Say hello to Matt Cassan, Design Supervisor on Nature Cat and the latest Brown Bag Films Toronto (formerly 9 Story) artist to be featured on our Tumblr.
Check out Matt’s profile below and find out how jumping out of your comfort zone can be a great thing for an artist and why you will probably want to avoid him at family gatherings!
1. What do you do at Toronto?
I’m a Design Supervisor on Nature Cat
2. What do you love most about your job?
Being able to collaborate creatively within a team and seeing talented people do great work.
3. What is your origins story? Aka, how did you get to where you are today in your career?
Apparently I started drawing as a toddler and I’ve been compelled to draw ever since. After high school I took a 2-year Art and Design Course and a year of Fine Arts in University (which didn’t agree with me) so I took a year off. During that year I had a series of terrible part time jobs. That helped motivate me to apply to Sheridan College for Animation. Since then I’ve only worked in Art/Animation/Design. I started in Halifax, but have lived and worked mostly around Toronto. I’ve also been teaching Life Drawing at Seneca College for the last 10 years or so.
4. Who is one of your biggest influences or inspirations?
As a kid it was Chuck Jones’ cartoons (the coyote and roadrunner specifically). His expressions and poses are absolutely fantastic - For figure drawing lately it’s Steve Huston, but I see so much inspiring work now online it’s too hard to keep track of it.
5. What have you found is the most challenging thing about working in the animation industry?
Learning that I went to school to learn a trade, and that at the end of the day my passion is my job. Staying motivated to work on my own art interests after a day of drawing and designing for a show (regardless of how rewarding the show is) can be challenging. I think making time to work on my own creative interests is necessary to keep all of my skills sharp, to stay competitive and to expand on my skill-set. So when I’ve had my fill of drawing cartoons I try to be creative elsewhere, like doing photography, or portrait drawing, and even just carrying a sketchbook on the subway. It feeds back into my professional career and allows me to recharge and be productive at the same time.
6. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in animation?
Make sure you like drawing - and that you learn to draw well. Software packages change but solid drawing has been a staple throughout. Make time to work on your own stuff - your own craft, whatever that is.
7. What is your life motto or favourite quote?
I’m not sure if I have a favourite motto or quote. I’ve been trying to do things that scare me a bit … taking risks outside my comfort zone (I’m not sure that that’s a motto). I think it’s those experiences that lead to the best stories and allow for the most growth. I also have no attention span so that might change tomorrow - so I guess being flexible and adaptable to change is a good motto then too.
8. Outside of work what is your story?
I live with my wife and 2 boys in The Junction. I’m that guy with the large camera in everyone’s face at family gatherings.
See more of Matt’s incredible drawings and photographs via his Instagram!