Every year, we deliver a little holiday cheer to our members’ mailboxes in the form of red holiday envelope designs. We sat down with Tim Hodge, the artist behind the envelopes, to give you an inside look into his creative process and his amazing career in entertainment.
We’ll also be celebrating by giving away a holiday mailer signed by Tim Hodge each week! All you have to do is vote in our polls for a chance to win. Stay tuned in December for a chance to win the grand prize, a one-of-a-kind framed set of all four 2015 signed holiday mailers!
How did you get involved in designing the DVD.com holiday mailers?
This is my third year doing the holiday envelopes for DVD Netflix. About four years ago, I discovered that people were decorating their Netflix envelopes before mailing them in by stumbling across a Tumblr blog that was featuring them. I thought it was a lot of fun since I had already been drawing on nearly every Netflix envelope. My wife was a little upset, well, not upset, but worried whenever it was time for the mailman to come and I hadn’t yet finished my envelopes. I got a little carried away and realized I was putting a lot more on the Tumblr page than other people were. Doodlers Anonymous did an article on me since I had done so many doodles, and that’s when Netflix first noticed me. The marketing department then got in contact with me and asked if I’d like to design the envelopes for real. I was working as a freelance artist and had other artist friends that couldn’t believe I was doing this stuff for free, but I was having fun and it did eventually get me a paying gig. Now, I’m in my third year doing it and it’s a lot of fun.
What’s your process when coming up with the theme?
I work closely with the marketing department at DVD Netflix, and this year they wanted designs that were reminiscent of movies. My challenge was how to evoke common images from popular holiday movies without being too specific. I just started brainstorming and came up with at least eight designs from some of my favorite films - you don’t want to get too obscure! The one with the little bell on the Christmas tree is obviously just a simple icon from It’s a Wonderful Life. I did several rounds of designs, and we came down to the four that best captured those iconic movie symbols.
What’s your favorite part about designing the holiday mailers?
Finding the story within a single design, and coming up with a picture that involves the audience. Like the design with the kid sledding outside the door, even if you’ve never seen Home Alone, that image creates a story in itself because a kid flying out the front door on a sled is a plot point.
You’ve been in the industry for a while, what drew you to animation and drawing?
I've been drawing since I was a kid, and didn’t stop drawing as I got older. Animation is something I’ve always loved. In fact, when I was in middle school, I found my dad’s 8mm camera with a single frame advance and my dad explained that’s how animated films were made. I spent all summer making little animated movies with clay, and eventually decided that this was the career path I wanted to go down.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
Definitely when I was at Disney. I worked on about five films there. When choosing my favorite, I go between Lion King and Mulan because with Lion King, I was lower on the totem pole, but it was a such a great learning experience. When I got on Mulan, I was in the story department and got to create the narrative, which was a whole different experience. Each stepping stone has a different memory and nostalgia. Those were truly great days.
Do you have a particularly funny story that would interest readers?
I’ve got two that come to mind.
At Disney, I worked in the Florida studio, which was housed in the theme parks. Roy Disney (Walt's nephew) would occasionally stop in and take a quick tour. He was a smoker and was the only person allowed to smoke in the Disney buildings. Invariably, at some point during his visits, some hapless artist, who was unaware that Roy was visiting, would smell the tobacco and yell, "Who the $#!!* is smoking in here??" They'd stand up from their desk and realize the answer to their question. Most would quickly sit down, red-faced and trying to hide. One actually immediately started packing up his desk. Roy was always good-natured about it.
At our wrap party for Mulan, along with the dinner, dancing, and games, there was entertainment. While we were all talking, a singer got up on stage and started belting out "The Reflection Song.” We were all wondering who it was since she was only a sixteen-year-old Mouseketeer. Turns out, it was Christina Aguilera.
What are you working on now?
I work at Big Idea, a subsidiary of Dreamworks, and we are working with Netflix on the new VeggieTales In The House series. We have a small office just outside of Nashville and work with a satellite studio in Vancouver that produces the animation for us, while we work on the writing, storyboarding, and design here. We have three directors working on the VeggieTales project. I oversee the animation long distance of my episodes, so every three weeks I’m directing a new episode. We are now about halfway through our second season and are scheduled to do a third season after this, so we are pretty excited.
Are you working on any personal projects?
I have a book coming out titled "Pith & Vinegar" where I wrote and illustrated some dark and humorous poems. My wife encouraged me to compile them into a book. It includes zombie love stories and encounters with spiders and giant bats. I had a Kickstarter to raise money for printing costs and am finishing up the illustrations. Watch my Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook for details about where it will be available.
Where does the name Bald Melon come from?
Named after my haircut basically. The specific name comes from when I turned forty and put together a blues band for my birthday party and called it Bald Melon Tim and the Midlife Crisis. We put on a concert in my basement. I have friends that play guitar and bass and I played harmonica.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
That is such a tough question, it’s like “what’s your favorite dessert!” I have to go back to some of the really old films, the ones I grew up with. It’s a Wonderful Life is just such a perfect film. Its story and the acting are just a wonderful combination. I also really like High Noon with Gary Cooper. Those are my two favorite classic films, along with, of course, Casablanca.
Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show you are watching right now?
I actually just got finished binge watching Endeavour. I don’t know what draws me to these British crime shows, but I love them.
What's your favorite actor that you’ll see any of their films no matter what?
I’ll have to go old school again with Jimmy Stewart because I think just about anything he’s done is a lot of fun to watch.
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