Name: Mike Clifton
Hometown: Sunnyvale, California
Joined Smith Micro: 2008 - I originally created Moho in 1998. So although I've "only" been with Smith Micro for 7 years, I've been working on Anime Studio for 17 years!
Title: Software Architect
College: University of California, Davis & University of California, Santa Cruz
When did you first start creating digital art/animating?
I guess I did a little dabbling with tools like DeluxePaint and MacDraw in the 80's, but I wasn't too serious about it. It was in college that I discovered 3D graphics. I loved the combination of art and algorithms. What really appeals to me is combining creative, artistic ideas with building the tools to make it happen. I wrote a series of 3D modeling and rendering tools in the early 90's and created pictures for the early Internet Raytracing Competition. I hadn't seen those pictures in many years, but I did some digging on the internet and found a couple.
What do you enjoy most about working at Smith Micro?
We're really quite a small team working on Moho. What I like about that is that we can be very nimble and responsive to user feedback. I know we can't add every feature that users ask for, but I feel like we are able to work with our users in a closer way than larger companies.
Who/What inspires you to create?
I keep a folder on my computer of collected art that I like. I don't know how I find new artists, but I keep finding ones that I really admire, whether they're famous or unknown. I can always go back to this collection and just browse for inspiration. Just a few names from this folder include: John Kenn, Kazu Kibuishi, Jake Parker, Bobby Chiu, Scott Campbell, Mattias Adolfsson and Joe Sorren, there are too many to list. I also have to say that my kids are a huge inspiration. Sometimes it's difficult to start a new project, whether it's an art project, a new program, or even a new feature of an old program. I want it to be all planned out and to come out just right, and sometimes that can be paralyzing. My kids don't have this problem - we keep a stack of paper and pens just sitting in the open, and they can just grab some supplies and start going, without any plan at all. The quality of the outcome doesn’t seem that important, (although sometimes they create some really amazing art). I really admire that ability, and try to emulate it when I can.
Are you currently working on any animations? If so, tell us a bit about it.
Actually, I'm not. I love working on the tools to help people animate and create art, but I've found lately that when I'm not working I like to "get analog" and do stuff with my hands. I have tons of hobbies, but some of the things I'm into are drawing/painting, sculpture, woodworking, and playing music.
If you would like to learn more about Moho please visit our website.