Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Holly, and I am a senior animation student here at SCAD. I was born and raised in Ottawa, Illinois! I am a 3D character animator, with an interest in VFX creature animation as well. I am currently directing the senior capstone film, “Crafted,” and I am Head Personal Assistant for Senior Effects Animator, Troy A. Gustafson. I am also a co-creator of the student-led SCAD Animation Discord page with my good friends, Donald Brooks and Peter Kerkvliet.
What area of animation do you enjoy the most and why?
Although I love every aspect of animation, I have found that my passion lies in 3D Character Animation. I enjoy getting to play the roles of different characters and embodying what that character is feeling. There are so many ways to approach a shot when it comes to acting choices and I love studying the many different ways to portray a personality through movement. My favorite type of shots are the really subtle and emotional moments that the character is having in a scene.
What is a challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
A challenge that I have had to overcome was learning to work with the technology involved in 3D animation. By this I mean learning all of the different programs involved in animation and how to problem solve in order to accomplish what I am doing. One major learning moment was when I began directing “Crafted,” which is very much visual effects based, and as a character animator, I had never worked with Houdini before. So I, along with my amazing crew, was tasked with learning a new program while also moving forward with our film. I will admit it was difficult at first, but I love Houdini now and this opened many doors for our film. This taught me that you can overcome any obstacle if you want to badly enough.
What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
I would tell myself to ignore all of my doubts and go for my dream. I knew I wanted to be an animator, but I was nervous since it wasn’t common for someone to choose animation as a career path in my hometown. It was a big step to move so far away and learn something that I knew nothing about, but it was the best choice I ever made because it confirmed that this is what I love to do!
What inspires you during a difficult project?
What inspires me during a difficult project is the thought of landing my dream job. When any project I create could potentially be the one that lands me a job, I feel driven to push myself and do my very best. I also find it very inspiring to watch short films and progression animation reels. This gives me insight on what level I need to be at in order to reach my goals.
What experiences have stood out to you?
I have had so many different experiences here at SCAD, but there are two that stand out to me the most. One was pitching the concept and directing the senior film, “Crafted,” and the other was being Head Personal Assistant for Troy A. Gustafson. There is a lot of pressure when it comes to directing a film, because you have a vision for the project and you want that to read to an audience. Directing has taught me how to handle this pressure and balance multiple tasks at once. It is also so much fun to collaborate with a team in order to create something we all will be proud of. When it comes to being one of Troy’s assistants, I feel that I was not only given the opportunity to help other students, but I also learned a lot in the process. This experience taught me how to help teach other students, understand what they were learning on a deeper level because I have to be thorough when explaining, and it also gave me more confidence when it comes to speaking in front of groups of people. Having Troy as a mentor for my entire time at SCAD has been a blessing. Words cannot explain the amount that I have learned from him as a student and as an assistant.
What are some things you are looking forward to this year?
This year I am looking forward to getting my Bachelor’s degree and seeing where animation takes me! I’m excited to continue learning and growing as an animator, and finally see “Crafted” come together!
What inspires you?
I always feel inspired after watching progression reels from different animators in the industry. Aside from that, going to the movie theater and watching films in general inspires me.
What classes have you enjoyed, and why?
I have pretty much enjoyed every animation course that I have taken. I feel that I took something different away from each one of them. I am currently in the Creature and Quadruped class with Professor Rutland and I am already really enjoying this class after just one week. It is a different approach to animation than what I am use to and I have been ready to dive in for weeks! The other class that I enjoyed was the Concept Development class with Professor Webber. Brainstorming different ideas was a lot of fun and I felt the class opened my eyes to all of the possibilities in animation. I have also loved the short film, production style classes where I worked on “Under Your Skin,” and “Crafted.” Collaborating with others has taught me so much and gave me friends that will last a lifetime.
What type of studio would you like to work in when you graduate?
I would love to work in feature film. Some of my favorites include Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Illumination, Sony, etc. I would also love to work in a VFX animation studio as a creature animator, or a 3D facial animator for a stop motion studio.
What has been the best thing about SCAD?
The best thing about SCAD, aside from learning animation, has been the people I have met; professors and students. I feel the friendships I have made here will last forever because of the passion we share for animation and the many hours bonding at Monty.
Do you look up to anyone in the industry?
Someone that I look up to in the industry is Michal Makarewicz. I was introduced to his work about a year ago and some of my favorite character moments in Disney/Pixar films were animated by him. He brings so much life to his characters. He captures so much emotion in such small, subtle moments. He definitely knows how to tug on the heart strings in his character performances.
Do you have a favorite animated movie?
I have so many favorite animated movies that it is probably impossible to choose just one! SOME of my favorites include, “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Toy Story,” “The Grinch” (Illumination), and “The Jungle Book.”
When in your life did you decide to choose animation as a career?
After my high school senior year, I had a high school art teacher who knew my love for animation, but I was unsure on whether I should pursue an art form as a career. He told me that if I wanted to be successful in something, I had to love what I do and that if I chose something that I wasn’t passionate about just because it seemed more promising, then I wouldn’t be successful there because I wouldn’t care about what I was doing. That stuck with me since, and right after that I chose to go into animation! (Thanks Mr. Olesen!)
What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy going to the movies and spending time with friends, family, and my dog. I also love going on road trips, hiking, and camping when I get the opportunity! Some artistic things I enjoy in my free time, aside from animation, are sculpting/ceramics and painting (digital and watercolor!)
A huge thanks to Holly for taking the time to interview with us! Check out more of her work on her Website, Instagram (Personal @artofholly, Crafted @crafted2020), Linkedin and ArtStation!