Today we are welcoming AnimSchool Student Jared Johnson. Jared is already working in the animation industry and, as many other colleagues, he keeps studying and expanding his skills along the way.

Tell us a little about yourself, what’s your background? How did you get into animation?

Like most artists, I began drawing at a very young age. I grew up loving animated movies, cartoons, comic books and video games. For years I thought I would become a comic book artist, but I felt frustrated being limited to a few panels to tell a story. I’m originally from Pennsylvania where I started my art education. While in college, I realized that animation was a liberating medium and I’ve been working in it ever since. I continued studying art and animation in San Francisco and eventually started my career there.

You are currently working in the animation industry, right? Tell us about it.

I am! Currently, I’m working at Gazillion Entertainment as an animator on the “Marvel Heroes” online video game. Before returning to work at Gazillion, I wrapped up animation work on the feature film Free Birds last summer. My career consists of some great opportunities such as video game cinematics, documentaries, and cartoons for adult swim.

What do you like the most when animating?

Blocking is generally the most fun part of the process. It’s the time when you get to play around and experiment the most. Otherwise, I also enjoy the polish stage of adding refined detail and subtlety to animation. It’s easy to get inspired when I come across really good character performance or creature shots. Being able to work on them is a blast too.

You’ve taken a 3-month Express Class in Character Performance. What were your ideas before taking the class? In what ways do you think Animschool has helped you after you finished it?

Since most of my career has been in TV and video games, I felt it was important to push my skills and work on a more polished, character driven shot. When you work in games, you’re not always able to really sink your teeth into character performance and that’s something I want to make sure I kept working on. The instructor, Christopher Bancroft, really helped keep me on track and focus on what was really important in the shot. I also attended the general reviews with instructor Kevan Shorey. Both had wonderful insight and great eye for detail. They’re the type of animators you want to work with in a studio.

You’ve done a great work with your assignment. How was your workflow for this shot?

Thank you. I spend a good chunk of time thinking about the shot, asking questions like, “who are the characters? What is the shot about?” Afterward, I draw thumbnails and shoot lots of reference footage of myself to try to explore more ideas. Then follows an initial blocking phase and early feedback (from the instructor). Afterwards, I’d revise/elaborate on the blocking before continuing into splined.

Any particular tip or advice that your instructor gave you that stood out?

One piece of advice that my instructor gave me was to go to general reviews. It’s an open class that any AnimSchool student can go to for additional critique. It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes to view your work. When you’re staring at your animation for so long, you can start to miss out on ways to improve it. It’s important to remember that animation is a very collaborative art form so one shouldn’t be afraid to share it with others.
Thanks for having me!

We thank Jared for this interview. Check out his reel below: