Allen Laseter, an animator and illustrator based in Nashville, Tennessee, originally studied film concentrating on directing and cinematography. Post-graduation, he was making live action videos and “eventually an animation job kind of randomly fell into my lap”.
Despite never studying animation or illustration at school, something clicked with Allen. “I knew just enough about After Effects and was desperate enough for work that I decided to take on the project, despite being under qualified.” This leap of faith meant Allen “had to do a ton of learning on the job”. Yet, “by the time it was done, I’d realised that maybe my strengths and instincts were more suited to animation,” he tells It’s Nice That . Following on from his animation revelation Allen began to teach himself, “actively seeking out that kind of work until I’d phased out all live action work and was doing exclusively animation,” he explains. “This was about four years ago and I’ve been illustrating and animating ever since.”
Over the past few years Allen has created numerous animation shorts, from Netflix Recommends to a brilliant Ted-Ed animation on Will winning the lottery make you happy?, and is currently working with studio Wonderlust “on a teen mental health” short, alongside a short personal film of his own. Each of these animations adapt his illustration style dependent on the brief, but a loose and carefully chosen coloured layers is visible in each.
“My projects usually start with a script that someone hands over to me,” says the animator of his process. “I like to start by reading it repeatedly until it feels like I’ve got a really good handle on it, and then spend time just thinking about it without touching a pen.” After drawing roughs, “visual ideas without worrying about aesthetic,” Allen begins to generate a look and feel that “will bolster the conceptual thinking, which usually just involved trying a bunch of different things until something feels right”.
This method of waiting until it feels right pays off consistently when looking at Allen’s work, enhanced by “working on a very tight timeline that requires me to work more instinctively,” but by always having fun with the project too.
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