Interview: Niall Laverty

Today, we meet Niall Laverty, Gesture Drawing for Animation Educator & Illustrator, who will be tutoring our Winter Evening Course: Essence of the Pose.

Hi Niall! How did you get into Animation?

I studied classical animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education in the early 90’s and got my first break in the industry working for Curious Pictures in New York during the summer of 1994. I was an assistant animator on a short called The Louie N’ Louie Show created by Gary Baseman and it was such a fantastic experience working with so many talented artists in the Big Apple! After leaving college, I successfully applied to work for Don Bluth at Fox Animation in Phoenix, Arizona on the feature films Anastasia and Titan A.E. Later on I worked as a freelance animator on various television shows and shorts in Germany and Ireland.

You are currently teaching in The Animation Workshop in Denmark, but you also teach at Gobelins in Paris and Filmakademie in Germany. Can you explain the different courses you are teaching or undertaking in each country?

I teach gesture drawing to students of both 2D and 3D animation in the schools you mentioned but I also have an opportunity to teach character animation at The Animation Workshop. This gives me a great opportunity for me to link gesture drawing to an animation project. The students have gesture sessions each morning to warm-up for the day and to explore different graphic and animation principles to find the strongest story poses for their scenes. 

In your opinion, is drawing an ability that anybody can master?

Yes, I believe anyone can draw as creativity is in all of us. As children we all have that natural gift for drawing but often it gets lost along the way. Gesture drawing allows you to tap into your creativity again as it’s all about your personal expression of what’s inside you.

What is your favourite medium to use?

Charcoal is my preferred medium of choice as it allows me to get very expressive gesture drawings but I also use markers and brush pens in my sketchbook and for my book illustrations as it gives the drawings an exciting spontaneous quality.

What was your favourite learning/up-skilling experience in recent years?

A few years ago myself and my partner set up a creative business called At it Again! We write, illustrate and self-publish fun pocket guides to Irish literature (Ulysses, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray) along with cards and prints. This was an exciting learning curve to upskill to be able to create a book from start to finish. The trick was to tell a story with single images as opposed to multiple ones for animation. Like gesture drawing, it was all about capturing the essence of the pose and the story! 

Finally, which artists inspire you in your work?

There are so many artists that inspire me. I’ve always looked to Ronald Searle, Miroslav Sasek, Sempé, Gruau and Rodin as influences in my drawing and illustration work.

If you would like to attend Niall’s course, please send an email to:

and register before Wednesday 6th of November at 5pm.


Interview: Kayvon Darabi-Fard

Today, we meet story artist Kayvon Darabi-Fard, who will be tutoring our April course: Starting out in Storyboarding.

Hi Kayvon! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into storyboarding for animation?

I was born and raised in the U.K to a varied heritage of mixed up British and Iranian roots, while growing up with a fascination in drawing and watching animation. Thanks to the ‘making of’ Disney documentaries of the 90’s, I was lucky enough to realise that there were actually people working behind the scenes on these animated t.v shows for a living! – My future career was decided!

Although my family didn’t hail from creative backgrounds or roots, I always felt that they were great storytellers and growing up around them meant that the storytelling bug was destined to rub off on me eventually. But paired with the Persian culture I grew up with and the expectations of a family that came out of a revolution with very little, there was the pressure to abstain from pursuing a career in animation and instead doing something more culturally accepted and ‘serious’. So inbetween being ushered (and partially forced) to attend Medical school interviews, open days and work experience – I quietly slipped away to commit to the love and appreciation I had for drawing and telling story’s – And here I am!

I started out Storyboarding in animation thanks to a friend named David Delaney, who I studied with at university and had moved to Dublin, Ireland. He luckily remembered that I was interested in Storyboarding, so he got in touch asking me to undertake a storyboard test for a short term freelance gig. I passed the test, got the job and began my Storyboarding journey from there!

Do you need to be exceptionally good at drawing to be a storyboard artist? Do you need some specific training?

I would say that you certainly need to be relatively comfortable with drawing and making a habit out of doing lots of observational, personal and story sketches. All the while being adaptive and willing to take on various challenges in drawing things that may often, put you outside your comfort zone/ personal style. 

I have met some incredibly talented and hardworking folks who came from different paths and disciplines into storyboarding, through courses, being mentored or starting as storyboard revisionists. I personally believe it’s not a matter of specific training that is the commonality of Story Artists, but it is rather their genuine flair and passion they share in wanting to tell stories.

How much collaboration goes on between story artists & writers/directors?

There’s often quite a lot of collaboration going on between these roles depending on the studio, project-type and the budget. But within the parameters of a studio, as I prefer to be and as I currently am at the moment, the story team is sat side by side while the director is merely a stone’s throw or Skype message away. 

We show and tell often, running ideas by each other to get the Storyboards working as best as they can. The scriptwriters are unfortunatley not always on-site so we do our best as an in-house team to collaborate, brainstorm, pitch and ‘plus’ what’s been given to us, to work with!

Is there good job availability in Ireland for those who choose storyboarding as a career?

Yes, from my past 6 years experience of living and working in Ireland, I would say the demand for good storyboard artists has been quite high and Irish animation studios are in constant need of people to be able to board for them – both in and out-of-house. There is certainly opportunities for advancement, since as the industry continues growing – so should the pool of artists to serve and fill those vacancies!

5- What are your favourite tools to work with? Can you describe your ideal workspace set-up?

I actually love to work traditionally on paper, to take that break from the humming computer and bright Cintiq. My favourite tools are Palomino Blackwing pencils and Canson Paper, while my ideal workspace/ set-up would be working in a studio space filled with all the people I love working with most, on exciting and fun driven projects… and maybe a Dog – or several?

What artist inspires you the most at the moment?

That’s a hard one, I’m always inspired by many artists in rotation. But having to choose; I’d have to say that I am forever drawn to one of my all-time-favourite illustrators – Richard Scarry.

Finally, is there an upcoming storyboard artist you would like us to discover?

Yes! I’d love to share the artwork of an up and coming Storyboard Artist, Elisa Bindi. Check out her instagram!

You can see Kayvon’s art work and storyboards here:



If you would like to attend Kayvon’s course, please click here: 
Starting Out in Storyboarding

and register before Friday 22nd march at 5pm.