Story by Rycki Symons
Henry Thurlow is an anime artist that lives and works in Tokyo. An American, based in Tokyo is indeed a very unusual thing ! He is one of the first westerners to get employed within the insular world of Japanese Anime. His experiences & his own education leading up to employment is a fascinating tale of learning, discovery and awakening of the tough industry he was about to get into.
Henry & Arthell from D’Art Shtajio
CDM – how did you get started and interested in your art form ? & what fascinated you at the start ?
Henry – For me, working as an artist is just what I always knew I wanted to do. To be honest, even to this day, I can`t really understand people who say they don`t know what they want to do with their life. In first grade I was drawing pictures of little monsters and dinosaurs in sketchbooks, and would tell people that drawing pictures is what I`m gonna do when I grow up. I would say the decision to be an animator, or at least my interest in animation, came in 6th or 7th grade when I saw HBO`s Spawn series. … but even before that, I knew somehow that “drawing” is what I wanted to do as a career.
CDM – What illustrations did you do in New York leading to the pursuit of the industry in Japan?
Henry – I was very naive as a college student. I guess that`s true of almost everyone, but it`s embarrassing to think back now at how duped I was over what I thought college was providing me. I really felt back then that “Anime is really getting popular in America and around the world … so certainly there will be animation studio`s popping up in New York and/or California which will want to capitalize on this by animating their own Ghost in the shell/Ninja Scroll/ Akira /etc.” … and that these expensive/professional college courses would certainly prepare me with whatever knowledge I`d need to know to get a position at one of these studios … “I`m gonna move to Japan and be an animator there!” was a though that literally never occurred to me once while in school. I was confident that new, original, adult oriented anime series would be produced right there in my backyard soon enough, so I`ll just work on those. After graduating and working in the industry for a little while, it quickly set in that that will simply never ever happen … which is when I started thinking about alternative ways to work on the kind of projects I really wanted to work on.
It`s not that I didn`t like the jobs I had in America. While the majority of jobs were small advertisement related work (Animating letters moving around on a company website, or doing some After effects work on PC games)… there were fun character animation gigs as well. Working on the first season of SuperJail at Augenblick Studio`s was an amazing experience where I learned a lot and met a bunch of great people. I`m a big fan of MGMT, so getting to work on their “Kids” music video was also really fun.
…At the end of the day, these types of projects just weren`t “living the dream” for me though. And so I essentially just moved out to Japan and threw away my whole portfolio up till that point (American style animation reels are useless towards getting a job in the Japanese anime industry) and started from scratch until I made my way into the industry.
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