As a child, Jared Dodds loved watching Saturday morning cartoons and surrounded himself with animation. Growing up, he came to appreciate more mature and stylized forms of the art.
Now, the Foxboro High School graduate aspires to become an animator, creating the same types of stories he loved. He’ll get the chance when he attends the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston, in the fall.
Dodds’ inspiration for his future work comes from a variety of places — cartoons like Alex Hirsch’s Gravity Falls and little bits of Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time, and anime films like Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira.
“(The films were) all done with paper and pencil (and) you just need to see it move,” he said. “It comes to life so well and has this nice blend of cyberpunk and an ‘80s sci-fi aesthetic.”
Dodds even worked on a mini-documentary about the movie for one of his film classes at Foxboro High School.
But his favorite piece of television is an award-winning animated series called “FLCL.” Dodds said the show’s creators met on a particularly difficult project and wanted to create something liberating, with the intent to break the rules of typical Japanese animation. He also cited the show’s soundtrack as a major inspiration, which was made by a band called “The Pillows.”
“I listen to them whenever I draw,” he said. “Even though the lyrics are in Japanese, the sound is really western with an alternative and classic rock mix.”
Dodds also finds inspiration in Instagram artist Vivian Nguyen (@laweyd), as well as artist Bryan Lee O’Malley, most notably known for his comic Scott Pilgrim.
“Both have a very simple art style, and that’s what I’m trying to go for,” he said.
Dodds is especially passionate about recent animation endeavors such as “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and how he loves to see the art form evolving with new technology and combinations of art styles. With colorful visuals, he’s excited to see what the industry’s future may hold.
Looking back on his high school career, Dodds said several teachers helped support his interest in both film and art, singling out James Callahan for filmmaking.
“That whole class was a good experience in general,” he said. “Everyone made something, got critiqued, then you’d go back and make something more… that was always a blast.”
He also appreciated the fine arts course taught by Shawn Trice, as well as the opportunity to volunteer at Foxboro Cable Access, which allowed him to experience television production.
While reflecting on the past, he’s definitely looking ahead to his college days in Boston.
“Just walking around felt great,” he said about his initial college visit. “Plus it’s in Boston, a city I’ve always wanted to live in, so it was a win!”
At school, Dodds plans to use his first two years attending to fundamentals and improving his art, and the next two experimenting and creating. The process will likely include digital animation, as well.
Dodds is already excited about taking a character animation class, and perhaps the chance to study in Europe — his grandmother lived in Denmark — while taking more history classes.
“That’s one of the reasons why I want to travel across Europe,” he said. “I want to see the cities and the places where these events have happened.”
Looking further ahead, Dodds knows he may need to relocate to for his work.
“I’ve thought about moving to the West Coast because that’s where the industry is, or staying here and forming an animation studio,” he said.
But with committed teachers like Todd Kaeser, Dodds won’t soon forget his time at Foxboro High School
“Kaeser is just the pinnacle of the best teacher you could get,” he said. “Take ‘America at War,’ you will not regret it!”