Bringing experience to Lincoln Butterfield that spans more than 20 years and three continents—North America, Europe and Asia—Robert Hughes is the driving creative force for the innovative, independent animation studio. His animation career has also taken many shapes, an asset that bodes well for the company’s nimble approach.
Explains Hughes: "Along the road, I've done everything, and I really enjoy all of it. It’s allowed me to market myself as this unique guy who could do a little bit of everything. And now, at Lincoln Butterfield, we all wear many hats, so whatever I'm working on at the moment… that's my favorite part of the animation production process."
An artist from an early age, Hughes got his start as a cel painter in Chicago. While helping a roommate produce a cartoon project for a college class, Hughes resurrected his artistic abilities, which later led to the cel painter position. When asked if he could do layout, the enthusiastic Hughes responded in the affirmative and began accepting whatever animation jobs were available.
Moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career in animation, Hughes worked with toy manufacturer Mattel on producing a series of kid videos. From there, he joined Murakami-Wolf-Swenson Film Productions, Inc. to work on the pilot for Hollywood Dog, and ultimately began working on the company's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animation series.
Hughes also picked up freelance assignments from several production houses, including commercial production company Duck Soup. Eventually, his work for the company led to a full-time job at Nickelodeon where he worked on the Emmy-nominated Rocko's Modern Life and directed The Angry Beavers animation series. Hughes’ efforts on The Angry Beavers not only earned him a World Animation Celebration Award (Best Director for a Daytime Series), but also introduced him to the series' creator Mitch Schauer and producer Michael Lessa, now both partners at Lincoln Butterfield.
Hughes’ extensive animation direction credits also include Walt Disney Television Animation's Phineas and Ferb; Cartoon Network's Evil Con Carne; Nickelodeon's Chalk Zone; Fred Wolf Films' The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, and Fox Television's Family Guy, where he held the special post of retakes director.
Hughes reconnected with Schauer and Lessa again overseas, where the trio worked on a number of animation projects for Berlin Animation Film, a government sponsored program designed to turn Berlin into a European hub for animation production. His credits include Marathon's Mission Odyssey (France); Hahn Film's Altair (Germany); Cosgrove Hall Films' Medowlands, Adventurers and Acaria (UK); and Happy Life's Microphonies/MPForce (Germany/Sweden). Hughes would further enhance his international experience with several life-teaching animation projects in Singapore.
During his illustrious career, Hughes at one point supplemented his work by teaching an animation course at Northwestern Michigan College. There, he met Joseph Walker, a computer programmer, website designer and self-confessed science fiction film geek who ultimately became his founding partner in Lincoln Butterfield Animation.