Hannah Garcia, Woodbury Animation Alumna (19), was ecstatic to land her first job as a production assistant at Cartoon Network just a few days before her graduation day. In her early year, Hannah didn’t think she could pursue a fulfilling career helping create the animated cartoons she loved watching while growing up. An artist at heart, she shares her journey to realizing her dream in the following in-depth interview.
I have always been interested in art, starting with my art classes in elementary school to AP Art in high school. I also grew up watching a lot of cartoons but never thought of it as an artistic career. Frankly, I thought I would have to be someone who sold their paintings on the side of the street to have an art career. Luckily, my uncle was a background layout artist for Cartoon Network at the time and served as a mentor. He taught me basic skills used in animation, exposed me to the animation industry with studio tours, and introduced me to his friends in the industry. This experience showed me that animation could be an amazing career path.
I came across Woodbury while researching design schools with animation programs. I also was looking at several other prospective art schools, but there were a few things that drew me to Woodbury. The main draw was Woodbury’s small campus. I grew up attending private schools on smaller campuses, so having a campus that was similar in scale made me more comfortable. I also valued Woodbury’s small class sizes, which gave me more one-on-one mentoring time with my professors. Another major influence was Woodbury’s location in the heart of all the major animation studios, which proved to be a huge advantage for internships and job opportunities.
My favorite part of animation is the visual development part of a project. It’s fascinating to see all the research and ideas that go into every design, as well as all the possibilities the design could have been. I also enjoy the color design in animation. I love playing with colors to portray different emotions and themes, and seeing how it bring things to life.
My senior thesis, Taylor the Latte Boy: The Animated Musical Spectacular, which I made with Andrew Arcilla, fellow Woodbury animation graduate (’19) who currently works at DreamWorks Animation as a production assistant, was based off a song created by two Broadway composers. The song is essentially about a girl who is in love with her local Starbuck’s barista. Our film takes you on a journey through her crazy, over the top, coffee–filled fantasy about Taylor, the latte boy. As the design lead, I pushed my artistic boundaries and discovered what I was capable of achieving. We used several different mediums throughout the film: 2D and 3D backgrounds, puppet animation, hand drawn animation, VFX, and even live action puppets, while mixing in amazing vocals and a live orchestra. This film is one of the greatest projects I’ve worked on, and I’m immensely proud of it.
Taylor the Latte Boy: The Animated Musical Spectacular has been selected for several film festivals, including the Shenandoah Seasonal Film Series; the Queen Palm International Film Festival (honorable mention); the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival (semi-finalist); KCET’s Fine Cut Festival of Films (semi–finalist); and the Top Shorts awards (Best Animation).
I’m very proud that our film was recognized by all of these professional organizations. It’s extremely validating to be acknowledged by industry peers who have far more experience.
While at Woodbury, I had internships at Cartoon Network during my junior and senior years. The spring semesters of both my junior and senior years were extremely busy times, as I worked on my theses while interning. Juggling all my responsibilities helped hone my time management skills and develop a stronger work ethic.
As an intern at Cartoon Network, I assisted the production team on all kinds of projects, like typing the dialogue script, entering page and scene numbers into their database and entering design data for episodes. Shadowing the production team really prepared me for my current role as a production assistant. I gained valuable experience using FileMaker Pro and more familiar applications, like Photoshop for production tasks.
Cartoon Network’s internship program also provided many learning opportunities. I was invited to “artist talks” throughout the studio and created my own ‘pitch bible’ to present to the studio. I also participated in the studio’s art gallery for both years and presented my senior film to my show’s crew members. It was a great way to show industry professionals my art skills and practice public speaking in this environment. The relationships I built during my internships have definitely helped in both my personal and professional career.
The learning experience made me more efficient in handling the different tasks within production. There are several moving parts that happen within production that I never knew about before, especially as an intern. Having a strong understanding of 2D and 3D animation definitely gave me a solid foundation to build on. When I started my job at production assistant job at Cartoon Network, the transition was much easier since I was prepared.
While I was interning at Cartoon Network, I had a close relationship with my production team. Toward the end of my internship, I talked to my producer about opportunities to become a production assistant. She reached out to other producers and within a few minutes I had booked interviews for the next two weeks. This led to my interview with the show Close Enough, and booking my first production assistant job a few days before graduation!
My role as an intern really prepared me for the tasks I do as a production assistant. On any given day these tasks might include, being in charge of timecards, setting up events for the crew, entering page and scene numbers into FileMakerPro, and finding designs for episodes. I also get to work very closely with the record coordinator, production coordinators and art director. I love that I continue to grow in my role on all levels, and I’m currently bringing these enhanced skills to my current show, Adventure Time: Distant Lands.
It’s hard to narrow down one mentor from Woodbury. Every professor taught me skills that made me a better artist and prepared me to enter the animation industry. They made my time at Woodbury worthwhile and I am very thankful for everything I learned.
I truly admire the work of indie animation artists. I come across new artists through Twitter or YouTube, and it never ceases to amaze me how much talent is out there, outside of TV and feature animation. I love seeing the different styles and content that are so innovative and unique. They inspire me to continue my individual artistic journey outside of TV production.
My current favorite animated film is Sony Animation Studio’s Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Its innovation is amazing, especially how they made a hybrid of 3D and 2D animation blend so seamlessly. From the graphic texture mapping, to the hand drawn EFX, to the intentional varying frame rate of each character, Sony created a style that opens up more possibilities of what can be done in animation.
Being an artist is very exciting with all the different things you can do, especially in the animation industry. My short term goal is to continue to grow in my job and become a production coordinator. So far, I have worked on both adult and children’s animation series, and have loved working in these two genres. But one of my biggest dreams is to work on a pre-school show since I grew up in a home daycare and experienced the great impact these shows have on pre-school aged children.
In the long term, it would be great to produce a preschool show, but I’d also like to create art on the side. I’m not quite sure what this might look like, but it could be working on children’s books as an illustrator, having my own art business or even becoming an art director at some point. While I really enjoy production and where it is taking me, it’s very important that I keep designing and being creative throughout my career.
I’d tell them to have a balanced life with school and outside activities. Go outside, plan a trip for a day or for a weekend, make time for friends and family, exercise, and explore new places in your neighborhood. I think it’s very important to work hard at your craft, but also take a break when needed. Burnout is very real, but it can be avoided with the right schedule. Take time for yourself…it might even spark inspiration and even more creativity!
Last Updated on August 28, 2020