Five Questions with Art Director Jeffrey Thompson

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 8.02.51 PM.pngJeffrey Thompson is an Animator and Designer known for his work on the hit shows Gravity Falls and Rick and Morty. Previously he’s worked at Disney, Blue Sky, and Passion Pictures.

Can you tell us about your role in the animation industry?

I am an animator from Toronto, Canada. Currently working in Los Angeles as an Art Director for Rick and Morty. Previously I was an Assistant Art Director on Gravity Falls. As an Art Director my role is to make sure that the art produced for these shows does justice to the amazing stories the writers are creating. These shows have a level of sophistication in the writing that I feel the art needs to reflect. Part of my job is seeing that my team and I do just that.

Mood and atmosphere have a significant impact on how the audience experiences a show like Gravity Falls.

Was color and lighting an important part of your approach to the show?

Yes, definitely. Color and light was a critical part of developing an episode once we had the script. I would produce a color script to map out mood and atmosphere throughout some episodes ahead of the painting schedule, that way we could have a clear indicator of whether the colors for the episode were properly telling the story we wanted. Typically we don’t get the time or option to do that sort of thing in TV, and I think that attention to detail had a major impact on the success of the show.

Your student film, FIXED, was well received in the animation festival circuit, do you have any plans to create another short?

Right now I’m working with my friend Mark Stanleigh on a passion project adapting a comic I created into a live action short film which he’ll direct. Our hope is to share it, and get it out to as many festivals and audiences as we can when it’s all said and done.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for passion projects like these?

From everywhere I can. Music, movies, friends, martial arts, and cartoons all play a huge part of what inspires me to create, animate, scribble, and paint. I think the more you experience outside of your industry, the more you can bring back to it.

What are your future plans?

Finishing the third season of Rick and Morty is at the top of my list. After that I hope to continue to get the opportunity to work and create exciting original content in this industry. I’m really fortunate with the projects and people I’m surrounded by in a time when this industry invests primarily in re-hashing old successes and sequels. Streaming services are starting to change the mold, and I’m excited to see the content that comes from this evolution in entertainment, and I’ll happily contribute to it.