Interview with Aaron Springer
TAY: When were
SPRINGER: Sept. 5, 1973
TAY: What was your childhood like?
TAY: How so? (if that's not too personal)
SPRINGER: Being trapped in school or shopping malls with my mom or church or whatever bugged me. I always wanted to be out playing or making stuff.
TAY: How did you first get into cartoons and animation?
SPRINGER: The earliest thing was childrens books. Richard Scarry was one of my favorites. My mom would take me to the library and I would check out stacks of books and just stare at them. It was the best. Then of course there was TV. That's where I would see battle of the planets, or the peanuts movies, and the rankin-bass puppet stuff. All this started really early, like age 1 (week)
TAY: Yeah Richard Scarry is cool. I can remember reading his books and Dr Suess
SPRINGER: Yep. 'Oh the things you can think' really stained me.
TAY: Cool. Actually a personal favourite of mine is Green Eggs and Ham.
SPRINGER: That's a good one.
TAY: Are you self taught?
SPRINGER: Yes and no, cause I was always looking at comics and cartoons and I'm sure I learned from doing that, and then of course there were art classes..I don't know how anybody who draws these days could be completely self-taught.
Well, I took art classes in school and went to college for animation so I guess not.
TAY: What comics in particular?
TAY: Comics you used to read
TAY: No time period in particular. Just stuff you feel really influenced you when drawing
SPRINGER: Different stuff through different times.. it's hard to say cause there's so many. I was into Sergio Aragones heavily when i was younger (I still love his stuff) I went through phases where I would obsess with von bode and Frank Frazetta's stuff.. japanese artists like Akira Toriyama, Hideshi Hino and (most of all) Shigeru Mizuki have always been there. Then there's Hugo Pratt, who did the Corto Maltese comics. He's fucking amazing.
TAY: Cool. I loved Sergio's stuff. The stuff he did for mad. Haven't seen Groo though
SPRINGER: I first saw Groo in a copy of 'starblazers' I was about to throw in the trash. It was before he did the series, so I must have been only 9 or 10 at the time. I loved his stuff from mad, and the idea of a whole comic by him, that was MEDIEVAL, made me crazy
TAY: Cool. Frazetta is pretty cool. The stuff he draws is absolutely beautiful. Can't say I've heard of those Japanese guys though. Although i do like Osamu Tezuka and Kenichi Sonoda.
SPRINGER: Toriyama = Dragonball. Hino = Panorama of Hell. Mizuki= gegege no kitaro
TAY: How did you first get into your career in animation?
SPRINGER: I got an internship at turner animation (Cat's Don't Dance) because Brad Bird (Iron giant) liked my portfolio. Since I was going back to school in the fall, I didn't stay at Turner long. My next job was working for John k , who i met at Calarts.
TAY: When working on a cartoon, what do you prefer to do (layout, animation, storyboarding, etc.)?
SPRINGER: It depends on the project. If you work in television, you hardly ever get a chance to animate, because all that gets done overseas, unless you're working in development or something. The same usually goes for layout, so that leaves storyboarding, which I guess wins by default. If im doing my own project, then the process is way more freeform, so i can't really separate it out into those categories. ha! i didnt want to have to decide!
TAY: heh heh. Just out of curiousity, Why doesn't TV animation usually get animated in America?
SPRINGER: It's too expensive
TAY: Fair enough. I think we might have covered some of this but who would you cite as being your influences that changed your life?
SPRINGER: As far as artist go, I would have to say John K. he knows how to turn insanity into insanity that other people can enjoy.
TAY: Speaking of John K, How did you get into working at Spumco?
SPRINGER: My friend Matt was interning there and he brought me by one day. John remembered me from Calarts and and gave me a job. First it was just cut and paste stuff but before long he had me drawing.
TAY: What do you mean by cut and paste stuff?
SPRINGER: Cutting out xeroxes and pasting them up on boards for presentation. Development stuff.. He had me coloring too which was hard cause I'd always get high off the markers.
TAY: How long were you at Spumco for?
SPRINGER: About 3 years I think
TAY: Could you explain the change of style from say, 'Babys New Formula' to your website, 'Funtowne?
SPRINGER: I did Baby's New Formula in my second year at Cal Arts, which was the same year I started at Spumco. I was obsessed with what I thought was the 'spumco style'. So Special the pussycat is me trying to draw like Terrytoons or Spumco, before I understood why those drawings really work. When I started storyboarding, I stopped thinking about surface details and wacky design and got more into clear, funny staging.
A lot of this came from working with John. When I saw how much he liked the weird shit I would draw on my own, I got more comfortable just drawing whatever. Eventually my stuff even started to rub off on him (I know, sounds gross). I stopped going for any type of 'style' and went right for funny drawings. THE POWER LIES WITHIN, NOT WITHOUT!
TAY: How do cope with the changes in style with the different shows you've worked on?
SPRINGER: So far the style changes haven't been too drastic from show to show. We'll see how it goes on SAMURAI. I think since I'm boarding, I'll be able to stick with how I draw naturally, since I'm basically just telling the story. the layout artists and animators can deal with their little design problems.
TAY: The wonderful Mr. Seed cartoon on funtowne. Is that by any chance a drug reference?
SPRINGER: It is what it is. It's a big strawberry and Mr. Seed chances upon it. He interacts with it. Stuff happens.
If someone wanted to think of it as 'drugs' that's fine, but I think that's kind of boring. To me its more fun to take what happens in Mr. Seed at face value without trying to define it. Then its way more fucked up, cause you can think about a giant bird and those guys at the gate for real, without just going, 'huh. drugs.' Which isn't to say its not fun to watch Mr. Seed while you're baked. That goes without saying.
TAY: Yeah when I first watched it, I didn't analyse it. I just thought, this is heaps cool in a weird way. I love it heh heh
TAY: Where do you see internet animation in next 5 or so years?
SPRINGER: On my computer. Hopefully by then I'll have one of those cool titanium laptops.
TAY: Cool. I was actually refering to internet animation in general like on the web. Where do you see it leading into..?
SPRINGER: uh.. It'll probably be sort of where it is now.. I imagine there will be more cartoons showing up as more people get computers, so that will be good.
TAY: From all the places you've worked at, do you have a favourite employer and why?
SPRINGER: I guess it would be John again, because he put so much faith in my work, even though in my head I was just a piss ant.
TAY: I'm sure he knows talent when he sees it
TAY: How about an employer or somewhere you worked that you disliked?
SPRINGER: well.. I worked at a little CD ROM company when those were booming around '95, and even though I didn't stay there, a lot of my friends did, and that place ended up folding. Later they found out the owner was stealing from the company,and that was part of the reason why it went down. What an asshole.
TAY: When working for a big company like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, Do you find it hard to bring out your own ideas?
SPRINGER: They liked my stuff at nickelodeon a lot. Unfortunately the fast production schedules and tight budgets of network shows don't really allow for a lot of time to be spent on the drawings, so a lot of the ideas have to come out in the writing. So even though I was storyboarding, I felt more like a writer there. It was good though. great experience. I haven't really done much work at Cartoon Network, but I hope they'll like my stuff!
TAY: Do you have a favourite project or cartoon that you have worked on?
SPRINGER: That would be the Bjork music video for the song 'I Miss You'. not only was it one of the first projects I ever worked on, but I love Bjork too.
TAY: Yeah that video was cool...really weird and whacked out. By the way which scenes did you animate on that video?
SPRINGER: I mostly storyboarded and did layouts, but I animated the scene where she slides down the dinosaur's back and I assisted on the one where she rips the chicken in half. Again, a lot of that was done overseas.
TAY: Cool..Yeah that chicken part is a classic
TAY:When you aren't working on cartoons, what are you doing?
SPRINGER: I'm either playing video games, making stupid music on my computer, riding the motorcycle, eating, or doing you know what with my girlfriend.
TAY: What sort of music do you make?
SPRINGER: far-out music
TAY: Where do some of your characters originate?
SPRINGER: Rudyard Cornhill started in high school. In math class I think. He's changed a little over the years, but he's still an idiot. Dingle from Snowflake Village (not up on the site yet) started a few years ago after a nasty breakup. He's really bitter. Mr. Seed originated on his own accord.
TAY: So I guess you base a lot of your characters and stories on people and personal experiences
SPRINGER: Yeah thats where the funny stuff happens. Real life.
TAY: Going back to Calarts, What do you think of your time there? (how they taught you and what you gained from it)
SPRINGER: It was good shit. I had a great animation teacher who really knew his stuff. Kevin Johnson. our design teacher was a real badass too. He knew karate. some of the staff there are real stinkers, but our year totally lucked out. And as with any school, if you're into it then you'll gain a lot from it.
TAY: Did the design teacher kick your ass if you handed in an assignment late?
SPRINGER: No but he was known to tear a few off the wall. (assignments, not asses.)
TAY: How long were you there for? Did you just do their normal animation course?
SPRINGER: I went for three years, long enough to get a bachelor's degree. I pretty much stuck to the animation/ story/ design classes.
I had to take a few literature and history classes to get the degree, but I had already done a lot of that in junior college.
TAY: What do you want to do with the rest of your life? What you eventually hope to do/be or have you achieved everything already?
SPRINGER: I definitely want to do a TV series. I know television is a pretty limited medium because of um.. money, but good things can still happen on it. I also want to buy a house. And start a harem.
TAY: Have you figured out a basic plot or a group of characters for this TV series?
SPRINGER: Yeah I have a story bible put together and a script for the pilot. Richard Pursell and I put it together. Right now someone at nick is (supposedly) reading it, and I plan on pitching it, among other projects to Cartoon Network.
I would also like to make a video game. I think I told you this.
TAY: That sounds great. Yeah you mentioned something about a RPG in flash. How's that coming along?
SPRINGER: Slowly but surely.
TAY: How would you like to be buried?
SPRINGER: with a spork.
The acompanying drawings came courtesy of Aaron Springer. So thanks Aaron for them and for putting the time into answering my silly questions.