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Chris Phillips, illustrator and animator at Crispe

Chris Phillips, illustrator and animator at Crispe

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you:

I’m Chris Phillips, an illustrator, and animator working under the online handle – Crispe. 

Your current job: 

Self-employed, working directly with ad agencies and brands.

In which city are you located? 

Sydney, Australia.

A word to define what kind of worker you are: 


What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..) 

Procreate (iPad Pro), Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4D.

What does your office space look like? 

Generally chaotic but I tidied up a little for this photo! I use a standing desk to help with long hours on the tools and have a Cintiq mounted on an arm for extra ergonomics. My puppy French Bulldog, Louie, is usually a fixture at my feet.

What kind of music do you listen when you are working? 

It depends on how close my deadline is! When I’m feeling relaxed, I listen to hip-hop and electronica. If I’m really feeling the pinch I listen to punk and metal. The faster then drums, the quicker my fingers go! While not music, animation can be quite monotonous, so often I play sitcom reruns on my second monitor

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work?

I generally get up quite early and deal with emails as a priority, but otherwise, I keep on top of my overlapping schedules with calendar alerts. Rejigging schedules is the downside of the job but its a necessary evil. I also use a To-Do List up called ‘Clear’ to keep track of my tasks for the week.

What tips would you give to improve productivity? 

Get up early and get your admin out of the way first thing so you can have solid periods of focusing on the creative stuff. If you’re really hard up for motivation, try an app called Self Control, which blocks those distracting websites like Facebook and Twitter.

You’re better than your colleagues to: 

Quirky, dark humored animation.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

There’s no shame in focusing on what you’re good at. In my industry, there can be quite a lot of technical aspects to learn. Fearing that I was under skilled, I spent far too much time learning 3D character animation and motion graphics, when it only makes up a very small percentage of what I do. Once I came to terms with 3D not being my ‘thing’ and focused on 2D animation and illustration, my career started to fall into place a lot more.

What is your best tip for saving time?

Always make a detailed estimate at the start of a project, even if it’s just for yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and promise too much when it comes to animation. Itemize hourly each aspect of the animation and work your vision back to fit the costs. The extra planning at the start will save you time in the end. You should also block all of your animation in first, then come back and do multiple passes to finesse it. That way if you use all the budget up you still have something to show for it. If you work and finesse each chunk of animation as you go, you run the risk of draining your budget only to find that you’ve only progressed 50% through the animation.

What is your routine start and end of the day?

My dog usually wakes me up at around 6.30-7.00am. The first hour or so I spend feeding and walking him. Then I make myself breakfast, a big coffee and head straight to my desk to deal with client emails. I work for clients in the US and EU, so I usually have inquiries coming in during the night and a small window to reply to them before the client has left for the day or gone to sleep. At night I shamefully have no routine, which means I sleep pretty poorly. I stay up way too late playing video games on the couch or reading Twitter.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?

My iPad Pro has become an invaluable tool for jotting down ideas and doing quick pencil roughs for my animations. I love that I can get away from my computer for a while and break up my day a little by doing the work elsewhere.