I’m Lead Animator here at MakeMatic and I love being part of a creative team. When you’re freelancing, you can go a bit mad doodling in a room by yourself with no-one to bounce ideas off. But there is a really good team spirit and working relationship between everyone here, and I really enjoy that.
I would describe myself as a creative introvert. I let my art speak for itself. When I was in a band, I played drums. When I was in a hip hop group, I was on the decks. Always in the background – that’s how I like it. A teacher once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
I was an arty kid. I spent a lot of my time in school drawing, making up my own little comic books and characters. Art is in my family. My dad drew pictures and my grandad painted landscapes and ran an art gallery in Glenties, County Donegal.
When I was a boy, I loved Garfield and The Beano. My favourite artists were the American cartoonist Charles Schulz, who created Peanuts, featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.
I graduated from the Belfast School of Art with a degree in Visual Communications and from the Letterkenny Institute of Technology with a Masters in Motion Graphics. Then I lived in Toronto for two and half years and really lucked out.
I got a job as a videographer for a startup hub called Mars Discovery District. They had a little dedicated media team there and I did camera work, live streaming, graphics and animations. It was an amazing place to work and the best possible training ground for me.
I got a grant from Donegal County Council to create my own short film, based on my grandad’s memoir, Brighter Days, which I wrote, directed and animated. It was screened at the Irish Film Festival in Toronto alongside a selection of other shorts and there was a really good buzz about it. I’m very proud of it. It was a great time for me.
I came back to Northern Ireland in 2015 and began freelancing. I led animation workshops for kids with sensory disabilities at the Cultural Centre in Letterkenny and then started working for Makematic, first as script editor leading into animation.
I never thought I would move away from pen and paper, but I couldn’t live without my iPad for drawing these days. I use ProCreate with a stylus, then After Effects for animating. I also use Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, jumping between everything when I need to.
It usually takes a full week to do three minutes of animation. Monday I’ll read the script and jot down some visual ideas. Tuesday I’ll draw up all the elements that go into the animation. A lot of animators pull assets from Shutterstock, which can streamline the workflow, but I take great pride in drawing everything myself. I’ve developed my own style for MakeMatic.
Wednesday I’ll bring everything together in After Effects, compositing and building all the sets and backgrounds. Thursday is crunch time and Friday is wrap up. That said, every week here is different. I could be working on an animation one week and designing hardcopy the next.
I’m definitely most proud of my work on the Crayola project we finished recently. I put everything I had into the illustrations because, come on, it’s Crayola, right. When I was a kid, I remember using their crayons and Model Magic sets all the time. I loved all that stuff. It was a bit of a dream project.