Meet Bahi JD, Iranian GIF Animator Turned Japanese Pro Animator

How does a 21-year-old Iranian-born kid living in Vienna, Austria become a key animator on a Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo)? That’s the unlikely tale of Bahi JD, one of the fast-rising stars of the animation world.

Bahi first started receiving attention a few years ago as an eighteen-year-old when he created an epic animated GIF called Shithead Action. The piece (formatted as a YouTube video above) displayed exceptional command of drawing and layout, and became a calling card for the young artist.

Since then, he has gone on to animate on the Konami game Skullgirls, various Japanese animated music videos, and most recently on Watanabe’s new series Kids on the Slope. His story is documented in this fascinating interview on AniPages.

The thing that struck me most while reading the interview was how Bahi JD’s development as an artist and subsequent career in the field are inseperable from the Internet: he was initially inspired by the “sakuga” anime style that he discovered on-line; he created critical networking links by participating in on-line forums and interacting with other aspiring artists and Japanese industry pros; he became known by posting his work online; and today he telecommutes to Tokyo-based animation studios through an Internet connection from his home in Austria.

The remarkable part of the story isn’t that Bahi found a job in the animation industry, but that he found a job in a highly competitive sector of the industry that’s 5,000 miles away from his home. As the animation community grows online and animation software becomes as accessible as the Internet itself, Bahi JD’s path to the industry will be one that we may see repeated ever more frequently in the coming years.

(Thanks, Tim Drage)

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