We had the good fortune of connecting with Aspen Leavitt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aspen, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
The biggest thing about animation that I find surprises the most people is the amount of work that goes into even simple projects. When I have opened up about the design process for something like the 24 Hour Animation Challenge, which I did in 2019, family and friends are usually shocked by how much time the team spent on the planning before we were able to jump into animating. There are all of these stages of design, sketching, collaboration, getting feedback from fellow artists. Then, once you have settled on designs, you have storyboarding, which is basically quick sketches of every shot or scene you’ll need. Depending on the medium, whether hand-drawn animation, stop motion, 3d, or a combination, you might have to spend time modeling puppets, sculpting tiny props or texturing sets. The animation part, whether it’s pose after pose with puppets, or frame by frame sketches, inks, and colors, or even hours of rendering, is amazingly time-consuming! This doesn’t even consider the hours spent editing, adding scores and special effects, and possibly even a voice cast. So by the time your audience gets to see this beautifully-crafted finished film, even if it’s only a minute long, there’s all this love that goes into it behind the scenes! But all the best shorts and films have that level of dedication, and seeing it all wrapped up makes every minute worth it!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe that my enthusiasm is something that sets me apart from others. I like to believe that my friends and colleagues can tell when I’ve really got my heart set on something. My passion for creating and sharing it is one of the main reasons I love to attend creative conference events, or even local art trade shows. Looking across the table at someone and talking to them about what they’ve made, or what I’ve made really makes me smile. I love to watch art light people up! I’m still very much in the beginning of my professional journey, but I’m setting myself up to have the best career I can by listening to everyone I come into contact with. There are so many professors and great business people I have access to via my university and location and events, and it would be a shame not to learn from all of them. Everyone has something to share, no matter how short a time you spend with them, and it’s so important to remember that. The biggest challenges and lessons I have learned come from disappointment in myself and my abilities. Particularly around the time I was getting into college, I thought I was already this awesome artist, but in reality I still hadn’t even covered a lot of basics. As hard as it was, I needed a serious ego check, and once I was ready to accept that I had (and still have!) a long way to go, I could finally let loose and study harder. I want people to know that I care so much for the things I create. Everything I make has a little piece of me in it, and I hope that it comes across in my stories and characters!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I LOVE hitting local spots, and whenever my best friend comes to visit, I know right where we go! My boyfriend and I would show her some awesome coffee shops like BLVD Cafecito on Magnolia Street and Priscilla’s Gourmet Coffee, Tea, and Gifts! And since Priscilla’s is so close, we’d have to have lunch at Bob’s Big Boy. Otherwise, it’s back to Magnolia street to have fun with the year-round Halloween stores, occult shops, and little antique thrift stores! The LA Zoo is always fun, it’s great exercise and we’re already members! Little Tokyo has a full day of fun exploring and walking, and for a weekend treat, I’d even have us all drive to Bon Bon Teahouse in Northridge! We try to find places that can be fun either as a go-go-go nonstop adventure, or as a sit back and draw and sip your coffee kind of vibe!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family has always been the most supportive group on my journey. Through many years of knowing that the arts were my passion, but not knowing the specifics, they all encouraged me. They helped me to understand that working hard is an investment in your future. I used to be so worried that I was “wasting” sketchbooks, money, and time, but my family told me it’s not a waste if I did my best and learned something while trying. I can’t thank them enough for how many hours of speedpaint footage, animation tests, experimental storyboards, and good old cartoons I made them watch while I was learning what do to and how I wanted to do it!
Photo of Aspen image credit: Daniel Cruz