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  • Writer's pictureLiam Gilbey

Team Spotlight - Amy Howard

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Amy Howard Animator

We get a lot of questions about animation from students, grads and fans of our work. Everything from education to software to company culture. So, we've decided to get the scoop on life as an animator in a series of interview-style spotlights on the team. For our second spotlight, Amy!

Hello! Introduce yourself.

Howdy, I’m Amy (She/Her) @amoo_creates on Instagram. I come from the midlands, Northamptonshire. I studied animation at NUA alongside the rest of the Cut the Mustard team.

What team role(s) do you play in the Cut the Mustard team?

Like all of us, I’m an animator but I also do a lot of visual development. This includes storyboarding, style frames and background design.

What skills, software and techniques do you use as part of your role?

The Adobe suite is the standard for a lot of my work, however, I also use a lot of other software. TVpaint for frame-by-frame animation, HEAVYPAINT for when I want a more traditional feel to digital illustrations but nothing can beat the sweet sweet feeling of traditional drawing.

At the time of writing, I’ve been enjoying the Caran D’ache wax pastels and the Tombow felt pens. A long-time favourite has been my Crayola Twistables, I often enjoy using imprecise tools to create loose pieces. I also take a lot of inspiration from my friends around me, I spend time sketching on location with @benjaminlarkworthy.

What’s a personal favourite Cut the Mustard project you worked on? Why?

Some of the projects that I enjoy the most are the projects we’ve completed for ourselves rather than client work. For example, I’m really proud of our 48 Hour lock-in projects Little Monkey in a Big Monkey World and Corvus. Especially in the case of Corvus, as I directed it. I love these projects as we had the freedom to do what we wanted with them and often with client work we have to focus on what's best for things like budget and deadline, which is fine but they can become quite routine.

What journey did you take to get here? Education, job, hobbies, extracurriculars.

I think I took a slightly longer route to get here, I didn’t go into a ‘Year zero’ out of sixth form or anything like that. I’ve been interested in art pretty much all my life, which I don’t think is uncommon, but after finishing up sixth form I went ahead and completed an apprenticeship in catering working in a restaurant as a chef. Whilst I no longer work in catering it’s definitely still a big hobby of mine, specifically baking. I love making fermented foods like Kimchi, Kombucha and sourdough bread, which really began while I worked at the now-deceased Artel coffee shop 💀.

What’s something that inspired you to get into animation?

Outside of food and art, I spend a lot of time reading manga/watching anime. A current favourite of mine is One Piece, making my way through the manga has been a big undertaking for the past two years and I’ve enjoyed every second. Anime and Manga have probably been my biggest influence in art, I started enjoying them from a young age and alongside the Ghibli filmography it’s probably been my biggest influence in staying in the creative industry.

I’d never thought about getting into animation until I was in an interview for illustration (before the apprenticeship) and the interviewer asked if I’d ever considered animation as a career. At that time I distinctly remember thinking something like ‘Who would want to work in such a monotonous job, couldn’t imagine drawing the same thing over and over again all day 🤮’ Ironically, drawing the same thing over and over is something I actually enjoy and find very satisfying.

What’s something you love about animation?

Seeing the final project together is definitely a great feeling. Since working on my dissertation I have enjoyed considering worldbuilding in a project, however, we don’t get to implement this as much in client work as I would like. Recently, I have been applying this more to personal work, which has been really fun. I also love trying to push the reasoning for each shot in storyboarding and what our capabilities are when it comes specifically to animation.

What’s something you don’t love about animation?

This isn’t an exclusive animation issue but there are a lot of men in the professional environment and more than once I have experienced the unintentional sexism and misogyny that comes along with this. We know that there are women in the industry, I remember it being a pretty even split when it came to women studying animation. However, it is lower in the professional environment.

Aside from this, having clients undervalue/not understand what they’re asking for is endlessly frustrating.

Outside of animation, what hobbies or interests do you have?

I’ve mentioned a lot already (food/manga/anime) but I also love video games (Sims 4, Hades and all of The Legend of Zelda), watching really shit period dramas and great older films (there's no in-between, the movie must be terrible or great). Recently watched the 1935 Pot worth a million Ryo which was a great experience.

What advice would you give to someone to get into animation in a role similar to yours?

  • Keep doing what you love and learn as much as you can about it.

  • Learn to adapt what you know as the industry is forever changing.

  • Do things outside of animation as you’ll learn things that feed into it and it helps to stop burnout.

  • Doing physical creative things (pottery, location sketching, puzzles, knitting) is great for mindfulness, you don’t have to be ‘good’ at a medium to get something out of it.

  • Get up and out of a desk environment for breaks, I know I suffer from my fair share of back and wrist ache.

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