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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 Artists

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 is an international animator/educator who is currently the Chair of the Media Arts Design department at Cypress College. She has been teaching over 15 years in different animation schools and is passionate about education. She holds an MFA in Animation and Digital Arts from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC.
Kati’s particular area of interest is Motion Design and emerging technologies such as Projection Mapping. Her professional experience is in Motion Design, 2D Animation, Character Design and Illustration. Her employment history includes The Annenberg School of Communication, The Labyrinth Project, HUCK magazine UK, and the Walt Disney Company.
Kati is an active member of ASIFA-Hollywood, Women in Animation and is the steering committee member of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum, an international organization dedicated to the fine art of teaching animation. She has been a jury member for both international ASIFA college scholarship and faculty grant applications as well as for the 44th Annie Awards. Kati’s independent animated films have been shown internationally in festivals such as the Annecy International Animated film Festival and the World Festival of Animated Film-Zagreb, and were broadcasted on US Public Television.

Layal Idriss

Layal grew up on the shores of the red sea, drenched in the red-hot sun of the Arabian Peninsula. She was a little dreamer building worlds and sipping pretend tea while sneaking treats from her grandma’s bakery. Her love for color, magic and wonder brought her to where she is today.

As a Whimsical Illustrator residing in Sunny Southern California, she earned a degree in Media Arts and Animation and started freelancing as a children’s book illustrator, and a surface designer while at school. She continues to grow and participate in galleries locally and internationally. In 2017 she earned an MFA in Illustration from CSUF and started teaching in 2015. Layal is involved in projects both in the local art scene as publishing 15 books by the end of 2017 globally

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.

Zoey Lin

Zoey is a multimedia artist and educator born and raised in Taiwan with a MFA from the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She began as a fine artist investigating realism in painting and drawing. Her work has evolved into multimedia works examining the existence of matter and the tension between the perceived “surface layer” and an imagined “flowing underlying layer.” She examines this tension in diverse subject matter utilizing collaged physical everyday objects, organic textures and fluid.

Ten years ago, observing and shooting mold growing on a wall day by day, she observed the decaying process via time, environment, and human factors. Wall mold grows and decomposes in a similar way to more highly evolved creatures. By comparing it to biological evolution, “Step by Step” (2012) became the pilot stop-motion for three animation installation pieces in 2013-2014: “Semi-liquid Space”, “Breeding Ground” and “Fish-Bird Community”.

Zoey’s personal works “Mental Black Hole”(2016) and “Relation • Ship” (2018) have been shown internationally in festivals and galleries. She also worked on the stop-motion film “Mad God” (2021) directed by Phil Tippett for calligraphy design, experimental fluid filming and compositing previsualization.

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.