Meet our new animation director
We asked Harriet a few questions to find out how she started her career and what inspires her!
Tell me a bit about growing up and how you started drawing.
I grew up in the Norfolk countryside (UK), where I spent most days bouncing on a trampoline and making up games with my sisters. I always loved to draw and tell funny stories. As the youngest of three girls, somehow I had to make myself heard, so I did that through making people laugh. And I would literally draw everywhere, including the walls in our house (much to my mum’s horror).
When did you first realise that you wanted to animate?
As a kid, drawing was always a fun pastime, but I never thought it could be a REAL job! I remember when I first discovered animating, it was by accident. I was studying for my Philosophy A-levels and I wanted to make it more fun, so I drew pictures in Microsoft paint to tell the story of Plato’s Cave theory. I didn’t realise at the time that I was sort of making animation, but it was a good way to say I was “revising”.
Did you go to college? Did you study illustration / animation?
I discovered animation could actually be a career path when I went on a digital art foundation at Middlesex University. We explored film and animation. My experience making live-action films meant getting up early in the morning and standing in a freezing cold meadow all day with heavy equipment. Animation, on the other hand, meant drawing all day inside a comfortable, temperate room, blocking out most of the sunlight. This second one really suited me and from there, animation was the only thing I wanted to do. So after that I did a BA in animation at Middlesex and I loved every minute.
Did you go straight into the industry? Or did you do other jobs along the way?
I pretty much went straight into working in animation, with a bit of working in retail at first. Soon after graduating I got lucky getting a job at Cartoon Network on the most awesome show, The Amazing World of Gumball. Then I eventually returned to work at Middlesex University as an academic assistant on the course that I loved, which gave me space to grow my freelance career. I struggled with confidence at first so this time at Middlesex really helped me to gain my footing with working on freelance projects and working with other staff members in the animation industry was really inspirational.
Whose work do you admire? What inspires you?
I’m inspired by lots of things – books, cartoons, films, people and my own life. In terms of artists, I particularly love the work by Don Hertzfelt. He makes really simple looking stick figures and tells dark, hilarious and meaningful stories. It made me realise how something so simple can still communicate great humour and depth. I also so inspired by the the work by Victoria Vincent (@Vewn) with her amazing illustrations and films.
If you could have any job / project what would it be?
I feel so lucky to be working in this industry and I am really up for any new exciting challenge that comes my way. If I could select the perfect job, I would personally love to direct a music video for an artist I love. I would also jump at the opportunity to direct a new short film and take it on a festival circuit. Generally, I love to work on any projects that involve great character-led storytelling and beautiful design.