Featured Friday: Stephen Stark

Posted by on Friday, August 27th, 2021

Photo Credit: Twitter – @NinaModaffari

Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to work in animation?

When I got offered a job to work at an animation studio.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Hmmm, it sounds a bit corny but my friends and family. They help get me through the tough days and my coworkers especially just motivate me to do better because they’re usually out here making some wild-looking stuff. There’s so many good artists these days that I can’t pick a single one!

Q: What is your favorite animated movie/show?

Well, I’m nearly finished with watching 1000+ episodes of One Piece, so I guess One Piece is my favorite show now whether I want it to be or not.

Q: What would you say to those who are not getting hired by a studio or having trouble
finding a job?

Hoo-boy, that’s a toughie. First off I’ll say that it’s not all on you, for better or worse. Anyone who says there isn’t luck involved with getting a job is straight up lying to you and shouldn’t be trusted. That said, be patient, stay determined, and keep making art that you actually enjoy making, and someone will eventually hire you for it. The longer it takes to get a job, the more often questions like “Is it my art, or is it me?” start popping in your head, and you can’t let those kinds of questions get to you. Oftentimes, not enough eyes are seeing your stuff, or there simply isn’t a spot open for you, but rarely is it ever you or your art. Get your art in front of people as often as possible, ask for critique, apply said critique to your work and eventually something will pop up, I promise.

Q: What are some stories of your path to art and animation?

Somewhat relating to the question above, I spent my first year out of college freelancing for tabletop companies, $200 per illustration. It sucked, but one day my awesome teacher Dave called me up and said “Apply for this gig right this second”. I had so many rejection letters at this point that I assumed I’d just gain another. But Dave is awesome so I applied anyway and then within a month I was working at Powerhouse.

Q: What type of equipment/software do you work on?

Haha what am I not working on these days?? I work with a really old Intuos3. Cintiq’s are cool but I don’t feel the need for one honestly. As for software, my mains include Photoshop and Blender, but there’s so many more. Some of them include Quixel Bridge, DAZ, Sketchup, and a new program I recently got called Rebelle 4, which is a painting-sim program. Sometimes I’ll even load up a video game to get an idea for a scene.

Q: Any educational advice/sources you’d like to share? Books, websites, blogs, videos…

If you’re a painter, obviously you have to follow Muddy Colors, and James Gurney’s blog. In fact, if you haven’t gotten yourself a copy of Gurney’s “Color and Light” book, you’re simply doing yourself a disservice. More than that though, I recommend not grinding away at art for a whole day and instead taking time to go watch movies, read books, watch some anime, etc. It’ll probably help with your art more than you’d think.

Q: What is the best part about your job and working at Powerhouse?

Definitely the people. There’s so much skill and talent here that you just constantly feel motivated to better yourself and your art and it’s just awesome. I really hope more people take COVID seriously because I really miss seeing my coworker’s faces everyday.

Q: What is your favorite Powerhouse Project that you’ve worked on?

Haha, I’ve mostly been on Castlevania since I started working here. I’ll say that I’m really enjoying what we’re doing for the new season, as we actually have time to design stuff separately from production, instead of during. Oh, and I was on the boutique team a few months back and did some cool stuff there, but I sadly can’t talk about it for now

Q: Most challenging part of working at Powerhouse?

I’m sure most people reading are aware of the ‘butterfly effect’ right? Well, as a lead you start realizing that something done or not done at the beginning of production can have huge ramifications down the road for better or worse. So there’s a little stress in making sure something won’t come biting us in the butt months from now.

Q: Any cool little known facts about production (funny stories/cool animation tricks/etc)?

At some point in season 3, we needed outsource to paint some backgrounds of Lindenfeld with the Alchemical sign of Saturn carved into some wood. We probably just put in notes “Add Saturn sign” or something like that. Upon receiving their backgrounds, we noticed that they had painted in the Saturn symbol alright, but it was the actual planet Saturn. Still cracks me up to this day.

Q: If you could be any anime/cartoon character who would it be and why?

The baboon from Polar Bear Cafe. I just want to eat and not think about the world.

Artists Link: http://www.i-stark.com/
Social Media Handles: Twitter: @sstarkm