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Eight Years of Animation

I was reminded last week that it’s been eight years since I published my first animated short on YouTube. I started my “art career” as an amusement park caricature artist in high school, but couldn’t see myself working in animation because it seemed like WAY too much drawing. So I put it all way on the back burner, joined the Coast Guard, went to film school, then pursued comedy.

Fast forward to some time in 2016, I found an early version of Adobe Character Animator while digging through the CC apps. I picked it up pretty quick, and by this point, had also purchased a Wacom tablet. I wrote a short script about a guy (me) not wanting to leave the house, and got to work animating it.

Character Animator sped up a lot of the process for creating character-driven shorts and made it so that my unmedicated ADHD brain, used to years of heavy dopamine hits from standup comedy, was able to see results a lot sooner which kept me going. I’d tried to learn to animate in Flash years earlier, but was never able to produce results I was happy with (my fault, not the software’s.)

I kept playing, CH kept getting better, my confidence rose, and I found myself learning more about all aspects of animation. I started animating whenever I wasn’t performing. I made a few more shorts and animated some of my own standup. I had no clue where any of it was headed, I was just happy to be making content that combined two of my favorite things.

After a brief exchange with Rivers Cuomo over twitter (big time life highlight), I made a video for Weezer. They didn’t ask for it, but they liked it and even gave me free tickets to a show. The timeline is cloudy, but I kept making stuff and then the pandemic hit so I took that as a fine opportunity to keep going (while we were not allowed to go anywhere otherwise).

That led to creating spots for some of my fellow comics, and later, thanks to some recs from my old MTV job, creating shorts for Drew Barrymore. I continued my patchwork animation education thanks to programs like the Netflix Animation Foundation Program and Veterans in Media & Entertainment, and Story Xperiential. Also a wealth of software tutorials on YouTube created by people younger than me with more free time and less overhead. (Gen-Z, I am forever grateful.)

And now I’ve spent the last year working full time as an animatic editor at Snowflake Films here in NYC, making kids television with some really amazing people. A job I got connected with thanks to a long time friend who works in animation. We started together as caricature artists at the amusement park.

Anyway, I can’t believe it’s been eight years, and I’m glad to have found an inroad to this world where I’ve learned so much and met so many interesting people. I’m looking forward to the future. Not necessarily the immediate one, because I’ll looking for work, but whatever’s after that should be pretty good.

(I’m not going to post that first short because, well, it’s not great. But here are some thumbs from shorts I made for myself 2016, 2019, and 2024)

I Started a Blog In 2023 Because I’m Tired

I’m an elder millennial so I’ve been here for most of this shit. I’ve logged on to Prodigy, emailed people with Juno, and learned to talk to girls on AOL. (Some of them were Delia’s models. All of them were actually old men.)

I’ve had accounts on every social media platform from Friendster to Threads. I’ve been featured on the MySpace Comedy page, the front page of YouTube, and the top of BuzzFeed. I had a tweet that activated an army of Euphoria fans. I had a Tumblr that went viral and became a book. I’ve got reels and TikToks with millions of views. And it’s all fun, but I’ve been to this bar before. They put up new lights and brought in a Golden Tee machine, but it still smells weird and the bathroom floor is soggy.

I’ll still use social media, but in a FUN, cool way! Not the way where you put day-job level effort into it in the hopes it will result in a financial or emotional payday.

I think I’d rather just blog. Like on my own website. I don’t need subscribers. I don’t even need you to read this! It’s hosted on a server I’ve paid for the last fifteen years. If you want to pay me you can Venmo me I guess. (@jimtews)

Sorry for bragging about my internet achievements earlier. It was really uncomfortable for me, but it felt like it was important to making the point (that I’m awesome at the internet.)

– XOXO Gossip Girl