Timothy Welch Laddi Explains It All: An Interview with CMI Student and Renowned YouTuber Laddi | New Mexico State University - BE BOLD. Shape the Future.
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Laddi Explains It All: An Interview with CMI Student and Renowned YouTuber Laddi

While she’s currently studying 2D Animation at CMI, Laddi has had plenty of experience in the field with her YouTube Channel and the animated video series “Laddi Explains”. The channel currently purports a subscriber count of just under 150,000 and she is set to make convention appearances in El Paso and Phoenix in April and May respectively. CMI recently had the chance to speak to Laddi (as her friends call her), and discuss her experiences with CMI, her YouTube channel, and animation in general.

Where did your interest in art and animation start?

I started taking art seriously after taking an art class in 8th grade, the girl sitting next to me always made the coolest anime art and I remember wanting to get as good as her. I always loved cartoons and animated films, and I thought it would be cool if I knew how to animate, but I thought it would be too hard so I never considered actually doing so. I graduated from high school thinking that I wanted to be a graphic designer. I was browsing through YouTube one day and I found a YouTuber that created animated story-time videos where it was just their drawn-out character talking to the audience and animations of the scenarios they were describing. Then I found that there was a whole little community of story-time animation channels like that and I began watching them a lot. I thought to myself “Well that doesn’t seem too hard, I could probably do that,” and I downloaded Adobe Flash CS6, opened a “Draw With Jazza” video on how to animate and began teaching myself.

You have a successful YouTube Channel called Laddi which currently has 149K subscribers. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

I started my channel in July 2016 after I graduated from high school. I posted my first video, a skit about turning 18, and didn’t expect much to come out of it. I just thought it was cool that I learned how to animate and voice an original thing by myself. Through that video though I ended up meeting a whole community of other animators who were just starting out like I was. We all kept making videos and a number of us collaborated with each other quite a bit! My channel grew and it became a much bigger thing than I ever thought it would. It’s been so fun! I’ve had the privilege to meet so many kind people, and being able to do animation as my job and be my own boss is truly something I never could have imagined.


What gave you the idea for the channel?

The “Laddi” character was originally going to be a blue girl with the classic yellow fluffy Laddi hair that I was going to use to represent me while I tell my animated stories. The official fuzzball character was created a little bit later at the end of 2016 by my friend Tabbes as a joke. We were in a discord group call with friends and Tabbes drew a tumbleweed-looking fuzzball with just my character’s hair, a creepy face and stick legs and said “This is what I hear Laddi’s voice coming from,” and we thought it was hilarious.  We would all draw me like that for a while as a joke but it accidentally caught on as the face of “Laddi”. I adopted it, styled the hair and the face a certain way to make it look like an innocent fuzzball with a bow and it turned into my own character with a seemingly cute but morbid personality. Her first appearance as my character on my channel was in my third video, “My Phobias”.

Which video would you say showcases your favorite or best work?

My favorite video that I’ve made and that I think best represents the direction I’m taking my channel in is “Laddi Explains Airports”, which started my “Laddi Explains” series. I was tired of creating the basic “storytime animations” that talk about me and stories from my life. I was creating content I no longer enjoyed to make, so I was thinking about where to take my channel. I got the idea for Laddi Explains Airports when I went to Vidcon in 2018, I was in the car with some friends and the song “Escape (The Pina Colada song)” came on. Someone asked what the song was even about, which I explained in a really vague and dumb way. We laughed at how I explained it and my friend Ilyssa said “I would love to watch a series where Laddi just explains stuff” and so after Vidcon was over I sat down in front of my mic and tried my best to explain airports after only going to one once without a script or anything. It was the most fun I’ve had recording a video and it made me genuinely laugh and I wanted to keep making content like that. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be received as well as my usual storytimes, but it became one of my best performing videos.

What made you decide to join the Animation Program at CMI?

At first, I honestly didn’t know that I could major in animation in New Mexico, I just chose a college that had graphic design and digital film and decided to double major there, but I became unhappy and I didn’t want to be there anymore. My roommate at the time drew my attention when she was looking to transfer to a different college and told me that NMSU had an Animation & Visual Effects major, so we both ended up transferring here together.

In what ways do you think CMI has helped improve your work and prepare you for a job in the industry?

I have definitely learned a lot from my professors at CMI, I feel more confident in my animation skills now than ever, and I still have so much to learn. My assignments from my 2D classes have given me quite a bit of content to put on my demo reel, which is really exciting. I just finished working with 7 other friends from my advanced 2D class to create an animated intro for the 2020 Las Cruces Film festival. It was a fun experience and I learned a lot from it. People in the industry look to hire people who have experience in collaborating with others, and now I get to add that collaborative project to my resume. I became my 2D animation professor’s Teacher’s Assistant recently, and I’m learning so much about having an organized schedule, teaching people and helping out your peers. Overall, I feel like when I graduate, I will have left CMI more confident walking out than I was coming in, and I’m really grateful to be where I’m at.


What advice do you have for someone who wants to study animation or enter that field?

Animation is a big collaborative job. Most of us animators may be a bit shy or introverted since we do sit alone in a room and draw or animate all day, but you have to get out of your comfort zone and learn how to talk to and work with others. The more you talk with and work with people the better you get at it!


You have two convention appearances coming up soon, can you tell us more about that?

Yes! I will be appearing as an invited guest at El Paso Comic Con from April 17-19, 2020, and at Phoenix Fan Fusion from May 21-24, 2020. I will have my own table at both conventions where I will be selling merch and commissions, as well as hosting a number of panels! If you’re going to be in the area during any of those conventions please drop by and say hi, we can hug maybe! It’ll be my first time as a guest at any convention and I’m so excited to meet people!


Any other thoughts or things you’d like to say to your fellow students?

PLEASE post your stuff online! There are so many skilled people in this program, and so many missed opportunities because your art, animations, or whatever you create aren’t anywhere for people to find. Social media is a great way to get connections with other like-minded artists too! There are people out there actively looking for artists and animators to hire, how will they find you if your stuff isn’t anywhere to be found? It can feel a little intimidating at first, but don’t worry about what others think! You made a thing out of nothing, and that’s something to be proud of. Please get yourself out there because you’re pretty rad and everyone should know that.

We want to thank Laddi for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us! You can check out more of Laddi’s work on her YouTube Channel here: Link