Three years ago today, me and my wife packed up our belongings, we sublet our place in New York and moved out west with our little 2.5 year old daughter. We checked in to the Safari Inn in Burbank on a Wednesday afternoon, with no place to live, no jobs, and no car...did I mention we had just found out we were expecting our second child two weeks prior. Our plan was to rent a car and find a place to live by the weekend. Being that all the animation studios were in Burbank and Glendale, we knew where we had to be. The weekend came and after hustling like a New Yorker for cheap rental, we found ourselves moving in to our Burbank spot on a Saturday morning. As we moved in the hustle continued, I had a couple of phone numbers from contacts I'd made through working conventions, freelancing and friend recommendations. I made some calls and was able to score two tests, one from Warner Brothers and the other from Disney. This meant I had to run to Ikea to buy a table to draw on, being that we didn't have any furniture yet. The Disney test was for storyboarding on a show called Kick Buttowksi and the Warner Brothers test was for character design on Batman, The brave and the Bold. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what I chose to focus on, lol. While I waited for a call back, we decided to up the stakes a bit by buying a car...I know right, wtf? The following week came with a phone call from WB and a job offer, I couldn't F'n believe it! Warner Brothers Animation is a union studio, this means you get health insurance, that health insurance kicks in when you've put in 6 months of work. I mention this because my son Niko was born on THE day my health insurance kicked in!!! How fucking crazy is that??? I am not a very religious man, but...THANK GOD! Working at WB is exactly what I dreamt of it being as an animation student at SVA, the artist caliber is really high and it is truly inspiring working with many of the artist there, I have learned so much from my co-workers and I have to thank James Tucker for giving me a chance to rock that test.
While I was busy at WB, my daughter Maya was in pre school and Niko started up at day care. My wife Toni, who is an animator, was working from home remotely for a couple of east coast studios. She managed to score a gig animating on the Ricky Gervais show at Wild Brain studios before landing a full time gig at Disney Publishing World wide, where she gets to animate on apps for mobile devices. Before leaving NY, I had decided to walk away from animation and focus completely on my personal art and my brand. The truth is I had lost a lot of love for the medium and industry being that it was merely a shadow of what once was. Despite all this, I still felt like I owed that kid who spent all nighters animating away on his senior thesis a taste of what the west coast had to offer. We were so focused and confident on making this happen that we never stopped to think what if it doesn't? Looking back at it, I feel like I had a lot of people looking over my shoulder making sure we were in the right place at the right time.