Artist highlight with animator Nick Denboer, aka Smearballs

Nick Denboer (aka Smearballs) made a virtual visit to California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Oct. 28. Denboer is a SFX video artist and animator who has done advertising for brands such as Old Spice and KFC, has written and animated skits for the TV talk show “CONAN,” and has animated music videos for Deadmau5. 

While he mainly does 3D animation now, Denboer said he began his artistic career by remixing after effects on YouTube, which led into advertising work. 

“This wasn’t my career choice as far as school goes,” Denboer said. “I’m an art school dropout who did construction for 10 years, and did this animation stuff on the side. It just kind of gained popularity when YouTube started and now I’m here.”

Denboer got his early start in the animation industry after doing a remix of the reality TV show “The View” where he edited the ladies on “The View” talking and doing weird things such as holding a pickle jar and a pig’s head. 

As to how he got a job on “CONAN” Denboer said, “I guess the executive producer at Team Coco at the time saw it and hit me up one day and was just like ‘Yo, you want to pitch some stuff for our website?’” 

Conan’s executive producer liked his work, which led to an unofficial job with the show.

When it comes to making highlight reels of his work, Denboer is adamant about not following any “rules” or guidelines typically followed by those in the film industry or looking to get into the film industry. 

As for his own team Denboer mentions “When I’m looking at peoples reels, I’m looking for some kind of creative presence and if it’s different than everyone else’s.” 

Being able to express your creative side is something Denboer enjoys and believes creativity makes reels stand out for job opportunities. 

“I had one reel that was seven minutes long and everyone was like ‘no one’s gonna watch the whole thing’ and I was like ‘I don’t care’ and I got a ton of work out of it.” 

Denboer also talked about his process when it came to shooting a video for Deadmau5, before explaining the post-production aspect. 

“I went over to [his mansion], and it was the most relaxed music video shoot ever because it was just me and a camera,” Denboer said. “No real plan. I just shot a bunch of empty plates at this house. I hate when a project is totally storyboarded.”

Many know Denboer under the alias Smearballs for his freaky work that makes most viewers ask why someone would create something like the work he does. 

When asked why he created a short film like “The Chickening” (a spoof trailer of the classic horror film “The Shining”) which freaked out students, Denboer’s reasoning: to make a pitch piece trailer that simply disturbed audiences. 

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