#7. A Conversation with Jessica Rae Gordon
JA: So Jessica; after numerous awards, scholarships, publications, exhibits, and successful work in television animation, freelance illustration, and design- what was it that originally inspired you to become an artist?
JG: Well, I've always really wanted to be an artist. Specifically, I wanted to "work for Walt Disney" ever since I was in kindergarten. That's not exactly my dream anymore, I have new ones; but that one really drove me all through elementary school, junior, and senior high.
JA: Your sister, Kristy Gordon, has also gone on to a lot of success and acclaim as an artist. Was there much competition while growing up over who could create the best drawing or painting?
JG: Yes! Mom still tells us how we demanded that she choose which one did the better drawing, way back when we were kids. We would promise her that our feelings wouldn't be hurt no matter which she chose. It's pretty tough competing with Kristy though, so I avoid the competition now. Good thing our styles are now pretty hard to compare.
JA: Tell me about your two years spent at Algonquin College studying Television Animation.
JG: Well, I don't think animation really clicked with me. Now I'm afraid I've developed a block where animation is concerned. I'm currently in the early stages of developing an animated short with my friend and composer, Alexis Marsh, and I think I'm having stage fright. Algonquin College has some very talented animation teachers. It was a good experience for me, however, I generally felt that two years is really just too short of a time to properly learn animation.
JA: After receiving a diploma with honors, you went to work on two animated television series, one being The Ripping Friends; what was the other?
JG: The other was The Untalkative Bunny dreamt up by Graham Falk. I did in-betweening on the first season. I'm very proud being a part of this show, whenever I happen to mention I worked on this to someone that was a fan, they think I am very impressive. I pretty much count on this to get dates.
JA: What was it like working on Ripping Friends, and did you get to know John Kricfalusi during that time on the series?
JG: Well, I am pretty shy; it takes me quite a while to get to know people, but John K. is quite a personality! When I was working on the show it was directly through him, not Fun Bag. I would visit him from time to time at his hotel room, but it was really my sister who got to know him much more than me.
JA: You also worked on an animated commercial, tell me about that project.
JG: I worked at Tandem Films in London, England in 2002. During the year I lived in Cambridge and worked on and off whenever they needed me; I was really just in charge of compositing, but still! The commercials I worked on were Sterident, some kind of denture cleaner, and Expedia. I also worked on their in-house short, Little Things. Everyone there was very friendly and welcoming.
JA: You went on to attend Sheridan College, where you received your Bachelor's Degree with honors from Illustration; tell me about your experiences in that program, and what you feel might be the most important lesson you have learned that you would want aspiring artists to know.
JG: It was a very eye-opening experience to learn about the wide range in mediums and techniques of application that one can use! From an animation background, I was pretty reluctant to be messy, spontaneous, and use multimedia! I got over that during my training at Sheridan and my work is a bit more instinctual. I've always had a near inappropriate fetish when it comes to paper and stationary, but for some reason it just didn't occur to me to make collage art until the end of the third year.
JA: Your illustrations and designs are brilliant, boasting with humor and imagination; what is the ultimate goal you have set for yourself as an artist?
JG: Well thank you! Presently, my ultimate goal is to illustrate a series of children's books in my own style. I'd also like to have a solo show at Magic Pony, a very cute gallery in Toronto, complete my animated short that I mentioned before with Alexis Marsh, and get more freelance magazine illustration work.
JA: What were some of your favorite animated shorts or features growing up?
JG: Well, let me see...I'm pretty sure I can recite every word of Disney's Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King; but aside from Disney movies, I really loved The Last Unicorn, Get a Job, The Big Snit, and a lot of The National Film Board shorts.
JA: How would you define the personality of your work to me with one word?