Today we’d like to introduce you to Steven Bowman.
Steven, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have been drawing for the majority of my life. It really all began back in the first grade when my fellow classmates and I were tasked with drawing Curious George in a jungle setting. I treated the assignment as any normal task and handed it into the teacher at the end of the day. To my surprise, she pulled me aside and asked me if it was alright if she framed my drawing and hung it up in the entrance of the school. She then approached my parents and told them that I had some real talent and that I should be taking drawing classes outside of school.
Fast forward a few years later, and drawing became my ultimate source of expression. I would draw during recess, I would draw on the side of my notes (during class), and I would draw during the car ride to and from school. What I loved drawing the most; however, was fantasy. I was, and still am, obsessed with fantasy and comic books. I loved creating my own creatures and monsters inspired by the likes of Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons. I would get so immersed within my own creations that I would often act like the monster I was drawing (making sounds and hand gestures) while I was drawing it. A little strange, I know, but it really helped me to visualize the finishing touches of every sketch. It was around this time that I knew within my heart that I wanted to pursue something to do with drawing as a career.
Fast forward again into the future, and I was a student at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield. Wanting to take my drawings and my art a step further I thought “How cool would it be to see these creatures and characters of mine come to life?” The possibilities within animation seemed endless with 2D, 3D, stop-motion, experimental, and so much more opportunities to pursue within the field that I just wanted to learn everything animation had to offer. I then began to research animation schools within California, and I immediately fell in love with Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I applied to LMU as well as some other schools and eagerly awaited their responses. That senior year in high school I ended up being the first student to ever pass the AP art exam for the school which only fueled my passion even more.
A few months later and I was moving into my dorm room at LMU! It was very exciting moving to LA as I had only really driven through the city and seen it in movies and television. After living in Marina del Rey for a few weeks I began to love everything about the city. Any preconceived notions I had about LA were blown out of the water. The kind people, beaches, fresh air, wonderful restaurants that welcomed students with open arms, comic book stores, and movie theaters made living in LA the best time of my life.
The animation program at LMU was astounding. I learned every inch of the animation pipeline and understood how much work and steps went into making a film or video game. However, the subjects that I really gravitated towards were 2D animation and storyboarding. Many professionals claim that 2D animation has been phasing out of the industry for quite some time now, but it really depends on where you look. Many studios in LA are doing incredible work with 2D animation, proving that the medium can still thrive here. I think there is something truly charming about 2D and being able to bring my characters to life with just a few frames amazes me every time I animate something. My senior thesis film was a 2D comedy about dwarves.
Storyboarding is my main drive right now. Much like comic book panels, storyboarding is the art of mapping out a scene with consecutive panels or boards. These boards show the motion of the scene, what the characters are doing, what is in their environment, and what is generally going on within the story. Not only are you telling a story as a storyboard artist, but you are showing the viewer how to view said story. You must be able to visualize different angles, different camera movements, and various lighting in order to create a stimulating and gripping experience. I love storyboarding because it allows me to further hone my drawing skills while simultaneously telling an interesting story.
Fast forward to today, and I am doing freelance work for various LMU alumni. I continue to improve both my animation and storyboard reels, and I am constantly updating my website. I cannot see myself doing something other than animation or storyboarding, and I will keep pursuing my passion no matter the circumstances.
Has it been a smooth road?
One obstacle of mine was being able to afford the college I wanted to go to (LMU). Even though I was accepted right out of high school, I had to take some time off to work and save money in order to enroll. During this time I worked for my dad’s onion company while taking community college classes. After taking on an insane amount of classes each semester while working I was finally able to transfer into LMU.
One major obstacle I face currently is finding stable work in LA. Although there are animation jobs out there, the industry is highly competitive, and so you are pretty lucky if you get in with a studio. However with my perseverance and drive to reach my goals I will not stop until I reach my dream. I am constantly updating my animation reels while sending off job applications to various studios.
Is there some part of you work that is particularly difficult?
After graduating college, I had saved up enough funds to start my freelance work rather quickly. I researched and purchased the necessary technology and software to start producing storyboards, animated sequences, and digital illustrations for future clients. However in this very competitive environment with amazing talent popping up everywhere in LA, sometimes it gets difficult to stand out from the crowd. As an artist, you have to constantly be thinking of new and unique ways to set your art apart from others and to grab the viewer’s attention. This is a struggle I contend with everyday, but you must be willing to reinvent yourself constantly in order to find future work. I try to dabble in all forms of mediums, and on my website, I think I display a wide variety of art styles.
What are you striving for, what criteria or markers have you set as indicators of success?
Success for me is being able to wake up everyday and create awesome pieces of art for people to enjoy. Being prepared, completing and delivering quality art in a timely manner, and receiving positive feedback from clients is what I define as success. Now would I eventually like to get to a stage in my life where my passion also provides the typical things one usually associates with being successful? Sure, but at this moment what really makes me fulfilled is seeing someone get a kick out of an animated gif I made or getting word from a client that a storyboard of mine made them laugh. If my art is able to inspire someone in any way or bring out an emotion in someone, then I think that is pretty darn successful.
What are your plans for the future?
As of right now, my future plans consist of me building up a network and continuing to promote my art. I update my website every day with new pieces, and I want to keep providing the best quality of work I can which will hopefully grow my list of clients.
- Website: https://stevenbowman.carbonmade.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steven.bowman.961
- Other: StrongCow54sb@yahoo.com