Digital media editor pursues animation, finds confidence in artistic ability at InnerCity Arts summer workshop

Shannon Sullivan

Having spent most of my time in quarantine drawing, applying to an animation workshop hosted by Inner-City Arts seemed like the next step in my artistic journey. 

Inner-City Arts is an organization that exists to provide art education to students ordinarily unable to attend proper art classes. They hosted a variety of online courses this summer, including the art of animation workshop I was lucky enough to attend. 

The workshop lasted from July 6 to 17 and was free to all high school students. There were almost 30 of us participating in the workshop. Our goal was to create an animated promotion based on a prompt that was meant to be positive and uplifting. The prompt I went with was “Imagine if our art could leap off the page.” My final animation was about three seconds long but took almost five hours to complete. In addition to the time I spent creating that, I also had to make a character turnaround sheet, a storyboard and a few rough animatics. 

The workshop was partnered with Nickelodeon, which allowed us to hear about the animation process from industry professionals. We met every weekday for two weeks and had a new guest speak with us every other day. They all spoke about how they got to where they are now, and showed work from their portfolio. Each artist who visited us had a different job in either character design, background design, storyboarding or animation. 

When I first applied to the program, I was nervous I wouldn’t get in. Learning how to animate was one of my dreams and I thought not being accepted would be a sign it wasn’t right for me. I was so nervous I had a stress dream about incorrectly submitting my application the night before I received my email of acceptance. Once I started attending the Zoom sessions, my nerves only increased. I felt like there was a very clear and stark contrast between the talent of my peers and me. 

When they presented their works in progress, I was intimidated by how neat and concise their storyboards were. I was literally drawing stick figures at that point. I felt like I wasn’t good enough compared to them. After a few days into the program however, I found myself becoming friends with them and then we all began to uplift and encourage each other. I learned that we all had a different creative process and that it didn’t always equal skill level. And even if it did, I shouldn’t worry myself by comparing my work to others. 

In the end, I was very proud of what I created. Whenever I tried animating before this, I would always give up halfway through, discouraged by the steep goals I set for myself. This workshop proved to me that not only could I create a finished animation but I could even enjoy doing so. When summer started, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the future. But I feel that attending the Inner-City Arts summer animation workshop put me on the right course.