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Meet Gina Maune

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Maune.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Gina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up as an only child meant I had a lot of alone time. I was constantly drawing, from when I would wake up at 6 am every Saturday to watch cartoons, to when I was at school and should have been paying attention. My brain would just go into ADD hyper-concentration mode and I would lose track of time with my colored pencils. My main influences as a kid in the 90s are probably obvious, I absolutely loved cartoons, from old looney-tunes with questionable content that would be on at 6 am to the cartoons on Nickelodeon and CN (that literally still hold up today in quality, lemme tell you.) But between all my nick watching and drawing, I never once considered that being an animator was even a real professional choice, in fact, I couldn’t even understand how they got made.

It wasn’t until high school that I started really taking seriously the fact that I had no other discernible life skills other than being able to make things for people to look at. It was through the encouragement of one of my best friends and my mom that I figured I should start figuring it the fuck out, so I started doing the community college thing. I tried on many different disciplinary pants: photography, graphic design, sculpture, painting, and while all of them were fun and had interesting pockets and maybe a weirdly placed zipper, none of them fit my ass right. It wasn’t until I finally took an animation class at SMCC in 2011ish that it clicked, I had that dizzying, ecstatic energy from finding the THING, and I used it all to apply to CalArts Experimental Animation. I got in for the BFA class of 2017, which was like, one of the best days of my life. It’s hard, to sum up, my four years there, I made a lot of work, I got a few freelance gigs out of it, and learned A LOT about what happens when you mix too many different types of alcohol.

When I got in, I thought CalArts was where I was finally going to figure it all out. I was going to find my “aesthetic” (sorry for that word), I was going to have an Instagram with a ton of followers, I would be animating music videos for Dan Deacon, working on a hit Adult Swim show, etc. Well, almost two years after graduating, (surprise) I haven’t done any of those things. I’m basically starting over again and trying to get back to what I used to love at the core of everything, which is drawing. I’m reevaluating what success means to me, trying to find that ecstatic energy again. Graduating from college was one hill, and I got over it. I’m back in the valley again, but now there is a fucking mountain in front of me and I just barely started climbing it.

So looking back, what would you say were some of the larger struggles.  Has it ever felt like it was a smooth road?
When I was younger and didn’t feel the burden of responsibilities and student loan payments, the road was a lot smoother. Ideas came swiftly and easily to me. I had energy and time, so much damn time. I didn’t have the lingering voice of Instagram telling me how much better all of my peers are doing than I, I didn’t have the repetitive, soul-draining grind of waiting on tables. No one fucking warns you that after you graduate college, the weight of being an adult in a capitalist society is going to hit you in the face and make you feel powerless. (I’m sorry this is so depressing, I’m a fun person to be around I swear!) I guess I am just feeling the struggle now more than ever, struggling with depression, motivation, ideas. The road is rough as hell right now, but I know I’m going to keep going because what the else am I supposed to do? Work at a dang bank?

I was feeling great right after I graduated, I started working out of this makeshift studio in Echo Park called Bad People. We would all hang out at our desks and make art and laugh. We even opened a pop-up store that was pretty successful and worked on some weird thing for Adidas. From there I applied to a few jobs and things were looking up. Then, Bad People ended, people moved away, and my comforting support circle of artists faded. On top of that, after stringing me along for a month, I didn’t end up getting the job. Ever since then I have been in a major slump and I’ve let it get the best of me. Currently, I’m learning to start calling every small thing I do, that in some way will lead me down a smoother path, a success. It’s the only way to keep going.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on.
Aside from going on long, depressing rants in interviews, I specialize in creating 2D animation and illustration. My usual medium is through Adobe Flash because I enjoy its quick frame editing and the ability it gives me to animate traditionally without using a ton of paper. Illustration-wise I prefer using more traditional materials, such as pen, gouache, and markers. I love making looping GIFs and other short forms of animation, although I have also created a few 1-3 minutes long shorts using more experimental forms of animation such as stop motion and cut-outs. I’m heavily influenced by rubber hose animation and I like being “off-model” with my characters. I draw a lot of inspiration from events in my personal life, but also from nature, pop-culture, and current color trends. I like using selective color palettes and tend to use a lot of absurdism and humor in my work. My adaptability sets me apart; my art tends to often change aesthetically from project to project, yet I feel my sensibilities and core influences always remain present. This fluidity allows me to easily adapt to a client’s needs regarding visual style, but I can also be unapologetically myself if the situation calls for it!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel conflicted about this. On one hand, LA is home to basically every major animation studio, so if that’s someone’s goal, to work in a studio, I would definitely say this is the best place to be. Even then, the person still has to consider the HUGE competition of such a wide and densely populated city for such a concentrated profession. If someone wants to go a more unconventional route, I would say to this person starting out that they need to get really good at networking. They need to stay busy and constantly be making work, putting together events or meeting people. They need to be an extrovert and they need to be good at social media. If you can check off all these things, then you will definitely find a spot of success in this city.

There is a lot of pretentiousness in LA, but there is a lot of realness and inspiration in it too. It can be completely picturesque like this recent spring has been with the flowers and stupidly perfect weather. You can drive like an hour in any direction and be in the desert or the mountains (but which of us LA natives really do that much?). It can also be a hot, dirty, stifling hell-hole, where the daily grind weighs on you even more. I guess it’s up to its inhabitants to take advantage of the good moments.

I would love to see more communication, I’d love to see more small gatherings of like-minded artists that don’t feel so exclusive and overwhelming. I’d love for another “Bad People” or even a monthly meet-up for people to just screen stuff and maybe vent or throw around ideas. It’s hard because we all have jobs and crazy schedules and we can all tend to just drift apart over time. So when I feel the struggle or feel frustrated, it can seem like I’m going through it alone, which is very discouraging. I want to combat the idea that you need to schmooze it up with high profile people or have some idyllic studio life in order to be seen here. It’s about time for us messy, introverted, broke, weirdos to have a moment!

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