Casey Drogin has proven time and again that his steady eye for detail, strong problem-solving skills, and aesthetic insight make him an artist to rely on. As a freelance designer and animator, we’ve been lucky enough to bring him onto projects ranging from Sammy Davis Jr., TCM, to Meet the Press Film Fest.
Casey sets himself apart with his easy-going attitude, quick and organized work flow, sense of analog motion, and most of all his ingenuity. He has a true hand that is reflected in every piece he creates. We’re grateful for his collaboration and excited to showcase his work.
Q&A with Casey Drogin:
When did you first realize you wanted to be an animator?
Monster movies, definitely. When I was a kid I watched the original King Kong and Godzilla on VHS. My little mind was blown. I had to know how they did it, and read up on stop-motion miniatures and legends like Ray Harryhausen. The whole process struck me as the coolest magic trick in the whole world. I still have those King Kong and Godzilla posters framed on my wall.
What makes you love what you do?
I get fired up when I can work different styles and genres at a rapid-fire pace. Shifting gears from a death metal music video to a commercial is always a fun challenge and keeps me from pigeonholing myself.
What perspective do you bring to the design/graphics world and what makes you different?
My love for learning and asking questions. A lot of artists, especially young ones, think you need to show up and know everything. But I get a thrill from playing detective in other people’s project files and learning how someone else might solve a problem. It all helps me do the best work I can.
How long have you been doing what you do?
I’ve been drawing my entire life and started animating around the age of 14. During college, I started working part-time at a small motion shop in Manhattan. It went belly-up the week I graduated, which scared the living shit out of me. However, I’m grateful for it in hindsight. That initial fear fired me up to work incredibly hard right out of school and not take anything for granted.
What were you working on before coming to BigStar?
I recently animated a scene for Marvel’s new film, Thor Ragnarok. I’m also a lifelong comic book junkie so it was a nice opportunity to see how the superhero sausage gets made.
What/who has influenced you the most?
My high-school art teacher, Mr. P, was a Vietnam Vet who had previously taught art to convicts in prison. Needless to say, he had no problem tearing us a new one. It was a hardcore class. Three hours a day, five days a week (summers included) for four years. For the first two years, we weren’t allowed erasers.
Assignments included having to scour the streets for roadkill to draw or tearing up our own drawings if they didn’t meet the bar for quality. Over the years, My. P instilled a level of quality control and risk to my process that I still draw from, no pun intended.
What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?
I get excited by projects that combine different styles and techniques. It’s always fun to combine hand-drawn animation with 3D compositing and watercolor textures and sound design. The whole thing feels much more organic when the project isn’t bound by a certain technique. My favorite painting style is impasto so I try and bring that same level of texture to my work.
Do you have any side-projects you continue to work on?
I’ve been doing lectures and writing a pitch to NYU for mid-level animation students called “Animate your Career.” The current roster of classes are hyper-focused on craft and push kids to work for large studios. My course would focus on teamwork with an emphasis on workflow and business skills. This would give kids a stronger ability to enter the industry as independent creatives.
I also just finished a hand-drawn animation for a documentary on the opioid crisis. We’re in the festival process now, but I’m always excited by the opportunity to branch out to documentary.
How do you want to be remembered?
Professionally, as someone who pushed himself and his work. Personally, as someone who could laugh at himself.
How do you determine the success of a piece?
I derive success from what I learned in the process.