"Interview With A Newt!” (Issue Six Interview)
Jackie Snyder, aka Toot Newt, is an illustrator and animator based in Los Angeles, California. As their career continues to blossom, Milk & Honey talks to them about their origins, their inspirations, and their future goals. A lot of their personal works are delightfully hopeful and wholesome, starring cute animals and music. Included are images from their shorts, Moth’s Cafe, Toot Newt and others, which you can watch for yourself at:
M&H: What made you decide to pursue animation, and were your steps to get there?
JS: I pursued animation because of gay webcomics!! I chose to study animation in college the School of Visual Arts. This was possible because my family had money saved for college and we found ways that I could bring the cost down. I worked part-time in high school and college, got scholarships and grants, and I ended up graduating high school early. I studied at different community schools for a while, and later, I chose to transfer those credits. I was technically enrolled only 'part-time' later and that didn't qualify me for many internships. I did find and take one at a small studio once a week during school, and I also went to the ‘Ghostscouts’ art collective one summer. I learned to submit stuff to indie animation screenings like Malt Adult and Hellavision Television, so I could meet people and share animation. After college I rented a room in New York City for a year, worked retail, and freelanced from home, until I took the train to Los Angeles where I had a lot of friends, a place to stay, and apparently a job.
“Bugs and Lizards are Everywhere and I Love Them.”
M&H: What does being a storyboard artist mean and what is your contribution to the animation process?
JS: When I worked on “Lazor Wulf” season 2, we based our boards off of super clever and funny scripts. There were four artists storyboarding and Henry, the show’s creator, would add to the boards here and there! Each week we would present boards to our group and then use the reactions and feedback to improve our work and move forward. Next, the designers would make it look smoking hot, and then a team of animators would make it all move! What a cool team! My method for storyboarding is sort of like, “I dive deep into my brain theater, and then edit for clarity and prettiness.” I use Adobe Flash, Storyboard Pro, Clip Studio Paint (good bargain), or paper.
M&H: As well as your professional credits, you have a delightful amount of personal short films completed, including ‘Moth’s Cafe’ and ‘Toot Newt’ What was the inspiration for humanizing stories about little creatures like bugs and lizards?
JS: Bugs and lizards are everywhere and I love them.
M&H: Your personal animations often incorporate music, from a wandering newt bard to a bug cafe’s open mic. How is music a storytelling device to you?
JS: I do not have a lot of training with music but I know how to write a little poem, sing, and when I have an instrument around, I can do simple things with it. I also know that when you ask friends, you learn they can do amazing things and there are ways you can work together. Also the way Newt feels about his whistle is just how I feel about my paint set. The way Caterpillar feels about writing songs is how Moth feels about operating her anarchist juice depot, I mean uhhhhh café. The important part is how self-expression connects us.you can work together. Also the way Newt feels about his whistle is just how I feel about my paint set. The way Caterpillar feels about writing songs is how Moth feels about operating her anarchist juice depot, I mean uhhhhh café. The important part is how self-expression connects us.
M&H: What is next for you? What kind of shows and mediums do you dream of working on/with?
JS: Twoot Newt, the sequel to Toot Newt, comes out this Winter 2020. Lazor Wulf is truly a show that is top-tier funny and totally gorgeous!! Please check it out if you enjoy laughing, wolves, the future, the past!! We really have adult animated content in this lifetime that is positive, creative, sincere! This show is on a big brain wavelength. The first season available now on HBOMax, Adult Swim, and Amazon Prime! Season 2 coming this Fall 2020! Yes, I am serious!!! Get ready!!