Friends of Kickstart: Ric Ow

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For this month’s edition of Friends of Kickstart, we’ve got another Kickstart alumni. Ric Ow was a designer at Kickstart for most of last year, before moving on to an exciting opportunity as a design lead at another studio in town.

Ric has been a concept artist and designer for many years, originally in the video game development industry before we stole him away to come make cartoons instead. You can check out his rad art on his portfolio site.

Tell us about your personal projects
I have an illustrated short story that I worked on with my wife that will be a part of a larger collective of stories, coming out sometime around summer or fall. The book is called Encounters with the Imaginary Volume 3 and its an anthology of fantasy-themed short stories, written and illustrated by over 40 artists from around the world.

My story is about my dog Ecko and his adventures with his buddy which happens to be a baby dragon, Its kinda like a Forrest Gump meets Homeward bound in a world like Lord of the Rings kind of scenario; I'm hoping to be able to develop this short story further sometime in the future, but it was a lot of fun to get the ball rolling and share a snippet of it with all the backers of the Kickstarter. 

What's your favourite colour combo?
Recently I've really liked images that use cyan and magenta color combos for some reason.

Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an artist?
Its hard to find one particular thing that made me want to be an artist, but there's no doubt that the art they would print in the instruction booklets and covers of NES games had a huge impact on me in the 80's. I would trace them and redraw the characters and enemies over and over again haha... its too bad you don't see that anymore with video games these days, most games don't even have printed manuals, I suppose thats why there's a big market for "art of" books now. There are many more influences on me growing up, but the art of console games was a big one.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
Fortunately, it seems that every job I move onto is better than the last, which hopefully is a reflection of me growing and improving as an artist; so regarding the high point of my career so far, it would be my experience working at Kickstart. Our design team worked so well together and was such a pleasure to be a part of. I learned a lot from all of them and I hope there will be more opportunities to work with them again in the future. It's rare to find a team that just complemented, supported, and encouraged one another so genuinely.

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What do you most want to improve in your work?
I'm greedy and I'd like to improve everything about my work haha. But if i had to be specific, I think I would like to improve on my story-telling and narrative ability in my art. Some of my favorite artists are able to paint captivating stories and complex emotions and relationships within just one image or scene, i'd like to be able to do that better.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Now that I have a young family of my own, a perfect Sunday for me is just getting to sleep in, go for a nice scenic walk, grab some good food and maybe a glass of wine or beer, and then have a few hours to just draw and paint while watching Netflix or something.

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
My most memorable non-animation job would probably be my very first job I had working in retail, selling athletic shoes and clothing. The entire staff was fairly young and it was just fun and carefree back then... the pay sucked and the hours were long but it was still pretty fun. I learned a lot about how to deal with customers and people in general; it also gave me an inside perspective about how service people are treated, sometimes very unfairly.I remember customers that would get upset at us because we didn't have her size as if it was our fault haha. I think this is a big reason why I try to treat everyone politely and with respect, we're all just trying to do our best no matter what title or profession we have. I also learned to be very grateful to be in a career that I love and I'm passionate about.

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You're stuck on a desert island with a laptop and USB stick containing the entirety of one cartoon - what show is it?
If i had to pick one cartoon to be stuck on an island watching, it would probably be the entirety of Dragonball and all its spin-offs because I was a huge fan of Akira Toriyama as a kid and there are SO many Dragonball spin-offs that I could literally be watching these for decades.

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality
My wife thinks I'm like Jughead Jones from Archie comics because I'm so laid back, I love to nap, and my eyes are never fully open haha, I've always liked Michelangelo from the ninja turtles because he's always happy-go-lucky and love eating junk food. And of course I love Goku from Dragonball and I've admired how simple and child-like he still is even though he has the power to destroy planets haha. So I'd say those characters are kinda like me...  laidback, happy-go-lucky, simple and down-to-earth.

What's a piece of media you've consumed lately (tv, movie, podcast, music etc) that has inspired you to create?
I recently binge watched Love, Death, and Robots on Netflix and it BLEW MY MIND. The creativity in the stories, the artistic and technical mastery required to create this series is just incredible! its definitely NSFW so its not for everyone, but am I ever inspired! It's amazing to see what artists can do when given the opportunity to go nuts.

What's on your work playlist?
I don't listen to music much anymore, but I'll always have some kind of tutorial or art-related channel or video on my 2nd monitor. There are some great youtube channels like Proko for anatomy, ModernDayJames  and Marco Bucci for fundamentals, FlippedNormals for 3D stuff, LucidPixels for general art chat, Bobby Chiu's Schoolism is always great. All good stuff for the art soul.

Artist Spotlight: Vivian Cheung

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This month’s subject for our Artist Spotlight series is character designer and storyboard artist Vivian Cheung.

After finishing her Animation degree in 2014, Vivian worked at a handful of local Vancouver studios before joining our team in April 2017. She’s done everything from animating to background painting to storyboarding, and has been a huge help on several Kickstart projects over the last couple of years.

You can check out her portfolio and see her cool freelance illustration work here.

What's your favourite colour combination?
Right now it’s washed out purples, greens, pinks and periwinkle.

Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an artist?
I grew up in Hong Kong and was exposed to a lot of anime, in particular, a series about a time-traveling robot and a boy who become friends and go on many adventures together. It sparked my love of storytelling and character design. The series is called Doraemon.

Tell us about your personal projects.
I’ve been casually developing visuals and stories for my froggy/fishy characters, a snippet of which is on my portfolio website. In other non-art-related areas, I am building a houseplant jungle at home.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
I have been fortunate in my career that each year has been better than the last. Every year I am blessed with amazing opportunities and I’m constantly learning and meeting new people.

What do you most want to improve in your work?
My biggest weaknesses would probably be in colour and lighting, so probably that! I could also improve my public speaking and pitching skills.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
I enjoy being a couch potato and escape into video game land with snacks. Or binge watch some reality tv.

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
I sold bread, and ate freshly baked bread, then brought bread home after. It was the high point of my bread selling career.

You’re stuck on a desert island with a laptop and a USB stick containing the entirety of one cartoon - what show is it?
I enjoy sitcoms more than cartoons, so I’m going to say The Office! But if I HAD to choose an animated series, it would be Full Metal Alchemist.

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality.
Hamm (Toy Story), Patrick (Spongebob), Morty

What’s a piece of media you’ve consumed lately (tv, movie, music, podcast, etc) that has inspired you to create?
Steven Universe is really really really pretty.

What’s on your work playlist?
On serious business days, podcasts. On days I need some dramatic flair, broadway musicals.

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Friends of Kickstart: Alison Ross

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This month’s Friends of Kickstart is bittersweet! We’re putting the spotlight on Alison Ross, a longtime team member who’s leaving the nest at the end of the month.

Alison started with Kickstart in 2010 in our PA/Front Desk position, and over the past eight and a half years has held pretty much every production position we have from Coordinator to Associate Producer.

We’ve also been lucky to work creatively with Alison over the years on a variety of projects, and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in the future. Between packing up their many stuffed animals and desk accoutrements, and preparing for life as a Freelance Writer, we asked Alison to answer our Friends of Kickstart questionnaire.

If you want to check out Alison’s work, you can head over to their website for details on their novel and various short stories they’ve written recently for both print and online publishers, as well as a look some of their favourite KS projects over the years.

What's your favourite colour combination? (2 or 3 colours)
I’ve always been a big fan of green/purple combo which I used to think was called puce. I later learned that puce actually refers to the color of blood left on bedsheets after a flea has been crushed, which, blurgh.

Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an writer?
The animated show Fillmore - the idea that you could infuse an adult genre into a kids show was really exciting to me, especially as a fan of genre fiction.

Alison’s first novel, Run In The Blood, is a fantasy tale published by  Ninestar Press .

Alison’s first novel, Run In The Blood, is a fantasy tale published by Ninestar Press.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
I think the high point so far has to be getting to write an animated movie and then also producing that movie. It was so exciting to see everything come together from start to finish and to really understand the impact that a script has on the rest of the production.

What do you most want to improve in your work?
I would love to have better discipline. I’ve always struggled with focus and attention, and I would love to just be able to sit down and write without getting up five times for tea and snacks and then falling into a wiki research hole until I remember what I’m meant to be doing.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
It starts with a sleep in - late enough to feel rested but not so late that I feel guilty. Then a little walk to grab a coffee and some breakfast pastries before settling in to write. Once I’m tapped out on creative energy, it’s time for video games, junk food and cat snuggles.

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
During university I worked part time at a yarn store in Victoria, BC. I am an avid knitter myself and there was something so wonderful about working in a place full of yet-to-be-realized creative energy. Every day I would come up with some new project I could make -- and the discount on supplies didn’t hurt either.

You’re stuck on a desert island with a laptop and a USB stick containing the entirety of one show - what show is it?
If i have the entirety of any show on a USB stick with me on a desert island, it would probably be a podcast, likely My Brother, My Brother And Me. I could listen to these zany guys forever and there are so many episodes that I will never get bored. Plus there’s always the chance one of the episodes will secretly have decent advice for getting off a desert island. (But probably not.)

One of the projects Alison wrote for Kickstart was Under Wraps, a CG Halloween special which aired on Family Channel and Cartoon Network.

One of the projects Alison wrote for Kickstart was Under Wraps, a CG Halloween special which aired on Family Channel and Cartoon Network.

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality.
Pepper Ann, Cedric Sneer and Gene Belcher.

What’s a piece of media you’ve consumed lately (tv, movie, music, podcast, etc) that has inspired you to create?
I’ve been listening to the actual play RPG podcast Friends At The Table, and they way that they collaboratively tell stories in real time is something that I love so much. I’ve always been a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan (and long-time Dungeon Master) but I’m always amazed with the way that FaTT has managed to package pen-and-paper RPG play with a complex narrative and engaging characters in a variety of different worlds.

What’s on your work playlist?
Honestly, I create a bespoke playlist for every creative project I work on, from a sprawling fantasy world to a direct-to-DVD Christmas movie. It helps keep me in the world and keep me focused. When I’m working in production mode it’s a lot of folk punk or pop that lets me sync with my spreadsheets: Jeff Rosenstock, Antarctigo Vespucci, Beach Bunny, and that perennial Canadian classic: Carly Rae Jepsen.


Artist Spotlight: Harj Bains

Harj and Dallas strike a pose.

Harj and Dallas strike a pose.

This month’s Artist Spotlight is on our amazing compositing supervisor Harj Bains!

Harj started with Kickstart in late 2017 and is a major component in making our projects look polished and amazing. Along with animation and compositing, Harj also brings something important to the studio: his beautiful and sweet pitbull Dallas!

Harj was kind enough to answer our spotlight questions and tell us a bit more about his work both inside and outside of the studio.

What's your favourite colour combination?
Orange and Teal





Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an artist?
Nothing in particular, but I’ve always been impressed by people who can balance beautiful yet complex designs. Like Moebius and Kilian Eng

Tell us about your personal projects.
I run a small boutique brazilian jiu-jitsu apparel brand. It’s a great way to marry my two great passions and watching it grow has been an ongoing source of joy. Apparel businesses are notoriously hard to get off the ground, and although it’s not huge, the signs of future potential are strong. I’m also launching a second brand this year, but I’m not ready to shout about it just yet!

What has been the high point of your career so far?
Honestly I can’t point to a single project that stands out above all others. I think the high point for me is just having a career I enjoy every day. I’ve been very fortunate to always feel like a small fish in a big pond. Being surrounded by amazing artists and finally accepting that I am one of their peers is an ongoing source of pride, and keeps me working hard.

What do you most want to improve in your work?
I could be a better draughtsman for sure, I’m so swamped with the businesses logistically, that honing my craft is secondary to constantly making new designs and coming up with new ideas.

Check out  @bainstore  to see some of Harj’s gorgeous apparel designs.

Check out @bainstore to see some of Harj’s gorgeous apparel designs.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Big breakfast (ideally waking up at a campsite), something outdoors with the dog, then some fishing/crabbing. Evening would be cooking some good food, wine and a movie. Solid instagram fodder.

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
I was a bartender from 18 and all through university, that really helped build my interpersonal skills and boosted my self-confidence, something I really needed as a young adult.

You’re stuck on a desert island with a laptop and a USB stick containing the entirety of one cartoon - what show is it?
Recess, they always found adventure in the mundane, which would probably help on a desert island.

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality.
I’m a worrywort so probably Morty of Rick & Morty, No-Face from Spirited away for it’s appetite, Wart from Sword in the Stone for his honest but naive nature.

What’s a piece of media you’ve consumed lately (tv, movie, music, podcast, etc) that has inspired you to create?
Bit grim but there’s a great WW2 doc on Netflix called WW2 in Colour, there’s a lot I didn’t know about that period of our history, and I think it’s important not to forget. It was also a period of very rapid technological advancement. I think there are some potential designs that can be done in a respectful, educational yet exciting and thought provoking way.

What’s on your work playlist?
MeatEater Podcast is a very esoteric podcast for hunters/outdoorsman, a lot of it is over my head but it’s fascinating and ultimately useful for the direction my life seems to be heading in.


Friends of Kickstart: Kristine Cofsky

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Our Vancouver team has recently grown by quite a bit, and in order to represent all of our glowing faces on the team page, we brought in photographer and Friend of Kickstart Kristine Cofsky. Luckily, she knew how to handle a creative and eclectic bunch and made us (and our studio pets) all look amazing!

If you haven’t seen our new mugshots, check out the Vancouver team page, and make sure to check out Kristine’s work over at her website.

Here are her answers to our questionnaire:

What's your favourite colour combination? (2 or 3 colours)
Black and White! 

What inspired you to become an photographer?
Films! Cinematography and storytelling. I started out in the film industry as an actor, and that has been one of my main inspirations moving into my photography career.

What has been the high point of your career so far?  
Taking possession of my new studio space.

What do you most want to improve in your work? 
Oh, everything.  I am totally self-taught, so am constantly learning and trying to improve my technical skills.  But if I had to pick just one thing- studio lighting.  

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sleep in, a really good coffee, brunch, and sunshine with my people. 

 What was your most memorable job?
Selling insurance. Memorable because I immediately knew that the 9-5 life was not going to work for me.  

You’re stuck on a desert island with a laptop and a USB stick containing the entirety of one cartoon - what show is it?
The Lion King. 

Pick three cartoon characters that describe your personality
This is so hard!  I don't watch a ton of cartoons, so would likely be pulling from deep childhood memories. How about I give you some of my personality traits and you choose for me.  ;)  Independent, control-freak, sensitive, dreamer.  

What’s a piece of media you’ve consumed lately (tv, movie, music, podcast, etc) that has inspired you to create? 
Chef's Table.

What’s on your work playlist? 
I have a master Spotify list that I am continually adding to everytime I hear something I like.  It's become pretty eclectic, but I love it.  

Artist Spotlight: Sasha Duncan

Sasha and her #ThisIsAna co-conspirator, Athena Russel.

Sasha and her #ThisIsAna co-conspirator, Athena Russel.

It’s time for another artist spotlight, and this time we’re highlighting the wonderful work of one of our associate producers: Sasha Duncan! Having first joined us in 2014 at the front desk, Sasha has quickly risen to become an instrumental part of our production and development teams.

When she’s not in the Kickstart studio helping shape our projects and processes, she’s working on her own content as a writer, producer, director and editor.

Sasha’s latest work is the first season of her webseries #ThisIsAna, which was recently released and is now available to binge-watch! She also recently directed and edited a music video for Miki Montebello’s song “That One Way.”

What's your favourite colour combination? (2 or 3 colours)
Deep blue, medium rose and light yellow.

Can you think of a particular piece of media that inspired you to become an artist?
Films with a particular style and fantasy to them had a big impact on me growing up Edward Scissorhands and Pleasantville and The Craft. And then as I got older I sort of honed in on what I really love, which is just the story of a real person… because they can be pretty fantastical and crazy and weird. Bachelorette is a recent(ish) favourite.

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Run by the beach. Coffee. A little editing or writing. Brewery with some buds. Home early enough to be able to do some meal prep. Tea. Sleeeeep.

The Cast of #ThisIsAna

The Cast of #ThisIsAna

What was your most memorable non-animation job?
Face painting at a circus. I was thirteen. It was nuts.

You’re stuck on a desert island with a laptop and a USB stick containing the entirety of one show - what show is it?
The Office (US). I will never get tired of it and it IS better.

Pick three characters that describe your personality.
Regina George, Daphne (from Scooby-Doo) and Leslie Knope.

What do you most want to improve in your work?
I’m still working on my confidence in communicating with actors about their performance in character in a way that’s collaborative and respectful (as a director) and while I’m the kinda of person who manually syncs sound and pays attention to where music and transitions meet, I have noooo idea what I’m doing when it comes to editing sound, and would love to improve there.

What’s on your work playlist?
Lately, Lou Val, JONES, and Omar Apollo

Friends of Kickstart: Nicole Oliver

Friends of Kickstart: Nicole Oliver

We’ve been lucky enough to work with this Friend of Kickstart both inside and outside the record booth over the past few years. A distinguished actress both in voice-over and on camera, as well as a wonderful voice director, we are big Nicole Oliver fans here at Kickstart.

Here are Nicole’s answers to our ten vital questions about life, acting and animation.

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Amazon orders "The Boys"

The Boys are back in town at Amazon! We can't wait to get started on this new Super journey.

"Amazon has greenlighted superhero drama The Boys to series with an eight-episode order. Based on the comic book by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Darick Robertson, it was created by Supernatural creator and Timeless co-creator Eric Kripke and will be directed by the Preacher duo of Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. The project hails from Sony Pictures TV Studios, which will co-produce with Amazon, and Neal H. Moritz’s studio-based Original Films."

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CAKE goes global with Ready Jet Go!

Forget the galaxy, Ready Jet Go! is about to travel the world thanks to Cake Entertainment. Seasons 1 & 2 have been picked up by broadcasters across the globe.

"UK distributor CAKE has signed a raft of deals for seasons one and two of Wind Dancer Films’ Ready Jet Go!"

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