After some years as an art school slacker I started working seriously in 1977.
Beginning at Hanna-Barbera Productions in Sydney, Australia, I learnt how to animate the traditional way on shows like Scooby-Doo and Popeye. I’d wonder what happened to old animators. That time was my apprenticeship.
I graduated from TV series to TV commercials. By the mid 80s I was the Animation Director at Flying Colours, one of Sydney’s leading commercials production companies. I made ads for many clients, including Coke, McDonald’s, Fujitsu and Toyota, winning a FACTS Award (Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations) two years running.
In 1990 I moved to London to work on an animated feature directed by Richard Williams (legendary, 2 Oscars, huge ego). The film was an infamous fiasco, there’s even a documentary about it (The Persistence of Vision) which I’m in. Check it out, it’s quite a story.
I joined Cambridge Animation Systems in ’92, as part of a team developing Animo, software for animation production. We produced proof-of-concept work for Dreamworks, Warner Bros. and Disney, who all used the product . This got me into computers. I even gave a demo to Steve Jobs once. He was clearly unimpressed.
The thing was, I preferred making animation to making animation tools. I went freelance in ’96, got myself the url pencilandpepper.com, and started pulling in jobs. One of the bigger ones was Animation Director on The New Adventures of Captain Pugwash, produced for Hit Entertainment. We won the Indies Animation Award for best TV series in 1999.
By the millennium business was rapidly changing – animation was used in all kinds of media. With digital skills I found I was creating content for websites, flash games, motion graphics, user interfaces, mobile phones and corporate videos. Have a look at the clients page to see who for.
In 2017, in collaboration with Simon at Dayglow Media, I pitched an idea to the BBC and were commissioned to produce 4 micro-documentaries for their Ideas digital channel. In the end we made 20 films about punctuation, hand gestures and eponyms. The Beeb was infuriating, the pay was meh, but the gig was great. I’m proud of the work which is why it’s the first thing you see on the website.
And that’s how it’s been for the last 25 years – one project after another, sometimes two or three at once. There’s been feasts and famines, like any freelancer. The family has grown up and left home. I’m still working every day and still getting that buzz from hitting the deadline and delivering a good job. And I’ve figured out what happens to old animators – we keep getting better.
Here is a list of projects since 2000. I don’t expect you to look, it’s more of a vanity thing to be honest.