turns out they had a good animation program and now I animate for a living.

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?
I wanted to work in it after seeing Batman the Animated Series but the idea was quickly dashed after I found out most studios outsourced all their animation. Later, I found out not every studio did that and that I could still get a job in it so the idea was rekindled. I started as a comic artist but the allure of a steady paycheck was nicer than the ‘pay when published’ scheme that most of the comic industry uses.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
That’s a good question and probably too big of a list for this but here are a few: Stan Lee, John Buscema, Travis Charest, Frank Frazetta, Bruce Timm, Frank Cho, Steve Rude, Cam Kennedy, Milt Kahl, Chris Sanders and my Father. They are all amazing creators and left a huge imprint on me.

Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?
I refuse to choose only one. 101 Dalmations and Jungle Book have some of my favorite animation, Akira is a freakin trip, Batman Beyond is schway, Howl’s moving Castle is amazing, Nocturna is beautiful and Klaus is the best animation that has come out in the past 20 years.

Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble finding a job?
Keep trying. You have to put in the work to succeed AND you have to stand out from everyone else and that takes time. Some of it in finding yourself as an artist and a ton of it in getting good at what you do. If you do artwork that YOU like, it will always be better than if you did something you weren’t interested in, and that shows through when people are looking at your work. Pro tip: don’t put your exercises in your demo reel. You aren’t going to catch an art director’s eye with your amazing flour sack animation or your side-view walk cycle. Nobody has ever been hired for illustration work based on their gesture drawings. The same holds true in animation. And last, but not least, you actually have to work at it. No degree is going to automatically get you a job. Your degree is just a piece of paper. Its about as useful for protecting you from a sudden storm as it is for getting you a job.

Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation?
I started out drawing when my father gave my brother and I a copy of “How to Draw the Marvel Way”. We traced the art in that book until the dust cover was destroyed and the pages worn in with the pressure of our pencils and pens. Then we graduated to copying and then finally to creating our own work. All the while our father supported our new found love of comic art and nurtured our creativity in a way that I will always be thankful for.
Later on my path would diverge from comics. I actually got my first job animating because I was a good illustrator. I had been practicing my animation but the art director I met with wasn’t very impressed with it. He looked at my reel and then looked at my illustrations and told me most animators that come to him “can’t draw worth a damn” and at least I had a skill we could work with. So I honed my skills on the fly and I had my work in comics to thank for a career change. haha

Q: What’s it like working in Austin? And how is the creative community here?
Its a sprawling overpriced city full of underpaid people with big dreams, trying to survive and make it to the next level. So pretty much like any large city in the US except that if you stay in one spot, for too long, during the summer, your sneakers will melt into the pavement. The creative community here is great from what I hear. I’m an insular dude though, so I tend to work on my own and spend time with my family instead.

Q: What is the best part about your job and working at Powerhouse?
I once animated a cat throwing up in an attempt to make the floor slippery and kill someone. THAT stuff is what makes this job great. I can go from Animating dinosaur/spider hybrids to characters crying over loved ones lost. Being able to bring stuff to life and make people care or laugh is rad. And I couldn’t do that without my crew. I work with the best damned crew in the industry; BOUTIQUE ANIMATION. Ride or die suckas.

Q: What is your favorite Powerhouse Project that you’ve worked on?
At this point I have done over 100 projects here so its hard to pick just one. Probably the Bro Force launch trailer, Spider-saurs, the Enter the Gungeon Trailer, the Metal Wolf Chaos trailer or something like those. We’ve had a lot of really fun projects and I tend to lean toward the more irreverent ones.

Q: Most challenging part of working at Powerhouse?
Did I mention I once animated a cat hacking up a hairball in an attempt to murder someone? Yeah… This job ain’t so bad.

Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?
Sometimes, if you’re really quiet, you can hear the cries of Powerhouse employees being destroyed in smash bros all the way from 6th street.

Q: If you could be any anime character who would it be and why?
Terry McGinnis. Because I would get to be Batman and my dad is already dead so I don’t technically have to suffer through losing him again. Bam. Nailed it.

About the Author