Anyone here 17 years old? Today is the 13th of July, the 17th anniversary of my animation career.
As a kid I hated school. I hated being a little fella craving acceptance from footballing kids who detested non-footballers. I didn’t want to pretend to like football or cricket, but wanted to be accepted for who I was. I was a clever kid but in the small town of farmers, trade apprentices and sports prodigies, I didn’t know who I wanted to be. Should I take up sport because everyone else did? Should I try to be a tough guy and command respect with my fists like so many of my friends and enemies? Should I silently plot revenge and use my ingenuity for evil? Should I avoid people altogether and keep my artistic talents to myself?
I tried all of these. Like so many of us, my teens were the angry years. I wore black, carried knives, picked locks, invented and built small weapons. I was obsessed and involved in martial arts for all the wrong reasons. I was daring the world to mess with me. OK, I wasn’t a complete psycho.. I had friends and girlfriends and I liked to make people laugh but my dear mother was scared of what her son was becoming and where he might end up. It wasn’t until I moved alone to the big city, embarking on an animation career that my life really changed.
At the end of year 10 at school, despite having never taken art as an elective subject, I had dreams of being a successful artist of some kind but decided I’d rather shovel shit for 2 more years than stay at school. For years after, I worked on horseback mustering sheep and cattle, in kitchens washing dishes and frying food and in a factory dragging steel into a welding machine.
1992 found me working as a farm hand, driving tractors, moving irrigation lines and squinting in the dust. All the while I was dreaming and drawing in my free time. I had narrowed down my ambitions to becoming a famous comic-book writer/artist. I wanted to be the next Simon Bisley, or Eastman & Laird.
My mother took some of my ink drawings to be framed. The framing guy at the store remarked on the drawings and mentioned that Disney had advertised for trainees. They wanted talented artists to train in the ways of animation. Mum brought the details over to my flat where I lived with my younger brother. My dream job fell into my lap.
I applied for the animation trainee position and was accepted. I hugged my mum and dad goodbye at the train station and my first day in animation was July 13th, 1993.