“I’ve been working as a character animator on Tree Fu Tom which is aired on CBeebies. I’ve wanted to work here for a while, I heard of the company before I graduated so I’m really glad to be here. I really enjoy acting, it’s my passion, so this is the area I have mainly been working on both for TV and film.
I think I was one of the lucky ones, I got a lot of work straight after graduating; two studios gave me an offer based on my degree show so I had a choice between doing more animation or more rigging based work. One company wouldn’t give me the details of how much they were paying and what the details of the job was so I ended up doing two weeks of test animation in Devon and then went on to do the rigging based job – which I really enjoyed actually. To be honest I just wanted to do animation I never thought I would do CG until I went to uni and the first class we learned how to make a ball bounce. There was a lot of work involved but it was kinda magic to make that happen.
I always felt like I was going to be an animator, but I grew up in Glasgow around Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I thought that would be the direction I would go in – like design and architecture. I was talking to this guy who was doing that and he was really passionate and I realised that wasn’t what I was into at all. This was the week we had to apply to UCAS and I was really bummed so I was watching a cartoon to cheer myself up and it hit me that this was exactly what I wanted to do. So I changed all my forms to animation. It actually took me two years of building a portfolio to get into AUB. I didn’t have the observational drawings and it was really competitive so I did a foundation and finally got into animation at AUB.
I had a three month gap of no work and that was pretty tough.
I was working at Double Negative which is in the top VFX five studios and I was working on the movie, John Carter. It was probably the best experience for me, but a lot of work went to Canada so things were quiet in London. I was unemployed in London, it was kind of scary. There was very little work for animators at the time I had been doing a lot of technical work, but really my strong point is character animation but on my CV it didn’t match up so I was missing out on jobs. It was a blessing in disguise because I ended up going to France. I learned a lot there I loved being there. It was a break from London in a way so I stayed for a year. The thing that made me come back was my friends here, I really missed them and a company wanted me to come back to work on a project on my own and I’ve been here since.
Networking is really important. It’s so competitive so you have to keep up your contacts. But I’ve met some of the best people working in animation. I’ve never found it boring because there’s so much to learn. I did some pre-vis which is like a 3D storyboarding. It’s really good for seeing all the effects. I mean it’s not my passion but I learned a lot from it. I’ve brought this into my own work, now I think a lot more about the composition the overall look of it, the lens, the angle those kinds of things.
You have to keep working on your own projects; to keep your skills up and really as an artist you do need to. It all comes back to drawing really. There’s so much happening in this city, so much to inspire work. All your ideas come from life. Like this character was taking and he was stroking his chin which is something I noticed myself doing. People recognise these little details- it makes the character more human.”
What is your One Piece of Advice?
“Don’t be disheartened, it is competitive; just be determined. Be open, always have a sketchbook and be friendly.”