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Meet Alec Bickelhaupt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alec Bickelhaupt.

Alec, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Currently, I am a Freelance Character Designer in the Animation industry. I’ve had a pencil in my hands sketching goofy cartoon characters since I was three years old, which is something that got me in trouble over and over again in school. When I found out, I could pursue a career as an artist I knew this is what I had to do with my life.

At about 17 years old, I started experiencing unusual physical pain throughout my back and legs. Initially, I didn’t think much of it and stayed focused on honing my craft so I could study at my dream school, ArtCenter College of Design, but it slowly got worse and worse, and I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Meanwhile, I took classes at Pasadena Community College and constantly practiced until I was able to get accepted to ArtCenter. Once there, I became heavily involved in the community, working jobs around campus in both offices, as an orientation leader and mentor, and at special events. Being constantly surrounded by so many inspiring people really pushed me to become the person I am today. The friends I made in classes and at work helped me get through those tough times both school and health-wise. Finding peers with a similar passion for art was incredible because when I hung out with friends, we would spend our time creating characters and wacky stories to accompany them.

A few years into my studies, I felt like my health problems were more complex, so I saw a multitude of doctors to get to the root of the problem. I eventually discovered that I didn’t have arthritis, but Femoroacetabular Impingements—a condition where extra bone grows on one or both of the bones in the hip joints. In my case, the extra bone caused ligaments to tear in the joint. In order to fix this, I had to take time off from school, undergoing two hip surgeries and going to physical therapy for months each time. It was only after these surgeries that I was able to focus on school again and finally earned my BFA in Illustration/Entertainment Arts in 2019.

Fast forward to today, I am mostly free from chronic pain, with some bad days here and there. Now that my health is in check, I am finally able to devote my attention fully to my work as a freelance character designer.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t been the smoothest, given my health issues, but even during the toughest times, I always had my sketchbook. Drawing ridiculous characters kept my spirits high and helped me continue moving forward. I’m fortunate to have an incredible support team. Loving and supportive family and friends that have stood by me through some of the worst days of my life. Also, my cat Fable who yells encouragement from her cat tree and my wonderful girlfriend who supports my every endeavor.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I specialize in Character Design for animation particularly, but at the moment, I am broadening my horizons and working towards designing Props for animation as well. I have no clue when any of the work I have produced will see the light of day but I am just proud to be in the position I am in. I am so excited to be a part of the Animation industry and look forward to what the future will bring.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Every comes down to luck.

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