We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris O’Hara and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m from a small, rural town in Ireland. I think there’s both positive and negative implications of where and how I was brought up. Working the wet and cold Irish summers with my father, who was a Stonemason, allowed me to experience tough, manual labour. I think this helped establish a solid work ethic and gave me good perspective. It helps me really appreciate the luxury my job affords me as I sit in my comfortable, home office creating art for a living. Living in the countryside I also appreciate the freedom I had to create and build during my youth, be it drawing, woodwork, painting or metalwork. As my work these days is mostly digital and requires sitting at a computer I’ve come to understand how much I actually enjoyed the physical and hand-crafted experiences growing up. As I’ve grown to understand myself more and identify what has shaped and influenced me as a person I’m trying to embrace those elements again and open myself up to a little more self-diversification. On the flip side I’ve also been able to recognize the potential negatives of where I come from. There is a lot of insecurity and inferiority complex at play, especially making the shift from Ireland to LA. I think self-deprecation and cynicism is more common where I come from. We like to make fun of ourselves! America sometimes feels like the polar opposite where boundless self-belief and optimism exist. I guess my cynical Irish eyes looked at that with contempt and a lack of humility but I’ve come to understand the great benefits of this type of outlook and am learning to embrace it more. I’m just trying to be a self-deprecating, self-believer!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a Designer/Animator I like to push things a little outside the box. Coming from outside of the US I feel my work goes a little against the grain of the animation industry here in LA. Herein lies frequent inner turmoil. I often fight with the question of whether I should make my work more consistent and in line with the general standard of studios in LA or whether I should persist with the styles I like that may not be as common and may not offer as many opportunities and jobs. Whenever I start leaning into the former I have to remind myself that I’ve gotten this far pursuing the work that I like doing and it’s generally worked out (or perhaps thats why it’s worked out) so maybe it’s best to stick to that approach. I think it was easy to know what I wanted to pursue as a career but I don’t think it was necessarily easy to get it. It can be easy to feel like I’m not working hard because I enjoy so much of my job, but it’s important to recognize that it is still work and requires a great deal of effort and skill. It can be easy to gloss over accomplishments but I’ve learned it’s important to step back and recognize them when they come. I’ve learned that as a person I am constantly changing and becoming more self-aware and I need to allow that to come out in my work as well, not to feel pigeon-holed based on other peoples expectations. The past year has allowed for a lot of introspection and examination of what I really want my work to be. My goal is to create fun, meaningful and personal content.
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.
A week isn’t enough in LA, there’s so much to see, which is what I love about it! I recently moved to Los Feliz and my favorite thing to do is walk up to the Observatory from my apartment so I’d probably start there, giving them a great view of LA. I would take them for a coffee at Maru on Hillhurst and maybe a lunchtime burrito at Tacos Tu Madre on Vermont. We would go to Venice Beach (where I lived when I first came to LA) and enjoy some breakfast at Flake (my go-to breakfast joint for many years) followed by a beer along the boardwalk. We could check out the Promenade and the Pier in Santa Monica while we’re on the westside. I always enjoy walking through the Venice canals so we could walk through there and then continue on to check out Abbot Kinney, where we could grab a pizza slice at Gjelina, followed by a Blue Star donut. I would take them to a few good spots in downtown, including the Grand Central Market for some tasty eats and swing by the Last Bookstore and maybe the Ace Hotel. I also lived in Culver City so we could swing by Sage Bistro for dinner and maybe take a mini hike up Baldwin Hills. There’s so many cool hiking trails around LA so we would have to hit up at least one, maybe Topanga State Park. We would have to get some culture in, obviously, so I’d take them to the Getty for some good art and architecture and maybe LACMA too. A picnic at Barnsdall Art Center would also be on the agenda. I love my coffee so I would probably take them to a different coffee shop every day but specifically Intelligentsia in SilverLake and let them enjoy the hipster vibes. There’s a few restaurants I’b be keen for them to try including Real Food Daily, Crossroads Kitchen, Wurstkuche, there’s too many to pick from!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to my parents and art teacher who supported and encouraged me to take this path.