***This feature originally appeared in the April ’22 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 319)***
With so many brilliant people working in the ever-growing world of animation, it’s never an easy task to select the few who are spotlighted in our annual Rising Stars feature. Consider this a mere sampler of what is happening in the big animation world out there. We are so completely blown away by the level of talent, expertise and sheer artistry and craftsmanship represented in this year’s selection and proud to be able to shine some light on their unique perspectives and experiences. We know we’re going to be writing about their shorts, TV shows and movies for many years to come:
Exec Producer, Rise Up, Sing Out, Disney Junior
Director, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, Disney+
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York (to St. Lucian parents; I am a St. Lucian citizen, too!)
School: UCLA [studied Creative Writing & Fine Arts and then got my MFA in Animation]
First job in animation: P.A. on the Disney Junior show Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. My first art job was as a revisionist on the Puppy Dog Pals.
What I love about my job: I love that as a director and a showrunner, I am able to coordinate all these different moving parts and help get a project over the finish line. Directing feels a lot like one giant puzzle game and I love the challenge of it. I especially love working with the storyboard artists and helping them craft impactful shots. When we are able to create a storyboard sequence that really achieves the emotion, nuance or humor my team and I were going for, it is such an awesome feeling. But hands down, my favorite part of this job is seeing what I create resonate with people. When I get to see the audience responding and connecting with the stories I got to tell, that is the best feeling in the world.
Biggest challenge: Time! TV animation is such a fast-paced medium and I always feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, just constantly kind of running late. But actually, though it’s such a big challenge, I kind of enjoy the limitations of time constraints. I almost feel like it forces you to make decisions more confidently and to really become an efficient artist and director.
Animation idols: Bruce Smith of course — it’s still super surreal that I am working with him! But I also adore the work of Mamoru Hosoda, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Glen Keane, Hayao Miyazaki, Shinichiro Watanabe, Brad Bird, Genndy Tartakovsky … Haha, I will stop here because I could go on for a while!
Fave movie growing up: I think Kiki’s Delivery Service was kind of a life-changing experience for me as a child. I remember being utterly mesmerized by all the magic in it and till this day, there are certain shots I can imagine as clearly as if I were watching it. I must have forced my parents to watch it with me easily 20-plus times!
Best career advice: It was, “Your timeline and your path do not have to look like anybody else’s.” Right out of grad school, I was drowning in student debt, working in the electronics section of a Target and feeling like a failure because all of my classmates were getting studio art jobs. I thought many times, “Maybe the fact that I haven’t managed to get a studio job like they did means I am not cut out for this.” But I was very fortunate to have a former teacher tell me this advice then — and I am so grateful I listened to her.
Future plans: I want to continue to make shows that push the needle forward. Working on both Rise Up, Sing Out and The Proud Family showed me what it’s like to tell stories that challenge the usual narrative and that celebrate BIPOC experiences in a deeply personal way. So, I am definitely looking to make more content like that — and help other Black and brown creators tell their stories as well.
Production Designer, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part 1), Sony Pictures Animation
School: Studied illustration at Sheridan College; film design at Emily Carr Institute.
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: My interest has always been to tell stories, and visuals are my strongest form of communication. I did not originally set out to work in animation, but it is where my path has led me.
Fave cartoons: I grew up with Looney Tunes and ’90s Saturday morning cartoons like X-Men and Batman. I was raised by The Simpsons: Sunday nights at 8 p.m. were like church. I saw all the Disney movies of the ’90s as they dropped in, but it was The Nightmare Before Christmas that taught me that animation could be weird.
Animation heroes: My earliest influences were my older brother and all the art that was left by my grandmother, who was a painter and life drawing instructor. Henry Moore, Titian, Dalí and the Dutch Masters were some of my first exposures to the world of art. In my teens, I became very focused on film and began to discover the work of cinematographers like Emmanuel Lubezki, Roger Deakins and Conrad Hall, who are all still major influences.
What I love about my job: The ability to collaborate with so many talented and interesting people is at the core of my love affair with this job. I am blessed to work with a team that is so open to sharing their ideas while also being so accepting of direction on how we can push our ideas further.
Biggest challenge: The challenge of the sequel is somewhat due to the success of the first film; we have been emboldened by the reception of the first film and are pushing ourselves further. It’s both exciting and terrifying, as creating anything new should be.
Best career advice: Understand and investigate the things that you find interesting, they are the window to your own creations. Do not worry about fitting in with your contemporaries. Learn to express yourself. Be open to collaboration. Your goal is the pursuit of the most appropriate and effective way to tell a story.
On Spidey fan reactions: They’re so eager to share their connection to the first film and how it affected them, which is always welcome and heartwarming to hear. There’s usually a barrage of questions about Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, what is Spider-Man 2099’s role? I love our fans. They are so invested and excited which motivates me and the team to make sure we give the fans what they deserve.
Future plans: I hope to further pursue my work as an illustrator and eventually get a chance to direct my own stories when I feel they are ready to share.
Production Designer, Turning Red, Pixar
Birthplace: NanChang, China
School: Art Center College of Design
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: I’ve been captivated by the magic of animation since I first saw The Little Mermaid as a young girl and would spend weekend mornings pausing each frame and drawing them. I have always loved drawing but didn’t know that animation was a career option until I was in college.
What I love about my job: I’m excited every morning thinking about the amazing friends at work I get to collaborate with. While working on Turning Red, there’d be moments I’d feel emotional just thinking about how beautiful and fresh the final film is going to look. And the end result is truly fantastic because of how well we all worked together.
Toughest part of my job: The majority of Turning Red was made with us working from home. Every person was affected by the pandemic and was juggling something uniquely to them. We worked hard finding new ways of collaborating and connecting over Zoom. The thing that benefitted us was the fact that so many of us have worked together for years, and we had the trust and bond to get us through this challenge.
Animation role models: Our director, Domee Shi! I’m in awe of her vision and her boldness. I cannot wait to see how she inspires a new generation of filmmakers.
Favorite animations growing up: Sailor Moon, SpongeBob, all of the Disney Renaissance films. Turning Red and Ratatouille are two of my favorite Pixar films.
Best career advice: Take all of the portfolio criteria with a grain of salt and put in the work that inspires and excites you. Because if you’re excited, then others will see and feel your excitement, too.
Co-Executive Producer, Transformers: EarthSpark, Nickelodeon
Birthplace: Raised in Reading, Pennsylvania
School: Temple University, 2007
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: I loved animation and comics from a very young age. I would trace comic-book covers and interior splash pages, I would draw characters I loved from the shows I was obsessed with, and I would staple together drawings of original characters I created to assemble their stories in DIY comic books. I knew I wanted to be a storyteller as a kid but I didn’t know how to convert my fantasy into a career. That path came into focus at school, so I put in the work and followed opportunities that led me to animation. Luck and timing played a role in my journey, too!
First animation job: Assistant to three current series executives at Nickelodeon. I didn’t know what ‘current series’ was before the interview, and I showed up sporting a black eye from a freak softball collision — not a good look walking into a children’s entertainment company. Still, those three executives took a chance and hired me. They were phenomenal bosses and mentors who taught me everything about animation production. I was vocal about my passion for writing and they encouraged me to pursue it. After a few years (and many failed interviews), I landed a job as a script coordinator and finally made it into a writer’s room. That was on Andy Suriano and Ant Ward’s Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it was a dream come true.
Fave animated shows growing up: My favorite animated shows were the ones whose characters lived in my toy chest: TMNT, The Real Ghostbusters, Batman, X-Men, and Transformers, to name a few.
What I love about my job: I love writing for these characters. The Transformers are beloved, and contributing to their legacy is a privilege. I smile every time Final Draft auto-fills ‘Optimus Prime’ in the character field. I also love storyboard launch meetings. That’s the production milestone where written material begins its transition into a visual language. Discussions about character, intent, and how to communicate “what it’s about” are always enlightening because so many of my co-workers are masters of their craft.
Challenges: The job has many challenges, but they’re relative. We spend our days (and nights and weekends!) making animation for a kid audience, so maintaining perspective makes even the toughest moments feel surmountable.
Animation idols: I admire everyone I’m working with right now. Many crew members are the most talented people I’ve never met! Someday, we will all gather and be merry — I will probably cry.
Best career advice: You are more important than your work. Take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it.
Art Director, The Bad Guys, DreamWorks Animation
Birthplace: Nantes, France
School: Studied advertising design at La Joliverie in Nantes, then at L’École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image at Poitiers, where I studied a little bit of animation. Becoming quite fascinated with it, I then decided to try my luck studying Animation at Gobelins, l’École de l’Image.
First time I realized I wanted to work in animation: I’ve always loved animation, but the process of making it my daily job took quite a few years to mature. After I realized that advertising (my first love) wasn’t exactly what I had expected, I knew that animation could be a very fun alternative offering plenty of possibilities. I pursued this road and at the end of my studies at Gobelins, I realized that I would never be as good as some of my classmates and I had way more fun designing the environments during the development stages of our projects.
What I love about my job: I love the opportunity to be involved in every tiny decision. Being able to witness the movie coming together. As an art director, it’s fantastic to be able to work with all those different teams who are bringing their A-game to the table. It’s a very humbling experience for sure.
Most challenging aspect of art directing The Bad Guys: It was a pretty smooth show with a clear direction from the beginning and a lot of trust from our director and producers. We were headed into a direction that the teams at the studio were not familiar with. It was a new style with graphic intrusions, a more anime rhythm, with a simpler look at the same time. We had to “bake” this look and figure out a lot of issues while dealing with a tight schedule. We didn’t have a lot of room for mistakes.
Animation heroes and favorite works: Miyazaki and Brad Bird for their fantastic sense of storytelling. I loved Sleeping Beauty, Nicky Larson, Ranma ½ and Tex Avery cartoons. Later on, Princess Mononoke was a huge revelation.
Best career advice: As an art director, the best advice I’ve received was that it was alright to “not know,” everybody expects your answer in meetings because it’s our role and it could be stressful. But it’s perfectly fine to let the teams know that you need a minute to figure it out!
Creator, Untitled New Show, Cartoon Network/HBO Max (details are hush-hush!)
Birthplace: Los Angeles
School: Otis College of Art and Design
First animation job: Production intern at Film Roman
What I love about my job: The creative freedom at my current job is particularly gratifying.
The biggest challenge: I donʼt feel like any one thing is the ‘biggestʼ challenge. Everything is challenging to some degree, you just hope you can be flexible enough to navigate it.
Animation influences and idols: Nineties and early 2000s Disney and Pixar probably had the biggest influence and impact on me growing up.
Fave show growing up: Seinfeld.
Best career advice: Bet on yourself!
Future plans: I’ve been fortunate enough to have a show I pitched get greenlit at Cartoon Network Studios. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I’ll be writing and showrunning on that for the foreseeable future.
Creator/Showrunner/Exec Producer, Super Wish, Nelvana
School: Humber College (Film & TV Production)
Favorite shows & movies growing up: I was a huge fan of the three coolest females in animation in the ‘80s: Jem, She-Ra and Rainbow Brite. Fave movies: The Neverending Story and Return of the Jedi.
Animation heroes: Jennifer Lee and Lauren Faust.
First animation job: I was the design coordinator on Cyberchase.
What I love about my job: I love that I get to use my imagination in all aspects of my day. As a kid, my teachers would tell me to stop daydreaming and pay attention, and now I daydream for a living.
Biggest challenge: For the past two years, my biggest challenge has been finding ways to connect creatively in a virtual environment. As we continue to create and produce content remotely, each new stage of development or production brings with it the question of, “Well, how do we accomplish this virtually?” This challenge has forced us to think outside the box and get even more creative in our solutions.
Best career advice: Regardless of your age, never stop answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Future plans: I will continue to co-showrun Super Wish as we prepare for the premiere and to share it with audiences, and I am working on some additional exciting projects alongside the talented teams at Nelvana. I also wrote a short film that is currently in development, and I will continue to create and develop series pitches with my creative partner.
Art Director, Luck, Skydance Animation
Birthplace: Long Beach, California
School: Art Center College of Design
First job in animation: Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
Fave animated titles: TV shows: The Flintstones, Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, The Ren & Stimpy Show, South Park. Movies: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dumbo, The Lion King, Toy Story, Spirited Away, The Incredibles, Kung Fu Panda, Coraline, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,
What I love about my job: Luck requires building a world that not only needs to express the idea of ‘luck’ but have something to say about what luck really means. It’s wonderful working with so many great artists that each have something unique and vital to contribute.
Toughest part of the job: It’s always challenging to take an intangible idea like luck and make it into a concept that we can visualize — of course seeing this happen has also been among the most rewarding.
Animation heroes: Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, Tex Avery, Eyvind Earle, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Craig Mullins, Glen Keane, Stan Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, George Lucas, Chris Miller, Phil Lord, Don Hertzfeldt.
Best career advice: Do what inspires you. Always bring your sincerest efforts and biggest contributions to everything you do. If you have something to say, speak up, have fun, work hard, and don’t give up!
Creator, Spirit Rangers, Netflix
Hometown: San Diego
School: University of San Diego for undergrad and Syracuse University for grad school
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: I originally started out wanting to write children’s books and YA novels, because I assumed you had to be able to draw to work in animation. However, as soon as I figured out you don’t have to, I was all in and there was no turning back!
Fave shows and movies growing up: I loved Miyazaki films, Sailor Moon, Rocket Power, Hey Arnold, Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also loved Beauty and the Beast and made my poor parents watch that movie a million times a day.
First job in animation: I was lucky enough to start my career at Nickelodeon. I worked as a “Nick-tern” for the amazing Talent Development Department when I first moved to L.A. in 2014.
What I love about my job: For the majority of my career (and even life outside of work) I’m often the only Indigenous person in the room. Spirit Rangers has been the exact opposite experience. I’m surrounded by the most talented Indigenous writers, actors, artists, consultants, composers and more, who I get to learn from every day and hear their stories.
Biggest challenge: I’m beyond proud of how we’ve Indigenized our production. Taking the time to speak with elders, involving language speakers and culture bearers, or bringing in authentic instruments and singers are a few examples of how the team has gone above and beyond to make Spirit Rangers extra special.
Animation idols: Like many, I really look up to Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away was one of my favorite movies growing up because it was the beautiful combination of the modern world with folklore. I’ve always been fascinated in how those two come together.
Best career advice: From the time I was a script coordinator, Chris Nee always told me that my voice was important. With that encouragement, I was able to ask myself what types of stories I really wanted to tell and be true to myself as a show creator. Now, I’m running a show about a modern Native American family who believes their culture is magic. It’s a show I always wished I had as a kid. To any other aspiring writers out there, keep being true to yourself!
Production Designer, The Sea Beast, Netflix
Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea
School: Art Center College of Design
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: After watching The Lion King in a theater.
Fave shows and movies growing up: Aladdin and Dragonball Z.
First job in animation: DreamWorks Animation, as a visdev artist.
What I love about my: I get to create a world and tell a story through visuals.
My biggest challenge: Having a strong taste and vision for the project.
Animation idol: Hayao Miyazaki.
Best career advice: Acknowledge people’s hard work.
Lead Animator, The Cuphead Show!, Lighthouse Studios/Netflix
Place of Birth: Poland
School: BA Hons Animation, IADT Dun Laoghaire, Ireland
First job in animation: At Animoon in Warsaw, working on Bear Me YouTube series.
I knew I wanted to work in animation when: The first time that I realized that animation is a career was when I was 14 and had just gotten into anime. I remember vividly pausing the episode and thinking, “Wait, this is just a sequence of drawings. I could do that!”
Fave TV shows and movies growing up: The first animated features that spiked my interest as a child were Mulan and Pocahontas. TV shows were Sailor Moon and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Animation idols: I greatly admire the works and skills of Spencer Wan, Anita Gaughan and Ryan Woodward, for the ease and fluidity of their lines.
What I love about my job: The Cuphead Show! is by far the most complex show I have worked on in my career so far. Despite the challenges, it has given me the tremendous opportunity to be able to contribute to a show based on such a well-known franchise with a solid fan base. There are skills I have learned while working on this project for two years that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else. Working on the series has been huge in my creative growth.
Biggest challenge: The software is constantly evolving, so it is definitely challenging keeping up with the latest technology. Every few years, a new and better software comes out into the animation world. Just as I’m getting a grasp of one, suddenly there is another right behind it to learn!
Best career advice: Try and bring a fresh perspective and focus on working hard and honestly every day. I have come to understand that skill takes time and understanding, and nobody should jump over a few levels at a time. It’s also important to try and keep the balance between life and work. Be patient with yourself, learn from animators around you, and eventually you’ll get there.
Future plans: I’d love to work more in adult/young adult animation, with shows that are more action based.
Director, Diabolical episode “Nubian vs Nubian,” Prime Video
Age: My first Game Boy had no backlight and 4 AA batteries years old
Birthplace: Los Angeles, City of Champions
School: Bourassa School of Design
I first knew I wanted to work in animation when: I knew when I was watching a featurette on Batman: The Animated Series and they started talking about storyboarding and I thought, “Oh, that’s a job?!” I knew I just wanted to draw all day, but I just didn’t know how I could do that as a career until I saw the Batman animatic.
First job in animation: Ink and paint artist for Young Justice season two.
Fave TV shows growing up: I love Dragon Ball Z, I would watch that on KCAL 9 at 6 a.m., then on Telemundo, then Toonami. Huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans and Cowboy Bebop.
What I love about my job: Working with the team of artists and production crew on making something that people hopefully enjoy. Waking up and getting to draw all day is a hard thing to complain about. When you’re on a good team with great artists and a great production staff, who don’t get as many shoutouts as they should, it makes the job really fun and enjoyable.
Biggest challenge: Taking an idea and bringing it to life isn’t easy, so how do you execute the needs and wants of the director, the writer, the producers, the showrunners and add the flavor you want into it on a schedule that isn’t long enough. Schedules make the job challenging and it would be great if they were extended.
Animation idols: Can I say me, because who else is going to say me? From Phil Bourassa to Tim Divar to Jeremy Polgar to Yoshihiko Umakoshi to Yutaka Nakamura to Toshihiro Kawamoto to Naohiro Shintani. Most of my friends and colleagues are a great source of inspiration for me so if I ever commented on your art or sent you a fire emoji, I’m definitely inspired by what you do and who you are as a person.
Best career advice: Figure out what exactly you want to do in animation then learn everything you can about that job’s position. Once you have done the learning part, just practice what you need to do for that position. Show people what you can do and make sure that work is easily accessible, so post on any platform where you know you can get some eyes on it.
Future plans: Wake up and make plans, after I hit the snooze button. I plan on continuing to team up with great people and make stories that will entertain people for years to come. I also plan on getting a show made, so if anyone is looking for a new hot show, I got ideas ready. Maybe open up a school in my neighborhood and teach art with those great people and have figure drawing classes with a DJ spinning nothing but ’90s R&B music!
Director, Abominable and the Invisible City, DreamWorks Animation Television
Birthplace: Urumqi, Xinjiang, China
School: Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.
I knew I wanted to work in animation when: Three terms into art school when I found out people actually do indeed make a living in the animation/entertainment industry in general. After graduating from school, It took me a couple of years of doing concept art for video games to find my true calling, which is to do story for animation.
First animation job: Storyboard revision for the Nickelodeon’s 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
What I love about my job: Being able to collaborate from all disciplines of the production, getting direct feedback from the writers, showrunners and executives, and helping the whole team bring their vision and voices to life … The process of making the sausage, that’s what I love.
Most challenging part: Finding the balance between satisfying the team’s ambition of wanting to tell the richest story with the coolest visual, and the budget and limitation of the production, such as asset counts, effect counts, etc.
Animation idols: Glen Keane, Sergio Pablos, Robert Valley, Genndy Tartakovsky, Eric Goldberg. But truthfully, everyone who contributes to creating these fantastic worlds, so lived in and so vivid, taking the most beautiful, unique part of the world and not only recreate it, but transform it and elevate it into art form, is my hero.
Favorite animated shows & movies growing up: I grew up in China in the ‘90s, so I didn’t watch too many American cartoons, except Tom and Jerry. My favorite American movies were The Lion King, Iron Giant and The Prince of Egypt. There were more Japanese anime back then in China, and my favorites are Doraemon, Castle in the Sky and Cowboy Bebop.
Best career advice: Always think a couple of layers outside the scope of your job, so you have a better understanding of how your work contributes to or affects the overall production. Being a director, it’s even more crucial to look ahead of the production pipeline so you know what to pay attention to in your animatics. I attribute this advice to several mentors in my career: Aliki Theofilopoulos, Jim Schumann, Jim Mortensen, just to name a few. So many friends, coworkers, directors, teammates and bosses over the years have dropped all kinds of wisdom, and I drink them all up like a giant Slurpee.
Director, Two Little Toddlers, Submarine/Nuts & Bolts
Hometown: Utrecht, The Netherlands
School: Image & Media Technology at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU); Post-Graduate Diploma in 2D Traditional Character Animation (LAS) at the University of the Arts London
I knew I wanted to work in animation: As a kid, I was given a flipbook from a scene in Aladdin and it blew my mind — one side had the final color image, the other the cleaned-up pencil frames. I jumped straight down the rabbit hole after this moment. Animation felt like a natural extension from the drawing and painting I already was doing.
Fave TV shows and movies growing up: Jim Henson and Disney films and series were a huge part of my youth — The Muppet Show, DuckTales, Aladdin, The Great Mouse Detective and Sword in the Stone. I was also a massive fan of Ren & Stimpy and the Dutch-Japanese series Alfred J. Kwak.
First animation job: After my internship at Amsterdam animation studio Lawson & Whatshisname, I was taken on to work on a few projects there. I did some cartoony TVPaint animations for an insurance company and created 2D cut-out rigs for a commercial with singing bears.
Animation heroes: This industry is brimming with talented people who I have a great deal of admiration for, including Brad Bird, Hayao Miyazaki, Genndy Tartakovsky, Masaaki Yuasa, Cordell Barker, Mamoru Hosoda, Ralph Bakshi, Michael Dudok de Wit, James Baxter, Eric Goldberg, Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust. I could go on and on!
What I love about my new movie: I love the unique design and look, the voice cast of real kids and the music. On the face of it, it’s a really colorful film, but it also packs some genuine heart and real family moments (inspired by others and my own), which I find so important for a story for a young audience. That, and a cheeky talking and singing animated goat being chased around town…
Biggest challenge: Juggling it all — the tight schedule, the technical hurdles, finding creative solutions to unexpected problems, all while still aiming to create the best possible movie.
Best career advice: Stay curious and try to learn from people outside your particular discipline — it helps widen your perspective on film making and storytelling and improve your own craft. Also, remember making movies and series is a marathon, not a sprint.
Modeling Supervisor, Sonic Prime, WildBrain/Netflix
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta; moved to British Columbia about 10 years ago
School: Think Tank Training Center
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: When I was little, I enjoyed watching behind-the-scenes of how animated movies were made, 2D and CG. I’ve always enjoyed video games and cartoons, but never really thought that I could make a career out of it. In Calgary, I went to university for biological science. While I was there, I just kept thinking about how cool it would be to work in animation. So, I applied to the Think Tank Training Center in BC, and the rest is history!
Favorite shows and movies growing up: Growing up, I watched a lot of anime like Sailor Moon and CardCaptors. I was also a really big fan of Studio Ghibli films, of course.
First job in animation: Modeling PA at Nerd Corps. I was given smaller props to start, like a party hat. Eventually the props led to building sets and bigger environments, like forests and cities.
What I love about my job: It’s fun; we get to make cartoons! I enjoy getting to work with all kinds of talented people and have made some really good friends. I know how much of an impact shows and movies made on me when I was younger. I remember when I first started, our team received some fan mail from kids saying how much they loved the show. I am very lucky to have a job that I am passionate about!
Biggest challenge: In production, things always come up. You have to be able to think outside the box and come up with different solutions.
Best career advice: Be your biggest advocate and to always keep challenging yourself.
Future plans: Modeling is where my heart is, and there’s still a lot for me to learn in CG. I’d like to deepen my knowledge of the different departments in the pipeline, and how each one works together to create an amazing show! Knowing what happens behind-the-scenes can help you troubleshoot problems down the road. It makes you a better artist!
Co-Creator, Arcane, Riot Games/Fortiche/Netflix
Birthplace: Neumünster, Germany
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: After seeing the early Disney animated classics.
Favorite animated shows growing up: Dragon Ball Z and Captain Tsubasa.
Animation idols: John Musker and Ron Clements
First job in animation: Writing music for video game cinematics
What I love about my job: Watching the magic come together every day.
Toughest part of my job: There are only so many hours in a day!
Best career advice: Focus less on technical fidelity, more on style.
Co-Creator, Arcane, Riot Games/Fortiche/Netflix
Birthplace: Akron, OH
First time I knew I wanted to work in animation: The first time I watched anime.
Favorite TV show or movie growing up: Cowboy Bebop / Ghost in the Shell / Princess Mononoke
First job in animation: Writing for Arcane.
What I love about my job: Seeing the incredibly talented artists at Fortiche bring the world to life.
Toughest part of my job: Killing darlings.
Animation idols: Osamu Tezuka / Hayao Miyazaki / Shinichiro Watanabe
Future plans: Arcane Season 2
Best career advice: don’t worry about being perfect now, focus on being better tomorrow!