The Animation Program provides students with a unique opportunity to experience a broad range of possibilities within the world of animation. From fine art to cartoons, this program encourages students to explore their potentials, and bring movement to their artwork through an intense and rigorous curriculum. CSSSA Animation students learn diverse experimental and traditional animation techniques under the guidance of leading artists in the field. They study the history and work of animators from all over the world, they participate in figure drawing classes, and they learn from professional animation artists. Animation students at the summer program are dedicated, hardworking, and open to new ideas. The Animation Department is very competitive; typically, only one-in-three applicants each year are invited to become Animation students.
CSSSA Animators spend Mondays through Saturdays in workshops and classes on animation, storyboarding, life drawing, movement and other related subjects. They also attend screenings of animated films (historical, contemporary, international and experimental), and a Movement Workshop. Students complete several projects during the program, involving zoetrope, flipbooks, stop-motion and cutout animation techniques. Over the course of the session, each student produces eight animated projects. At the end of the program, they have acquired an extensive toolbox for expressing themselves through the art of animation.
Visitors to the program over the years have included French Animator Rene Laloux; Sally Cruikshank, an internationally renowned independent animator whose work includes several shorts for Sesame Street; the late puppet animator Helen Hill, Steve Hillenberg, creator of Sponge Bob for Nickelodeon; award winning stop-motion animator PES, Balbina Bruszewska, the Polish Princess of Animation; Conrad Vernon, the director of Shrek 2; the late Joe Ranft, storyboard artist for The Nightmare Before Christmas and Toy Story II; Alex Hirsch, creator of Disney’s Gravity Falls; and Pendleton Ward, creator of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time. Both Alex Hirsch and Pendleton Ward are CSSSA Animation Dept. Alumni. Bobby Podesta, Stephen Gregory, Mark Walsh, and Sanjay Patel are also accomplished artists who started their careers in animation as high school students in the California State Summer School for the Arts Animation Program. These artists ended up becoming top animators for Pixar and have also been regular Visiting Artists at CSSSA. Their collective work includes Toy Story, Toy Story II and Toy Story III, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, and Ratatouille.
The department takes at least one field trip each year. This outing emphasizes observation and drawing from life; and often also concentrates on exposing the students to local museums and/or animation studios. Past drawing field trips have included the Los Angeles Zoo, Venice Beach, La Brea Tarp Pits, Olvera Street, and the Museum of Jurassic Technology . The students have also visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and animation studios such as Nickelodeon, Chiodo Bros., New Deal Studios, and Klasky-Csupo.
The CSSSA Animation faculty includes a number of leading artists in the animation industry and independent film world. Lori Damiano, the Department Chairperson, is an independent animator and illustrator whose industry experience includes animation work for director Spike Jonze, and with Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba, MTV, Nike, Microsoft, and Palm Pictures. Her films and artwork have been exhibited and published internationally. She is an Assistant Professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in the Animated Arts program and also teaches in the Media Arts & Animation Dept. at the Portland Art Institute.
Rebecca Stillman has worked in the entertainment industry and arts education for over 15 years. She has been working in stop-motion animation as an Production Designer, Art Director, Model Maker, Painter, Set Dresser and Puppet Fabricator for film, print and TV productions. She also makes traditional hand puppets, marionettes, and large scale puppets for TV, film, and theater. Rebecca has a Bachelors of Fine Arts, specializing in Natural Science Illustration/ Set Design/ Printmaking from UCSC and a Masters of Fine Art specializing in Film/ Experimental Animation from CalArts.
Melissa Bouwman is a Visual Artist, Animator, and Educator specializing in traditional and digital cut-out animation, experimental narrative, installation and DIY stereoscopy. With over 17 years of experience in the field, she has produced both commericial work and her own films, which have been described as "lyrical, touching and politically challenging." Melissa’s personal work has screened internationally in numerous juried festivals. She is passionate about teaching and mentorship, media literacy, and gender equality in mass media.
Bonadona is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts holding a B.F.A. in Experimental Animation. During her time at CalArts she primarily focused on stop motion animation. While typically found in the animation department, she has also has experience as a seamstress, puppet/set fabricator and production designer. Originally a California native, she has relocated to the UK where she is currently obtaining her MFA in Animation at the University of Edinburgh located in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Javier Barboza is an animator, filmmaker, and artist. His work tackles the complexity of the urban city, using a surreal and narrative method to engage the audience in experiencing what is best described as visual and immersive. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Javier has been animating since the age of sixteen through after school inner city outreach programs. He continued his studies at East Los Angeles Community College, immersing himself in fine arts and animation and then transferred to California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) and majored in Character Animation and Film Video, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2007. He received his Master in Fine Arts at The University of Southern California (U.S.C), in The School of Cinematic Arts, DADA Animation Division.
Jenny Wash is a professional animator and teacher, with over twenty years of experience in the field. In addition to creating an award winning body of independent animation, she has worked as an animator, developer and storyboard artist for film, television and the internet. She has contributed to Academy Award nominated short film and Clio honored advertising, and served as a professional juror for the venerable Big Muddy International Film Festival at Southern Illinois University. Jenny's teaching credits include workshops in effects animation at the University of Southern California, directing an outreach program with Sony Entertainment and Calarts Cultural Arts Partnership and a faculty position teaching in Calarts Experimental Animation department.