Meet Jennifer Coyle—director on “Bob’s Burgers”
How long have you worked in animation, and can you tell us a little about past shows/projects you’ve worked on?
I started on “Men in Black: The Animated Series” in 1996. Since then, I have worked on lots: “Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot,” “Dilbert,” “The Wild Thornberries Movie,” “Scooby-Doo,” “Tom and Jerry Tales,” “Family Guy,” “Hellboy Animated,” “Slacker Cats,” “King of the Hill,” “The Goode Family,” “The Spectacular Spider-man,” “Monster High,” “G.I. Joe,” “Allen Gregory,” and of course, “Bob’s Burgers.” I actually don’t think that’s all, but certainly the highlights.
As an animation director, you are the person who brings life to the characters. What is your creative process?
Sounds cliche, but I really try to make sure I understand each character’s motivation- it’s like a screen I try to apply to each character. What are they thinking right now, and how are their thoughts different to the others? I also take into account any idiosyncratic behaviors the character might have and body language plays a part as well. It’s logical, but I’m thinking of a very long scene I did recently- there are 21 characters in the shot- it can be quite challenging!
Did you know animation was the career for you?
I didn’t! I always wanted to do comics! Ha, that’s terrible.. in truth I always loved animation, it makes me cry when it’s done well, but I was still in school and hadn’t quite processed the thought that it might be for me.
Who, or what, inspired you to become an animator?
In college, I met Thomas Perkins, who incidentally is an Emmy award winning character designer at Bento Box for FOX’s new show, “Bordertown.” I introduced him to my sister, who he fell head over heels for. He came to pick her up for a date and had recently landed a job at Sony Animation. He encouraged me to submit a portfolio to Sony. The rest is history, but both of us remain true to our passions, and they have three adorable kids now.
What do you enjoy most about working on “Bob’s Burgers?”
IT’S FUNNY!! AND SWEET!!
These are sadly rare things in this world, and an even rarer combination. I really appreciate the fact that while “Bob’s Burgers” makes the occasional fart joke—or even a whole fart song—it manages to maintain a tone of underlying kindness. It never resorts to mean spirited cheap shots or demeaning humor. And still, I never leave an animatic without having to fix my mascara from too much laughing!
Adding to that, the creators of the show are a joy to work for, the writers are genius and I’m surrounded by talented, amazing, kind, dedicated people. :)
Do you do other art, besides animation?
Well, yes!! And here’s my business pitch: Check out my website at www.sugarpants.com. I am an owner/partner/designer of my own lounge-wear company, and my artwork is printed on our garments!!
Once upon a time I did tattoos—from design to skin. Designing for Sugarpants reminds me of those days, but with much less blood! Though it’s a lot of work, it’s good for your brain to switch gears. Doing designs for what is essentially body art is a welcome diversion [for me].
What advice would you give a young person pursuing a career in animation?
Care!! Try hard! Find something to love about each task in front of you and do it the best you can. And then do it every time, it will set you apart.
Do things that are scary. Learn every new technology you come across. Learning on the job is one of the best perks!
And the other best perk is to be surrounded by people who draw better than you, or have more experience. It’s astounding to look around and see so much talent. Let it inspire you!
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jennifer!
Check out Jennifer’s line of lounge-wear, Sugar Pants, here.
Photos by: Joel Kuwahara
Post by: BentoBoxEnt