1) Why did you decide to work in this industry?
I grew up watching A LOT of cartoons on television when I was growing up. The stories, the colours, the movement, everything about them captured my attention and imagination completely! My heart literally beat to the rhythm of “cartoon heroes,” by AQUA when I was a kid. It was while watching the making of, “Lilo and Stitch,” that I first realized that there were people behind the animation I loved so much and that they got paid to make them. From there is was straight to art high school, to animation college and right into the animation industry. There was never anything else that meant as much to me as bringing my imagination to life, being in the animation industry was never really a decision I made, it was just the path laid out before me stemming from a lifelong passion for animation.
2) What’s a defining moment in your life?
A defining moment that comes to mind, specifically relating to art and my career, would definitely have to be the day that my Sheridan College application response came in the mail. I remember how terrified I was holding that sealed envelope… I hadn’t applied anywhere else, there was nothing else I wanted to do besides spending the next four years learning animation… I had done my research on successful portfolio submission and of course I felt I had really put my best work forward, but I knew people who had applied several times and didn’t get in…. It still surprises me to this day how quickly the tears of relief came when I read that I had been accepted, I’ve never had a moment before or since where it seemed like my fate was so solidly in someone else’s hands, where someone else had the power to tell me if I was actually good enough to pursue my dreams. Getting into that school really paved the way for my to pursue my passion and get to where I am today… I mean… I think I would have just attended a different school for animation if I didn’t get in, but my journey would have been different for sure, haha.
3) What is your biggest concern with the future?
Climate change? Being unable to afford housing in Vancouver? The potential economic collapse of the animation industry? I’ve got a lot of big fears, I’m not really sure I can narrow things down and label one the biggest at this point in time, but there are a few that have definitely been on my mind over the course of working on this short film. I’m so proud to have been selected out of all the applications to be the Animation Director for the Five in Focus program, I’ve learned so much and grown a lot over this past year working with this passionate group of young women. Looking back on things now, I wonder why me? Why did I get this opportunity and not someone else? I feel like I was nominated because I’m very visibly young, talented and passionate about animation… It’s one of my biggest fears that these opportunities will stop coming as I get older, when it’s less impressive that I’m a good animator in my 30’s or 40’s or that eventually all my years in the industry will take the drive to improve and better my skills from me and I’ll be overlooked as someone who wouldn’t be a good fit for these sort of programs. I don’t see many older women in this industry… Maybe they’re just not at my studio or have moved on to bigger and better things, but I do wonder if eventually I’ll just stop being seen as well.
4) What is a successful moment in your career so far?
Once again, I’m finding it hard to pinpoint one particular moment that stands out from the rest. Like any artist there’s definitely moments where I severely doubt the quality of my work and whether or not I’m actually deserving of the goals I’m chasing…but here I am, the Animation Director of a WIA sponsored short film, a successful Animation supervisor working on big name productions, getting to go on paid work trips and speaking at animation festivals both local and international… all these moments in my career have been very reaffirming and help to silence that voice in the back of my head that says I’m not good enough.
5) What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
Ask for what you want. If you think you’re ready for that promotion start telling people that’s a position you want to step in to. Wanting a raise at work? Make a list of the things you feel you’ve gone above and beyond in and negotiate that raise. I’m currently working on a show with an all female animation supervisor team, sitting side by side in an office full of amazingly organized, talented and passionate women who are all here because they weren’t afraid of stepping up and saying they were the right person for the job. I feel like a lot of young women are taught to be overly cautious and hesitant about speaking up lest it seem like they’re bragging or overstepping in some way, but I’d really like to encourage my fellow female artists to speak up and believe in themselves.
6) What do you collect, if anything?
Pikachu… just.. anything to do with that little electric rat makes my heart so HAPPY! I’ve got a collection going of every single Pikachu Pokémon card I can get my hands on, as well as dedicating a small part of my desk at work to all the cute figures I’ve got. I’m really easy to buy gifts for, haha. Pokémon was and really still is one of my number one sources of inspiration for animation, the fight sequences, the creativity in movement, the hand drawn FX… it’s just so freakin’ COOL!! I’ve got a little passion project in the works where I’m re-animating the opening for, “Avatar the Last Airbender” using Pokémon to match the elements. I’m 28 years old and my passion for pocket monsters isn’t going anywhere!!
7) Where can people find out more about you on social media? What is next for you in your career?
What is next for you in your career? On IG: @kait_lines. Check out my work on twitter @OhKayArt! I’ll post final animations on YouTube: Kaitlin Sutherland, but if you want to see in progress work and keep up with sketches and other side projects Twitter is definitely the place to do so! Coming up next for me, besides taking our Five in Focus film to festivals and markets, is collaborating with a friend on a character design pitch for WildBrain Studios (formerly DHX Media) for their character short program! Which if selected we’ll be guided through the process of developing a series of shorts with a team we put together for YouTube! I’ll also be tabling Vancouver’s FanExpo in spring of 2020 so I’ve got to get ready for that too! Can’t wait for you all to see our film, “The Butterfly Affect,” don’t forget to follow me on Twitter if you’re interested in keeping up with where life takes me next!