If you don’t already know who Sabrina Mati is, this one-on-one interview is going to make you want to. I can’t believe how much industry and life knowledge this woman packed into our conversation. She started off her career in the entertainment industry interning for Adventure Time at Cartoon Network, moving up to staff work on Uncle Grandpa, then Animals., then HarmonQuest, then Rick and Morty. And that’s just her animation resume. She’s currently completing work on a Rick and Morty comic. But she’s so much beyond that. If you have even the slightest interest in animation, production, or comics… keep reading.
Lindsay Garber: Alright! Hello!
Sabrina Mati: Hello!
Lindsay: I know you are a busy woman, working as we are speaking right now. Which is quite amazing.
Sabrina: Thank you, I try.
Lindsay: I know you have worked as a professional in the entertainment industry with animation and with comics. I’d like to start with animation and then get into the comics later, if that’s alright?
Sabrina: Yeah sure!
Lindsay: Alright, you’ve worked on a variety of awesome animated series, which we will go into, but lets start with Disenchantment. One of your latest projects that you did design cleanup for, can you tell us a bit about the crew you worked with, and what design cleanup entails?
Sabrina: The crew that I worked with, was cool because it was mostly a familiar crew. I noticed the majority of the people I worked with were from Starburns Industries. I worked with a lot of people formally on Animals., and HarmonQuest. A lot of people were from Rick and Morty. It was really cool to have a chunk of people that I had already worked with and knew very well. The reason why I got the job to begin with was because the storyboard supervisor Martin Archer, he took my contact down after Rick and Morty. I told him I was down for cleanup work, if there were no design positions open. The design positions ended up being filled, but they were open for design cleanup. So I said, “Alright, I’m down.” They were all really great. I loved them a lot. It was a different environment, different studio, they allowed me to bring my dog, which was great. It’s always great to be able to do that. As far as cleanup goes, design cleanup from show to show has always been different depending on how they run things. For example on Rick and Morty, I was considered a design cleanup artist, but the job didn’t entail just cleanup. It entailed a lot more. On this show, in particular, this show goes closer to what cleanup is actually all about. Which basically is, the designers sketch out and work out all the designs whether it be characters, props, effects, and backgrounds. They sketch them in a way where it is clean enough to go over with clean lines. So it’s not a completely super rough sketch, where I can’t make this out, and I have to draw to the best of my ability, what it’s supposed to be. For example Maximus Pauson is very good at making his designs look almost clean, but you can tell they they are a sketch still. My job is to go over in photoshop, with consistant line and make it slender and clean. The characters get one style. I just use one brush for the characters for the most part, it will change in size every now and then. The backgrounds were completely a different style. So before we got onto the show we had to test for it, to see how well we could match the style. The backgrounds had this sketchy aloof feel to the line art. They had their own brush setting. That was pretty much my job on Disenchantment. I cleaned up lines all day long. It’s a very relaxing job for me, because I’m a perfectionist, anyways. I like things to look neat. It’s less creative and more tedious and technical.
Lindsay: Out of curiosity, you said you’ve done character design on Rick and Morty even though you are technically design cleanup. Do you think it’s a budgetary issue, where with Disenchantment you have a larger budget? So there were people for each thing, or did you get lucky and they said, “You can also do character design for Rick and Morty!”
Sabrina: I definitely, well this is going to sound crappy in a way toward the production. I understand that Rick and Morty at one point was not union, and I went on to Rick and Morty when it was not union, so I can see why they had me with that title, and separated me from the designers, even though the majority of the work I did was design work. I definitely do believe it was a budgetary thing. I’m pretty sure that if I did address it further with the producer and the union, then something would have been changed or shifted. It was a thing at the time that I didn’t know, and I was just grateful for the job and experience to begin with. It wasn’t so much about the money for me. I did take note of it later on as I progress. If you realize that they are cutting corners with you, take notes for the future about what you are worth and what you prefer. What you are not willing to settle for. My only thing, was that the title rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t really care about the money, and that I was getting paid less. I didn’t care, but if I am doing design work, why am I not being called a designer? Because I could have used that credit, for future shows. To say that I had this experience. I wasn’t technically a designer, but it would have been a cool thing for my resume.
Lindsay: That is great advice because people get taken advantage of all the time. You are right. You have to take note, grow from it, and stand up for yourself. Thank you for that enlightenment.
Sabrina: I feel bad sometimes to, because I don’t want to be an issue for the company either, or for them to think that I’m being shady, and stuck up. You don’t want to come off as that person either. Always be grateful for what you get, and try to ask for things in a respectful way instead of demanding it and burning bridges.
Lindsay: You get these hook ups for other jobs, and then they leave you off the credits, and you say “But I worked on this movie…” You have to talk to them and say, it’s not for ego, but it’s for the things you do for the business. Having that credit gets you into events, like Comic-Con, and panels. It’s something that would benefit the studio, if you are given the proper credit.
Sabrina: Exactly. And it shows appreciation.
Lindsay: Both ways. You have had a lot of experience, like we just talked about. With Rick and Morty, character design on HarmonQuest, background design on Animals., and worked on the main title design for Uncle Grandpa. Do you have a favorite job, or job title in animation so far, and is there a job that you haven’t done so far that you’d like to do?
Sabrina: I am going to be probably one of many who has a very different answer compared to most artists. For me personally, as years go on, and go by, I am starting to love jobs like just cleanup more and more, because I am realizing where my creative energy is going. I have talked to other artists about this before, and they’ve kind of seem to feel the same way. After a certain amount of time, you work so much as another’s artist, working on somebody else’s project, and then every now and then you hit a production, but you don’t feel as much appreciation as you should. There’s something about not being satisfied, or loved deep down inside. For me, the cleanup job takes a lot of pressure off of my shoulders. It’s very easy and relaxing for me. It also allows me to be a part of things big, and great, while also preserving my creative energy for other things that I really love to do. Being an artist, I’d love to do more of my art projects on the side, and have my own independent stuff. I also have other hobbies as an artist. I like to always be stimulated creatively. When you are competing for a design position, with pressure and struggle to get there, as of late it has been too much pressure for me to deal with. I’m okay working on my own stuff. That’s enough creative satisfaction for me. I don’t always need to have that title for everyone else’s project for me to be happy. It was great working as a designer on the shows that I did, it was really cool to have that, and represent that. Some people that’s all they want to do. They always want to create designs, left and right, for whatever. I tend to be on a different spectrum then most people. I just want to work independently more.
Lindsay: Which is great. You are using skills that a lot of people don’t have. Which are the meticulous parts of things, and having the ability to change your skills depending on the show that you are on. Not everyone can do that. I’m sure everyone who has you on their team is very grateful for how versatile you are, and the things you bring to the table. Calling it cleanup, isn’t all that it is, you bring so much more to the table, but I can understand how line cleanup can be so fulfilling.
Sabrina: Yeah, and it’s cool because while there are people who die for show positions that are more creative, those creative people hate cleanup. So it’s cool that I am going for a job that not a lot of people want or like. There are certain jobs for everybody. One person might not want to do something, but there is always someone who is willing to do it.
Lindsay: Would you say there is anything else that you’d like to attempt, that you haven’t before?
Sabrina: My goal used to be to pitch a show, and become a show creator. That tends to be everybody’s dream when you go into animation. For me personally, I have made my dreams and goals less for that, but still big for me. Now I really want to make more illustrations, and work on traditional art and painting for galleries, or to sell. I want to make myself a brand almost. I want my art to speak for itself. I want art that people can spot, and say, “Hey, that’s so-and-so’s art! I’m a fan of her work!” It’s not going to be, “I’m a fan of this person’s work in this show.” I want the “I like this person’s work” specifically. I want to spread a message through what ever art that I am doing. I want to make art with intention. I want it to be seen, to make people happy, and feel something through my art. I also have been thinking about dabbling with tattoo at some point. Just taking it in a different direction. I still want to keep working in animation, but I am okay with using it as just my job.
Lindsay: That sounds like such poetry.
Sabrina: I love writing too, on my own time. I have so many journals. I have a journal for everything, because I’m always in my head, and in my mind. I’m always over analyzing everything, and whats going on in the world. That’s my passion.
Lindsay: I can feel it.
Sabrina: Thank you.
Lindsay: I also wanted to bring up that your dog is famous. He’s been in season 1 of HarmonQuest as a background design character, and even you showed up as a background design character in season 2. How did this happen?
Sabrina: Okay, this wasn’t the first show that he was on. It was actually before HarmonQuest. I was working on the show Animals. on HBO, and I was a character designer, which was my first official character design job where I got to design what ever I want. We had an episode of just dogs, and we needed a lot of background dogs, since the scene was at a dog park. I asked one of my coworkers, Elisa Phillips, who was extra help on the character team. While I was developing the principal characters, she was designing some extras. I asked her if she could design Meeseeks (Sabrina’s dog), and then I asked the colorist if she could color the dog like Meeseeks. The creators didn’t say no to it, they just needed background characters. So what ever you could do to fluff it out. So they saw the color and the design, and they weren’t opposed to it. I took that, and from that point on, I wanted Meeseeks to be in as much as possible. Whenever I can get him into something. HarmonQuest came around, and there was a point where we needed animals for background incidentals, to fill space to make it look like a city. I thought it was another opportunity to put Meeseeks in, they had herding dogs for their sheep, so I asked Steven Chunn to design it, and Elisa Phillips again, because she was extra help again, to color it. I asked him to design it as a generic Australian shepherd and have the color be vaguely similar to Meeseeks, so it’s iconic, but not to a T, because sometimes animation is complicated, and his coat is very complicated. As far as my design goes, I asked the art director of HarmonQuest, “Hey, can we all be incidentals? The entire crew?” we needed so many incidentals, so we could be the inspiration for it. I remember way back when on Uncle Grandpa, the board artist would always put his friends in the background, and I always felt envious, like okay… I want to be a character too someday, but no one is going to do it. So I said, one day I’m going to do it. So when ever I get a chance I’ll ask the art director, “Hey since these people are incidentals, and they don’t have to be specific, and it’s cool to grab inspiration from people you know because it makes people look more real instead of some random dude….” and he was cool with it. So I took a list of everybody’s name and what they wanted to be, whether it was a dwarf, an elf, human, or what ever. Everyone gave me what they wanted, and me and Steven Chunn, we took the list and did our best to design everybody. So I ended up designing myself as a character. I know I did it once on Rick and Morty season 2.
Sabrina: There was a scene where they needed me to draw a bunch of reporters. My lead was, “This is your time now, to add your friends in.” Because he understood the whole trend with that, so he told me that without me even asking. I said, “Ohh! I can put myself in?” and he said “Sure go for it.” So that’s exactly what I did.
Lindsay: Awesome, the power of asking.
Sabrina: Yes, it’s harmless. Just do it.
Lindsay: If they say no, they say no. If they say yes, look at all the things you could be in.
Sabrina: If anything, it makes them happy, because it makes you excited to want to draw things. Nobody wants to do this. They need extra characters in the background, and we need a lot of them, “Will somebody just please do it for us?” “Yeah sure, is it okay if it’s this?” “We don’t care, as long as it’s just filling space, it’s what we need.”
Lindsay: Your dog, Mr. Meeseeks, there is also a character on Rick and Morty called Mr. Meeseeks. Which came first?
Sabrina: So… Mr. Meeseeks the character himself, I did draw the name from the show in season one. The episode that is all Mr. Meeseeks. When I got my dog Meeseeks, I’d gotten onto Rick and Morty season two. When I got onto season two, I saw a lot of dogs around the office, and I was inspired to get a dog. My sister had also just gotten a dog, so I wanted a dog. I was planning on getting him, my money was down on him. While I was waiting for him to grow large enough to take him home, I was discussing what his name should be outside with my sister, and her boyfriend at the time. He said that it would be funny if I named him Meeseeks, because I had just gotten a job on Rick and Morty and I had been working there for a while, and he liked the show a lot. I said, “That’s funny.” and I thought about it longer and said, “You know what, you might be onto something, because it sounds really cute.”
Lindsay: And I’m sure your dog would do anything for you, just like the Meeseeks in the show.
Sabrina: Oh yeah, and his thing is he says, “Hey I’m Mr. Meeseeks, look at me!” as a phrase, and that’s Meeseek all the time. He is always spinning in circles. In my mind, I’m picturing him saying “Hey, look at me, I’m Mr. Meeseeks!” over and over and over. Which is really interesting, because I dove deeper into the history of that name. It turns out that the name Mr. Meeseeks is an Armenian word for “Little piece of meat.” The way it’s spelled and pronounced is different, but that’s where it’s from. It’s supposed to be an endearing phrase in their culture. The only way I know this is because I talked to Myke Chilian, he created/helped with most of the character design, and he story boarded most of the pilot. When I introduced him to my dog down the line, since I knew him from Uncle Grandpa, he said, “Yeah, fun fact, did you know that Justin Roiland took that name from me, because my cat’s name was Meeseeks, and he knew that term from me, because I explained it to him.” I guess this whole term went way back, and Justin was inspired to use it on the show. It’s super interesting.
Lindsay: That’s even more adorable now that I know it’s a little piece of meat. I’m just going to see him, and picture “My little piece of meat.”
Sabrina: When I heard that, I said, “Wow, okay then.” It’s kind of dark. Wow, my dog is just a piece of meat.
Lindsay: We are all just a bunch of meat sacks.
Sabrina: Apparently that’s what they call their kids sometimes in the Armenian culture. Like a term of endearment. That’s what Myke kept saying.
Lindsay: I want to talk about how you got to where you are. You did an internship, that got you into Cartoon Network, where you were an animation production intern for Adventure Time. How were you able to get that internship, and how did that evolve into working where you are today?
Sabrina: At the time I was in my second year of college. Cartoon Network had visited my school once before to talk about their internship. I was there for the visit, but the information didn’t sink in, I didn’t feel the need to focus on an internship. My friend Nick, who I went to college with, he applied for internships out of nowhere. All you needed was a resume and a cover letter. He got an internship and that spread awareness amongst his peers, because it was possible. His best friend was my boyfriend at the time, he inspired his best friend to apply and in turn it inspired me. Cartoon Network was already a studio that I wanted to work at since I was a kid. My number one studio that I had dreams of working at. So I thought if it was obtainable, then sure why not! I simply went on the website when they said the season to look. The application isn’t always up. They put it up during certain seasons. Throughout the year they have summer, fall, and winter internships. It’s per season. When the time was right, and the applications went live, I just applied. I did a resume to the best of my ability. My instructors and professors gave me a lot of advise on it. I asked if it was okay. I also got my cover letter looked over. Once everyone said it was fine, and didn’t seem to get more critique, I trusted that it was good enough, and submitted it. I got a call, I don’t know how they choose from so many applications. If someone asks me what are the best chances of getting chosen, I can’t tell them. They aren’t looking at art. They are just looking at resumes and cover letters. I just tell people to make the best cover letter you can, and put a lot of college stuff on there. You are taking a ton of classes, and racking up skills you aren’t realizing. So I say to list all the programs that you know how to use, because that more often then not is what they need you for. Also list any clubs you are a part of, and skill sets that you’ve got from classes that aren’t programs. If you learned character design, or edit stuff, whatever skill set that you are confident in saying that you know more then the average person. Throw it on there! It’s a time to pat yourself on the back for things that you do know. A lot of people haven’t worked a job, and wonder what to put on their resume, but I didn’t work a job. The internship was the first job of my entire life. I told them, I haven’t worked. If you ask your teachers to be their T.A. or students if they need help on projects, you can write that as experience. That’s all great. They choose me, but I don’t know if there is a lottery, or a specific word search. I don’t know. They placed me on the internship for Adventure Time specifically. I didn’t get to choose. They said, “Hey the producer is going to interview you for an internship on Adventure Time.” I said it was great, it’s cool anyway, how lucky I am. I was going up against four other people in a group interview. They ended up choosing two out of all of us. Once I became an intern, I choose to intern twice a week. I remember when I was interning, I told my professors, so they could ease up on my work load. Also I was taking classes that I could work independently a lot, so if I had to miss class, they would understand due to the internship. Eventually I asked if I could work three days a week, because they seemed busy and the other intern could work only one day a week. So I kept pushing, “If you need my help, can I come in more days?” Every now and then, if it seemed like an issue for pay reasons, that they didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to pay, I would talk one-on-one with the production coordinator, and ask if I could come in, and they wouldn’t have to worry about paying me. I didn’t want the money, but I wanted to help out. I just wanted to push that I wanted to be there more, and to do more. They were appreciating all the help and extra hours, without demanding pay or credits. It was just the experience and connection with the people that I wanted. They saw me doing that, and I didn’t overstep my boundaries or pressure people. I was always about my work, I stayed in my cube all day long until the work was done. I hardly went around and socialized, because they needed my help, and that was why I was there. I did such a great job with that, and I made sure that I was always showing appreciation for them, I would bring thank you cards, or got everybody gifts at Christmas. I tried to connect in that way, where people understood how much I appreciated them. I know the coordinator specifically, his name was Joe Game, he appreciated that so much that he took initiative to make sure that my name was passed around the studio for any future positions that I wanted. I specifically wanted to attack a production assistant job next, because all the tasks that I was doing as an intern lined up with what I Was doing as a production assistant job. It seemed like the next step. You can apply for art jobs too, obviously never an issue. When you are an intern though, you are never doing the art side of things. You are working more with production. So I made he choice to specifically go for production first instead of art jobs. I kept making sure that the producers and everyone knew that I wanted to come back as a production assistant position, and to let me know when the position opened, and I stayed in contact with them. At the end of my term, three shows were hiring. All green-lit and staffing up. The first people they tend to grab from for production assistant positions are either other production assistants if they need another job then they can jump onto them, or they grab from their interns. Those are the first people who get dibs on it. I put my name in, and Adventure Time kept putting my name in to be in that batch, because they loved my work. H.R. knew about me, even at the end of my term, they all said great things about me, when the positions opened up, they had my name set aside to be interviewed for a show. I interviewed for Steven Universe, Clarence, and Uncle Grandpa for the production assistant.
Lindsay: Great shows!
Sabrina: It seemed like they had interns on Steven Universe already, they had interns that had worked with the producer, and were her favorite interns from the past, that she wanted to hire. You will run into that situation where people will just already have a connection with people, because they’ve had a closer one-on-one working experience with them. With Uncle Grandpa, as opposed to the other shows, the producer Rossitza Likomanova , we called her Rosey for short. I noticed, I don’t know if it was the universe lining things up for me or if it was pure coincidence or luck, she was really close friends with one of my professors at school, and this professor really loved me. She was one of those professors that made it clear that she appreciated me as a student, and we got along very well and we connected. I think she knew, or saw that I went to school at the Art Institute of North Hollywood, I forgot how it went. I think she asked my professor about me, and my professor gave a good word for me. Rosey’s husband also worked for Disney and he came to our school once for a demo reel competition, and I won it. He judged it, looked at the work, and scored it. He remembered me, and I told Rosey about it, that I met her husband before in the past. There were a lot of things amplifying my qualities and showing that I was fit for the job. There was a lot of trust being put in me. Not only in people recommending me, but in past connections that I had. It worked out that way, and they liked me. Since it was an entry level job, they used me for anything that they needed help with. Since I went to school that taught a lot of programs, I noticed that I was one of the few people who knew almost every program. They had me work on so many things, and in so many departments. I was a little helper in every single rode of production. It was the most amazing experience, and I am so grateful for it. I am grateful that I landed my foot in the door in that position, versus an art job first. I got to see the other side of things. The production side of animation, instead of just the art instead. When you work in production, you get to over see everything, and you get to oversee all artists, and communicate with all of them. You know what each of them are up to and what they are doing, because you are the one waiting for them to be done. You are waiting to get all their work to ship off to other animation studios. I always tell people, if you can’t get an art job right away, I would go for production, because you meet people more in production. It’s an easy entry level job, unlike art. There is no easy entry level art position. You get to connect to people more when you are on the production side of things. Students also have more skill sets for production side, then most people who don’t go to college and learn programs. They love college students because they study those programs and they are relevant to us.
Lindsay: Also you get to see the notes coming back on things illustrated, and you get to understand why these notes are being requested. Knowing both sides of the coin would benefit you and your team. You know what they have to go through as well, and you can step in and help in places.
Sabrina: And you know what to expect to. I remember I didn’t know what a character design position entailed until I became a production assistant. Even with storyboard positions, I’m not so much into those positions. It’s not something I go for. I did study it in school though. From what I did as a production assistant, I had to look at more storyboards than designs. It’s hard to explain, but I had to conform storyboards, it’s hard to explain what it is if you don’t get animation. I looked at every storyboard for every episode. When you actually have to go through that you subconsciously learn how storyboards should look professionally. In essence how to storyboard. I gained experience storyboarding, not just through my school, but through looking at a crap ton of them.
Lindsay: You are dropping education bombs all over the place!
Sabrina: Yay! Storyboarding is not just about how well you draw. You need to know language. Film language. You need to know screen directions, and how shots read to people. You need to know composition. There is just so much in storyboard, it’s more about the story that you are telling visually, then how well you are drawing them. When you look at a bunch, you see how artists storyboard differently to convey a certain message. You also see technical things. Little things that one storyboard artist will do to indicate a camera move, versus another one will do something different to indicate camera moves. You see subtle nuisances here and there.
Lindsay: Wow, you definitely got it down in what’s up with animation! From there, you worked on a few more projects because of the relationships you developed with your other team mates. When something ended, you moved onto other projects, and then you moved onto Starburns.
Sabrina: Yes, after Uncle Grandpa, it was for Rick and Morty. Rick and Morty was at Starburns first. For Rick and Morty, I didn’t have connections to help me get that job. I hadn’t worked as an artist yet. I didn’t have anyone to show off my art skills. I remember, this is a fun fact I like to tell people, when I was in production on Uncle Grandpa, people didn’t know that I was an artist until a year later. People didn’t know that I drew. I made sure that I established connections first, instead of shoving my art into people’s faces asking for jobs. I let my work speak for myself. I would post all the time when I would take classes, or whenever I would draw anything. Life drawings, or my own personal stuff, I would always post. Since I made connections with the people that I work with on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or whatever, they would see the artwork that I would post. They would strike a conversation with me at work, and say, “Hey, your stuff is really good. What do you want to do? You are really good, and you should go for something that is art. Why aren’t you an artist?” When I got that validation, that was an open door to ask this person for help. They’ve seen my potential, and they can give me advise. Uncle Grandpa let me freelance some backgrounds. They tested me for backgrounds on there because they saw my potential, and I asked if I could test, just to show them if I could do it at all if they needed any extra freelancers. I did a test, and the art director and the creator both loved it. They thought it was perfect and said, “Yeah sure! If they need any help they’ll go to you next.” And they did. I actually got to do background design for a few episodes for Uncle Grandpa. When I left Uncle Grandpa, Rick and Morty opened up positions for season two. It’s not that I was specifically looking for Rick and Morty for a job, like most people were at the time, I just heard that positions were opening up and I went for it. That’s another thing I like to tell people, I understand that you have a favorite show that you want to work for, but I think you should got for positions solely based on the fact that you can do their style, and it’s a job. For some reason if you fan out, and obsess over the job it kind of goes that your work ethic and personality feels flakey to some people. People are always like, you just want to work on the show because it’s popular, rather then wanting to because you truly love what you do. I just applied, and got a test for the show. I didn’t have anyone working there that I could go to and say “Hey, ME ME!” I just tried my best that I could on the test. I got some critique on my test, not like help where they drew over my stuff, because that’s cheating. I just went up to somebody and ask, “How are my character designs,” hear what they say, and work off of their critiques, or I would ask them specifically if I was struggling with a turn around on the test, I’d ask, “Hey, does this look more right, or does this look more right,” so that I’m doing the work, and they are just verbally telling me something. They liked my test enough for the design cleanup position, because their design positions were filled. So, for me on that, it wasn’t so much personal connections. I just tried really hard on my test. So some people think, they just hire their friends, but it’s not always the case. Don’t always write yourself off, or give up for reasons like that. Always try your best. Your work will speak for themselves, even if they do have friends that they are going to hire, at least you tried your best. At least they have your work on file.
Lindsay: Yeah, they’ll be thinking about it.
Lindsay: You should write a book.
Sabrina: I’ve thought about it a couple of times, but I don’t know about this stuff. That’s why I have my podcast the “Animaton Success Stories”. I just thought, why not convey this information in a more relatable medium now a days. Everyone loves podcasts, and I love podcasts. It’s a great way to help people.
Lindsay: I do want to talk about “Animaton Success Stories”, but first I would like to ask you a few questions about your relationship with comic books. So you worked on the comics for Rick and Morty with Oni Press, and you actually are about to finish another job on that. Can you tell us about what you do on it?
Sabrina: The only thing I did with for Oni Press was a comic cover variant. I just did an illustration once, released a couple years ago. I haven’t officially done a comic for them. The gig that I am finishing up for them is my first comic gig.
Lindsay: Awesome! Curious about doing the cover, do you get to read the story first, do they tell you what they want to see, and do you do the lines and colors?
Sabrina: It depends on who they are asking. They have a team of their own artists that work on the stories. Then sometimes the guest people who work on stories will ask for a specific request to add characters that they will are added in the stories. At the time, when they were asking, they asked quite a few Rick and Morty artists to do some comic cover variants. They asked us to do whatever design we wanted, using Rick and Morty. They asked for at least 4-6 thumbnail sketches with composition. Once you sent that in, they pick their favorite ones, that they want you to work with. If they have more then one, pick, they’ll just say #1 and #3. You get to choose which one you want to do, and then they ask for a pencil design. Once your pencil design is done and approved then they ask for a clean. The clean can consist of just line art if you want, and they have their own color artist. They ask if you’d prefer someone else to color it, in the animation industry, people understand that color isn’t everybody’s forte. They always are open to asking somebody who can do color. I did color for my variant, I had help on my background from another Rick and Morty artist. That was it for the cover variant, but for the comic I am doing now, they did ask me to include the characters in the story. I’m actually asking their color artist to help me out.
Lindsay: Are you working on actual panels on Rick and Morty #43?
Sabrina: Since I worked with them formally already on one comic book cover, they remembered me. They remembered I worked for the show, and they hit me up a couple months ago, they were looking for a guest artist and asked me if I wanted to do an 18 page comic with them, as a guest. Every now and then they will have a guest artist. I said yes, because they usually ask Erica Hayes. She is the storyboard artist, and they just wanted to grab someone new. They remembered working with me, and I said yes. I asked if I could collaborate with Juan Jose Meza-Leon, who is a director on Rick and Morty. He directed season two and three, and was a storyboard artist in season one. I asked if he could collaborate with me on the action portion of the comic, because he is really good at action. His whole resume is all action shows. He was happy to help, so we split the pay. I told them that I would use the colorist, because all of their comics are colored. I had never done a comic book before, and never storyboarded professionally either. Comics are like storyboarding. I had to remember all those storyboards that I worked with, and the little information that I studied in college about storyboarding. I used all that subconscious knowledge that I absorbed. This has been a like a little challenge, learning the storyboard aspect of animation, because in comic books, that’s what they are. I asked Juan on advise for my shots in this and he would give me pointers here and there since we were collaborating. It’s been a crazy ride. Now I get to use all my skills I’ve ever learned. Like my character design skills, versus background design skills that I’ve accumulated. Props and effects, I get to mesh everything I’ve learned and put it into this comic.
Lindsay: You are even drawing every little thing. A mug, anything in life, posters on the wall. It’s so much work. I’m proud of you.
Sabrina: Thank you! I’m proud of myself. It’s just been a lot. Wow, I appreciate comic artists so much more now after doing it. I can only imagine people who do this for a living, as their own form of income. All the manga I read growing up. Especially since manga was thick novels. Not just a flimsy comic. In Japan they have huge books with tons of pages. My appreciation for comic book artists have just gone up doing this whole thing. There were a lot of things I didn’t realize. I’m not writing this story. This isn’t my story. They have writers at Oni Press, they use the same writers more often then not. Kyle Starks, he is the writer of this comic. He gave me a script, and the script is laid out really cool. I didn’t realize that they would lay it out in panels. In panel one, I want this to happen, and this dialog. In panel two I want this to happen and this dialog. Then they would break it up, as next page, this is what’s happening.
Sabrina: Yeah, and the pressure of coming up with all of that was off my plate. It was just like storyboarding, I just had to board it out. They were telling me what to do, I just had to draw it out visually.
Lindsay: It’s a lot of imagination as well. One person might say “X” is happening, and depending on the person it will be visualized a different way.
Sabrina: Oh yeah! That is what makes film adaptation so fun. That’s were you get to put your creative input. This has been a creatively satisfying for me, for that reason. There is a level of trust that I have to have in myself. I have to dive deep and say, “Okay, what would you do for this?” rather then asking someone what I should do. I’m impressing myself just doing this, because often times I struggle with self confidence, and second guess myself. I ask for help or advise. I always ask for reassurance, “Am I doing this right? Is this good enough? Do you like this? I don’t know if I’m doing it right!” It gets to a point now, where I see the little amount of notes from people. Juan hardly gave me any notes on this. It was very shocking. I didn’t realize how far I’ve come on the things I’ve learned and how well I can do on things. “Oh, alright, I’m just doubting myself a lot.”
Lindsay: You’re leveling up, and you don’t even know it.
Sabrina: Nope, I never do know it.
Lindsay: Speaking on how versatile and creative you are, you work in so many areas of animation. You also on the side have a podcast on amazing makeup tutorials. You make time for pole dancing. You have a very informational podcast that you co-host called A.S.S., “Animaton Success Stories”. These are all such different things, on top of what we spoke in the entertainment industry. Is there anything else coming up that you are getting into, or anything new that you are already doing that we should look out for, like this comic?
Sabrina: They are saying October for the comic. It could still be October, the colorist is already working on my pages that have already been completed. I have pushed a little over the deadline, so I don’t know if that will make a difference. It could or couldn’t. I think it depends on how fast the colorist gets things done at this point. It’s issue #43. As far as other stuff, I just finished something. The reason my summer was so crazy was, a pole production show, where I had a lead role in a live performance event with my pole studio. We put a lot of creative work into it. I trained for a few months, and attended a ton rehearsals. I just had the show recently. Since that’s done and over with, my upcoming side hobbies and goals are mine. Since I love dance so much, my next journey that I want to dive into with dance is pole competition. I’m also a musician. I want to collaborate with friends more, and I want to record songs more, and maybe potentially do little gigs at coffee shops. I want to look into that. I recently did a gig with Suicide Girls. I got to perform two songs on the guitar, song covers.
Lindsay: That’s awesome.
Sabrina: Yeah it was great, because all the girls did burlesque dances. They were asking for other performers, and my friend recommended me, and I asked if I could just do live music and play guitar. They said, “Sure! Do it.” It was great, like a talent show. As far as my Youtube Channel goes, where I do makeup tutorials, that’s just something I do for fun. I plan on doing more of those, because it’s literally me just doing it for fun, and recording it, and editing it later. It’s not like I have any intention to create anything for it. I usually am getting ready for my day, and recording it for people, and hope people like it. I hope to do more of those. Maybe more fitness related things. I’m obsessed with fitness. I’ve trained people at the gym before. I’d love to get a training certificate, and personally train people at the gym. I’m all about physical health, so I’d love to do that. As I said earlier, I’d love to do more illustrations and paintings, to dive into more of my own work. I guess I might go back to Rough Draft Studios, if Disenchantment gets picked up for another season. I think that will just be my next journey as far as full time jobs go. The podcast to, we have so many plans for it. This month, Bryan said NerdBot. There is a convention and Bryan was invited on behalf of the shows that he works on, and he thought we could do something for our podcast and promote our podcast there. My college academic advisor also asked me to be a part of a panel for the Art Institute, and I invited my friends Nick Raith, Bryan Newton, and Anthony Alfonso who are my co-hosts and Nick is specifically my technical engineer. I invited them along to, so we might make it a whole “Animaton Success Stories” event, and record it, and throw it up on our channel or something. We aim to be more interactive with our audience and people who keep asking questions, and want to network. We want to come up with more events and ways to work one on one or with groups of people to make us more approachable, so people can get good advise. It’s hard to get advise today because you feel people are too good for you, to talk to. So we are trying to be the relatable people who can offer that advise and mentor people that need help.
Lindsay: Wow, that’s a lot. That checklist is amazing. Mine is wake up in the morning, go to work, play video games.
Sabrina: Oh please! I am sure you have lots of cool things too.
Lindsay: Well definitely, I learned a lot about how important it is to connect and communicate with the people around you no matter their position. You don’t know how you can help each other in the future. I thank you so much for your time. I know you have more panels to do, and I am looking forward to checking out the comic. Is there any last words you’d like to share?
Sabrina: Yeah, I’d like to say. Always tune into yourself at the end of the day, and ask yourself if what you are doing, is what you love. Don’t ever think that you have to do things because of the money and how much it makes. No matter what you do, the money will come along with it, by law of attraction. You don’t have to worry about that, as long as you are doing what you love doing, you are going to attract abundance in all forms. Just make sure you are always happy in what you are doing. If you are not, make that change so you can be happy. Don’t let anybody hold you back from making that change and jump. Even if it’s scary, it’s only scary because we are taught stability, and taught to do one thing for the rest of our lives, so just follow your heart all the time, and tune in with yourself to make sure you are fine at the end of the day, and you like waking up the next morning and going to what ever job you are doing that day.
Lindsay: Once again poetry.
Sabrina: I try, I guess.
Inspired? I am! I can’t emphasize enough how amazing and true this inside information is for the entertainment industry. Do yourself a favor and follow Sabrina on her Instagram and follow Animation Success Stories on YouTube for more amazing information in the animation industry.