Art and Design Director
Ted Bramble was inspired to pursue a career in visual effects through comic books, his fatherís excellent taste in fine art, and a disdain for wearing suits. From the age of three, this Long Beach, California native went from crayon sketches to an Art Director at an ad agency where, you guessed it, he suits up for clients every couple of weeks. And he loves it. Itís a small price to pay for having so much fun.
- How did you become involved in this field?
I studied art and science illustration at UC Santa Cruz. I popped out and worked at USA Today as an illustrator and graphic artist but it was incrediblyÖ well, lame. I applied and was accepted to Cal Arts and learned design and animation. My break at school came when I won a Disney competition that allowed me to be trained at a boot camp for animators for a summer. I showed better aptitude at design and they liked my ideas, so when I graduated from Cal Arts the following year I went into Disney Imagineering and designed theme parks. After that I went to LEGO to do a park in Germany.
- What made you decide to pursue your education?
The 2d animation crash and theme park slowdown at the turn of the century really hurt a lot of traditional artists so, I figured 3d was going to be the next big thing. ďToy StoryĒ was the writing on the wall even before that.
- What surprised you the most?
That people from all walks of life want to work in film and animation. Former lawyers and technicians, people without any traditional art skill were just killing it on the computer and making great looking environments and animations.
- What was the most important thing you learned at Gnomon?
I learned how to start a business from Marcel de Jong. He mentioned there was a lack of 3d visualization and thought I should start something, so I did. It really was as simple as that. I began Ironhorse Interactive in 2001 even while I was at Gnomon, totally flying by the seat of my pants.
- Are you still involved with Ironhorse?
Ironhorse Interactive does exist with ongoing clients but Iíve changed how we do business. The realization came when I was bidding for a commercial for Mattel (Ironhorse Interactive is a vendor of Mattel and Disney) and they said to me ďwe love your teamís work but can you match Uruguayís or Indiaís prices?Ē It was a wake up call realizing that they would rather go with an outsourcing firm for less money that did inferior work so that we would have to go back in and fix at a later date.
Crap in = crap out.
Since weíre all off doing our own gigs we come back together for certain fun projects. We donít have to chase down every dollar in town. Itís much more relaxing that way. What is funny is that the firm I work for now was a company I once wrestled away some business from. That always gives the CEO a laugh. But not the Creative Director.
- What sort of work are you doing now?
I am an art director at an ad agency in Marina del Rey. I get to use everything Iíve learned-drawing, 3d, design, color theory, and most importantly how to solve problems creatively.
- What is it you enjoy about it the most?
Itís so freakiní creative I canít believe it. And I get to pitch ideas and work with clients, which is my strong suit.
- What aspect of the Certificate Program did you find most useful?
That you can either become a specialist and know everything about Particle Effects for example (which is fine for some) and work just as that in film and games, or you can walk away with an overall knowledge and apply it to a different industry. Iíd rather hire a specialist than be one.
- What at Gnomon prepared you the most for working in the real production world?
I think hearing stories from the teachers about their jobs. It actually encouraged me not to chase after working at the DreamWorks and Sony because I didnít like the idea of being a disposable cog with fourteen producers standing on top of me. Cam Hood (animation teacher) always said that he didnít work for DreamWorks, he worked for whatever movie he was on and after that he had to find new work. I never liked that workflow because itís hard to do a good job while youíre looking for a new one.
- Where would you like to take your career next?
Creative Director. All roads point to being a CD, although Iíd swap that for Design Director at a surf company anytime.
- You have had a tremendous amount of education. What about Gnomon stands out from your other experiences?
You canít learn Maya in a vacuum, plain and simple. Gnomon is more of a trade school for sureóit isnít going to match CalArts or Art Center in terms of critical thinking but it will give more access and time to actually learning the program. The other schools donít have half as many machines.
- What advice do you have for students who are at Gnomon now?
You canít go wrong if you know the basics.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Itís tough out there. This isnít an easy lucrative business, nor is it stable by any stretch of the imagination. Save your money.