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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 digital animation, 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.

Students currently enrolled in grades 8 through 12 are eligible to apply. (CSSSA is open to students entering grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 next fall 2024. CSSSA is also open to students who are graduating from high school in the spring of 2024. You can still do the program the summer after graduation.)

Core Classes

CSSSA Animators spend Mondays through Saturdays in workshops and classes on animation, storyboarding, life drawing, digital animation, and other related subjects. They also attend screenings of animated films (historical, contemporary, international and experimental), and additional workshops on subjects such as stop-motion. Students complete several projects during the program, involving traditional, cutout and digital animation techniques. Over the course of the session, each student produces five animated projects. At the end of the program, they have acquired an extensive toolbox for expressing themselves through the art of animation.

Guest artist

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.

Field Trips

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, Hollywood Forever Cemetery 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 and Titmouse Studios.

Program Instructors

Kati Angelov

Kati Angelov was born in Hungary during the 70’s. She experienced the fall of communism and the system changes of Eastern Europe as a teenager. During her youth she studied traditional art and was drawn towards illustrative work. She moved to the United States in the 90’s and pursued her education in animation and media arts.
Kati earned an MFA in Animation and Digital Arts from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC, as well as a BLA in liberal arts from The Evergreen State College in Washington state. Her animated shorts have been screened on public television and have been the official selection of Annecy and Zagreb International Animation Festivals as well as several others.
Currently she is the chair of the Media Art Design department at Cypress College as well as the chair of CSSSA Animation. Her focus is on projection mapping, motion design and animation. Her projection design class at Cypress College was the first class providing a single focus on projection mapping offered at a community college level in the USA. She found her happiness in education where she can see a direct result of her work by helping students find their way in the intricate world of digital art. She is an enthusiastic proponent of interdisciplinary work and loves the creativity that comes from working together. She believes that collaboration leads to innovative ideas and helps to create more cohesive and dynamic projects.

Lindsey Serata

Lindsey Serata was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, California. Growing up, she could always be found at a table, Crayons in hand, creating her next masterpiece. At age 7 her parents enrolled her in drawing classes, and oil painting followed a year later.

At California State University, Fullerton Lindsey studied Fine Arts with a concentration in Illustration, focusing on visual development for animation. At the start, she avoided the increasingly digital world of animation in favor of traditional mediums. However, digital art classes were required for her major, and she fell in love. Upon graduating, she traveled to Florence, Italy for additional courses in plein air painting and figure drawing. Today, Lindsey uses nature and characters as her main focuses in art.

As a product designer, Lindsey spent 3 years in the paper craft industry, designing for stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Currently, her designs are sold by apparel and home decor brands worldwide. Lindsey is now building her own craft brand, drawing influence from her distinct areas of work and study.

Jonny VanOrman

Jonny was born in the swamp and raised on the beaches of Florida. He was yanked out of the water as a teen and dropped into the deserts of Utah where he shriveled up in the sun into a dry, lifeless husk. One day a high school art teacher walked by the husk. A blob of wet paint fell from his brush … and plopped onto the withered peanut of a man that
once was Jonny. With renewed life, Jonny pulled his body (that had been baked to the desert floor) away from that place and got himself a job in TV animation where he’s worked at Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Netflix, WB, Amazon and Disney. He’s been a designer and background painter but mostly a storyboard artist. On the right day, you can still hear a little bit of southern swampland in his voice.

Nicole Yang

Nicole has been a working illustrator and instructor for the last decade. She is an Illustration graduate of Art Center College of Design with a concentration on Entertainment Arts. After graduation she worked as a painter for Disney Publishing Worldwide and since 2015 she has served as a lecturer of Illustration and Special Studies at California State University Fullerton.

Her narrative driven curriculum specializes in developing artistic skills through visual storytelling and creating original concepts. She believes in story as the crucial element in successful work and that form follows function. Her goal is to teach her students to always design with intention. In 2019 she was named “Outstanding Higher Education Visual Art Educator” by California Art Education Association. In the fall of 2023 she was invited as a guest lecturer to the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China where she held portfolios reviews and workshops on campus. In her own personal work she enjoys creating characters and experimenting with color and texture.

Her past clients include:
Disney Publishing Worldwide, SHEIN, Museum of Contemporary Art, CISCO, Jet Set Studios for Universal Pictures, State Farm Insurance, Institute for Dental Implant Awareness, Ringling Bros, Disney on Ice, Feld Entertainment

Kayla Victor

Kayla Victor is an artist and art educator specializing in digital illustration, children's books, and life drawing. Her work is driven by a passion for promoting diversity and inclusion. Drawing from her experiences as an African American woman, an active reader, and a devoted feminist, Kayla focuses on promoting these values in her artwork. She aims to support more diversity in her work by including different cultures, ethnicities, and genders. For Kayla, it's not just about depicting diversity but also about encouraging viewers to embrace it. She sees her ability to create illustrations that positively influence people as an expressive superhero power.

As a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, where she honed her skills and developed a keen focus on producing quality character designs, Kayla has found success as a children's book illustrator for Palmetto Publishing. Her passion for inclusivity extends to her work in children's books, where she aims to create stories that inspire young readers and promote a love of reading through diverse and relatable characters.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Kayla now resides in vibrant Las Vegas, Nevada, where she teaches high school digital illustration, animation & design, and digital narrative courses. Her goal is to inspire her students to explore their creativity and express themselves through art. Kayla's work not only reflects her personal values but also serves as a powerful platform for social change.