Josh Olsen was recently named the winner of GoComics' first-ever Short Shorts Animation Contest for "Pillow Talk," a humorous take on those sleepless nights when you just can't seem to turn your brain off.
GoComics caught up with Josh recently to talk about his inspiration for "Pillow Talk," his creative process, and why he got into animation in the first place:
GoComics: What inspired you to create this animated short? How did you come up with the idea?
I approached this contest by brainstorming for a few days, trying to piece together a story. I would think about a plot while driving, at work, or in the bathroom. The idea finally came alive in my head, so then I wrote out a few scripts and picked the best one (basically combining all of them).
GoComics: Who are your biggest creative influences?
Looney Tunes is definitely the inspiration for this film. I feel like they do the best interactions between annoying and annoyed characters.
My creative influences aren't famous artists. My mom Michielle Kohler, who is an artist, helped influence me, as well as cartoons I watched as a kid (Looney Tunes).
I would have to say my favorite animation series that is super-nostalgic for me is Looney Tunes. I've had to have seen every episode of the original series. Nowaways, I enjoy anime like Naruto and Fullmetal Alchemist.
GoComics: What is the most challenging part of the animation process for you?
The most challenging part of animation is making things look believable - making a walk cycle look fluent or lip syncing look as if the characters' lips are truly the owner of the voice being heard. Making drawings come to life is all about making them move in ways that we consider to look right and normal in the real world to an extent, with some exaggerated squash and stretch. So, the best way I can put it is the hardest part is to look believable. My favorite part is writing and directing it, storyboarding and coming up with ideas.
GoComics: What do you envision yourself doing in five years?
In five years from now, I'll be continuing my starving artist career, until I blow up and become famous. It will happen one way or another.
GoComics: How did you learn about the Short Shorts contest? Why did you decide to participate (besides the $25,000 grand prize)?
How I entered the contest was just a very lucky situation. Fortunately Anita Leibowitz, my past professor and the advisor for the student press newspaper I draw cartoons for at my community college, contacted me and let me know about this contest (she said she saw it in an ad while playing Words With Friends).
But, unfortunately, she saw it a month after the contest had started. My first thought was that I didn't even want to bother with it. I thought there was not enough time, and I didn't have a chance winning a national contest against professionals in a field I am brand-new in. My professor encouraged me strongly to do what I had to do to enter. She was so confident in my abilities, saying that I would be a strong contender and telling me, "just make something and send it to them."
I appreciated the confidence, but I don't think many people know what all goes into animation. I messaged a past classmate, Dave Mendina, to join me in the mission. we didn't think we had a shot at winning under the circumstances, but knew that a portfolio piece was coming out of this at the very least. Our main goal was finishing it in a month ... so we got to work.