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A Love Story of Classical Art and Modern Animation...Meet GrisDismation's Founders GrissyG and Dismas

Written by Robin WildingJuly 14, 2011
GrisDismation
Did you know.... In 2013 every movie nominated for an Oscar Award in the Best Visual Effects category had graduates from The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School at Universal Studios Orlando) in the credits. This year (2014), four of the five nominated films - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, and Star Trek Into Darkness- included DAVE School graduates. Those 4 films alone employed nearly 70 DAVE School graduates last year.
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Quite often love turns into animation, but rarely does animation turn into love—but that is just the story between GrissyG and Dismas, co-owners of GrisDimation. While earning their Arts and Multimedia degrees at Los Angeles Mission College in California the two star-crossed lovers fell in love, with animation and each other.

Ever since the two have been creating original art and animations together from their studio in Calabasas, California. Both (graphic) artists are originally from Corozal Town in Belize, but now call California their home. The busy couple manages to balance both work and home life, despite the hectic artistic lifestyle that working in animation can bring.

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True old-school artists at heart both GrissyG and Dismas draw on classical art for their modern animation inspiraton. The couple does not only believe in the digital though, they work in a variety of artistic mediums that lend more depth and reality to their projects. “Art is the influence in everything we do,” say the two successful artists/animators. Their love of all-things-classical helped inspire their uber-creative original character series’s Ongher, Time Box, and MasBot.

The happy couple recently sat down with Animation Career Review to share how art and animation has influenced their life, and the struggles it has taken them to get to where they are.

What is your firm's focus within animation and what led your firm to have such a focus?

GrisDismation’s focus within Animation is the Fine Art aspect, story telling, originality, and connecting with people. First and foremost, GrisDismation is the signature that represents the collaborative works of my wife GrissyG and I, Dismas. As Fine Artists GrissyG and I, Dismas both grew up with the passion and drive to paint, sculpt, photograph, build, write, compose, sing, and observe life through creative eyes.

GrissyG and I were both born in Corozal town in Belize, Central America and met at Los Angeles Mission College in California while enrolled in Art, Multimedia, and general education classes to develop our passion for the Arts while also expanding our personal knowledge. At first we didn’t realize we were both from the same town, from the same country until a few semesters into our schooling. When we found each other it was love and we realized that we are a perfect combination complimenting each other’s talents. It is what some would call the perfect storm, where GrissyG has a super talent for the fine Arts with a keen understanding for computer programs and I, Dismas, have a wild imagination for writing and also an amazing talent for fine Arts as well. This passion for the Arts and creativity led to the experimentation with different Art forms including experimental, 2D, and stop-motion Animation which is an ideal medium with no limits to express our Art, storytelling, and imagination to connect with people. And in 2003 GrissyG and I, Dismas established GrisDismation to produce original Art and Animations to entertain, fascinate, and inspire.

Fill in the blank: The future of animation is _________.

Dynamic, organic, and ever evolving.

What are the best and worst aspects about working in the animation field?

The best aspect of working in the Animation field is the complete ability and boundless freedom of expression in one of its purest forms. Although, there is the aspect some would consider worst or what we like to consider, the understanding that not everything happens over night. It may happen over long nights but not always over night. It is the long hours that an Artist has to put into an Animation to make it happen. That agonizing excitement of wanting to see your project complete but knowing there’s a long journey ahead of us. It’s the idea of seeing and knowing the end goal in your mind but having to endure the wonderful process and time to finally see your totally worth it end result.

Among your firm's achievements, which one(s) are you the most proud of?

Every achievement GrisDismation accomplishes makes us proud but the two that really stand out is a series of Fine Art titled Legends of Belize, a series of Art about the mythical creatures that dwell in the jungles and waters of Belize in Central America, and the Animated series called Ongher, about a modern day clown who stumbles through life much like the rest of us but usually with a comedic twist.

The series titled Legends of Belize documents the mythical creatures of Belize like never before in larger than life Fine Art paintings, logos, and descriptions. As with everything, times are changing and small countries such as Belize are modernizing rapidly and the younger generations are missing out on lots of the older ways of story telling. Especially with the progress of technology lots of the old folklore are not shared like they used to and are slowly being forgotten. As GrisDismation we Artfully crafted a way to capture and document these ancient myths for this generation and future ones to come.Through sharing Legends of Belize, via the Internet, Art shows, Digital presentations and traditionally like our elders use to through oral recantations many people become captivated and inspired to share the myths of their culture, which allows for a deeper connection with our audience.

Our Animated series called Ongher also makes us proud because it is an original series that is aimed towards the general audience and has gotten raving good remarks both online and off with laughs from both children and adults alike. It is a light-hearted short animated series meant to just make people laugh and if laughter is the best medicine we are proud to share the best medicine in town.

What skills/qualities does your firm seek out when hiring new employees?

If the opportunity arises where we need to take on projects that may require additional hands, brains, voices, or other talents, we would definitely consider hiring Artists with deep passion and talent for the Arts. The qualities we would look for in Artists are the ones who are self-motivated, creative, open minded enough to learn our ancient ways while willing to teach us what they know, and finally, a happy Artist, it’s always easier to work with happy people.

What particular schools, if any, does your firm recruit new hires from?If none, where do you recruit new hires?

If GrisDismation were to recruit new hires we would not limit to any particular school, although geography would have a small say in where student recruits would come from. Generally, if we were to hire we would always consider anyone with the talent and passion for the Arts.

What advice would you give to aspiring animators?

Anyone aspiring to be an Animator might want to consider being an Artist first, not always but it is a good idea. Being an Artist, there is a drive to be creative and that creativity is what translates onto the screen as amazing animated visuals and story telling. Also as an aspiring Animator it is essential that you develop your skills by drawing and Animating. There is no better way to learn something but by doing it. The experience of trial and error of working on your own projects allows one to develop and hone in on your talents. Keep Animating!

What were your most challenging projects, and why?

As Artists and Animators all projects are a challenge when you put your soul into them. Every project has a different approach, different obstacles, time limitations, computer glitches, crashes, and so on. The important thing is to figure it out. Don’t wimp out and curl up in the corner crying when something goes wrong or gets difficult. Tough it out, stick with it and the final results are always what makes the challenge a new and triumphant learning experience.

What kind of education did it take to get you where you are today?

The kind of education that it took us to get where we are now isn’t the kind you pick off a tree. We took the regular general education classes and graduated with Associates degrees with an emphasis in Art and Multimedia but lots of the learning comes from self-motivation, experimentation and sweat equity. Again, there is no better way to learn something but by doing it. Before we even thought about taking Art and Multimedia classes we have been developing our skills at a young age by lugging around sketchbooks and drawing everything we can see and imagine. We paint with whatever medium we got our hands on, read books, and researched online. We would make flipbooks, Animating with post-it note pads. It’s just a matter of being passionate in learning even when you’re not in school. Experiment with Animating even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Eventually you develop your own techniques, things begin to come together and then there’s the epiphany, “Oh, that’s how it’s done.”

What animation software packages does your firm prefer to use? Which one would you recommend to beginners?

For our 2D Animations we originally started animating by drawing on paper with pencil then with the ever so handy light box, retrace with ink. Then painstakingly photographing or scanning each and every frame into Adobe Photoshop and laboriously clean and color the scanned images to be edited into After Effects and Premier. As technology does what it does, keeps advancing, what use to take us a year to produce a one-minute 2D Animation, now takes us a month or less depending on the complexity of the project. Instead of drawing on paper, now we will use the Wacom Cintique tablet to draw directly into Photoshop with the use of layers, we’ll clean, retrace and color the sketches with no more light boxing. We’ll edit the frames in Adobe Premier and Adobe After effects, input our music and audio with a Mackie Onyx satellite recording base station and edit the audio in Garage Band, and finally use iMovie to export Animated files for the web, mp4, mobile, DVD, etc. There is also an Adobe Master collection package that is everything a digital Artist and Animator could wish for and it will work if you work. If you’re a student enrolled in some class or the other there are usually good discounts for that.

Could you share with us your best story about working in the animation industry.

The best thing about working in the Animation industry is the people you meet. There are Animations that we are big fans of such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chowder, Phineas and Ferb, just to name a few and when you begin to meet some of the creators, writers and people who worked on those shows it’s exciting. For example, GrissyG had purchased a very informative book titled “How to write for Animation” by Emmy Award-winning writer Jeffrey Scott who also wrote for the Ninja Turtles and other animated shows, and months later by coincidence, faith, or just the fact that we are in the Animation industry, we received an email from Jeffrey Scott. The name sounded familiar and we quickly went to our bookshelf, looked through, and grabbed our book, and yes it was the same guy who wrote the book the Jeffrey Scott. Ever since then we have been keeping in contact with Jeffrey. It shows you never know whom you’ll meet even through email. Sometimes it’s a good feeling to know that the people who worked on the Animated shows you enjoyed and grew up with also show you the respect and acknowledgement as an Animator in the industry. And this only happens if you have work that demonstrates how serious you are as an Artist and Animator. You soon come to realize that you’re not the only strange being in this world that likes to spend mind numbing hours being creative, writing, and Animating.

Do you think that there is an increasing or decreasing demand for animators overall? Why?

Almost everything now uses some form of Animation from News to sports with small graphics spinning in the corner of the screen. More so with the advancement of technology mobile devices and the Internet, everything from Web banners, music videos, commercials, kid toys, and even interactive video games, all have a need for Animations. The demand for Animations has increased exponentially since its early stages cave paintings, film, TV, and now the Internet. Animation and the need for Animators do not seem to be slowing down. We say if you can think of it, Animate it.