Creative Spotlight w/ Charles Huettner

Today's Creative Spotlight is a very special one as it marks the first time that yours truly has taken the time to interview the actual artist being showcased, getting his unique perspective and influences that continues to shape his creative lifespan. This week's column spotlights Charles Huettner, an offbeat maker of animation and illustrator extraordinaire. The short film above, entitled tEEf tuNG, is Huettner's self-professed drama between teeth and tongues which he directed and animated and features music by Matt Cragle.

Tell us a little about yourself.
In 2005 I graduated from college where I had studied fine art, specifically drawing. That was ok, but I didn't want to be that kind of artist, so I focused my creative output into making music videos for my friends and family. Somewhere between then and now I got semi-serious about it. So now I freelance and make short films on the side (but I wish it was the other way around).

What made you first want to be an artist/animator?
I'm not exactly sure. Most everyone in my family is artistically inclined in some way, so I probably didn't have much of a say in the matter. As far as animation goes, I'm not sure about that either. As a kid I loved it, as a teenager I only kinda liked it, and now at 27 I love it again, but in a different way.

Apart from being animation, what else do you do?
I also enjoy recording music. I play guitar but I'm not good at it. Who cares though, it's fun.

Describe your creative process.
I don't really have a process. I like to leave a lot of room for spontaneous changes Sometimes that can lead to great results, other times you can spend a week making something only to discover you don't want that anymore. Hmm, maybe that's my process... A free floating of ideas that slowly come together and make something tangible.

What's your favorite animation or short film?
This is probably really cliche, but I have to say Nightmare Before Christmas. I watch it more than most movies, and I'm still not tired of it.

Good choice. You're working on a new short film of your own called Rabbit/Dog and Man, what's that about?
That short will be about two things. [First, its] a travel story about a man and his pet beginning at the end of the world. [Secondly its] an animation study with current character design trends. I started making it because I had a better short film idea, but I didn't want it to be my first official lengthy short film. I'm nervous about how it will turn out. I might have bitten off more than I can chew.

Are you doing everything yourself or do you have a team?
As far as visuals go, I do everything myself. I'll often involve my friend Matt Cragle when it comes to the audio. When It comes to music for this sort of thing were usually on the same page, so it's a good match.

Music and sound seem to be influencing factors in your work. Who are some of your favorite bands and/or albums?
I really enjoy it when audio matches up perfectly with the visuals. Although the other day I saw this video where the audio was completely unrelated to what was happening on screen, it was a cool effect. I guess you could say my favorite band is Animal Collective.

What advice would you give to aspiring animators?
To the aspiring animator I would say, "don't get so hung up on what program to use, or get discouraged by lack of technical ability". I wasted a lot of time worrying/thinking about these things.

In closing, what's the strangest thing you remember doing as a kid?
Jumping off two story tall haystacks.

For more of Huettner's work, be sure to check out him out on Vimeo as well as his production blog.


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