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Director and Designer Ridd Sorensen studied at Capilano College in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Upon graduation in 1999 from the Commercial Animation program, Ridd began his career in the Animation Industry working at Vancouver's proclaimed Atomic Cartoons Inc., where he has been employed for 8 years. Ridd has directed, animated, and designed on numerous projects for Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney and Nelvana, as well as many commercials, music videos, and feature films. Currently Ridd is the Senior Director for the acclaimed Cartoon Network/Teletoon series 'Atomic Betty', for which he was nominated for a 2005 Gemini Award for 'Best Direction in a Children's or Youth program or Series'.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
Well, like most people answer, I've been drawing all kinds of characters since I was a wee lad. It wasn't until I discovered animation school that I realized I could make a career out of it, so I went for it. I love traditional animation but it's tedious and I don't have the patience for it, so I concentrated on character and BG design.
Who or what inspires you?
Right now I'm hooked on old ads and product design from the 50s and 60s. I can't get enough of that stuff. Recently I've been getting into 18th century Japanese woodblock art. I might start experimenting with my own interpretations of that style next. It has a lot of cartoony elements to it that I really like.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
Well, as a kid I learned a lot from the invaluable book 'How to draw Comics the Marvel Way' by John Buscema. My dad bought it for me when I was like 11 and it lit a fire under me. As I grew up I just kept drawing and drawing. Mostly comic stuff and caricatures of my friends. I never really stopped drawing, so when I applied to animation school it wasn't too hard for me to get in because I submitted a big portfolio with a lot of different stuff in it. In college I had classes in Traditional and Computer Animation, Layout, Life Drawing, Storyboarding, Design and Screenplay writing to name a few, and I spent ALOT of time there - 12-16 hours almost every day.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
By seeking out projects that I know I will enjoy doing. It gets pretty depressing drawing something you don't want to day after day, and it can really burn you out. So, even if I am stuck on one of those kinds of projects I seek out other ones that will keep me happy and creative. And if there's nothing out there I'll work on my own stuff for my blog or whatever.
What are some of your current projects?
Well, I just finished designing a website for a pretty bigshot musician. He's a big animation fan and the site turned out killer. I can't say much more about it, but I'll probably post some designs for it on my site once I get permission. I'm also doing a ton of freelance work for Hasbro right now, who are wonderful to work with. Most of the stuff I'm doing for them is concept design for some animated series that they want to pitch, so I basically can do whatever I want. Every artist's dream! We're also wrapping up season 3 of Atomic Betty right now, which I am the Senior Director for. Then there's all the unfinished show ideas I have in the works that need attention... It's been a busy but great year so far!
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I really like how the website I mentioned above turned out. He wanted a style that is right up my alley design wise. Because of that I really enjoyed the whole process from start to finish, and am pretty happy with the end result. I think the thing I'm most proud of though is 'Big City Birds', one of the shows I created that Atomic Cartoons jumped in on and produced a 3 minute short for. It's extremely cool to create characters and see them come to life. I think the only thing that'll top that is the day I see it on TV (fingers crossed!).
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I'd like to try out voice acting, and maybe have my own line of t-shirts and other apparel.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Well it depends where you're at with everything, but the most valuable thing for me was working under an extremely talented group of designers and learning from them. I learned a lot in school, but not nearly as much as my first year on the job with these guys. If you can get an internship or job with folks like this, take advantage of it!
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
Your own level of satisfaction with the end result.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I draw inspiration from other people's work a lot. Especially this day in age when killer talent is just one or two clicks away. Sometimes if I'm having an 'off' day, I'll spend most of it going through books or other reference and absorbing it all. Usually after I'm done I'll pick up the pencil and get my groove back.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
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