Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Interview

I recently had a student called Sam Hollman email me some questions for her studies, these are the Q and A's

Again thank you for agreeing to this. my first question is more my > curiosity> where did the name Stik come from and do you preference Bill or Stik?

Stik was born from an experience I had at an animation studio in London. I was 21 and there was this director of the company who was a bit of a bully and mis-used his position. Anyhow I got so sick of it I took 2 weeks off, contacted loads of magazine art editors and showed off my portfolio. I got 2 commissions from it. I signed myself Stik, because the reason I got those commissions was because I was getting stick from this 'orrible little man. :-)My friends and clients call me Bill. Some people like to call me Stik. Which is fine.

I believe you studied graphic design for a year and then went on to a > four> year course in animation. What triggered the change of direction?

I went for an interview for a job as a runner in an animation studio. Didn't get it, so went to colledge. A year later I was offered the same job. I took it. Graphic design wasn't for me really, although I did learn some valuble techniques.

Then from animation you moved towards illustration was this a natural progression?

There was a woman who was a part time illustrator at this animation company I was working for. I liked the idea of being able to do your own thing, and I thought I was just as good as her. So it felt pretty natural. Animation is great, but you have to draw someone elses style all the time. That's stood me in good stead. I've been asked if I can do someone elses style when they can't do a job.

You have worked in many different areas what would you describe yourself as, illustrator, animator, or cartoonist?

All of those things...and writer ;-) . I like to think of myself as a cartoonist who illustrates and animates....kinda...

I know for the online BatPotato you scan sketches in and add colour in photoshop, do you work like this on all your work?

Yep. Pencils, scan in and ink up in Photoshop (mainly) or Illustrator.

You said you learnt some valuable techniques from the graphic design course, what were these, and how have they helped you?

Crikey, just laying flat colour and thinking more of colour psychology, how packaging works that sort of thing. Such a long time ago.

Who would you say have had major influences on your style?

Wallace wood, Tex Avery, Picasso(Strangly, but he did some great cartoon work), Empire Strikes Back was a huge influence when I was a child, the lighting is amazing. Frank Hampton, Schultz, Gary Larson, Bill Elder, Chuck Jones... There's more but I'd be here all day.

On one site it said one of your hobbies were writing children’s books, how did you get in to this and was it difficult?

Ah, well I've written some, but I haven't had any published. I've had 3 adult books published. The Impractical Guide to Having Babies was a good one. I just wrote them and sent them to publishers...I got lucky with those ones. I'm currently developing some of my childrens books into a tv prog. It might work. Fingers crossed.

The Impractical Guide to Having Babies is incredibly funny and hit’s thenail on the head with things like feeding faces (which I am definitely guiltyof) and winter clothing is definitely some of the least practical design ever.
Do you come up with ideas like these from your own experiences?

Yep. Got 3 kids.Your work is really humorous has this always come easily to you?
I've always had a stupid sense of humour. I've got books and book of jokes.


I know you designed the Safeway Gang, have you done a lot of packaging work?

Not a huge amount. That was definately the biggest packaging job I've ever done. Just as I finished it Morrisons took over... D-OH!

How do you approach commissions, what kind of method do you use?

Sit down, sketch. Think about what they want. Try and do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, and know when to suggest stuff and know when to nod and shut up. Always try and do it before the deadline.

I hope the TV programme goes well! The Spider character looks really cool on thecreative match website.

Chairs. :o)

I haven’t asked a lot about your animation work mainly because I was not sure where to start, animation is something which I admire however not some thing I can personally do,
You said that you took a job as a runner, how did this lead you to the animation that you do today?

It just taught me all the basic principles of animation from pencils to painting on cel, backgrounds and shooting the thing. It's alot different today, we don't use paint and trace and cameras anymore.

Out of all the different mediums and techniques that you have done what has been your favourite?

I do enjoy animating a character. It somehow develops a life of it's own and becomes something separate from you.

And the one that you have least enjoyed and Why?

Difficult to say really. It's like trying to pick your least favourite child. I didn't like animating someone elses style if I hated it. Infact that's another reason I left animation. I was inbetweening some god awful style and we were playing the Singing Detective soundtrack. There was this particular song sung by Bing Crosby called, Don't Mess with Mr. Inbetween. And I thought, that's bloody right, why am I wasting my life doing this rubbish, when I could at least be doing my own rubbish.

Many thanks Sam, good luck with everything.

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