“When I was two years old my mom would find me watching cartoons and drawing TV characters in the middle of the night,” says Loyalist College graduate Karen Wood. “I’ve loved animation for as long as I can remember. Then, as a teen, people started telling me that without prior animation experience I would never be accepted into an animation program, and that even if I did, artists had no job security. I was heartbroken. I tried another field but just couldn’t get into it. I was a square peg trying to force myself into the round hole.”
“Then I discovered the Animation program at Loyalist. At the end of my first semester I remember being awestruck that I had finally found what I was meant to do. It felt like home and I loved every second of it.”
Karen graduated from Loyalist’s Animation program in 2013 and was immediately offered the position of 3D Lighting Artist at Nelvana – Corus Entertainment in Toronto. Nelvana is one of the world’s leading international producers and distributors of children’s animated content and is part of the Corus Kids Television entertainment portfolio. The studio is located in a state-of-the-art digital animation production facility.
Karen is now immersed in the world of animators, speaking the language of the trade. She and her coworkers spend their days shading, texturing, compositing, 3D modeling, render wrangling and composition managing. It’s an atmosphere sparked by creativity and unleashed imaginations.
“I’ve always dreamed of working in a place like Nelvana,” she says. “Now here I am. The most exciting part is that I didn’t even apply – they found me! I can’t describe how it feels to work for one of the world’s top children’s entertainment companies. I spend my entire day doing what I love. I’m at my desk painting in Photoshop or working in Maya. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. My desk is right beside a window, which overlooks Sugar Beach in downtown Toronto so I see sunshine and water every day.
In high school I was on several sports teams, a member of numerous clubs and the one who spent countless hours volunteering. This persistence and drive, combined with the skill set I developed at Loyalist, are what brought me here today.”
One of the greatest lessons Karen learned at Loyalist was the importance of being able to adapt to new software and workplace environments. “You have to be ready to start working immediately when you are hired at a studio, even if you’ve never touched the software they are using. One day I hope to become a producer or production manager. I know I’m where I’m meant to be as long as I’m in the animation industry.”
Loyalist Animation graduates consistently get great jobs within the industry. This year’s roster includes a 3D Artist at Jellyfish Pictures, a Compositor at Prime Focus, a Game Developer at Funcom and a Mobile App Developer at Research in Motion – just to name a few.