Friday, January 28, 2011

PAST BLAST: "Swallow-Face" MTV ID...

"PAST BLAST" is going to be yet another recurring segment on "Scribble Junkies".. exploring me and bill's past projects and forgotten milestones. Should be fun to dig up old stuff.. I'm going to kick this party off with my first ever animation "SWALLOWFACE!!!"

This was literally the first thing I ever animated. Interesting story... In 1994, I was in college at University of Massachusetts, and one night decided to try out animation. I didn't know how to draw, let alone animate, so I just did something abstract. A friend of mine told me I should put an MTV logo on it and send it to them. So I mailed a VHS pencil test of it to "MTV Networks" the address I literally got from the phone book. I shot the pencil test on an Amiga 500, and included a personalized "on screen" cover letter as a slate (i thought that was original). About two weeks later I got a call from a guy named Abby Terkuhle, who said that MTV Animation wanted to buy it. I remember the day he called, because it was the same day that I got my rejection letter from Cal Arts (the second rejection I got from them). The budget was $8k (an unbelievable sum for a kid that worked at a snowboard shop). I re-animated the same thing, a bit tighter, and I had to re-do the logo and add sound. I had it colorized by someplace called Dungeon Digital, or something like that, and I had a musician buddy of mine, Dan Koetke, do the drums. The spot won a BDA award (Broadcast Design Assoc.) and a Jury Prize at the 1995 Holland Animation Festival. After I finished the ID, MTV offered me a job in layout on "Beavis and Butthead", which was my first ever studio job, and which brought me to New York City. I wonder sometimes how things would have been different if MTV never got back to me, or Calarts had accepted me into their program. I've recently been invited to speak at Cal Arts.. which is awesome. I also teach now at NYU graduate program with a fellow professor that attended Calarts the same year I would have, if I had gotten in.


  1. I think you were rejected during the tenure of Glenn Vilppu, whose conception of what drawing is was the most close minded the program had ever seen in a head of the program.

  2. interesting.. it's also quite possible that i just SUCKED. hahaha

  3. So the lesson of this story is:

    "Even if you can't draw, you still have your imagination."

    Did I get it right?

  4. I was a UMass student that was part of the NYPOP program that visited your studio 3 or 4 years ago with Jerry Kearns. You shared this story during the visit and it has stuck out in my mind ever since. Although I didn't share it at the time it's inspiring and gives hope to people that didn't necessarily go to a big art school. So I wanted to say thanks and keep up with the awesome animations and equally awesome blog postings!