Interviews With The Fantastic
InterGalactic Interview With Anton Bogaty
by Randall Hayes
We continue our journey into the visual arts this month with an old collaborator of mine,
animator Anton Bogaty, who lives in the Seattle area. In lieu of one of those awful, industry-standard promo-bios, his LinkedIn profile is below in the References. He has done a stunning
total of twenty-four TED-Ed videos, some of them much more popular than the one we did, on a
wide variety of topics.
Hayes: My first exposure to your work was when TED-Ed told my you'd be animating my script
"What Happens When You Die?" I was very happy with the choice because you clearly swim
in the same sea of history and pop culture references that I do. Where did that eclectic sensibility
Bogaty: I have no idea. I was raised on questionable movies repeated on HBO and Cinemax in
the early 80s. I don't really keep up with current pop culture trends. My kids update me on pop
culture happenings and I'm partly grateful I'm oblivious to a lot of it, not to say I'm completely
shut off from the world.
The TED-Ed videos are a fun challenge in the sense you get to dive into a new subject and learn
all you can in the 2-3 weeks required to finish the video. I enjoyed the "What Happens When You
Die" video in particular because it was a chance to have fun with a serious subject matter.
Hayes: What's your science background? In that video, I kept trying to push the importance of
randomness in molecular motions and got nowhere with the editors. Is that a difficulty with hand-drawn animation? With Flash, maybe? Or more of a "creative difference" kind of thing?
Bogaty: No science background. I'm sure I had no better than a C in science in high school. I still
feel bad for the frog that I had to dissect in high school lab. Years prior to TED-Ed I did design
and animate some fairly complicated models of how the eye is affected by glaucoma for an
ophthalmologist. Not being familiar with the details of a process that involves anatomy or science
probably works to my advantage. I'm trying to figure out something possibly abstract or
microscopic and distill the event into imagery that I can wrap my head around, which is what the
TED-Ed videos are ultimately all about.
Hayes: Your tropes are all over the place, from pulp adventure to super-heroes to space opera to
horror. Is there a native land within fandom where you feel most at home? Are you active in that
world of conventions and public appearances and all that, or more of the reclusive online type?
Bogaty: I must confess I'm most comfortable with subject matter that's down-to-earth and not so
much fantastic. I've never been a superhero comic person. I was always more fascinated by the
people on the street running in fear from the crazy superheroes fighting above their heads with
their crazy hand lasers or whatnot. I relate most of all to character actors in old Sunday night TV
movies, for some reason. I'm not near L.A., so I don't really get to mingle with the animation
community at large. I used to sit at a booth at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, but the
crowds and chaos at conventions were never something I looked forward to. I do enjoy
collaborating or helping with projects, but usually it's through email or online.
Hayes: I especially liked this video, "Adult Toys," because I was also a reader of comics, rather
than a collector or an investor. Where do you fall on that spectrum, personally?
Bogaty: I'm certainly nostalgic for media and toys that I grew up with but never really collected
anything for possible profit. I can certainly relate to someone who must have a full collection of a
certain thing. "Adult Toys" stems from seeing the collectors at Target scanning through Hot
Wheels or Star Wars toys on the shelves. People who storm stores every day to find action
figures, just to flip them on eBay, are fascinating to me.
Hayes: My last action figure purchases were at a yard sale, where I found a Comicon promotional
set of the original Doom Patrol, in that streamlined style that DC used during the Paul Dini years.
Your work reminds me of that, but even more of Genndy Tartakovsky, who did Dexter's
Laboratory and The PowerPuff Girls. I hadn't heard of him in several years, and then this summer
they released Hotel Transylvania 3, the preview for which seemed awful to me but probably made
him a lot of money. As a working artist who needs to pay the rent, how do you choose your own
projects? Is there a defined process or a rubric? Do you have an agent?
Bogaty: I don't know. Your abilities and more importantly your limitations tend to lean your
work into a certain style perhaps. As a kid I emulated Jack Davis as much as I could (mainly
because he was the artist for a number of Spielberg parodies in MAD Magazine) and that lead to
a Harvey Kurtzman phase in my 20s. A long time ago now I was really into drawing everything
with Prismacolor markers and loved Bruce Timm's marker work. I did about 100 drawings for
an ARG card game called Perplex City and that about burned me out on trying to work with
markers for a living. Those drawings are a little rough to look at now.
Seattle being a video game town, I've worked for several game companies and in a variety of
concept design styles over the years while somewhat maintaining my own style for animation
projects. Even when I've been hired in the past for my more cartoon-ey work, I'm inevitably
asked if I can emulate a more realistic style for a new project or pitch the company has in mind.
For the last 10 years (until recently) I did work as a concept artist for video games during the day
and then on animation freelance at night. Going to bed at 3 a.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. became
a norm. I don't have an agent but would probably be in a better state financially if I did.
Hayes: You were working for a big corporation (Amazon) for a while. What was that like? What
did you do there, day to day?
Bogaty: I was hired as a 2D animator for games in what was at the time (7 years ago) a fairly
small Amazon Games group. I eventually became more of a concept artist for 3D games and
spent a couple years just creating concepts and storyboard animatics for potential game pitches.
For a while I also designed cinematics and marketing videos. At times I got to work with a pretty
eclectic group of artists, in terms of styles and interests.
Hayes: Your sense of humor is both playful (childish in a good way) and sometimes pretty dark.
How does that play out in the actual doing of the work? Are you consciously balancing those
forces? Swinging back and forth between them like a pendulum? Do you think of audience and
ratings and markets, or do you just make stuff and hope for the best? What's your freelance
Bogaty: For something like TED-Ed I certainly try to keep the tone friendly enough for general
audiences. For my own work I do swing around too much as to whether I should go darker or
more adult in tone or not. I've been working on a personal project for years with a subject I
personally find fascinating but I know most people would find depressing or maybe too bleak. A
lot of times I feel my attempts at really cartoon-ey humor is dis-earnest because my tendencies
probably are to lean in a more serious or darker direction. You certainly don't want to go into
dark waters with a client unless they ask for it. With any project, sometimes it takes a few passes
with the client to gauge what the tone is they're striving for.
Hayes: Your web page and YouTube haven't been updated in a couple of years. Are you
exclusively Instagram now? Talk about the online ecosystem for visual artists. Any tips for the
kids out there?
Bogaty: Instagram is certainly a quick way to update or gauge how people feel about your work.
It's my go-to link for sure when sending stuff to potential clients, good or bad. I've worked on a
lot of pitches the last couple of years, for others and myself, so unfortunately a lot of my recent
animation I can't post these days. I have so many animatics and half-completed videos of my own
though that I plan to upload to Youtube soon. I'm sitting on a lot of videos only because I debate
how to end them for so long.
I hesitate to offer any tips only because my own career is so messy as far as direction goes. Focus
on your work at hand and avoid internet time as much as you can is all I can offer.
Hayes: Are you working on any big, long-term projects right now? Where can people find your
work, and fund it?
Bogaty: I do have a longer video that I've been trying to finish this year. Right now the best place
is my Instagram and Youtube pages.
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/anton_bogaty/
Site - https://www.antonbogaty.com
Hayes: Thanks so much for your time, and just so you know, I'm thinking about another TED-Ed
video . . .
Randall Hayes also writes the monthly PlotBot science-in-SF column for IGMS.
"What Happens When You Die?" (chemically, not spiritually)
Though I always wonder how many of the viewers for this thing are disappointed by its
non-spiritual nature. They haven't mentioned it in the comments.
"Adult Toys" (not that kind!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSVaqMuGmSo