Neil Dittbenner was one of the local animators* at Gigacon at the Art Institute of Washington (which is actually in a lovely facility in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington) this past January who kindly answered my usual questions.
Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?
Neil Dittbenner: I am a Flash animator at Latman Interactive. I also do freelance work for animation studios in the D.C Metro area.
How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
I enjoy experimenting with different mediums but, my tool of choice is Flash.
When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?
I was born in Kansas City on May 31, 1986
Why are you in the Washington sphere now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?
I moved to the area as a teenager and then attended The Art Institute of Washington. After school I stayed in the area working as a subcontractor and freelance artist.
What is your training and/or education in cartooning?
Lots of television as a child and BFA from The Art Institute of Washington in Media Arts and Animation.
Who are your influences?
I'm a huge fan of Jim Smith and John K. They had a pretty big influence on my style and taste in humor.
If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?
I'm happy with where my life is heading right now. The path I choose may have been bumpy but it lead me to the right place in the end so, I don't think I would do-over or change anything.
What work are you best-known for?
I did some freelance work for PBS Kids through a local studio called Karptoons. It was a great project and the end results were really creative and fun.
What work are you most proud of?
I have a side project about carnivals, magic, and love that I'm working on that I'm pretty excited about. My personal projects give me a great sense of accomplishment.
What would you like to do or work on in the future?
I'm really happy with the jobs I'm working currently but, I'm hoping to work on children's books or web comics in the future.
What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?
I find that just taking a break from art for a couple minutes lets your brain relax. Once I'm relaxed ideas seem to come more easily because I'm not forcing creativity.
What do you think will be the future of your field?
The Internet is becoming the center of entertainment for a lot of people. It's cheaper and easier to watch things on Netflix and Youtube than it is on cable and with a lot of newer televisions becoming Internet capable online content is growing more important. I think short online animations are a good bet for the future.
What's your favorite thing about DC?
I think my favorite thing about DC has to be the National Zoo. It is a great place to sketch and people watch. Plus it's totally free which is a major plus.
High cost of living and traffic are really awful here. I could easily live without either of those.
What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?
The Natural History Museum is always a big hit with out-of-town guests. The dinosaurs and animals never get old.
The Burger Joint chain is fantastic.
Do you have a website or blog?
www.dittbenner.com and these are some other goodies to check out www.latman.com, and www.Karptoons.com
*Since he's an animator, you should definitely check out his website to view his cartoon work.