Animation Director, Carmen Sandiego, WildBrain
“I learned everything on the job and gained a lot of experience from the animators and supervisors around me,” says Flávia Güttler, the dynamic animation director of WildBrain’s Carmen Sandiego series for Netflix. Born in Petrópolis, in the Rio de Janeiro municipality of Brazil, the 33-year-old artist says she was very fortunate to find her first job at a small studio which had a traditional animator as its leader.
She recalls, “We always talked about how cut-out animation could be more and how much potential it has, should only traditional methodology be applied to it. That has forever stuck in my mind and it’s a philosophy I carry with me to this day, influencing my work entirely.”
Güttler says she was deeply influenced by the classic live-action Batman series from the 1960s when she was growing up. “That series basically shaped my silly sense of humor and righteousness towards the world. It also made me love neon-bright characters and heroes, plus that crime fighting frilly bike that Batgirl had was just too ridiculously awesome not to make a lasting impression. It was the perfect synthesis between power and action with feminine aesthetic, and it stuck with me to this day!”
Not surprisingly, she fell in love with Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series when she was a little older. “With great character development and storylines, it used silly villains and hero archetypes to explore bigger themes of the real world, society and even psychology. All that in a cartoon for kids! I was hooked and, again, forever influenced by it,” she notes.
Güttler always loved to draw but was often told that she couldn’t make a decent living through art, so she dropped out of fine arts school. She worked as a designer and web programmer for a few years, and when she was assigned to design and draw animated web banners, she realized she wanted to pursue animation as a career. “I was doing a few doodles and experimenting with Flash when an online friend (from DeviantArt, of all places) told me about an animation studio he worked at. They were desperate, so I went there with just a handful of drawings under my arm and got a job as a junior animator!”
She says she loves her current job at WildBrain because it allows her to develop a show’s animation style, finding the characters’ personalities and building the rules that make the show look unified. “As the animation director, it’s really great to be the one witnessing it all, taking those ‘a-ha!’ moments and sharing with others, electing the ones to be followed, scooching everyone towards the direction you envisioned and what fits the show.”
Her special career tips? “Work, work, work! Hard work pays off and is recognized,” Güttler advises. “If you are at a really small studio and you are either not being recognized or too good for it, move on. Find a bigger, more challenging one, change countries in search of opportunity. Also, do anything you can to keep the drawing flame alive and keep practicing. What many new animators fail to see is that, even though we have very stylized cartoons and a lot of cut-out animation on the market, your work will be a thousand times better, more creative and original if you draw and have strong traditional skills to back it up.”