We had the good fortune of connecting with Brendan Russert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brendan, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
A mentor once told me, “Never give up on a drawing.” This really spoke to me because I would often say, ok, this is going south, then trash it and start on another one, by changing the mindset to keep with something until the end, even if it’s not going to be a polished piece of art, you learn to make fewer mistakes next time around. If you jump ship too soon, then you deprive yourself of important lessons to carry forward.
Hours at my current studio are pretty brutal. We do 9 hours a day, sometimes more. Despite that, I regularly do personal work in the early morning before clocking in or once I finish the workday. Actually, sometimes I can’t wait until work work ends so that real work can begin.
One thing I see often is newer artists biting off more than they can chew. I think you should strive to do projects half a step above your skill level; many times, being overly ambitious tends to lead to getting overwhelmed, resulting in quitting the current project one is on. on the other hand. Doing things below your skill level makes you complacent and stagnant; both of these leading to burnout.
Animation is more of a marathon than a short sprint. Projects, even pieces of them, often take months to complete. It’s easy to lose motivation and not finish. But one checklist item at a time, eventually, you will find yourself over the intimidating task slope and in the clear to polish and wrap up.
Quitting, or to a lesser degree taking a break, is for when you no longer have joy in creating. Sometimes our personal goals obstruct our enjoyment of diving in and getting lost in the work. Be it not working for a major studio or not having tons of likes on social media. These add too much pressure and are discouraging if we don’t reach them. I would still do this even if I did not get paid to. The thrill of learning something new, or looking back at your trail of work to see how much you have grown is rewarding in it of itself. if you find value in that, then there is no reason to quit. Just take it easy on yourself and have fun.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think I just grind.. heavily grind. I was always somewhat talented but never the best in the room. but often time the best in the room became complacent and I ended up ahead after years of keeping on putting in obscene 14-hour workdays.
Most things you set your mind to can be done. You just need to put in years of suffering to get there.
For now, I do mostly commercial work. I like it a lot. I get to learn from people that are way better than me and being in a studio environment ups the budget of things you get to work on. It’s always nice to have flashy things that many people have put some time in to play with.
I’m very proud of my work on Shantae Half-Gienie Hero. That was my first title on the Nintendo Switch.
We just wrapped up WandaVision not too long ago. Seeing my name up in a Marvel title is pretty mind-blowing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I use to work for Disney it was a lot easier. Hard to beat free Disneyland tickets and studio tours.
But, my wife and I are pretty active. There are a few hikes that are awesome around here. You can do some trails on Pacific Palisades that give you a great view of the ocean, people like the Hollywood sign. There are some pretty awesome Ethiopian restaurants near Miracle Mile Downtown L.A. that have been crowd-pleasers. Mexican street food here is pretty great! Can’t go wrong with any foodtruck you find in a foreign language. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Mom, The Walt Disney Company, Karl Gnass and Mark McDonnell. Chriss Kelly and the rest of my instructors in school. Dick Williams and the Survival Kit… probably many, many others that elude me at this moment.
Facebook: brendan russert