03/07/23 • News & Happenings

The Lightbulb Moment

With Paul Hickey!

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Every month, we coax our crew members to tell us all about the moment they knew they wanted to work in animation. The nightmarish moment featured in today’s blog could easily have led to an existential crisis for a young Paul Hickey, who until then was quite happy simply drawing devilish scenes with his Crayolas.

Fortunately for us, Paul saw the connection between what he’d witnessed on Cartoon Network and the worlds he was creating through his drawings. It sparked the flame that led him to Lighthouse and his current role as a Layout Artist on a top-secret production (watch this space).

Who knew kids’ cartoons could be this scary? We’ll let Paul tell you about his lightbulb moment himself…

Paul Hickey, Layout Artist at Lighthouse Studios

I knew I’d be creating for the rest of my life from the moment I held my very first Crayola crayon. I remember scribbling a little drawing of a devil on a scrap of old paper. When my father found it, he almost hired an exorcist. He didn’t though, and I continued to scribble down creatures, worlds and stories, right up until the present day. That wasn’t what incited my ‘lightbulb moment’ though. That came later.

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than being cosied up in dinosaur pajamas with a packet of custard creams, watching shows on Cartoon Network till the early hours of the morning. (Admittedly, I still do, though the pajamas don’t quite fit anymore.) It was during one of these TV binges that I encountered a particularly terrifying episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog. The show was usually entirely 2D, but in this particular episode an uncanny being of terrible 3D proportions terrorised Courage (and children) worldwide. That moment of utter nightmare fuel was the moment I knew I wanted to work in animation.

Today, I feel my work has many varied influences. If I had to pick my biggest ones, it would be The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Steven Universe, Evangelion and the incredibly written BoJack Horseman. The backgrounds in Steven Universe are incredible, and while the bugle monster from Courage ignited my dream to work in animation, it was Steven Universe that guided me into Layout and Background art. I’d highly recommend picking up a Steven Universe art book. The themes of mental health in both Steven Universe and BoJack Horseman are handled in powerful ways that I have yet to see executed so well in live-action TV.

Whenever I create any art these days, I tend to write first, and after I’ve the bones of the story, the art begins. Most of the shows I’ve listed today have strong narratives and themes, which have inspired me to create my own worlds with both words and art. Except Billy and Mandy. It’s just pure, joyous chaos.

Paul Hickey has been building worlds and telling stories from the moment he could put pen to paper. This habit has followed him into adult life, which sees him drawing, writing and connecting the dots of how characters develop and grow. After graduating with a BA in Art and Design and a HND in Classical & Computer Animation, Paul went on to work with Giant Animation, Dog Ears and Lighthouse Studios. To date, he has gained a vast range of experience as both a layout artist and a background artist on a multitude of projects from TV shows to feature films. His passions follow him outside of work, where he creates stories through word and image. He pitched Dream Team, a personal project, at Cartoon Springboard 2018, and aims to one day bring this production to life for the screen.  

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