Jim McKenzie – Fine Artist, Sculptor, Director, Designer, Animator… The man of endless talents reveals a bit of what goes on under the hood.
What was your proudest achievement in the past year?
It’s difficult to pin point a particular achievement when a lot of great things have happened this year. I’m very proud that the company I work for is constantly growing. We’ve merged with Aardman this past year, one of the greatest animation studios around. I take pride in watching my personal artwork grow, as well as student’s work. Also we’ve got to watch one of our characters, Gut Guy make his Super Bowl debut this year which was cool. Knowing that millions of people are watching a walking intestinal track that you’ve helped create is strangely satisfying.
Professionally and personally, what are your goals for 2016?
For me personally, 2016 is going to be a pretty significant year. I have my first ever solo art exhibition coming up this June at Copro Gallery which will showcase a number of sculptures, and paintings, and a short film. I’m also working with 3D Retro toys to distribute a brand new line of vinyl art figures based off of my silly little dog. So my personal goal for this year would be to complete as much art as possible, enjoy the process of it, and hopefully generate a positive response that will keep opportunities a-flowin’. Professionally I’d like to keep a consistent upscale of improvement in my commercial work at ANL; learning new tricks, and doing the best work that I can. I also aim to reserve time to enjoy life and the people around me. Play with my dog more and work on being a decent human. That’s why we’re here isn’t it?
Outside of animation and design, what other hobbies are you passionate about?
I really enjoy writing music via piano, guitar, or whatever it may be. I’m also extremely passionate about eating Quick Chek subs, chocolate truffles, and IV bags loaded with peppermint flavored coffee.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I wouldn’t give my younger self any advice nor would I make any sort of contact him. Have you not seen Back to the Future?
How do you get into the creative mood?
For me there’s a few rituals that must take place before any act of creating occurs. I like to have a large cup of coffee, good scents in the air, relaxing music in my headphones and if possible a room heater blasting on my feet. – Gotta keep them feetsies toasted.- I also like to pull up inspirational images and artwork that I enjoy on my computer just to remind myself what it’s all for. Once all of these things are in place the creative mood chamber is complete and the art work just flows.
What do you love most about working at ANL?
Nothing really. Not a fan of the studio at all…
What do you do when you get “designer’s block”?
Usually I’ll pace around in circle of frustration with my knuckles at my waist; possibly kick around some dirt until I stumble upon an epiphany that triggers an intense flashback relating exactly to the issue at hand. This will then cause an enormous cartoon light bulb to appear above my head. At that point I’ll raise my right index finger towards the sky and say, “But of course!”. And that’s usually how I solve the majority of my day to day designer blocks.
Who were your heroes growing up and why?
Sailor Moon and Sailor Jerry. Always was, always will be.
As a designer, what are your biggest pet peeves?
Anything Vince Vaughn. Yuck!
Briefly describe your dream project.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox 2”, done…