Meet Arley. Arley’s cool factor is through the roof. Is it that he’s our one and only Animation Intern, now beginning his second season of interning with Invisible Children? Is it that he’s a boss at drums and has played in two bands? Or perhaps the fact that he was almost named after a Harley motorcycle—until his parents realized that even “Harley” wasn’t a cool enough name for him? It’s all these things and so much more. With burritos in hand, I sat down with this Upstate New York native on a curb outside of a taqueria to talk to him about his experience being an animator at Invisible Children.
In one sentence, why do you love working at IC?
Because I have room to learn, explore, work hard, and do things that I really like to do—like animating and creating—and I find that the community here is one that I can relate to easily and it fills me with joy.
That’s about three sentences in one, but I’ll let it slide. What does a typical day as an animator look like?
Well, I come to the office, pour myself some coffee (in his NY accent: “cawfee”), open up my most recent project and start fiddling with things. I check in with my supervisor, Chad, on how to make animations look good. Eventually, the animation will be finished and I’ll render it and send it to an editor. But each day is very different from the next so it really just depends.
What sets your internship apart from others and what impact are you able to make in your specific role?
Animation is unique because there are only two animators and we are always generating content. With video, you film stuff and then piece it together. But with animation, you are literally creating things and making it fit into a sequence. In my specific role, the impact I can make is pretty significant because it’s a different kind of voice in a story. It’s one that can clarify, unify, and strengthen the aesthetic. Animation has a certain “wow” factor that you can’t get with video sometimes.
What’s your favorite part about living in San Diego?
DA BEACHES! I love going to the beach, laying there, throwing a ball around, hopping in the waves, gettin’ an acai bowl, watching the sun go down—it’s magical to me, and I don’t think it will ever not be magical.
What’s it like working and living with other interns?
You have to learn how to operate with each other and love each other. Everybody is genuinely interesting and has a lot to bring to the table, so living with them is an added benefit because we actually get to experience life together. If I didn’t live with the other interns, this experience would be different because I’d just be an animation work-horse, but since we live with each other, I get to spend time with people in different departments. It changes the whole game: it becomes more communal and beautiful to me.
What’s been your favorite moment so far?
There have been many incredible moments, but I think one of my favorites was the opening sequence of the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit when I got to see some of my animations on that huge screen getting everybody super psyched. The room was just electric. That was awesome.
What advice would you give a future intern?
Invest in this experience as deeply as you can. If you are reserved about it or if you don’t put yourself completely in, it won’t be as rewarding. It’s pretty cliché, but I just think it’s true. Even if you don’t want to talk to people or you are comfortable with your friends back home—even if you think your life before the internship was great—this experience is really rich and deep, and if you put yourself in as much as you can, you’ll get so much more out of it.
What made you want to stay with Invisible Children for a second internship season?
Because I knew that not only was the work going to be enjoyable, but it was also embedded in a social issue that strikes a heart string with me. It’s very important work to stop a war, end genocide, and be a part of lasting peace. The Fourth Estate community that Invisible Children is fostering aligns perfectly with what I believe in. So for me, participating in that on a global scale is very electrifying. That’s what attracted me to IC and that’s the reason I stayed. I even got the Fourth Estate logo tattooed on me because I think this work is the embodiment of what matters in the world.
Just for fun, we’re going to play a little word association game. I give you a word, and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind.
San Diego: beaches
Celebrity crush: Emma Watson