In case you missed it, we recently awarded the very first TurboSquid scholarship to USC Animation student Alex Garza. After letting Alex know that he was our winner, we asked him to share some more information about what motivates and inspires him as an artist. You can read the interview below.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
What areas of animation are you focused on at USC?
I am studying 2D and 3D animation at USC, but I’m also taking drawing classes and writing for animation.
Do you have any hobbies outside of art and animation?
My hobbies are reading, drawing, and watching movies and TV shows. My favorite is the absurd and strange humor of The Dr. Steve Brule Show starring John C. Reilly. I am always drawn to anything with a sense of humor. I love science fiction and future dystopia novels. I like to draw strange, surreal people, always showing their humanity and expressing a humorous point of view through their expressions and physical movement.
What’s your favorite animated movie/series and why?
I have always watched a lot of animated TV shows and movies. When I was little, The Triplets of Belleville and the animated movies of Hayao Miyazaki (like My Neighbor Totoro) were my favorites–I used to have a big banner of Totoro in my bedroom! My favorite animated series for years was The Simpsons due to its humor and social commentary. I love the world that animators create and the imagination they show through simple lines, color and movement.
I also appreciate the art and design of video games like Dark Souls to the point of sculpting knights inspired by the game.
How did you hear about the scholarship? What was your first reaction when you realized you’d won?
I can’t remember how I heard about this scholarship, but I think it might have been from USC, which does a good job of telling us about opportunities, internships, and scholarships. I do remember that I thought I’d never win, but I should apply anyway because I had a lot to say on the subject.
My first reaction when I heard I had won was like an out-of-body experience–like this couldn’t really be happening to me. I didn’t quite believe the email I received. I was afraid it wasn’t legit, that it was spam. But it wasn’t. My disbelief transformed into happiness and elation.
What are you hoping to work on when you graduate?
I definitely want to be a working artist, that’s why I decided to attend USC, because they do a great job of connecting students with job opportunities. I hope to be a character designer. My characters and ideas are pretty surreal, but humor is also a big part of my art. I hope that my art will find an audience and make people laugh. That is very important to me.
What advice would you offer to another student interested in studying animation?
For anyone interested in studying animation, the only advice I have is to draw every day and seek inspiration from everything around you, but also from the weird things inside your head. Don’t be afraid to express your ideas. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I drew in my notebooks all throughout high school when I’d get bored, and some of my best ideas came out of those doodles. If you want it badly enough, you will make it happen and people will recognize you for it. Keep at it, work hard, and it will pay off. Technical skill is necessary, but what’s more important is to have your own voice. Don’t let your art be influenced by other people or what’s popular.
Thank you, Alex, for taking the time to answer our questions! We’d also like to give a shout-out to our runners-up–Leana Sottile and Jabari Newton–who have each been awarded with a $150 Amazon gift card.
Students and teachers who may be reading, keep our scholarship page bookmarked! We will be posting there once the next competition begins. If you’d like to be notified via email, you can let us know at email@example.com.