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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 03/23/2009

The Interview: Animator Bryan Brinkman

By Michael Cavna

Thanks to a stunt earlier this month on Jimmy Fallon's late-night NBC show, New York animator BRYAN BRINKMAN not only gained more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. Two weeks later, his raised profile continues to draw fans to his work.

As his "15 minutes" of fame blooms into something larger professionally, Comic Riffs asked Brinkman, 24 -- a Queens resident who attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (BFA in Animation) -- how the sudden audience being drawn to his professional animation site is changing his career, if not his life. (His day job is in advertising, doing animated motion graphics and video editing.)

MICHAEL CAVNA: How does it all feel? Has it sunk in yet?
BRYAN BRINKMAN: It feels amazing. I could never ask for such attention, and I was that kid growing up that wanted attention all the time.

MC: How'd you happen to attend Jimmy Fallon's show when the Diggnation hosts were on? And was it all as impromptu as it seemed, or did Fallon's people or the Digg dudes [Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht] do any vetting before the show?
BB: I got the tickets for the show a few weeks ago, and someone on the staff [had learned] I was coming and had a Twitter account. So before the show, they asked me if I was interested. It was very sudden but I went with it, they really didn't ask too many questions, I think they went with their gut instincts on short notice.

MC:Any idea why you were picked--other than the fact you DO look amazingly like a hybrid of the Digg dudes?
BB:Haha, as soon as I saw the Diggnation guys, I knew [the stunt] was coming. I think the reason I was picked was because I seemed fairly normal and had a very lackluster Twitter account with almost zero online presence. It made me an ideal candidate for the experiment.

MC:Have views of your Web animations gone up considerably?
BB: I've been tracking the followers from the moment the show taped -- it's been insane, it reached 25,000 in 24 hours -- that is unbelievable. My personal Web site got nearly 10,000 visits in the first day -- it's incredible publicity that I could've never dreamed of.

brinkanimation demo reel from Bryan Brinkman on Vimeo.

MC:Have you received any job or project offers yet out of this? And what have your friends been saying since?
BB: I've had plenty of opportunities thrown my way. I always keep an open ear, and I'm still sifting through emails as we speak. My friends think its great, some of them were in the audience that night, so they've been following it all along with me. They helped calm me down after I found out and had a small panic attack.

MC:So how -- haha -- will you ever repay Fallon? And any thoughts on the real-world power of Twitter, for artists like yourself?
BB: I will be in debt to Jimmy and his staff for a long time to come. They have been so friendly and supportive of this idea. I was still pretty new to Twitter and they have been showing me the ropes, learning the etiquette, etc. The importance of sites like Digg and Twitter is that information can be spread so quickly to the masses, I've been a Digg user for over a year now, and I can't think of another place that I go to that has such a wealth of varied information that's updated constantly.

MC:How long have you worked in animation? And do you have any particular influences?
BB:I've been doing animation for about five years now. I grew up loving Saturday-morning cartoons and it evolved into influences such as Bill Plympton, Don Hertzfeldt, and Richard Williams. I try to keep my styles different, but it really depends on the tone and content of the story.

MC:What next for Bryan Brinkman? And if this isn't the professional highlight of your career, what is?
BB: Hopefully, this new soapbox will not only give me and audience for my daily routine, but one for my opinions, ideas and art. Everybody has been very supportive of my work and I really appreciate it. I really appreciate every person that follows me and is willing to hear what I have to say. Hopefully I will have enough interesting things to keep them entertained.

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By Michael Cavna  | March 23, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Interviews With Cartoonists, The Animation  
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