Don’t let her charm fool you. NYC native, Shawna Mills is a BEAST! Having various expertise within the fields of animation, film, game development and voice acting, Shawna is the type of individual who’s doesn’t go unnoticed. She has an impressive resume that includes working with companies such as Marvel, Lucas Films, Cartoon Network and Twistory Entertainment Studios. Her unique approach to creating art seems to revive the excitement and imagination of your childhood memories. Shawna Mills is a woman that has so much imagination and creativity, that when given this opportunity to interview her we jumped at the chance! We had so many personal and professional questions to ask but managed narrow them down to the following:
Q: What inspired you to be so passionate about art?
A: Life inspires me. My art and I are the same thing. When I feel life, love, and real world emotions, I’m at my best. My art is at its best. Music has a good way of spiking my emotion state, though. When I can’t get it from a boring scene or people I’m watching, I throw on the beats.
Q: Do you think that there is a difference between professional work and personal work, if so what do you feel the difference and that line is?
A: I do and I don’t. Personal work eventually morphs into Professional if you don’t watch it… or you mold it to do so. like a butterfly. Doesn’t always have a clear divide for everyone. lol I guess I’m the type to have a clear line. If I’m talking butterflies, what we do to appease someone else, is professional and what we do to appease our heart stay personal.
Q: Having worked on both adult and children’s shows, which one did you prefer?
A: Haha! I prefer my own stuff. Whether it’s kids shows or adult shows, I consider it a job and nothing else…. unless I’m working with a banging team. The team means EVERYTHING to me. I preferred the kid show since I worked with a bunch of crazy fools to whom, I’d love to see around these parts sometime soon.
Q: Did you have to change the style of your work for each job you were hired for?
A: YES! It’s a requirement. I definitely encourage young artists to practice working in different styles, but also be aware that if you have a style you will not sway from, be ready to have your job selection be limited to your ability. being versatile is valuable, but being a master of your card is just as valuable. I’ve chosen the versatility on personal projects, and precision on my professional project, as I work storyboards.
Q: What is a common assumption about being an artist in your industry? Something that most people do not discuss, and should.
A: Common assumption. Hmmm. The industry is changing. Women are getting places. There is still a need for diversity all over the industry, but from what I’ve seen, we are on the right path. starts with the people before me. I’ll do my part to keep this ball rolling.
Q: What is your own personal goal, that you have achieved and feel proud of?
A: I REALLY want to create a successful franchise and then dip off the face of the earth… well not entirely. But yes, my greatest achievement will be when I can disappear into a foreign land, not have to draw for anyone else but myself and watch my franchise grow. This would make me happy!
Q: What are some obstacles that you have overcome in your career?
A: I had a huge ego before I came to California and entered the industry. I was talented, hot, and cocky. Since I took on the bigger portion of what is now a successful career, I have learned Team work, taking and giving Direction, swallowing my insecurities as an Artist, and staying focused. Political drama is so not something I partake in, EVER.
Q: What is your favorite (artistic) software to use?
A: I mostly use Photoshop for illustrations. Toonboom / Storyboard Pro for storyboarding. Flash for animation. I am looking into using Cacani and TV paint.
A: Ooooh yeah. excited to talk about it. So, this year I just started my company and our first IP to gain focus is BoomTagX. BTX for short. Currently in the mid stages of development of the PC game for the title. It will be the launch of the franchise. I’ve always been interested in covering all angles, so I’ve been preparing to tell the story through graphic novel, merchandise, and animation. The game is the first step and will cover much ground.
Q: What inspired Boom Tag? How was Boom Tag born?
A: I had pitched BTX years ago to the TV network I had been working for, to no prevail. Before then, I credit the design of the main character to a glancing mistake on my part. Some of my best ideas as an aging artist comes from moments where I believe I saw something strange that turned out to be either an optical illusion or an over active imagination spurt. During development, I had to grab inspiration from my life and things that reminded me of my home. Music. the summers in Spanish Harlem. Urban Life.
Q: The style that the game in, is very traditional arcade look, why did you go for this?
A: BTX is a 2D isometric action/ adventure game. I went with this because I like action adventure. I also like playing 3D games, but my skills are strongly based in 2D and I felt that an isometric would allow me to immolate what I like to play.
Q: What do you hope people will take away with this game and animation?
A: I Hope that people feel the depth of the world I’ve created. I also hope people feel something of a nostalgic feeling in different areas. I don’t want to place it for them, but I hope they find something in each moment that reminds them of childhood.
Q: So, what else is in store for Shawna Mills?
A: I will be fully focused on BTX as well as being a working professional. Studio work. a means to my end.
Q: Any advice for a struggling artist that are also trying to get paid for their work?
A: Focus. Be versatile. Stay out of the politics. Know your value. Draw, Draw, Draw. take criticism well. Know what constructive criticism looks like. ADAPT.
“My art and I are the same thing. When I feel life, love and real world emotions, I am at my best.”
A statement we can all truly walk away with to better our own choices on our career paths. Sometimes we forget that our work is only fueled by our passions for it in the first place. For that work to help reach a goal that fueled the passion; for Shawna, it’s going off to a place unknown to others, working on her art and watching her past work grow. That is something that anyone could relate to whole heartedly. Sugar Gamers would like the thank Shawna Mills again for such an amazing interview!