Exclusive Interview: The Path of an Independent Animator Toshitaka Youno

In this new Exclusive Interview series, we spoke to professional animators from all over the world to share with you the insider views and their first-hand experience working in the animation industry in different countries.  Whether you are an animation enthusiast, currently working in the animation field or are looking to start a career in animation, these interviews give you a unique insight into the industry, the challenges the professionals encounter, and great tips and advice.


The first guest of the Exclusive Interview series is Toshitaka Youno from Japan. Toshitaka is an independent animator and professional musician, who spent 5 years working in an office job before he made the decisive move to pursue his passion in art and went to study at the University of the Arts London. Last November he embarked on a musical and artistic career and decided to commit all his time to be an independent, professional artist and musician, drawing illustrations and animations for a living. Toshitaka’s work “Push a Button in the Universe”  won the Best Sketch Award in iAniMagic 2016.

Toshitaka, can you share with us some of your personal experience with animation? When did you first discover your interests in animation?

For me, the animation that left the biggest impression on me is My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki. I have repeatedly watched the film so many times that the video tape cassette is about to break. Some of my favourites are Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä of The Valley Of The Wind, and work by Osamu Tezuka, Shigeru Mizuki, Fujiko Fujio, Fujio Akatsuka and Akira Toriyama.

When I was little, I loved watching Ultraman and the Kamen Rider Series. I was fascinated by the special effects. After a good few years break from animation, I picked up my hobby again, and now I focus on finding music pieces and special musical effects to accompany my animation work.


How has Animation Desk assisted you in the animation creation process and what is your favorite app feature?

The first time I have used Animation Desk Ultimate is when I was making animations on my iPad.  My impression of Animation Desk is very positive. Its UI is very well designed and easy to use, which helps me to focus on drawing animation. Besides that, the layer and import video features are also very useful, and I can easily export the animation work to the desired platform. In my opinion, Animation Desk is a great app with an extensive set of tools for animation beginners.

Can you tell us more about the animation industry in Japan?

Anime is very popular in Japan. Anime production has been steadily increasing for decades; usually 60 anime episodes are produced and released in one season. The technological advancement in the past few years has sped up the production of anime. But the downside of this is that you rarely see hand-drawn animations, and this special traditional skill could soon be lost. Losing hand-drawn animations would be a real shame. Occasionally you hear news reporting on the long working hours and low wage and earning potential in the animation industry.

I am particular proud of all the fantastic Japanese animations; it is a big part of the Japanese tradition and culture that is passed on from generations to generations. I am very excited to see how this industry will develop with the fast moving pace of technological innovation.

In Japan, what platforms do artists and animators use to share their work?

As the anime market is quite sizeable, there is a range of sharing platforms. A lot of Japanese animators like to post work on Twitter and anime websites like Niconico. Every year there are many large festivals like the Comic-Con, which attracts a huge amount of enthusiasts and groups. The 3-day event would attract over 500 thousand visitors a year.

Light novels are also popular for independent animators and many treat them as side jobs, as these publications are not just dominated by big publishing companies and the independent animators have an easier way to break in.

As an independent animator and musician, how many hours do you spend drawing animations?

On average I spend around 10 hours working on anime projects. From the moment I get up until I go to sleep, I am always working. Sometimes, I would even forget to eat! If I happen to also have a music project, I would work on both projects simultaneously.


What do you think it takes to be a successful animator?

I think that to have good skills in using animation creation software and to master the fundamental skills of hand-drawn animations with simply pencil and paper are both really important skills you should have.

As the use of smart phones has become vital in life and sharing platforms are extremely popular, it brings people together and increases interaction between people from anywhere in the world. Time and place no longer confine you. Therefore, I believe that being flexible, self motivated and good at communicating are vital to success.

Do you have any particular tips for students who are interested in animation creation?

I am also fairly new to the professional animation industry, so I am often confronted with challenges and difficulties. But whenever I hit a brick wall, I would think to myself:

Someone else in the other side of the world must be experiencing a similar problem and working hard on it. You are never facing the issue alone.

Above all, it is vital to believe that you have unlimited potential. Whenever faced with obstacles, you should talk to people around you, share your thoughts. Simply by chatting, a fantastic idea might randomly hit.

Do you have any final words you want to share?

It is an incredible feeling to create something from scratch. I really feel Animation Desk has helped me a lot along the way. Besides its sharing platform and animation competitions, I created my first ever animation with Animation Desk. I hope that more and more people would know this app and be able to benefit from it. Thank you, the Animation Desk team!

Many thanks to Toshitaka Youno for being our first guest of Exclusive Interview. Watch out for the next interview and don’t miss the upcoming iAniMagic 2017.

iAniMagic 2017 Submission

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