It Starts with Anneli the Artist
Design and Animation | I have been painting my entire life, ever since preschool, it’s been the thing I’m most drawn to. I’ve always found it to be a really big part of who I am, but I never banked on it progressing into a career. When it was time to apply to college, I didn’t apply to any art schools and went to Notre Dame, where I later received a BFA in Painting. My goal was to have another choice in major so art could supplement it, but I’d have the option to choose something more traditionally lucrative.
As the years went on, I realized I couldn’t see myself doing anything outside of the creative realm and was extremely happy doing what I was doing. Even if I didn’t want to turn painting into my career, I knew that I could take lessons from it and utilize them for other creative paths.
While I was in school, animation was always in the back of my head, but like many undergrads, I was unsure about the future and what I ACTUALLY wanted to do. I took graphic design courses to try my hand in the digital realm, and to understand software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects. Ultimately, the way that I think through ideas and the way I materialize messages came from my painting courses.
As I considered animation, I thought I had to learn coding to be really good at it. I thought I was going to have to take those extra steps to make it anywhere in the animation world. But I decided to move forward with the creative skills I had, and I would teach myself to fill any necessary blanks.
And Then There’s Animation
The summer of 2018 I wanted to learn more about animation, from someone other than myself. I got really lucky because I had a family friend with a connection to ECG and I was able to get into their internship program.
When I came in they asked me what I wanted to do and I was like “well, I want to do more drawing stuff” so I worked with Trey, Partner, DP, and at the time Director of Animation. He would put me on small projects or little pieces of projects. There was one day that I was helping Trey with a lower- third (which, for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s essentially a name card in graphic form)that he was making for a medical client. He was asking me “what should I do here, what can I do there,” and I was able to use color theory in some areas.
I looked at the colors on the client’s brand and I began to break it down and consider how we could use their branded blue to give it a medical feel, while simultaneously pulling out some of the orange so it wasn’t as busy. Even though I didn’t know After Effects at the time, I understood composition and visual language, and as long as you understand the mechanics of something you can make it work.
In June of 2019 I became an official employee as the Graphic Designer, I made business cards and other client-facing branded pieces. From there I progressed from helping out on projects and having my hand held, to animating entire projects on my own. I could be trusted to take a script, run with it, and create something that the client would be happy with. I’m not sure that there was a pivotal moment, but overall, I felt confident in taking care of projects and delivering, and then I was promoted to Designer and Animator.
Women In Design And Animation
Being the only woman on the Design and Animation team, I know I bring something special to the table, but I occasionally let imposter syndrome get the best of me. Growing up as a woman, I’ve been taught to make myself smaller in spaces, and it’s ingrained in me to be accommodating and non-contentious. Therefore, in meetings I speak with a lighter tone and I don’t say everything on my mind, in fear of coming across–frankly–dumb. As a growing professional I’m working on breaking those habits and trusting my instincts, especially in a room with men who don’t have the same predispositions.
With that being said, I have appreciated the support of my male counterparts. When Seth, our Animation Director, went on paternity leave I told him that I wanted more responsibility and to have the opportunity to project manage, and he said “sure, no problem.” I learned so much about myself during that time. Nothing crashed and burned, it went great, I was able to take on all of the challenges that came my way. He fully trusted me to be acting Animation Director in his absence, and it has been really nice to have that support.