We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathanael Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nathanael, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Growing up in an engineering town, I always assumed I would wind up an engineer. Had I gone down that path, I probably could have done OK, but my true passion has always been art. As a kid I spent virtually all my time making comics, computer games, and music with my friends, and while I was given the advice that I could keep those things as hobbies, I eventually realized that in order to make the best art I possibly could, I would have to devote myself to it full time. Without any industry connections pursuing a creative career felt like heading into uncharted waters. It was a risk and I didn’t know where my path would lead me – but I knew I had to try.

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’m currently working as a storyboard director/writer for Cartoon Network’s Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart. Basically, working from a short outline, myself and a partner write, and then draw out a loose version of an 11-minute episode every five weeks. We do everything we can to make a cartoon that is as funny, exciting, and emotional as possible. I love doing this job especially because I get to wear a lot of hats. While the fast pace can be challenging, the variety, and the collaborative nature keep it really interesting and fun. In my personal artwork, I’ve never felt comfortable settling into one particular style or practice. I write stories, paint, write and record music, animate – and it all feels like one thing to me. A lot of the projects I’ve made in the past have been big multimedia endeavorss. An important one to me is a musical comic book I made in college called Little North Star. I got to work together with my friends and bandmates to write the story, record an 11-track rock opera, and then illustrate an 80 page comic book with all the song lyrics. I think that project was a big part of helping me get my first animation industry internship at Nickelodeon, and I feel very grateful that following that creative impulse helped lead me to a career where I can take advantage of those same skills I’ve cultivated in my personal work. I’ve even gotten to write a few songs that have been on TV! Something I never thought I’d have the chance to do.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
To me, the best part of living in LA is the variety of excellent food. There’s so much great stuff to try there’s no reason to ever go to the same restaurant twice. That said, a couple places I’ll find any excuse to bring visiting friends to are Skaf’s Lebanese Cuisine in Glendale (I highly recommend the cheese roles and garlic spread), Sage Vegan Bistro, and the Paratta food truck, which in my opinion is the best Desi (Indian/Pakistani) food in LA, and started appearing regularly at Smorgasburg before the pandemic hit. I also really love the different art and natural history museums in LA. Coming from the Seattle area, there are some options, but nothing to compare to the volume you can find between the LACMA, the Gettys, the Broad, and the Natural History Museum.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shout out my cool wife Mishaal! She’s the milk to my cereal. While being an artsy space-cadet always came naturally to me, Mishaal helped me learn the skills I would need to be a “professional”. A lot of this was really basic stuff like how to talk to people on the phone or how to get organized with spreadsheets – but I cannot say enough how important it has been to me to have her advice, support, and incredible intellect throughout my whole journey.

Website: https://www.nathanbutnate.net/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nathanbutnate/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathanaelhjones/
Twitter: @nathanbutnate

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