Teach your children well
Balance isn’t just about creative and business ratios, it’s about reading the room and keeping that joy alive. “At any given moment,” says Brandon, “you could accidentally blow out the creative spark. You have to keep that spark fuelled.”
Understanding how a creative mind works is a key part of Moonbot’s success, giving ideas time to breathe and embracing the meandering steps towards perfection. Brandon likens it to teaching his daughter how to ride a bike, telling her “the important thing to understand is we’re going to fall down at least 45 times. Just embrace that and say ‘ Yes, I fell down once! Now I’m going to fall down 44 times!’ But know that every time you fall you are going to get closer to this thing called riding a bike.” Brandon Oldenburg and Joe Bluhm sought to create a conflicted character in Chipotle’s The Scarecrow through story, body language, lighting and colour.
They need to be satisfied – we don’t want anyone to feel like this is a job
It takes an equally balanced individual to fit into a team that creates such playful perfections. “An incredible portfolio is one box to check,” says Brandon, “but they need to have a love for storytelling, cinema, games and books. They also have to have good people skills. And it’s important they’re doing what they love; that means we will get incredible work and they will be happy. They need to be satisfied – we don’t want anyone to feel like this is a job.”
While a well-developed skill set is important, Moonbot also looks for artists who want to embrace a variety of things. Many studios try to compartmentalise, finding the one step where an artist excels and avoiding the risk of letting them step outside that expertise. “What’s unique about this place are the different disciplines,” says art lead Joe Bluhm. “But we all care about the same things: the quality of art, storytelling and the game or film we’re putting out there. Everyone wants to support that. I like the idea that you can speak up and someone will listen rather than saying it’s not your turn to talk.”
No beans about it
Kenny Callicutt was a freelance illustrator before coming to Moonbot. “I was more traditional; never freelanced for any studio, it was all magazines, book covers and kids books.” He never got to see what the final product looked like. “I was largely ignorant of what working at a studio entailed. Before, I’d get a call from somebody I’d never met, they’d send over a written pitch, I would do some thumbnails and make a picture.
Kenny Callicutt’s Beanstalk project allowed more freedom than his freelance projects where “all the art was dictated and I was just executing the image.”
our adult selves in check. We just want to tell stories everybody likes, from sixto 96-year-olds, but we have to enjoy it first.”