Northwestward, ho!

Wow -- where do I begin? It's weird to think that I'm finally writing about this. I've been wanting to say something for weeks now, but couldn't until all the fine details were worked out. Now it's official...

I've decided to accept a job at Laika for the position of 2D Animation Director. It will be for Laika/House -- the commerical division. (Laika/Entertainment is the feature film division.) Laika, as some of you may already know, is based out of Portland, Oregon. That's over 2,600 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia. Quite a move for me and my family. But after many months of thinking and praying about it (and many more weeks spent in deep discussion with Andrea), we decided that this would be the best thing for our family. It's going to be a major change -- I've lived in Atlanta almost my entire life and the majority of my family calls it home, including my parents. I've only known the Atlanta animation industry for my entire animation career. Working with individuals so far removed from the insular network of this Southern city will be quite a shock, but I'm ready and willing to face the change. Looking forward to it, actually.

Naturally, I will miss my immediate family, my fellow Primates, and all my animator and artist buddies here in Atlanta. My last day at Primal Screen will be March 16th, so Andrea and I are currently knee-deep in moving and packing plans. We definitely have our work cut out for us before we tackle the Big Move. And for kicks and giggles, we're planning on driving across the country the following week. I know -- crazy isn't it? Maybe we'll be in your neck of the woods, you never know.

This is such a huge step for my career and creatively? Extremely impressed with the amount of talent I saw housed within Laika's walls. Such an honor to become the newest member of Laika's creative family.

So, there you go -- I'm leaving Primal. (Boy, so odd to actually type that.) I can't complain, though-- The past six years have been very good to me. Many Primal jobs have showcased my personal style and how many people can lay claim to that? A spot is now available, of course, so Primal Screen is starting their search to fill that spot. If you are an experienced animation director with a strong sense of design, contact Jeff at: jeff [at] primalscreen [dot] com. If you have a website or blog featuring your work, please include links. Jeff will thank you.

If you're ever in Portland after March of this year, would love to say hello. Please contact me here via my blog and let's do lunch. Also, I'd like to add that the Platform International Animation Festival will take place in Portland, June 25-30. A great excuse to come up (or down or over) to see me.


  1. WOW! What a wonderfully big adventure that will be. Congratulations, and I wish you the very best. I hope to see you at Platform.

  2. Hey Ward,

    Congratulations! You deserve all the best!

    Having moved across country just a few years ago, I know that it can be quite difficult. We also are far away from our families, but we've made a great life for ourselves here and I'm sure you'll find a great new life. It will take a while, but the great thing is that to your friends on the internet there won't be a change at all. That gave me some stability and continuity with our move.

  3. Wow! Portland?!?! I can say from my experience as a kid from the South who once moved to the Northwest, it was one of the best things I ever did. You'll dig it.

    Big congrats and good luck with the move, bruddah! I wanna visit.

  4. WOW...congratulations, Ward! I checked out Laika's site and it's very impressive. I'm excited for you. I know you'll do great things.

  5. What the?!!!! CONGRATULATIONS, WARD!! Now we'll finally be in the same time zone!

    Say hello to Mr. Sorenson for me...

  6. Wow! Congratulations, Ward! I have a bunch of friends at Laika. They are completely awesome people. You'll be in excellent company. Portland's a great town-- people know how to have fun there without getting all stressed out, and it seems like everyone is in a band and/or building something for Burning Man.

    I'll definitely look you up next time I'm up there (my Mom lives there too!)

  7. Hooray!! Congratulations Ward, Laika is an awesome place to work at from what I hear. I've got a friend up there (in the CG feature division) and he likes it a lot. Good luck with your move and adjusting to a more northern climate.

  8. Ward, I barely knew ye. No, really, I barely got to friggin' know ya and you're leaving ATL? Congrats to you and your family! What an opportunity. Thanks for helping to make the Atlanta animation scene what it is today.

  9. Congratulations on your new job! I'm sure it'll be hard leaving Atlanta but hooray for you good fortune.

    BTW, didn't you just move last summer? You must like moving.

  10. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
    Go get 'em, tiger.

  11. You know, unlike everyone else I'm gonan give yah a hard time about this...Why you gotta leave us Ward?
    Did we say something to offend?
    We can change. you're worth it to us.

    Hope Portland treats you and your's well, but it'll never love yah like we did.

    Alright, this moved from mildly funny to just weird. Keep it awesome Jenkins.

  12. YEEAAHHH!!! I was hoping you guys would decide to go. I have place in my heart for the ATL, but I really wanted you guys to have a change. YEAH! Congrats and I am praying that you get paid every cent you are worth for your mounds and mounds of talent!

    I am also praying that the kids and Andrea have a blast with the wonderful temps (and schools, I hear)west coast life etc...

  13. WOOHOO! how exciting for you and Andrea and the kids. She will find MANY a photo begging to be taken... I moved to Seattle from Vermont in October, leaving my design job to work with special needs kids. And while I am super homesick at times, every time I go outside, or see the city at night- I get tingly and go "OOGH THIS IS SO COOL"
    I wish you and your beautiful family the very best!


  14. My husband and I moved three kids, a cat, a dog and two plants across 3,000 miles from New York to Northern California ten months ago. It was a great trip! Filled with problems (expect to spend a lot more than you actually expect) but it was fun and exciting.

    To save money on moving a lot of ten-year-old furniture we did not take a van but shipped some things ahead and drove two packed cars. We started over with new furniture here -- we're still working on that though and spent a couple of months in camping chairs.

    Take my advice - if you ship things UPS, use SMALL boxes. They refused to give us the insurance money (that was supposedly guaranteed) when a significant portion of what we shipped was broken due to the ginormous and clumsy UPS elephant that very clearly stomped on our boxes.

    Oh, and if you ship, number the boxes and keep an inventory list!

    Much luck to you and the whole famn damily.

  15. Congrats, man! Laika's chock full of good people; You'll have a good time.

  16. Hey Ward,
    Congrats on the big move, the great new opportunity and the adventure that awaits! Each of my (many, many) moves has yielded challenges aplenty, but treasures and friendships that outwight them all. God bless!


  17. Congratulations. Welcome to Rip City, Bridge City, Jewel of the West, and whatever other name they've given themselves since I left. I grew up in Portland and lived there through college. From what I can tell you'll fit in wonderfully.

    If you can find a great home near Laika's studio, all the better. But with Portland's built out mass transit system, you could even live deep in Northeast Portland (although I wouldn't go much further than the Hollywood district) and still commute with ease.

    If you haven't already, look up the folks from pantsketch.livejournal.com they can put you in touch with some great resources in the Portland area.

    I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have.


  18. Thanks, everyone, for all your supportive comments. Some good stuff to check out -- Laika has established a relocating agent to help us with the move, but there's plenty of work that still needs to be done on our part. But Laika has been very cool in helping us out with this big change.

    And have you all seen the great work that those guys do? I'm very excited to be a part of all that.

  19. Congrats on the news, Ward! I think you, Andrea and the kids will love West Coast living! Good things are coming!

  20. Congratulations! I am so excited for you, Andrea and the kids!

  21. i look forward to meeting you. I am the ringleader of the Platform Animation Festival Portland team. Call me when you get into town! 503-226-2172. Cheers! Marilyn Zornado

  22. Congratulations! I read your blog and hulaseventy all the time, and enjoyed knowing that you were right here in Atlanta, even though we've never met. I think you will love Portland and it will awaken all sorts of new creative nerves in both of you. Good luck!


  23. dont go. no, really, DOONNT GOOOO!

    we will miss you sorely. you are irreplaceable. you are our FAMILY.

    we are happy for you and, well, wish you the best. there, i said it. now go. get outta here.

  24. WHOA.
    This IS a surprise. yet, it is undoubtedly for the best as you can't keep growing forever from one station. I'd imagine even Doug, the miser that has horded your skills for all these years, is supportive of your decision. Its an astute career move. Congratulations and I look forward to the updates - and by updates, i mean bitching about all the rain....

  25. Wow! this is great news! - definitely a new chapter in the book for you. Christin and I did a similar thing a couple of years ago when we left Florida and drove across the country to California. Your drive however will be a bit longer! Enjoy it though and take your time. Breathe in Ameri-kuh. Portland is awesome! Congratulations and Good Luck!

  26. Congratulations Ward and family! The NW is a beautiful place to raise a family. Good luck at Laika, they seem to be doing some great work for sure. If you ever come up to Seattle it'd be nice to shake your hand. :D

  27. Congratulations and Best wishes out there!

  28. Congrats and good luck! I'm sure many wonderful and good things will come out of it!

  29. Congratulations! I love reading your blog and checking out your amazing work (and your wife's too). Lots of luck to you, the missus and those gorgeous little ones of yours. Can't wait to read all about the cross country drive.

  30. Wow! Fantastic news Ward! A big congratulations!

    Having just accepted a new job myself (though it is only a for a few months) in Banff, I can understand what a transition it can be.

    I was a little skeptical about Laika after the Vinton thing, but they sound as if they really are putting their absolute best effort into things there. You'll no doubt make an absolutely brilliant addition to the team and be able to learn a ton of new stuff as well.

    Several years ago, I almost accepted a job in Portland, really incredible pay, however it was working on one website most of the time. Otherwise, I may have taken it. The only bad thing I heard about the area was the rain, everything else seemed to be pretty darn positive.

    Good luck to you all during the move!

  31. You'll do great, Ward. Enjoy those beautiful Portland summers while I'm suffering here in Phoenix!!

  32. Well, I told you before, but I'll tell you again. Once you get out here, you tell us where and when and we'll be there with bells on to do all of the heavy lifting.

    Well, maybe not the "heavy" lifting per se, but we'll help!

    Looking forward to getting you guys out here for this new chapter of your life.


  33. Portland is fab - you'll have a swell time Ward (even if it is a bit damp). Congratulations on this next exciting stage of your life!

  34. things you will love about portland from someone whos lived in the area for over 20 years.

    1. first thursday
    2. OMSI
    3. Powells book store
    4. voodoo donuts
    5. nickel arcades
    6. chinese garden
    7. saturday market
    8. every street corner has either a a thrift store, adult bookstore, or art gallery on it. two of three isnt bad.
    9. no matter if you drive east or west, in two hours you either have mountains or beach.
    10. Forest Park
    11. the pearl
    12. saint cupcake and all the other hips trendy stores in NW.
    13. a zoo you can roam, not a pathway you have to follow.
    14. ice skate ring in mall
    15. last thursday

    i remember eric carros telling me stories about your daughter and when i found your blog, i was pleasantly surprized to find out your whole family is adorable.

    good luck on the move.