I got the opportunity to interview animator Johnny Kelly. He works and lives in London, went to school at the Royal College of Art, and is represented by Nexus Productions. I want to say so much about him but I'll just say he's absolutely brilliant.
1. Tell us a little about who you are. Who do you work for? What job do you do?
My name is Johnny Kelly, I work for an animation production company in London called Nexus Productions. I am an animation director although I also do some illustration work, a bit of graphic design and some bad DIY
2. Do you have any future projects planned?
I'm working on a Music video for an Irish instrumental band called The Redneck Manifesto. I'm also pitching on an exciting commercial project but its not confirmed yet so i shouldn't count this chicken before it hatches.
3. What prompted you to move into a career in animation? How did you go about pursuing it?
I was a graphic designer and illustrator and I was finding that my work was crammed choc-a-bloc with narrative and detail. It made sense to be able to spill these ideas over into a more time based medium.
4. What about those just considering starting in animation? Any educational or career advice, memorable lessons, etc?
Animation is a fairly technically-based medium so it seems silly to say ignore this side of things, but there's definitely a danger that you can get sucked into this side of things too much, to a point where it can dictate projects. Its important to try and learn as much about the film-making side of things as it is to learn things like walk cycles. That said, i'm not a very good animator so probably not the best person to dole out advice, I am learning all the time though, slowly.
5. What animation software packages do you prefer to use?
I use Photoshop, After Effects, i'm a particularly big fan of Illustrator. I also use Indesign to layout storyboards. I have a limited knowledge of Maya but am hoping to learn more.
6. Does your degree from Dublin Institute of Technology in graphic design help to inform your animation?
Studying, and in particular working in, graphic design was invaluable. My aesthetic choices - colour, composition, medium, are all chosen as a result of that training. Perhaps more importantly design taught me that everything thing should at least intent to have a firm concept or idea behind it. Even with self-initiated projects I try to follow this.
7. Who and what are major influences for you as an artist?
I try to pull my influences from as far afield as I can. Inspiring people for lots of reasons include Dave Eggers, Shynola, Patrick Caulfield, Ermin Wurm, Wes Anderson, Chris Ware, Vince Collins, and I'm worked on a collaborative project last year with Jethro Haynes, a super talented scuptor/artist/nice guy.
8. Do you ever appear at conferences? What animation events and conferences would you recommend?
As an animator I am more used to talking to myself in dark rooms - so I have done one or two conferences but I'm not very good at speaking to vast crowds of people. Onedotzero is a good thing, although I'm not sure whether they tour the US. Flux, run by Jonathan Wells (who started Resfest) also put on some good events.
9. Tell us your best story about working in the animation industry.
I once directed George Clooney! It was a commercial for the UN and he appears in it and narrates it. He was exactly as you suspect, a very charming guy. He is pretty involved with the UN and not just on a superficial 'celebrity' level - he was actually re-writing chunks of the ad agency's script on-set, which was quite impressive.
10. Can we find you in print or on the web?
Do you mean my website? I have a few
My personal one: http://mickeyandjohnny.com/
Where I work: http://nexusproductions.com/
A comic I made years ago which isn't very good: http://colometersdavis.com/
And a making of a title sequence I made last year which could be relevant: http://www.artofthetitle.com/zvss9