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July 30, 2009

Nonfiction of the Week for July 27: Animation Unleashed (Part 2)

Book cover

Animation Unleashed by Ellen Besen and Bryce Hallett

Bryce Hallett is an independent Canadian animator who lives and works in Toronto. He is a graduate of Sheridan College classical animation program  and Canadore college's Graphic Communication Program. Bryce has been creating many cartoons with his company Frog Feet Productions since 1999.

He is the illustrator for the nonfiction book "Animation Unleashed" and I had the immense pleasure of interviewing him via email to find out more about the animation process and his influences and career. He was kind enough to provide the library with some images that demonstrate the creative process for an illustrator/animator.

Question #1:  How difficult is it to get work as a professional animator?

Answer: There are always some times that are busier or slower than others of course but I think if you're always working at improving your skills, you get the work done on schedule and if you are willing to relocate or travel, especially in your first years i think your chances of gettign work are pretty good. You have to be flexible.I've been lucky in that i've managed to stay in the Toronto area for my entire career but I have friends who have travelled all over the globe and they've enjoyed that.It really depends on what sort of animation you want to do. Whether it's video games or tv commercials or internet or whatever. Certain cities have more happening in some types of animation than others. For instance Montreal has a lot of video game companies and Ottawa has a lot of tv series work, vancouver is known for special effects etc so you would probably go where the work you want to do is. You may also work at many different companies over time going from project to project. If people enjoy working with you and you can do a consistently good job, after a couple of years i don't think you'll lack for fairly steady work.

Question#2: What type of things allow you to work creatively as an animator/ illustrator? Do you ever get drawing blocks?

Answer: Sure i think everyone hits a wall creatively now and then. I usually try and get away from my desk when that happens. Go outside, sketch something, find some inspiration. Art galleries, the zoo, sitting on a bench somewhere and just sketching the people and things you see around are all good. I like to go to book stores like Labyrinth on Bloor st or the Beguiling and looking though all their cool art books and comics and often i'm inspired by those. Sometimes it's good to do something completely different all together like go for a hike or chores.. it lets the creative side of your brain just work away in the background and gives it a rest.

Question#3: What influenced you to become an animator/illustrator? Where there any pieces of work that influenced you much more than others?

Answer: I've always loved to draw. When i was a kid my mom used to teacher kinder garten and had all these art supplies and things to decorate the classroom and my dad worked as a draftsman he'd bring us to the office on weekends while he worked and just give us piles of design markers and old blueprints and my sister and I would spend all morning drawing on the back of them. So i got a lot of practice then. I spent a lot of time reading comics and watching cartoons too. I used to love Asterix and also the Smurfs and i remember learning a lot of little tricks and techniques reading those comics and seeing how they drew things. Newspaper comics inspired me a lot too. I'd even make my own that were largely just rip offs of existing styles and strips when i was in grade school. Eventually i'd create my own characters. I think i preferred the cartoony styles instead of the comic book styles because i just found the super-heroes to difficult to do. But i still tried. I really liked Neil Adams and Brian Boland's work and especially Dave Mckean who used all sorts of mixed media in his art and many different styles. My stuff looks nothing like any of those guys but i stil love trying lots of different styles and techniques so they inspired that way.

In high school I had a video camera that could almost, but not quite, do stop frame animation and I made a lot of little cartoons with my action figures. I just loved making these toys move and live and doing really stupid stories and all the voices myself. It was just very cool to make these things come to life even in this really crude manner. I just had so much fun.Later i was fairly heavily influenced by the style of the Batman Animated Series and also Wallace and Gromit. The first time i saw The Wrong Trousers it just blew me a way. I couldn't get enough but i had already made up my mind that i wanted to animate by then.

Question#4: Who would you consider one of the most influential animators/ illustrators of the 21st century?

Answer: I have absolutely no idea. It's difficult, especially in animation, because it's usually done as a team instead of individuals ( there are exception's of course . heh) Although there are people like Myazaki, Tim Burton, Bruce Tim, John K, Craig Mckraken, Nick Park and many many others who's style definitely has had a huge impact and you can see other people using their styles or being inspired by them heavily in their work.

I think one of the most influential illustrators is actually someone from the 20th century, Mary Blair. She did a lot of concept work for Disney starting in the 1940's. She did a lot of very colorful and imaginative stuff. Her drawings and paintings a filled with really good design.Not a lot of her work actually made it into the films but many of her drawings and illustrations have been published since, and you can see her influence in a lot of curent animator's and illustrator's works. Form the Pixar's stuff to Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

It is really difficult to narrow it down to who is the most influential. I don't think there really is one single person and i think everyone is inspired by many many different sources from animation to sculpting to painting , movies, photos etc etc and it all gets blended in.I guess we won't really know until we look back and see all the work that's been produced who or what influenced animation this century the most.It's just too early to tell, we've barley begun!

I think that Bryce gave some amazing answers and I hope that his interview will help to inspire up and coming illustrators. Who knows, maybe you who is reading this could be the most influential illustrator of this century!

Many thanks to Ellen and Bryce for their time in allowing us to interview them and giving such fantastic answers.

Jr. Mint is a youth librarian with the Toronto Public Library, mainly because he refuses to grow up. He reads as much esoteric stuff as he can.


Hey... I love this book already... can't wait to read it.lol

me too!

I dont really know who Bryce Hallett is but by reading the description I think that hes a great author and I should start reading his books. Especially this one because this book sounds great to me .

wow! i saw this book in a book store and i was like wow that looks famliar and i was like o yeah that was one of the books recommeneded by Word Out! And the book store guy was like hey this is a great book i read it and yea so now i am pretty sure this is a great book!! I was hoping he was going to let me borrow it but he didn't! Bummer in the Summer:(

Sounds like a Fun read!!!!

It's amazing how many wonder people live in toronto and we have never even knew they where here. and ya also judging from this Bryce seems like a honest to goodness author

Oh and i'll be sure to check this book out. if not for myself then for my sisters

Righnow i started reading a book called 'Twisted' by Laurie Halse Andreson. any books by this author is A W S O M E. I personally adore her books. One of my favourite author. And so far this book is so good!!!

I want to try to read that book

sounds alright im not hooked though


This is a very intresting book i've had the chance to have read it and i really liked it so i suggest that if anyone is interested in this they should definately check it out

I actually have a lot of friends who are majorly into animeation and i know that this could help them out so this book is really good, cause it seems to have alot of helpful information

YAY it seems i'll be able to go anyways. so i'll defiantely try it out



I wanna try it.

I actually heard on the news several days ago that Japanese animators are finding it difficult to earn money from their creations. They say that they earn around only $2 for a page that they draw. I think this is rather disappointing news, because think about their hard work in making all those great characters and cartoons! I feel really sad for them.

Kiu: That is terribale, i know so many people who love the artwork of the japanese people inclusing myself.

Maybe they can do something to bring more attention to their problem that way more people will support them

It would be pretty cool if i could ever draw my own animation though it'd probaly be at a kindergratend level. i've been known for my horrible drawing it still would be cool though to see my art come to life like that

Even though I'm not that interested in animation, I think I'll give this book a try. It looks like a good book!

Ya it does doesn't it. i think more people should try that. most would be surprised at how interesting something if if they just try it.

I think it's always better to try something new. that's probably why i'm willing to give this book a shot at least if i don't like it i'll know someone who will

Though i'm utterly terrible at drawing i sometimes like to do it and it's always wonderful to see your creation come to life.

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