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Neil Jepson

BA (Hons) Animation
Graduated 2016

sketch of a bird sitting on an egg

Tell us a bit about your current role

I am currently working on the Tom Gates animated series. I am assigned an episode and I work through the script, usually starting with thumbnails then onto roughs. The director then gives me a list of changes to make which helps to develop the story visually. Sometimes the producer will also step in to make sure everything adheres to the brand. I then add some clean ups and maybe a bit of colour to bring the episode to a finish. While I am waiting for notes I will use the time to work on my children's book illustrations.

What do you enjoy most about your role, and what are the biggest challenges?

Becoming a better artist is what I enjoy most. Because then things become easier and we get closer to that dream. It can be hard work. especially when the pen doesn't quite flow. Like many professions in current times, isolation has been a challenge of course. But this kind of work can certainly feel like an escape as you tell the story and get into the heads of your characters.

My favourite Solent memory has to be seeing our films played at the Harbour Lights Cinema at the end of our third year!

How do you feel your studies at Solent helped prepare you for your career?

Luckily my lecturer Adam (Comiskey) had high standards - which we all had to meet to get through this course. I think this instilled in us a certain work ethic that would help prepare us for a tough industry. The animation industry is not a fairy-tale. Behind the scenes there is an enormity of hard work and graft. Late nights. Tedium. Deadlines. Pulling hair out. But the rewards are worthwhile and that’s when it becomes thefairy-tale.

What advice would you give to students wanting to follow in your footsteps?

People will always tell you to work hard and that is true. It is important to remain focused and to draw every day if possible. Life drawing and gesture drawing is more valuable than one might think. But also keep doing courses and studying your favourite artists on social media.

But asides from hard work, it is also important to be connected. We are always told "it's not what you know but who you know" and there is truth in this. Because many jobs in the industry are not advertised. So you have to be in the circle to get chances for the work. If possible, it really helps to have a mentor. I was lucky that one of my close friends got into the industry and was able to give me guidance. My friend also critiqued my work and told me what I needed to work on. Adam also gives his students plenty of guidance, even after uni, but I would also recommend keeping in touch with your animation class friends because it can feel like a lonely road at times and you need to help each other along the way.