Steven Ray Brown is a freelance Illustrator/Animator who just happens to love Community! Read the full interview here.
How did you get your start in illustrating/animating?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing. I’ve always been a huge fan of cartoons and after seeing people get so excited when they would see mine, I knew I could create cartoons and give people the same enjoyment I got from the cartoons I used watched as a kid. This sounds cheesy, but that’s really one of, if not the main goal when it comes to my work: making people smile.
In terms of your career, what are your goals?
Designing cartoons is something I want to do. Designing the characters, the look, the backgrounds, etc. That would be a lot of fun. I also really want to do storyboards. I really want to do a lot of things. I’m not 100% sure if I want to try and work for a big company or try to create something on the web. I do know that right now, I want to stay in the Louisville/Indiana area. I have a lot of that “Louisville pride,” and there’s a lot of talented people here. I would love to help make it a powerful animation hub.
How did your love of illustrating cross with your Community fandom?
I love Community, so it was going to happen eventually. I think the most popular Community-related thing I did was the character line up. I was trying to design the cast as if they had their own cartoon. I really liked how Jeff and Britta came out. I want to redo it and add all the 100-plus different characters to it.
Were you a fan of the Jeff/Shirley animation in “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism”?
Oh man, I had no clue that was going to happen, but I really enjoyed it. Community has had this weird parallel with my actual college life, and Foosball and Nocturnal Vilgantism was one of the bigger parallels.
I knew a kid whose natural voice sounds like a nerdy version of Christian Bale’s Batman, and he left some tech cage equipment that “disappeared” when he left to get some food. So, he goes to the tech cage to get more, but because he didn’t check the previous stuff in he can’t check more out. And he starts yelling at the tech cage, slamming his fits on the table and demanding a list of students names from the class that was in after him, all in the “nerdy Batman voice.” It sounded like he was going to hunt them down and get justice his own way.
The following week, the episode was Abed dressing up as Batman to find some stolen DVD. Because of this, I got a group of friends together to watch that week’s episode.
In addition to that, there was an anime sequence. At my school, anime is hated by most of the instructors and upper classmen. That week a group of us drew on all the whiteboards anime characters and all the anime cliches, so you can guess our reactions when the show did the exact same thing.
And don’t get me started on the time when a prank went down exactly like Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design. “Would that this hoodie were a time hoodie!”
Can you tell me a little about your Community animation? Was it a project you did for fun?
It was a something I wanted to do for a while, but just had no time because of school. So, the first thing I did after graduating was take a week off from anything artistic. Then I spent a week creating the animation from start to finish. I think I should’ve spent more time on it. I do plan on doing something Community animated again, it’s just about finiding the time to work on it.
You also received an offer to work on the Community web series “Abed’s Master Key.” Can you give a little background on how that happened?
I’m not sure exactly how much I am allowed to talk about this because of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA.) I’m assuming that now that its been a while and the webisodes have been released, I can talk about some of it. Well, basically I was approached by a 3rd party company to work on the shorts after someone saw the above mention animation and designs. But, NBC went with another 3rd party company that was in-state.
I’m in Louisville, Kentucky, so I would have needed a flight and room and board, and it just wouldn’t have economical. But, I knew the plot of the webisodes since January, so the immature child inside of me felt kinda cool having “insider knowledge.” But of course, I couldn’t talk about it, but I knew the time line the shorts were created in.
You are also into other TV shows like Arrested Development. Is there a chance we’ll see the Bluth Family animated any time soon?
I love Arrested Development! I first watched the entire series in one weekend during finals, and I still graduated! I don’t really see me animating Arrested Development, but I am currently working on doing character designs of the main cast based off Sit Down Shut Up, Michall Hurtwitz’s cartoon project from 2008.
I always like to see what characters from series would look in another series by the same creator. I did it with Clone High and Scrubs, and now it’s Arrested Development and Sit Down Shut Up. Community will get the same treatment. And if Dan Harmon ever works on a cartoon…
Your facebook page says you are now looking to sell your artwork.
Yes. A handful of people been asking for posters of some of my work for a while, I just never searched for a good vender to do it until now. At the moment I am doing a series of Pop-culture spoofs of current movie posters. The Justice Friends (The Avengers) was the first and the next one up is Dark Knight Rises with Darkwing Duck. I have ideas for more, so just keep checking my site…
Are there any major projects that you are working on right now?
A lot! Aside from the movie posters, I’m the illustrator for the podcast/radio show Rye Bread Radio (ryebreadradio.com), and I’m working on the project AniMeme with popular youtubers such as Outback Zack and Redminus. There’s also a lot of really, really cool stuff that’s still in negotiations, so I can’t say much about them, except that they are so going to be streets ahead!