Where did you grow up? At what age did you start thinking about pursuing an artistic career?
I was born in Denmark, but I grew up in Greenland surrounded by the vast landscape and beautiful sceneries. I have been wanting to pursue an artistic career for as long as I can remember. When I was just 3 years old I wanted to be a painter, as I thought that was the only way to live off doing what I loved – creating art.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I was accepted to The Animation Workshop in the Character Animation program when I was 17, on a dispensation based on talent, as I was too young to have the degree to be accepted on normal terms at the time. I grew up as an artist in this wonderful and inspiring environment and I learned so much, not just as a draftsman but also about myself. When I graduated with my first Bachelor Degree in Arts in 2007, I already knew that I was not meant to be an animator. After some years working I found my way and decided to take another degree at The Animation Workshop in 2013, but this time at the Graphic Storytelling program, as I found that I really wanted to tell stories and develop my skills as a designer, to pursue a career in Character Design and Visual Development. Besides my education, I have been using a lot of time developing my work through drawing a lot and doing personal work on a regular basis.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I think I've had support from my family and friends through the years, but It has been a challenge and without going into detail, in some ways it still is. Creating art and stories is such a big part of me that I have become pretty uncompromising in this regard. I’m highly passionate about my work and I love what I do, I couldn't live without it.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
I've had a lot of different influences growing up, but my main inspiration is definitely animated movies, particularly Disney films. Among my many favourites are The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book and Robin Hood. I also grew up with a lot of fairytales, mythology and other literature, as my dad was reading to me every evening until I was quite old. I also enjoined reading comics, I loved Jeff Smith's Bone, Loisel's Peter Pan and Peter Madsens' Valhalla.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I don't think I have ever had a favourite subject, it has always been based on specific themes or stories that interested me at the time, and it still is like that today.
From the initial client idea to the final work: What goes through your mind and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
When I start a project I usually work very broadly with the subject and story that I am trying to capture, but my main focus is to convey a specific mood or feeling of a character or environment that I'm working with. I always try to include storytelling points and for me it’s essential to I find the best possible way to interpret the story into visuals. In working with the client and seeing what they react well to, I take it from there and we find the end results together.
What is your process in creating your art and what are your favourite tools?
I’m sketching and doodling around a lot. Sometimes a character or story appears in the process, other times I have a specific goal in mind, it varies a lot. In the past I didn't like working digitally, but now I love it and I use my Cintiq everyday working in Photoshop when I draw. I still do love finishing things up by hand, there's a great satisfaction in working on paper and having an original piece in your hand, but it doesn’t happen as often as I would like to.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
Every part of the process can be a challenge, but I really enjoy doing initial sketching, finding a character, a mood and conveying a story into images. It’s also very satisfying to finish up a piece in full colour and look back on the journey getting there. I think the most difficult thing in the process sometimes can be working with a client that does not have a clear idea about where they want to go with a project.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work, collaborate or share your creative time with?
I start my day by checking and answering emails, or doing Skype calls with clients, then I start working on the tasks of the day, while keeping in touch with them. I usually do a little bit of sketching for myself in my breaks, to kind of take a step back and clear my head. I use the evenings to work on my personal projects and designs, as a way to keep learning and developing as an artist, but also to relax. As a freelancer I work with a variety of clients, amongst them are Disney Television Animation, Nørlum Studios, Copenhagen Bombay, Renegade Animation and a lot more. I share most of my creative free time with my significant other. We have a lot of fun supporting and giving each other feedback on what we do. It’s an invaluable part of my life and I feel so lucky! Besides that I have my sister and some other artist friends that I talk to online and in real life, sharing and talking about art.
What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I have learned a lot from a range of different artists around me. Not just people who draw or paint, but storytellers, writers, musicians, cinematographers and many others. Getting feedback, sharing ideas and struggles, tips and tricks is so valuable. I have also leaned a great deal from doing 2D animation with characters created by other artists, the thinking process in emoting, turning them around in space and designing for animation. I've met so many great artists, as friends, teachers and mentors throughout my time studying at The Animation Workshop and they have all added something, in one way or another, to my artistic development and thinking.
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I'm very proud of some of the most recent projects I’ve been working on, but I can't really show anything or talk about it yet. I also like my tennis player & trainer pieces, which I did in my spare time and am working on developing their story into a short film pitch.
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
Unfortunately, I can't really share too much about projects that I have worked on in the past, or what I am currently working on. I can tell you that I have just ended a project for a Danish feature film and that I am now working as a lead character designer on a new TV show that is going to hit the screens this year.
Do you have a longterm career goal? What would your dream project be?
I have many goals and dreams. I'm ambitious person and I want to take my career very far. I dream about working in studio as a character designer and visual development artist in a major US studio, to develop my skillset and broaden my creative network within the animation community. On longer terms, I would love to create my own stories and intellectual properties for both TV and feature animation.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
At the moment I am freelancing and I'm enjoying it a lot. It's a challenge juggling everything, compared to being an in-house artist on a production, but right now it is what suits my current conditions best. I love working with various clients and being challenged with different projects, it's a lot of fun. In the future I would love to work with a bigger team in a studio environment again, as freelancing also can get a little bit lonely at times.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an artist's block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Artist blocks are the worst and it can be difficult to get out of the funk, but I have a few different strategies to deal with it. Usually, I just keep pushing and pushing, working myself out of it. At some point something good is bound to come out of it and sometimes when you look back on the ton of sketches that you hated months ago, they turn out to be not that bad after all. I think artist blocks often comes out of not believing in yourself, or being insecure about your work, but when you get out on the other side, there has usually been some kind of development, something you got better at. Other times, I just need to take a break and distance myself a little bit, go out into nature, talk to people or look for things that might inspire me. Another great thing can be an online challenge, like participating in the monthly Character Design Challenge or some of the other fun challenges out there. But first of all, don't be too hard on yourself, you'll get there with persistence and hard work. Development takes time and every artist, even the big ones, can stumble into an art block from time to time. I am still learning everyday and I will be for the rest of my life, thats also the beauty of it.
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, you name it. There are so many careers and when you are very young, sometimes you know only one thing: you simply love to draw. In your opinion, what should a young person take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
When starting out as a young artist, you already have some influences and inspirations in your baggage. Use them and have fun creating art and challenging yourself to get better. Try out different medias and tools, experiment and push things around. Again, developing your craft takes time and dedication – so keep at it. You will find your way eventually, what the right path is for you. Engage in creative communities with other artists, at events, in real life and online. Take courses or find an education that fits what you find interesting.
In your own experience, what would you suggest to someone who is inspired by your work and wants to follows your footsteps: should they work in one consistent style, or work on many different ones?
The above applies here too. I don't really think I work in a consistent style all the time, I like to try different things and it keeps it fun for me. Of course all of my work has some kind of consistency, as it all comes from my hand and my influences through time that I carry with me. I feel that the style that you're working in should have appeal and fit the story that you're trying to tell, or the atmosphere that you're wanting to create.
A variety in complexity and style in your work can land you different kinds of jobs and also shows a capability to adapt to a range of projects, in feature animation as well as TV. Some productions require you to work in a specific style that is already laid out for you, so practicing adopting other styles is also a good skill to have and you learn a lot while doing it, things that you can eventually also apply to your own work. Some other artist might feel different about this.
If you had to recommend only one art book (a comic book, graphic novel, children book, ''how to'' book) to a fellow artist, what would it be and why?
It's hard to just recommend one book, but I would have to say that Richard Williams The Animator's Survival Kit really did a lot for me and I learned a great deal about dynamics and acting. Even though it's a book for animators, I think there is a lot to learn as a designer for animated movies and TV from this amazing book. It can be found online as a pdf version for those who are interested in giving it a read.
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
There is so much going on in the animation industry and there are so many productions going, I feel like it’s a very good era for animation nowadays. There are of course many expectations for an artist, but I think that there are some essential things that apply to any kind of job. Be nice and flexible to work with, be professional and don't take feedback personal, keep your deadlines and deliver what you get paid for. There are no such thing as art block or having a bad day when you have a client paying you to do your job. You can be in one day and out the next. Thats the harsh reality of it. I think in a higher degree today, that artists are also expected to keep an online presence on social media, but I don't feel that popularity in this regard is in any way crucial for landing jobs.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I love hand drawn animation, it's what got me into this line of work. I think it's hard to say anything about the future of 2D, but it's evident that most big productions are pointing in the direction of 3D animation. I hope that there will still be bigger 2D productions in the future of animated movies. I know I would love to watch them.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online services and so on. New media on the Internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
Generally speaking, I think that all the social media platforms are a great tools for artists today to self promotion your work and reaching an audience for free. It’s a great way to show that you are active in the pursuit of your passions and career, and you can share your art and exchange ideas with the world. It also creates an online community for artists who might not have a lot of other artists around them on a daily basis. When I started out as a young artist, there weren't all these platforms to join and it was hard getting noticed.
The cons of this might be, that artists can get very sensitive about how well a post does and blame themselves, if it does not perform well or if they loose an x amount of followers. There is also the fact that there are so many amazing artists out there, that it maybe gets a little bit overexposed and you can drown in it. I don't think that social media platforms are the main source of getting hired, there are many other things to take into account and ways that you have to follow to push your career forward.
Finally, where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
I have my own website with my personal work and a password protected website with professional work upon request. My personal website is ( juliehaugeandersen.com ). You also can support and follow my artwork online on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Linkedin and check out my portfolio on Artstation
Thank you Julie :)