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Meet Samantha S. Gray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha S. Gray.

Samantha S., can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always lived in the clouds. I loved being in my room alone, escaping into my mind, making up stories, and drawing them out so my head wouldn’t explode from overflowing thoughts. By high school, I was convinced my path was to get into comics and I spent most of my college days working towards that goal. During my last year of college, I found the creative expression of 2D animation. The way you could see drawings move and seeing the technical and expressive extent of what people could do by putting what’s in their minds to paper entranced me. As I shifted my focus, I was luckily able to gain an internship at Titmouse Inc. working on China IL, and through the years, I have been able to work my way up on some groundbreaking shows such as BoJack Horseman, Big Mouth, Rick and Morty, and currently as a director on Tuca and Bertie. All of these projects have taught me to push myself in one way or another and I hope to continue being on inspiring groundbreaking projects and to continue making my own inspiring pieces.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the biggest challenges and hurdles is taking the dive and trying something that I’m not entirely familiar with. Even though I have my strengths, I appreciate when I get to work on projects that allow me to explore different techniques or aspects of animation. It really gets you to push your own abilities and see where you are succeeding and what you need to work on. What makes it an obstacle is when your ability falls short. Seeing all your hard work scrapped and be redone by someone else is hard to accept and the feeling of failure is never fun. But instead of moping in misery, I choose to learn from it, see where I could have done better, and apply it to the next project. When you see the approval of all your hard work go to the next stage, it is truly rewarding. I feel that I always need to be learning from my job because you’ll never learn and expand your understanding if you just stay in what’s comfortable.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As someone in animation, I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to wear many different hats. Clean up artist, animator, character designer, background artist, storyboarder, personal creator, and now director. Working all these different jobs and departments allows me to have a deeper understanding of how to work in a team, even if you are not in direct contact with every department. Especially as a storyboarder and director who gets to dictate how the script translates to the screen, I have to think about the next person who has to look at my work and use it as reference. This requires restraint, focus and economical thinking. Ultimately my main specialty and focus is being a storyteller. I find that my character acting and comedy are unique as well as my understanding of action boarding. Currently, I have been trying to start expanding my knowledge and technique into more experimental pushed animations. I hope to learn as much as I can and apply it to my own creations and make them that much better.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Building the trust of the people around me towards my work, I believe has really helped take me to where I am today. The people who have chosen to hire me and promote me have done so off of recommendations from people who have witnessed my work ethic or have worked with me on previous projects and have seen what I am able to do. I believe my willingness to continue pushing myself and learning is also a big factor. No matter what job you do, there will always be something new to learn within it, and it is our artistic duty to pursue it.

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