An Interview with Greek Animator – Vaggelis Karadimas, Founder – VK Toons

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Hello to all readers of Animationalerts. Today is the day on which we are publishing our very first interview and starting out Animationalerts Interview series. Today we have Vaggelis Karadimas as our guest. Vaggelis is a self-taught animator from Greece and has worked very hard in the Animation industry. He is running a company in Greece with name VKTOONS where he is providing animation and graphics solutions to clients.

So, We decided to have an interview with him so that we can inspire many individuals all across the world who are working day and night to achieve their dreams in animation and graphics industry. His story is interesting, sad, full of challenges and very inspiring.

So, Let’s read his inspiring story.

Please introduce yourself to our blog readers and share something about your journey from Animation and Graphics world?

My name is Vaggelis Karadimas and I am Greek. I’ve studied History and Archaeology and I have a Ph.D. in History of Education (unfortunately, history is also “dead” in Greece these days). I’m disabled because of a rare kind of cancer and I animate in 2d. I started animating systematically after I became a disabled person. What I found out recently is that I started learning to read Greek when I was about 3,5 years old, because I wanted to read the subtitled cartoon on Greek tv (mainly series of Warner Bros and Fleischer Studios). At least, that is what my mother told me. Today, I’m an elected member of the General Assembly of ASIFA Hellas. I’m mostly known as “vVktoons”.

Why you choose the career of Animation?

I love animation and I found out that I love to animate. At a certain point, I decided that this is what I want to do for the living. Of course, earn a living from animation in Greece today is almost impossible. But I – and others too – am determined to make it work.

What is your normal daily routine as an animator?

I wake at 6 a.m. I start by drawing stuff and then, until 2 p.m. I work on my projects (among them an animated sequence for a movie of an English actor and director who lives in Greece, Duncan Skinner). At noon, I study the theory of animation. In many cases though, the program changes because of several reasons.

You are from Greece (Europe), Please share your experience and situation about animation industry and working with most talented animators of the world along with networking among animators?

Animating in Greece and especially in my field – 2D – is hard. First f all, it is difficult to find people to collaborate with and that is just normal; how are we going to get paid? So, mostly we try to work on our own while looking to see if there is a chance to collaborate. Mostly that happens voluntarily; I myself volunteered for an award winning stop motion short, Ethnophobia (it will be presented in Annecy in a few days too) as a Photoshop editor.

Also, you must know that the Greek film industry ignores the fact they can profit from animation. I think that only a production company recently realized that and they were really shocked. So, imagine what obstacles we, Greek animators, have to overcome yet!

On the other hand, many Greek animators who left abroad have created some wonderful short which earned a lot of international attention and this is proof that Greek animator have great potentials.

Just before capital controls – back in 2015 – I was ready to start producing with a team I formed. But right after capital controls occurred, everything was destroyed and we all followed different and personal paths.

What are the challenges you faced while learning animation and your most favorite project?

I’m a self-taught animator – many Greek animators are self taught, especially the older ones – and the challenges were two; First, to give money to buy books and learn from them – and Greek books are rare, so I had to buy books from the USA mostly – and second to work really hard, to make mistakes, to learn from them and to do something good. But this was the amusing part since it was a creative one.

Who is your inspiration in the animation industry?

I admire the work of Tex Avery. I would love to see my cartoons follow his path. I also admire many Greek animators who insist on creating in Greece, while their financial situation is awful. The insist on creating really beautiful shorts – award winning in international competitions – and I should name a few of them here; The legends Iordanis Ananiadis as well as Theodros Marangos and Giannis Zhongas, Aggelos Rouvas and Panagiotis Rappas and the talented young Constantine Krystallis.

Could you please share something about your experience from any challenging project or shot which was very tough?

I’ll talk to you about a web-series I created and lasted about 2 years, named “In the dungeons”. It was a political satire on current Greece. The challenges was to create unique characters and also to have a script which could cause laughter and thinking at the same time, while the time pressure was strong. I think it went pretty well, if you think that it was mentioned in animation magazine on February 2016 (though they made a mistake and named the series out of my “name”; “vktoons”).

Often people struggle with animation to get right information and knowledge. So, how anyone can break into the competitive industry of Animation?

I can talk you more about Greece and speak out from my personal experience; Becoming an animator is one thing. Then, you must become a producer, a manager etc, just to persuade production companies that they can earn from animation, or industries outside animation that animation can help them by advertising, cooperative videos etc to see their earning increase, to persuade teachers that animation can help them in teaching etc. I mean, before we create an industry in Greece, we must persuade the market that it will benefit from animation. And this is really hard.

Any talented animator or co-worker who you think can achieve something big?

Worldwide there are many people – young people mostly – who create masterpieces. India is well known now for the many talented animators too. But, if you ask me for Greece, I will once again mention Constanine Krystallis. He is in 3D and I believe that he will soon earn international attention.

What are the challenges you see in 2017 and in upcoming years in Animation Industry and how today’s animators/ cg artists should prepare themselves for it?

It is a hard time from many aspects, and not only for Greece. I will write as a historian now and not as an animator; Economic situations like this we experience worldwide are solved historically through wars. I’m not sure if we’ll live a world war or we’ll see more regional wars, but I think that is something we can all understand and see it coming.

But, we also have a strange experience from animation history in times like this! Let me remind you that animation industry became really big after the economic crash of 1929 and mostly after 1936! That shows us that, no matter what will happen, it is a great chance for the animation to thrive! And let’s be honest; More of the blockbuster films in the world are mostly based to motion graphics etc, animation in other words. I cannot see how this can turn back. As Eisenstein said once; “Animation is the future of cinema” and he was absolutely right!

Any dream project?

Many! But mostly one that involves history – I have suggested to tv stations such a project, in collaboration with the greatest voice actors in Greece, but no one would show it – I’m not even saying finance it – because they want something that has already international success (imagine that; It is easier to sell a series abroad and then see this series returning to Greece…That’s somehow paranoid..). Also, I would love to make a series based on traditional Greek fairy tales. In such a case, we could talk about a series that could have an international audience, since Greek traditional fairy tales are related to those of Central and Eastern Europe, at least.

Any message for the audience at Animation alerts?

No matter what difficulties you face with animation, you must have patience and passion for what you do. You must love it and have a purpose. And I’m not talking about money (though we, of course, need it to live). I’m talking about the message you want to pass to an audience. If you’re determined, I believe that there will be a time, when you’ll get rewarded by society.

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