We had the good fortune of connecting with Ida Hem and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ida, why did you pursue a creative career?
Growing up I had a table filled with what felt like an endless amount of playdoh, and on this table, I would sculpt large cities and jungles. I would fill them with characters and pokemon figures, each with their own personalities– I would create stories and get lost in that world. When I got older, around age 9, the first manga got released in Norway (where I am from). It was Ranma 1/2, and my mom bought it for me, thinking it was just a normal Donald duck type of comic. But for me, it turned into so much more. Looking back it really was the moment my life formed its path to where I am today. I’ve always had a deep-set love and connection to art and stories since before I can even remember. I had parents who nurtured my interests and encouraged me. When I graduated high school, it really was a no-brainer to pursue a creative career. The question was just ‘what kind of creative endeavor?’. Lucky for me my American cousin, Savannah, added me on FB and told me she was studying animation. And without even thinking I applied for the same school she went to, and half a year later I was off to America to learn about animation! Basically, I’m doing art because I’m not good at anything else haha.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve been working professionally in the animation industry for 3-4 years as a character designer. I recently wrapped up my work at Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and now I am working on the first season of a new Transformers show. My personal art has always had an action flare to it– I’ve always enjoyed that type of action comedy story telling. I guess I’m just a very dramatic person, haha. I’d like to make my own comic in the near future, and trying to teach myself how to do so in my free time– hopefully that will be a reality for me soon. Y’know animation is a pretty small industry, and it’s not very easy to enter it. Even harder as an international artist. I’ve experienced a lot of tears and heartache over what seemed like impossible circumstances. My biggest goal since entering college was to work in Los Angeles, where all the big studios are– and to do that I needed a work visa. Which not a lot of studios are willing to sponsor. Working on Ninja Turtles, I was incredibly lucky to have my bosses, Andy Suriano and Ant Ward vouch for me and convince Nickelodeon to sponsor my visa. That was three years ago– yet it feels like yesterday. I’ve shed tears of heartache, but also tears of joy. It is an exciting career to pursuit. It certainly wasn’t easy. But I would do it a thousand times over.
I still consider my career to be very new and young. I’ve got so much more I want to learn, and so much I want to do. I think that is my favorite thing about animation. It’s so diverse, and the possibilities are endless.
Even if my work experience is only 4 years long, I’ve learned a lot of lessons so far. The biggest one– Get your 8 hours of sleep in. This industry has been designed to burn out artists with its fast pace environment, and the best thing you can do to avoid it is to prioritize your sleep and personal time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be kind to yourself!
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.
Los Angeles is such a big city, even after three years in the area I still have so much more to explore. But if she was visiting, I’d definitely take her to the beach first and make her take a surfing lesson with me! To really start it off with that California vibe. After that I would probably take her to Little Tokyo for food! Literally all the restaurants there are bomb. Tenno sushi is a personal favorite. I spend most of my time in the Burbank/Glendale area, because that’s where I live– so I’d probably take her shopping and drinking at the Galleria in Glendale, since I know that area pretty well. And it truly isn’t a real LA trip unless you go for a hike. Bonus points if its up to the wisdom tree and behind the Hollywood sign. I think that would be a fun thing for any tourist to experience.
The Harry Potter world at Universal is also a fun experience! But be sure to wear comfy shoes, because theme-parks can be super exhausting. Still a fun experience though. Definitely get yourself a turkey leg and butter beer while you’re there!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First off, I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have had the opportunities that I’ve had. Not to diminish my own hard work, but I would have never been where I am without the love and encouragement from my parents. They always supported me in whatever endeavor I wanted to do. I wish I could make a giganting thank you list to most people I’ve met on my journey so far, but that would be too much for anyone to read haha.
My professor at SCAD, Gregg Azzopardi, was such a big inspiration to me when I started my first class. They were such formative years for me as an artist, and he made them so inspirational and full of hope and good times. Working towards a job in animation was really a shot in the dark for me, but when his classes began, I knew I had made the right choice. I like to think that most people can learn how to draw– but making your character feel alive is a whole different ballgame. It was something I struggled with in my first couple of years at SCAD, but Prof. Gregg always made time, even outside of class to help us grow as artist and work toward fruitful careers.
Now, if you’re a young artist reading this and wondering if you have to have a college degree to work in animation– you don’t. It has it’s benefits, but it’s not necessary. I know that’s an important decision many young artists have to make. It was helpful for me, specifically as an international worker, but not everybody needs it the way I did.