Artist talks about his work designing, animating and coding interactive e-cards for Smilebox in Redmond.

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What do you do? I am an animator. I use whatever materials/tools are available to create animations. This primarily occurs on my computer with the help of my Wacom Cintiq, which is a special monitor and stylus that allows me to draw naturally into the computer. Using various software, I orchestrate my drawings into animations. I am primarily a 2D animator with an emphasis in character animation.

How does someone get a job like yours? The path is different for each person. I developed experience in animation and software programming before I even went to college, so having the coding side kept my options open. I recommend learning as much as you can. So far, all my jobs have had a combination of skills. I currently work for a [Redmond] software company called Smilebox, where I design, animate, and code interactive e-cards.

What’s a typical day like? I get to work, drink some coffee, and create animations. Then I eat lunch with my co-workers Benny and Mike. Then I drink more coffee and make more animations. Throughout the day, I draw portraits of my coworkers and take photos with my phone. I post them on my website, tomthinks.com. I do personal projects and freelance work in the evenings.

What’s the best part of the job?
The best part is that it’s what I love to do. It’s art. Artists don’t need to retire.

What surprises people about your job? How tedious the process of animation is. One reason I’m still an animator is that each time I sit down to animate, I forget that it takes forever. I get so excited about my idea, I overlook the time it will take. It can be exhilarating, though. It’s like very, very slowly breathing life into lifeless objects. Once they’re alive, it was worth it after all.