I remember the Prince of Egypt having an especially profound effect on me. Maybe it was the first time I’d noticed that the style of drawing was clearly different from Disney or anything else I’d seen in my early years. It still remains my favourite animated film of all time.
I grew up in Dublin the eldest of 5 siblings and needed to get out of that house as soon as I finished school. At 16, I did my work experience at Brown Bag Films in Dublin and it was nothing short of a life-changing experience. I had never seen art as a career like that before and it totally blew my mind. As soon as I was done with school, I moved to England to study animation and illustration.
After college I met another Irish artist living in Manchester called Finbar Coyle, who was a character designer working at Brown Bag Films. We set up a weekly meet-up for artists to work on their own stuff, get feedback and generally network with other local artists. Through that, I met a lot of the guys who were working at Brown Bag and got to know them really well. So I applied. I worked as a background artist on Nella the Princess Knight for a year and a half. I learned so much in that time that my work improved dramatically. I got the chance to work on a pitch for a new show, and when we got it I was promoted to Assistant Art Director.
We have 15 people on our team who are all amazing artists and just really amazing people. Most of my day at the moment is meetings, but when I’m not doing that, I’m on approvals for the work the other guys are doing, so a lot of note writing and drawovers. I’m a devil for spotting tangents, as any of my layout artists will tell you. I’m very picky about them!
If you’re thinking of moving to Manchester, I definitely recommend looking up the many local meet-ups for artists. There are art jams and drink-and-doodles and networking events and talks. The community here is so welcoming and so eager to help, I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t met them.
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