Nimble Collective


Animation and Illustration students partner with Silicon Valley startup “Nimble Collective”

All animation productions in the past were created with all artists working under the same roof in an animation studio. This production model is changing with the advent of cloud computing, social media and the internet, and new ways of producing animation are slowly emerging. Nimble Collective is at the forefront of this new frontier. They have been working in the creation of a new platform for collaboration between animation artists in the cloud. That has the potential to change the way animation is produced, enabling the independent filmmaker to access many professionals on the cloud, without the need of a big studio to create a film. More freedom means more creativity, diversity of voices, points of view and artistic expressions.

This past summer, SJSU Animation and Illustration students started a collaboration with Nimble collective. The project counted with the support of a RSCA grant awarded to Prof. Raquel Coelho (Design Dept), and it aims to experiment with new platforms for collaboration between animation artists working in different sites. In the center of the collaboration between SJSU and Nimble Collective is the short film “Roadside Assistance”, directed by SJSU alumni Kathy MacNeal. During the project, students had the opportunity to interact with industry veterans Rex Grignon, Jason Schleifer and Jen Dahlman, producing animation and 3D models for the short film. They also received two weeks of training in “Blender”, the open source 3D animation software used in this short film project. The project started in June 2016 and some students are still helping finishing up animation for the film. “Roadside Assistance” will be completed before the end of the year.

A/I Students Get Hands-On for Chipotle Commercial
September 2016

Over the summer,  SJSU Animation/Illustration students Chun Chen and Hung Nguyen interned at HouseSpecial and had the opportunity to work extensively on a Chipotle commercial, “Chipotle: Ingredients Reign.” HouseSpecial, formerly known as Laika/House, was the commercial arm of LAIKA (Coraline, Kubo and The Two Strings) until 2014, when it spun off to be an independent studio.  

The two interns were exposed to a variety of roles and responsibilities on several projects, even getting a chance to create assets for stop-motion animation.

“Thanks to the strong A/I courses at SJSU, it was a fairly seamless transition from being a student to working at a professional studio. HouseSpecial is primarily an advertising production company, and that meant Chun and I had to work pretty furiously to meet some tight deadlines. One day, I got the chance to work on three different projects with completely different tasks. We had to jump from working on storyboards to painting environments to designing props on various projects,” Hung said. “On the ‘Chipotle: Ingredients Reign’ spot, Chun and I worked on storyboards and environment and prop designs.  Since it was a stop-motion piece, we got a chance to help in fabrication, making and painting props for the commercial.”

The internship not only introduced the students to the fast pace and different jobs at a studio, it also gave them the satisfaction of seeing their work on mainstream media.

“It was really cool watching the sets you designed come to life or the sequences you storyboarded animated on screen...Learning about stop-motion animation at HouseSpecial was a really amazing experience for me. I've always been fascinated with stop-motion animation and getting to work on one was a dream come true,” Chun added.

To view the “Chipotle: Ingredients Reign” commercial, please visit: v=fW_9toMB4Mo

To view HouseSpecial internships, please visit:


A/I Student Receives Animation Scholarship
Photo provided by Maaike Scherff

Aug 29 - ASIFA-Hollywood and Animation Educators Forum (AEF) awarded SJSU Animation/Illustration student Maaike Scherff a scholarship to support her continuing education in the field of animation. Maaike is 1 of 8 students from animation schools around the world to receive a total of $30,000 in scholarships for academic year 2016-2017. Applicants submitted portfolio/demo reels, individual proposals, and letters of recommendation from faculty. Scholarships were awarded based on merit and intended to support the students in their course of study.

Maaike is currently a contract artist and production assistant at Sony PlayStation, in addition to being a senior in the A/I program. Previously, she has worked on projects such as “The Green Ninja Show” and “Bound for Glory.” She has also interned at Nickelodeon and freelanced for various books, mobile games, and board games. She is set to graduate in May 2017. 

Congratulations, Maaike!


SJSU Professor Presents “The Physics of Cinematography” at Dreamworks
Photo provided by Jasmine Truong 

July 27 - SJSU physics professor and friend to the A/I program, Alejandro Garcia, presented “The Physics of Cinematography” at the Dreamworks Glendale campus. He spoke about the characteristics of different camera lenses and light sources that can help produce a more effective picture. Topics included how to achieve the illusion of depth, depth of field vs. depth of focus, the pinhole camera, and the camera obscura. The presentation was originally requested by the layout department, but it was attended by the whole studio. Earlier that day Professor Garcia also did a special presentation on water exclusively for the FX department. His lectures have helped both animation/illustration students and professionals alike understand the scientific principles behind natural phenomena so they can make more convincing illusions in their art.

A/I Students Participate in Animation Jam

Animation/Illustration Students Participate in Cartoon Network’s Animation Jam

Photo courtesy of Grace Chen

July 9-11: SJSU A/I students Grace Chen and Christina Centron, currently interns at Cartoon Network, participated in the studio’s first “Animation Jam.” The network assembled students and interns from several schools to create 15-second animated short films based on the “O.K. KO! Let’s Be Heroes” show. The event took place over three days. On Saturday, students attended a reception held at Cartoon Network. On Sunday, students spent the entire day creating the shorts, followed by a screening of all submissions on Monday. There were eight teams total, six representing their schools and two intern teams. Industry professionals were on hand to mentor the teams. Some of the schools represented at the jam included USC, CalArts, Laguna College of Art and Design, CSU Fullerton, and SJSU.

Cloud Country

Pixar Art Director Noah Klocek Speaks About Cloud Country

In April, Pixar Art Director and SHM alum Noah Klocek presented a behind-the-scenes look into his personal creative project, Cloud Country, to A/I students. Cloud Country is a children’s story conceived and illustrated by Klocek, with the final written version by Bonnie Becker.

Klocek spoke about his evolution as an artist, saying he used to strive for more angst and edge in his work, but it was not authentic. He realized he was better at sentimental stories, and decided to pursue Cloud Country as an avenue to do personal artwork that he loved. Klocek set aside time from 9pm-12am daily to work on his book. The study/work habits he developed while in school he maintains today even after more than 16 years in the industry.

For more on Cloud Country, please visit:



DreamWorks Visits SJSUA/I

photo by Charlie Ly

March 2016

Mar 4 - DreamWorks University Relations Manager Grazia Como and art director for DreamWorks TV Joel Fajnor gave a presentation to A/I students. The two representatives explained that while the studio does not offer many art internships because they are looking to hire longtime artists, once hired there is a training environment where the new recruit works with a mentor to learn the ropes. 

The two also advised applicants to be aware of what DreamWorks’ style is when applying to the company - in particular, the studio looks for interesting, quirky and memorable characters. Currently, story artists are in high demand. Students were also reminded to make sure every asset, from the business card, to resume, to portfolio, is well designed - a student’s failure to maintain a standard of quality in his/her professional identity will cause reviewers to question his/her taste.



Hallmark Visits SJSUA/I

photo by Charlotte Chen

February 25, 2016

Hallmark recruiters visited the Animation/Illustration program to speak to students, look over portfolios, and conduct interviews. Ramon Olivera and Adan Chung, both SHM alums currently at Hallmark, gave a presentation on what it is really like to work at the company and offered career advice to students. 

Olivera informed the students that a “team player” personality and ability to work is a key factor to getting hired at Hallmark, while Adan advised them to be adept at both technical (perspective and construction) and organic (plants and animals) drawing.

A/I student Sydney Sun remarked, “In the end you'll most likely be asked to draw and design things that you usually don't draw (i.e., a pink unicorn birthday party scene), so it's good to learn to adapt and embrace the challenges!”

Hallmark’s main motto is “to enhance relationships and enrich lives.” The company does so by relying on the diverse experiences and perspectives of its employees to create a more emotionally connected world.


Disney Artist Brings a Little Zootopia to SJSUA/I

photo by Elizabeth Chee

February 19, 2016

The Animation/Illustration program welcomed Disney visual development artist Nick Orsi to campus this month. Orsi gave a presentation on character designs from the studio’s latest animated feature, Zootopia. He advised the students to allow themselves to do really bad drawings and finishing the drawing before revising it. He stressed the importance of thorough research when developing characters, such as meeting with the real life demographic to be represented, discussing with the art director/writer who they would cast in that role, and watching movies with the character types you are aiming to create. The students learned valuable lessons and had fun with the Zootopia headbands Orsi brought for them.

blue sky 

Blue Sky Visits SJSUA/I

photo by Truc Nguyen

February 18, 2016 

Blue Sky studios visited the Animation/Illustration program this month. Mike Lee, a color artist from the studio, demonstrated the pipeline for color comps. Talks given by industry professionals are extremely useful for students, as the artists give insight into professional practices and reinforce the artistic principles and spirit of collaboration students learn in school.

In this case, Lee shared his Photoshop process and how he uses just 3 main brushes (a soft airbrush for transitions and polish, a hard round brush for sketching/drawing/planning, and a scumbling brush for polish). He explained there is a strong collaboration between visual development team and animation team at Blue Sky, with color scripting done first, then passed to the animators to test the composition in a shot, and then back to the color artists to do a final composition.

B&C Retirement

SJSUA/I Says Goodbye to Program Founders

Photo by Elizabeth Chee

Feb 13, 2016

The Animation/Illustration program bid founders Alice “Bunny” Carter and Courtney Granner a fond farewell at a retirement event held in their honor. Alums from the program’s entire 20-year history, industry guests, colleagues, and current students gathered in the Student Union Ballroom to celebrate Carter and Granner’s achievements.

The evening’s program included speeches given by industry veterans and alums who have worked with and been taught by the two, as well as video tributes from colleagues and alums who could not attend.

With humor and with heartfelt gratitude, the speakers revealed the pivotal influence Carter and Granner has had on numerous lives, and recognized the dedication and hard work that gave so many students an opportunity to realize their dreams.

A/I professors Dave Chai, John Clapp, and Raquel Coelho presented Carter and Granner with a Shrunkenheadman trophy modeled after the stool with the paint mark that inspired the SHM logo. Following the tradition of retiring an athlete’s number in honor of his/her contribution to the sport, the A/I program retired the number “218” to recognize Carter and Granner’s contributions to education. The number’s significance comes from the fact that Animation/Illustration classes have been traditionally held in classroom 218 in the art building.

A/I student Sydney Sun said, "Retiring the number 218 for Bunny and Courtney was the coolest idea ever - I can't think of a better way to honor their impact on our A/I program." 

Though Bunny and Courtney are retiring from San Jose State, they are moving onto their next adventure - building up the educational resources at the Walt Disney Family Museum as co-directors of education.


SJSUAI Program Founders Accept Director Positions at Walt Disney Family Museum 

February 2016

SJSU Animation/Illustration is pleased to announce that the program’s beloved founders, Alice A. Carter and Courtney Granner, have been appointed Co-directors of the Walt Disney Family Museum’s Education Department. After retiring from SJSU last year, Carter and Granner will help move the museum’s education and public engagement initiatives to its next phase.

According to the museum’s press release, Carter and Granner “will enhance current public program offerings and create new learning experiences for museum visitors of all ages.”

“Walt Disney’s legacy is not only one to be remembered, but also continued through generations,” said Carter. “Through our state-of-the-art educational programs, we are allowing people to carry on that legacy, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

"Walt Disney’s commitment to creativity and excellence has been an inspiration to me throughout my career,” said Granner. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share that inspiration with others and to educate our visitors about the artistry of Disney animation.”

The Walt Disney Family Museum offers a look inside the story and achievements of Walt Disney, the man behind Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Disneyland. The museum features interactive galleries that include early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a spectacular model of Disneyland, and much more.


Jan Pinkava

Jan Pinkava visits SJSUA/I

November 2015

In November, SJSUA/I was privileged to have award-winning director and writer Jan Pinkava visit the school and work with the students over three days. Currently, Jan is a director at Google Spotlight Stories, where he is developing innovative new ways of storytelling. On Friday evening, Jan presented some classics of animation at a special 14F. Saturday, Jan spoke in depth about the growing field of virtual reality (VR), sharing his process and insights from his work with Google Spotlight Stories. On Sunday, Jan did an interactive workshop, challenging A/I students to develop real-time VR stories. He had teams act out their stories in a VR setting. The workshop and talks gave A/I students an inside perspective on a new form of storytelling.  

For more on Google Spotlight Stories, go here.

For a list of Jan Pinkava’s work, go here.

Pixar Dinosaur

Pixar visits SJSU for a special presentation on The Good Dinosaur

November 2015

Written by Raquel Coelho
Photo by Truc Nguyen

SJSU Animation and Illustration students attended a special workshop with Pixar artist Susan Fong. A Technical Director Supervisor, Susan was responsible for overseeing the massive production of the latest Pixar film, The Good Dinosaur. She was welcomed by a packed lecture room, with approximately 200 students in attendance. Her presentation included sneak peeks of awe-inspiring sequences from the film, which is scheduled to be released during Thanksgiving weekend. A versatile generalist, Susan has served on several Pixar teams performing lighting optimization work, shader development, pipeline development, and rendering. At Pixar, these roles would be defined as a Rendering TD, Global Technology TD, and Lightspeed TD. Thanks Pixar for another great presentation at SJSU!

pixar presentation

Pixar Presents at SJSUA/I

October 2015

In October, Pixar visited SJSUA/I. University Relations representatives Rachel Nartia and Ryan Howe interviewed animators in the morning and gave a presentation in the afternoon. Following their presentation, Pixar animator Andy Beall talked to the students about animation.

Animation show of shows

The Animation Show of Shows 2015

October 2015

Every year, Acme Filmworks founder Ron Diamond brings his Animation Show of Shows to SJSUA/I. As stated on its website, “Since 1998, The Animation Show of Shows has selected the best in animated short films from the world’s most renowned animation festivals and presented them at the major animation studios to inspire their animators and directors.” 

Curated by Ron, the Show of Shows features films that are otherwise difficult to view because of their limited availability. Often, directors of the films being showcased accompany Ron to answer questions from the audience, providing a great learning opportunity for Animation/Illustration studetns. This year, Ron brought John Lewis (The Story of Percival Pilts) Isabelle Favez (Messages Dans A'air), and Conor Whelan (Snowfall).

 sony playstation

Sony Playstation at SJSUA/I

October 2015

Sony Playstation visited SJSUA/I in October. University Relations Representative Teddy Papas, along with SJSU alums Jeff Sangalli, Lucie Roberts, and Rebecca Roberts, informed the students about internship opportunities at the studio, and the different roles and teams there. In particular, Jeff, Lucie, and Rebecca talked about their team at Sony, Pixelopus. They advised the students to cater their portfolio to whichever studio they apply to. For example, since the Pixelopus team is small, it looks for students who are generalists, able to take on a variety of roles. 

Google Robinson


written by Raquel Coelho

photos provided by Raquel Coelho

Most people believe Google only hires programmers, computer scientists or engineers. Well, that perception may be wrong. Fiona Herse Woo, Robinson Wood and Susie Sahim, graduates from the SJSU Animation/Illustration program, were all recently hired by Google to work as visual artists. How did they get there? Well, their stories are truly inspiring: 

Fiona Herse Woo was contacted by Google a couple months after graduating with a BFA in Animation/Illustration. Google wanted her to work on their upcoming project Pearl, a VR animation directed by Oscar-winning animator Patrick Osborne, currently in production in the Spotlight Stories group at the tech company in Mountain View. Fiona’s academic focus was in Concept Design, and at Google she works helping design props and sets for the film. She also supports other artists on the team by doing research in the visual imagery used as reference in the film.

 “The Animation Illustration program at San Jose State was instrumental in preparing me for this job, both in educating and training me in technical skills, and in helping me get the job itself. The advanced course work, the ability to draw and have an eye for design, coupled from advice from industry mentors that come every semester to SJSU to talk to Animation and Illustration have left me with a very practical understanding of what it takes to be a professional artist in the entertainment industry,”Fiona said.

Another lucky artist was Susie Sahim: “I was first hired at Google as a graphic design intern. I must have done something right because my internship turned into a full-time position!”After that things only got better for Susie:  “I started out doing graphic design, creating icons and graphics. Then I became a "Doodler," creating over 100 Google Doodles which appear on Google's homepage for various holidays. Today I'm a senior web developer and lead the development of a javascript component library used by many teams across Google. I enjoy the technical challenges of my job as well as leading and training others.” Susie also reflects that technical skills alone are not enough to do well in today's marketplace. “I feel the Animation and Illustration program at SJSU has taught me essential skills around receiving critique, work ethic, collaboration, and research that I have been able to apply to my web development role here at Google. SJSU's AI program is unique. Not only does the program teach essential animation and illustration skills, students work together to help each other as part of a community. It's a great way to learn soft skills and team work. Google isn't just looking for candidates who have skills. They must also be able to work well with others as a part of a team.”


Robinson Wood was another Animation and Illustration student who is starting his career at  Google. “ I was first hired last year as a contractor to work with the Google Spotlight Stories team (part of Google's prestigious Advanced Technology and Projects division). Getting a job offer to work on an interactive short film project at Google was exciting - but when I learned that the short film was being directed by the legendary Glen Keane, I was ecstatic! A few months later, I rode one of the multi-colored Google bikes down the street to the Doodles office, and I’ve been there ever since! Now, I’m drawing and painting every day, pushing my abilities to the limit, and essentially picking up where my studies at San Jose State left off. The Animation/Illustration program taught me how to think like an artist, and gave me the fundamental skills and tools I needed to start building a career. I count myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to work with amazing teams like Spotlight Stories and Google Doodles, but even luckier to have attended such a powerful and life-changing artistic education program.

Blue and Beyond

A/I Student Youri Dekker Premieres Film “The Blue and The Beyond” at SJSU

Written by Raquel Coelho

photo provided by Raquel Coelho

October 2015

SJSU Animation/Illustration student - and now director - Youri Dekker spent the last 8 months hard at work on an ambitious animation project: an eight and a half minute film, telling the story of a young, imaginative man named Charlie going through many obstacles trying to connect with someone with a similar artistic soul.

“It certainly was no easy feat, and the only reason this film was able to get finished was because I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly dedicated group of talented artists  willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and talent into helping me make this story come to life, and for that I will be forever grateful,” Youri said.

The Blue and the Beyond premiered on Friday, September 4th, at the Morris Daily Auditorium, for an audience of over 500 students, where it was warmly received by a standing ovation. The crew of over a hundred students, from juniors to seniors, also attended a “family and friends” screening the next day. The film was produced by students Kimberly Mucha and Samia Khalaf, and the trailer can be seen here.

We wish Youri Dekker and his crew good luck in the festival circuit, and hope that many well deserved awards will crown this marvelous production.

 mical makarewicz 

Michal Makarewicz and Animation Collaborative

September 2015

In September, Pixar animator and Animation Collaborative owner Michal Makarewicz spoke to SJSUA/I students on animation workflow. He gave a demo of his 3-D animation process using Maya software, awing the students with his efficient approach. For the students struggling with achieving believability and fluidity in their animations using the 3-D medium, Michal’s lecture showed how amazing results could be achieved quickly and effectively using the graph editor.

Information on Michal’s school for animation and design can be found here.

A list of films Michal has worked on can be found here.


Alumni Reunion

Animation/Illustration Celebrates 20 Years of Firing it Up!

photo provided by Raquel Coelho

September 2015

The SJSU Animation/Illustration (A/I) student organization, The Shrunkenheadman Club, celebrated its 20th year anniversary with a reunion bash over the August 29-30 weekend. The festivities lasted two days, kicking off on Saturday at the Historic Dolce Hayes Mansion and concluding Sunday with brunch at San Jose State’s Art Quad with tours of the A/I facilities in the Art building. Over 250 alumni returned to celebrate with faculty and students, reconnect with former classmates, and update each other about the many great accomplishments they have been making. Attendees represented companies including Disney, DreamWorks, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasFilm, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Electronic Arts, Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Play Station, Zynga, Google, Storm 8, Double Fine Productions, Film Roman (Simpsons), Fox Animation (American Dad), Ghostbot, Bardel Entertainment (Rick and Morty), Nickelodeon, and Brazen Animation.

On Saturday, club members past and present gathered at the Dolce Hayes Mansion to enjoy everything from student-made music videos, speeches, raffle prizes, and late evening dancing. Alum Jeff Biancalana, who has worked at Dreamworks, Blue Sky Studios, ReelFX, and Warner Brothers gave a speech honoring the program founders, Bunny Carter and Courtney Granner. In recognition of their dedication and hard work, he spoke of the program as being “the house that Bunny and Courtney built”, and presented them with a collection of alumni testimonials and artwork showing how the program helped generations of students realize their dreams of becoming artists. In true Shrunkenheadman style, the festivities continued long after the venue closed, with the group moving to the patio entrance area of the mansion to reminisce late into the evening. 

On Sunday, alumni returned home to meet current students and see the latest work of the program, as well as tour the 2-D and 3-D animation labs and A/I rooms. Many brought their spouses and children to show their families where they spent many late nights working on projects.

The 20th anniversary exemplified the unique spirit and camaraderie found every day in the program. Students volunteering their time to help out with the reunion, alumni interested in what the latest generation of Shrunkenheads are doing. Alumni regularly return to teach classes, mentor, give talks to the students and alert them of internship and job opportunities—it is this generosity and passion that has fueled the A/I program for twenty years and counting. Keeping with the club motto club “fire it up”, the reunion attendees are definitely keeping the fire burning strong.


D-Day 2015                                                                                                                 Photo by Charlotte Chen

This May, A/I students, family, and alumni gathered together for the Shrunkenheadman event of the year, “Draw Day.” Better known as “D-Day,” the annual event is an exciting and fun celebration of art and pop culture. Animation/Illustration students performed on stage and engaged in draw battles alongside guest emcees, alumni Andrew Harkins and Januel Mercado.  Among other things, there was hurtling candy, crazy costumes, hilarious skits, videos with high production values, and a whole lotta fun.

sasaki ly visit

Pixar’s Chris Sasaki Visits SJSUAI                                                                           Photo by Charlie Ly

In May, Pixar character designer Chris Sasaki gave a talk to Animation/Illustration students, discussing his work on the upcoming Pixar film Inside Out, as well as sharing his journey from budding artist to character designer at Pixar. He went over his process when creating his designs, stressing the importance of research and “finding the heart of the character.” He also answered student questions and shared a clip of the new movie.

who i am bartonMarch 2015

SJSU A/I Student Wins Scholarship

Congratulations to SJSUA/I student Ariana Barton for winning a student scholarship from the Society of Illustrators! Ariana’s animation, Who I Am, won the In Memory of Albert Dorne award. Every year the Society holds a student competition, choosing over three hundred works from more than 8,700 entries submitted nationwide. The submissions are evaluated by a jury of professional peers, including illustrators and art directors. The awards reception will be on Friday, May 8 in New York City.  

Ariana’s winning entry can be viewed here: Who I Am ("My Name Is" BFA Intro Video Fall 2014) 

Zynga Visits SJSUAIMarch 2015

Zynga Visits SJSUAI

Photo courtesy of Ariana Barton

Zynga recruiters Tiffany Feeney, Jon Shih, and Concept Art Director Mike Mattesi called on SJSUAI in March. They gave a presentation on Zynga’s various studio locations and projects as well as the company culture. Mike discussed Zynga’s emphasis on building a community of artists, the importance of collaboration in the workplace in order to build better ideas, and how artists find inspiration from a variety of places. He also spoke about Zynga’s structure and history. Tiffany answered questions about the company’s hiring process and how artists can shift roles within departments in order to further their artistic development. The visitors provided an informative glimpse inside a studio which employs several A/I grads.

Blue Sky Studios

February 2015

Blue Sky Studios Visits SJSUAI

Photo courtesy of Ariana Barton

In February, Blue Sky recruiter Deb Stone and artist Matt Munn visited SJSUAI to present internship opportunities and talk about life at the studio. Matt shared his work, his animation process, and his inspiring journey from studying computer science to falling in love with 3D animation and becoming an animator at Blue Sky. He stressed to the students the importance of never giving up in the face of roadblocks.


Hallmark At SJSU A/I

Photo courtesy of Ariana Barton

Hallmark recruiters and artists visited SJSUAI in February. Erin Roebuck, Jake Angell, and Jeff Bisch discussed internship opportunities and the diverse types of work done at Hallmark. Perhaps primarily known for their greeting cards, Hallmark also makes a popular line of keepsake ornaments, produces television and online content, as well as calendars, gifts, and other merchandise.  Because of their many product lines, Hallmark seeks high caliber artists from a variety of disciplines, including illustrators, animators, 3d modelers, sculptors, letterers, and industrial designers. During their visit, the Hallmark recruiters reviewed portfolios and conducted interviews with A/I students.


PixarNovember 2014

Pixar Visits SJSU A/I

Photo by Elizabeth Chee

In November, Pixar recruiters Ryan Howe, Kim Diaz, and Tricia Andres came to the A/I program to review student portfolios and conduct interviews. They also gave a presentation company culture and internship opportunities. They answered many of the students’ questions, giving advice on how to present an animation reel and what not to do when applying for an internship.

CSU Media Fest

SJSU Takes Top Honors at CSU Media Arts Festival

Photo courtesy of Megan Hart

November 8 - San Jose State students from the Animation/Illustration program were awarded First Place in Animation for the third year in a row at the CSU Media Arts Festival Rosebud Awards Ceremony. Directed by recent A/I grads Megan Hart and Megan Lawton, “End of the Vine” is an animated short about the future of technology. It was part of a series of short films sponsored by Adobe that advanced Animation/Illustration students participated in their senior year.

“I thought [the festival] was a really exciting experience, reuniting with my team and representing SJSU and our film which we worked so hard on,” Megan Hart said. “It was cool to meet the other finalists, and see the work that was being produced at so many other schools.”

Hosted this year by CSU Los Angeles, the CSU Media Arts Festival showcases work submitted by students from all 23 California State University campuses. San Jose State University did well overall, with students from the Television/Radio/Film/Theater department sweeping the Feature Screenplay category. Congratulations to the winners!


BEHIND MY BEHIND Pulls in Front at Animation Festivals

Photo courtesy of David Chai

Congratulations to A/I program coordinator Dave Chai and the crew of “Behind My Behind” for winning first place at two animation film festivals this November!

The short film won Best 2D Computer Animation at the World Animation Celebration on November 1. The festival is a one day event featuring animated films from over 40 countries, held at Animation Liberation Studios in Los Angeles.

At the San Diego Asian Film Festival, “Behind My Behind” won Best Animated Short Film. Organized by the Pacific Arts Movement, the SDAFF is a ten-day film festival (November 6 -15) celebrating Asian American and international cinema. It is the largest exhibition of Asian cinema in the western United States. Also featured at this festival was A/I alum and professor Dave Yee’s short film, “Jimmy Loves Juice.” Students joined Dave and Dave in San Diego for a screening of their films and the awards ceremony. “Behind My Behind” is the 10th SJSU A/I film to be screened at the SDAFF and second best animation award.

Carter Haggin

The Illustrator and the Hero:Inventing a Mythology in Pictures

Photo courtesy of David Chai

November 6 - Animation/Illustration program founder and professor Alice Carter spoke at the Haggin museum in Stockton. Her talk, given in conjunction with the Alex Ross exhibit now on display at the museum, explored the connection of Alex Ross to illustrators who influenced him, such as J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell. She also tied the modern obsession with the Superhero to more ancient myths. A group of students and faculty from the A/I program made the trek out to Stockton to hear her speak.

“Hearing talks given by Bunny are always inspiring,” A/I student Amit Kumar said. “Superheroes are a huge part of American culture, so seeing the connection they have to mythology was interesting. This was a great learning experience.” 


SonyOctober 2014

Sony PlayStation Visits SJSU A/I

Photo by Karolyn Moses

In October, SJSU A/I welcomed visitors from Sony PlayStation. Shrunkenhead alum Jeff Sangalli and recent grads Lucie and Rebecca Roberts, along with Anita Stokes and Teddy Pappas,visited the program to give students a sneak peek of their newest, innovative games and to present internship opportunities at Sony’s various locations. Jeff, Lucie, and Rebecca discussed their work on the game Entwined.

“I thought that the PlayStation presentation was a great show of present-day innovation in harmonizing both art and technology,” A/I student Tim Fangon said.


An A/I Halloween Special: Reel FX and The Book of Life

Photo by Colton Davis

This Halloween A/I students got a special treat: Reel FX Production Manager Cindy Rangel and Art Director Paul Sullivan visited the A/I program to talk about the studio’s latest film, The Book of Life.  Cindy discussed the various responsibilities of production management while Paul showed his early concept artwork and discussed the creative decisions made for the design of the film. Their visit was preceded by a Halloween costume contest and followed by a screening of the film at Camera 12 with the students.

“The Book of Life was such a fun, beautifully designed film!” A/I student Ariana Barton said. “It was a joy to hear about the creation of the film firsthand and learn the meaning behind certain design decisions. It made watching  the film even more enjoyable.”


Artist Nathan Fox Guest Lectures at SJSU A/I  

Photo by Olivia Asis

For five weeks during September and October, illustrator and comic artist Nathan Fox coached A/I students in the art of sequential storytelling via live internet sessions. In this Distance Learning Program (DLP) series, students created 5-10 page limited color comics based around themes of mystery and discovery, answering the question, "Who (or what) is Stormy Dorris?" The five-week challenge culminated in an in-person review of the final pieces. The top three students received prizes for the best comic.

“I learned a lot from Nathan Fox’s 5-week long DLP,” A/I student Sony Tran said. “Storytelling is an important skill in all of our fields, and I think Nathan’s assignment gave us a steep challenge in storytelling.”

While visiting SJSU, Nathan also shared the story of his personal journey into art with A/I students and talked about the MFA Visual Narrative program at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York, where he teaches. Nathan answered a variety of questions, gave advice on navigating the freelance illustration world, and encouraged students to pursue their passions and create work that is personally meaningful.

fox adhd

Fox ADHD Visits SJSU A/I

Photo by Charlie Ly

October 17 - Samantha Iturralde, Jason Wong, and Natalie Young of Fox Animation Domination High Def (Fox ADHD) dropped by SJSUA/I to give a talk about the studio’s 2-D animation pipeline. Samantha and Jason, both Shrunkenhead alums, and Young went over the various production jobs on a show, the tools used for animation, and the process of making a 2-D production.

"The Fox ADHD presentation was great!” A/I student Ariana Barton said. “Our guests did an awesome job of explaining how a 2D show is made and gave us a demo for how they use Flash to animate. It was definitely inspiring hearing how they got into the industry, and I loved seeing the character turnarounds that Sam did. I hope they visit again!"

JammalSeptember 2014


Photo Courtesy of David Chai

September 6 – SJSUAI faculty, students, and alumni gathered at the Student Union Ballroom to attend an auction benefitting a scholarship in memory of Jules Jammal, a former student, club president, faculty member, and beloved friend of the San Jose State University Animation/Illustration program.

There were book signings in the Art Building from 3 - 5:30pm and a wild live auction of 5 select art pieces in the new Student Union Ballroom from 6 - 9pm. Over $10K was raised for his scholarship.

100% of the proceeds went towards funding annual scholarships for future SJSU Animation/ Illustration students who embody the work ethic and character that Jules demonstrated within the program.  

The auction had artwork featuring a wide range of superheroes, ranging from classic favorites such as Batman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman, to more obscure selections including the Tick, Powerpuff Girls, and Super Grover. There was a hero for every taste.

Participating alumni ranged from employees at DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Cartoon Network, Zynga, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, and many other studios.

For more event info:

Books are still available, all proceeds go to the scholarship:

Donations can still be made here:


SJSUA/I Goes to Ottawa    

Seventeen SJSUA/I students journeyed to Canada for a week in September to attend the 2014 Ottawa Animation Festival.  There, they screened the latest animated short films from around the world and explored Canada’s capital city.

"It was so inspiring to see a variety of creative and experimental films, and it was great to be able to meet and chat with many of the filmmakers in a casual setting. There were many panels where the directors described how the films were made from start to finish,” A/I student Maaike Scherff said. “Also, the shawarma there is phenomenal.”


Nickelodeon Presentation

Photo by Olivia Asis

Nickelodeon paid a visit to the A/I program this September. Former Shrukenheadman Jeffry Mazon, now a painter at Nickelodeon, joined other Nickelodeon employees Jermaine Jose (painter), Mayumi Nose (character design), and Jonathan Soto (rigger) to give a presentation on how a CG animated TV show is run. The crew discussed the pipeline process for bringing their show "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" from concept to screen. They also shared their individual stories of how they got into the TV animation industry and advised students on how to work well in a professional environment.

"The Nickelodeon lecture was just good old-fashioned honesty!” A/I student Frank Sean Davis said. “The Nick artists had a fresh perspective on their experience working in the industry and how they broke their way in. It was incredibly helpful since they all were fairly recently employed as professionals.” 

show of shows

16th Annual Animation Show of Shows

Photo by Rachel Roubicek

SJSUA/I was once again proud to host Ron Diamond and his Annual Animation Show of Shows this month. The Acme Filmworks founder presented his selection of the year’s best animated short films from around the world. There were eleven short films, including Disney's new short "Feast," Pixar's "Lava," and "Me and My Moulton," by Academy Award winner Torill Kove.

"Each film from the show pushes the boundaries of all that is conventional; whether it be the constraints of digital technology, traditional media, ethics, or storytelling modes,” A/I student Bess Eng said. “There is always a film that makes me wonder ‘how’d they do that?’ Show of Shows is an event I look forward to every year.” 

green ninja

Putting the Art in STEM Education:  Green Ninja Receives 2014 STEM Innovator Award

Photo courtesy of Green Ninja project

Congratulations to A/I Program Coordinator David Chai and the Green Ninja team for receiving the 2014 STEM Innovator Award! The national award, given by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, recognizes pioneering programs that have demonstrated innovative methods in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.  The Green Ninja is one of four projects to receive the award.

A collaborative effort among SJSU faculty, staff, and students, the Green Ninja project uses a collection of humorous live-action and animated films to raise awareness of the earth’s changing climate and inspire personal action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.  The $5,000 prize from the Innovator award will go toward funding the show’s second season.

SJSU faculty and staff involved with the project include Eugene Cordero ( Department of Meteorology and Climate Science), David Chai (Animation/Illustration), Babak Sarrafan (Department of Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre), and Barnaby Dallas and Nick Martinez  (Spartan Film Studios). Most of the webisodes and content were created by SJSU students with input and guidance from the faculty.  

 “I love working on the Green Ninja Show. Being able to use my skills in animation and filmmaking to help educate, as well as to entertain, is a great feeling,” Chai said. “I know I’ve learned a lot about protecting the environment while having a good time, and I wasn’t even trying. I guess it really works!”

Thus far the project has worked with more than 100 teachers and 2,000 students. Green Ninja Show episodes have had more than a million views on YouTube and TeacherTube.  

To learn more about the Green Ninja, visit

David Klein

Illustrator David Klein Visits SJSU A/I

Photo by Charlotte Chen

September 25th -  Illustrator David Klein gave a presentation to A/I students detailing his artistic process and thirty-year career. Klein’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Scholastic, Weavings, Washington Post, Marvel and DC comics, BusinessWeek, and Random House.

“I met David Klein thirteen years ago,” A/I professor Inga Poslitur said. “Since he was visiting the West Coast, I asked him to come and speak to my class. We had a room full of students and a spillover room filled with Animation students watching David’s presentation via Google Hangout.”

Klein showed examples of his editorial illustrations, scratchboard illustrations and discussed his transition from illustrating for newspapers and magazines to storyboarding for advertising agencies. He advised the students to always keep a sketchbook, draw from observation, and work on their own personal projects.


July 2014

A/I Student Selected as a Finalist in Zankel Scholarship Competition

This summer, SJSUAI student Taylor Lambert visited the headquarters of The Society of Illustrators in New York as a finalist for the Zankel Scholarship competition.  

Offered by the Society of Illustrators, the Zankel scholarship awards a junior student significant financial support for his or her senior year. Other finalists this year were Xanthe Bouma of the Maryland Institute College of Art and Brenna Thummler of Ringling College of Art and Design.

This year's judges included Gail Anderson (Art Director), Teresa Fasolino (Illustrator), Brendan Leach (Illustrator), Stephen Savage (Illustrator), and Len Small (Art Director, Nautilus Magazine). 

Though Lambert didn't win the scholarship, he enjoyed the trip out to New York:

"Though I wasn't selected as the Zankel Scholar, the experience was an absolutely positive one," he said. "I was flown out to New York and treated to an amazing dinner hosted by the Society of Illustrators, where I had the pleasure of meeting several incredible artists. Everyone at the Society was fantastic; they were all super friendly, encouraging, and supportive. " 

To view the work of the student finalists, go to


Marty CooperJuly 2014

SHM Alum gets “Tested” by Mythbuster  

SHM alum Marty Cooper appeared on Adam Savage’s “Tested”, a YouTube channel where Savage (from the show “Mythbusters”) and other hosts do short segments on cool stuff that interests them. Marty is gaining recognition for his imaginative drawings and animations of cartoon characters interacting with a physical environment. In the “Tested” episode, Marty explained how he draws his animations on location, and created an animated clip right in Savage’s workshop. To make his animations, Marty draws on acetate, overlays it on the environment around him, and takes a photo with his iPhone. With his economical setup, Marty can animate everywhere and anywhere.

To see Marty Cooper on “Tested”, visit here
To see more of Marty’s animation, visit here



May 2014

Working Parts: SJSU Animation/Illustration BFA Senior Show 2014

We will have an opening reception next Friday, May 2nd, from 7:00PM for South First Fridays Art Walk. Stop by for some good company and a night of artistic inspiration!

The gallery is located at:
Works/San Jose
365 South Market Street
Downtown San Jose, 95113
nearby the McEnery Convention Center

The gallery will be on exhibit from May 2 through May 24, 2014. Works/San Jose is open to the public on the following days and hours:

Thursdays, noon to 4PM
Fridays, noon to 6PM
Saturdays, noon to 4PM

We hope to see you there!


D DaySaturday, April 26, 2014


Just another Saturday in April for many, but for the A/I program it was D-Day. University Theater was filled with A/I students at the biggest A/I event of the year, cheering wildly and laughing crazily. An annual tradition, D-Day is organized by the Shrunkenheadman Club. This year it was hosted by alums Colin and Annie Fix.  Colin Fix founded D-Day as a student in the A/I program.

At this D-Day, there were dancing Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers throwing candy at the audience, cultural references galore, Shakespearean hip hop, draw-offs to settle disputes, explosions, dancing, strong words, Jaegers, frantically whistling emcees, nightmarish rigs, Californians obsessed with directions, and the passing of the torch to a new generation of harbingers of crazy fun.

To really understand it you have to be there.  Good thing there’s always next year.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A/I Represents at SJSU Honors Convocation

Photo by Shih Hao Tseng

Led by A/I lecturer Jeff Jackson, a group of A/I students walked to the Event Center to cheer on their fellow Shrunkenheads who were being honored at the SJSU Honors Convocation. 118 students from the program made either President’s or Dean’s Scholar, with A/I student Nicolle Castro walking the stage as a President’s Scholar. Afterwards family and friends gathered in the art quad to take photos.

President’s Scholars are those undergraduate students who have earned a 4.0 grade point average at San José State University in at least two contiguous semesters of the three semesters prior to the Honors Convocation.

Dean’s Scholars are those undergraduate students who have earned a 3.65 or higher grade point average at San José State University in at least two contiguous semesters of the three semesters prior to the Honors Convocation.

Congratulations to the honorees!

NintendoFriday, April 25, 2014

Nintendo Gallery

Photo by Grace Chen

Shrunkenheadman students and faculty attended the opening reception of the Nintendo Gallery at Umpqua Bank.

Inspired by the 2013 Rare Candy: Pokémon Charity Gallery, the San Jose State University ShrunkenHeadMan Club's Charity Committee arranged Press Start: Nintendo Charity Gallery. On display until May 16, the gallery features characters from a variety of Nintendo games, such as The Legend of Zelda, Earthbound, Animal Crossing, Mario, and many more.

All of the artists are from San Jose State University's Animation/Illustration program. Interested students and alumni were assigned a random character from their favorite Nintendo game. Artists were given complete artistic freedom on their piece, and came up with a variety of styles for the popular games.

Proceeds from the gallery auction will go to the Morgan Autism Center, an organization devoted to helping autistic individuals.

For more information about Morgan Autism Center, visit:
To bid online, go to

Gallery Information
The gallery and bidding will be open from April 25th to May 16th. 
The gallery is generously hosted by:
Umpqua Bank
225 West Santa Clara
Suite 150
San Jose, CA 95113

Gallery hours of operation:

Monday - Thursday: 9:00AM to 5:00PM
Friday: 9:00AM to 6:00PM

Admitted Spartans DayApril 2014

Admitted Spartans Day

Photo by Ting Yu Chen

The Animation/Illustration program welcomed potential freshman and junior transfers to San Jose State on Admitted Spartans Day, Saturday, April 12. The university-wide open house allows accepted students and their parents to visit the campus and see various departments.  In the Art building, the A/I program opened its classrooms and computer labs so prospective students and their parents could tour the facilities, see examples of student work and ask questions of faculty and current students working on campus that day.

A/I faculty gave presentations explaining the philosophy of the program and answered scheduling questions.  During the presentations, graduating seniors shared their experiences and advised the incoming class to take advantage of the strong community that the students here have fostered.  The many Shrunkenheads who volunteered their time on a Saturday to participate in Admitted Spartans Day exemplified that spirit.

Special thanks to the A/I students who helped out with the event!

Wushu Figure DrawingApril 11, 2014

Wushu Figure Drawing

Photo by Youri Dekker

The Shrunkenheadman Club(SHM) held a special afternoon figure drawing session in coordination with the SJSU Wushu Club.  Members of the Wushu Club performed their moves out in the Art Quad, holding poses from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, while Shrunkenheads drew them.  Around 40 -50 SHMers attended.

According to SHM Model Coordinator Rachel Roubicek, this collaboration began 2 years ago and has been ongoing every spring semester since.  

The SHM hosts figure drawing sessions weekly. For details, visit

For more information on the Spartan Wushu Club, visit

Dreamworks Visits SJSUAI

April 11, 2014
Dreamworks Visits SJSUAI

Photo by Olivia Asis

On Friday, April 11, DreamWorks University Relations Manager Tiffany Feeney spent the day at SJSU, reviewing portfolios, interviewing students, and giving a great presentation detailing the DreamWorks production process.

Dreamworks, the studio behind films such as How to Train your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and most recently Mr. Peabody and Sherman, has worked with the SJSU Animation/Illustration program over the years to provide learning opportunities for A/I students. In addition to sending recruiters, Dreamworks has provided guest lecturers and helped set up Dreamcrits, distance learning sessions where A/I students have the chance to have their work reviewed by professionals.

Cassidy Curtis Speaks

April 2014

Dreamworks Supervising Animator Cassidy Curtis Speaks at SJSU

Photo by Ting-Yu Chen

The latest in a lineup of incredible guest speakers to visit SJSU this semester, Dreamworks animator Cassidy Curtis gave a talk to the Animation/Illustration program on Friday, April 4.  WSQ 109 was packed with students eager to learn what the industry veteran had to say about the animator as designer. 

Curtis emphasized the importance of fundamental artistic principles in the newer medium of computer animation, sharing clips of his work on films such as Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.  To the amazement of the audience, he revealed a shot of Alex the lion fromMadagascar that was the 3-D equivalent of a smear frame.  

“As technology for 3-D animation advances, it returns back to its traditional 2-D beginnings,” A/I student Sony Tran said.

Curtis examined how current technology and approaches to 3-D animation are heavily influenced by traditional principles of 2-D animation and design.  Studios try to push the technology to better capture the character, appeal, and shape language found in the concept art drawings made for the films.  Curtis encouraged the audience to push the limitations of computer animation. 

“The computer will always seduce you into producing something mediocre,” Curtis told the students. “Don’t settle for default.”


A/I visits London

March 2014

A/I visits London

Photo courtesy of David Chai

From March 12 to March 21, SJSUAI students traveled to London, England for a whirlwind tour of studios and sights. Eleven students and three faculty visited animation/visual effects studios such as Double Negative (Harry Potter series), Prime Focus World Studios (Gravity), Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit), and Nexus Productions (shorts and commercials).  Students got an inside look at the kind of work the studios do and how they operate.

“Aardman Animation was the final studio tour and for me, it was the most enlightening experience because the studio showed us process reels as well as videos that were behind the scenes. We got to see making of's as well as original stop motion rigs and sets for productions like Wallace & Gromit and Morph,” said A/I student Rachel Roubicek.

The days were also action-packed with history and culture at places such as the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert museum, and the Tate Modern.  Highlights also included a visit to King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 ¾ from the Harry Potter series.

Roubicek had this to say about the overall experience: “The trip was incredible and with Bunny and Courtney giving insightful and worthwhile information every day about the places we saw, it was something special. Seeing the city celebrate St. Patrick's day was fun and exciting as well as seeing the musical Once was amazing and dare I say it, a once in a lifetime experience. I can't thank Bunny, Courtney and Dave enough for letting me go on the trip and having such a fun adventure along the way.”


March 2014

SJSUAI Hosts Spectrum Judging

Photo by Grace Chen  

SJSUAI was proud to host the judging for the annual Spectrum competition on March 1st.  Spectrum is an annual competition showcasing the best of contemporary fantasy and science-fiction art.  The judges this year were children’s book illustrator Cory Godbey, concept artist J. Anthony Kosar, painter/photographer George Pratt, concept artist Shelly Wan, and painting/concept artist/illustrator Allen Williams.

Shrunkenheadman volunteers helped facilitate the judging, organizing and laying out submissions for the judges.


aiFebruary 2014

Optics for Artists Gallery Show

Photo by Grace Chen

There was a great turnout for the Optics for Artists Gallery Show in February. Celebrating the successful interdisciplinary collaboration between the faculty and students of the Physics department and Animation/Illustration program, the show marked the wrap of the Optics research grant and launched the Optics for Artists Handbook.

The book is a culmination of the research done by the Optics research group. The NSF-sponsored project sought to develop innovative STEM curriculum that would make the physics of light accessible to artists. Professors from both Physics and A/I participated in the grant. Principal investigators were Physics professors Peter Beyersdorf and Alejandro Garcia, and A/I professors John Clapp and Raquel Coelho.  Graduate student Angela Wu assisted the investigators and produced the book. This grant brought $200,000 to SJSU, in addition to many incredible lecturers and events for A/I students.  

Thanks to all who came out and shared in the celebration!

Free pdfs of the book are available herePrinted books are available at cost here.


February 2014
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Director Speaks at SJSU

Photo by TingYu Chen

Director Kris Pearn gave an amazing storyboarding lecture and pitched many of his sequences from his various films to Animation/Illustration students this February in Morris Dailey Auditorium.  Pearn directed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and storyboarded Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Pearn demonstrated his storyboarding technique as students listened to his animated and entertaining pitches. He also talked about his experiences as a first-time director and career in the industry. A/I students not only learned about storyboarding, but received career advice as well.

“I learned that to be a good artist there is no magic bullet. You have to take on hard jobs head on, you have to have confidence and just do it even though you don't know how. Always practice and ask the people around you for their crits. Your personality is really important too in the job force,” A/I student Dustin Meyer said.


February 2014
Hallmark and Blue Sky Recruiters Visit SJSUAI 

Photo by TingYu Chen

SJSUAI welcomed Hallmark and Blue Sky recruiters to the campus this February. SJSU A/I Grads Adan Chung and Ramon Olivera, now working at Hallmark, came home to visit.  The grads conducted portfolio reviews, interviewed students for internships, and presented a company overview.

Blue Sky, the film studio that made Ice Age, also sent recruiters to SJSU in February. Deb Stone (Manager, Talent Development)  & Michael Daley (Story Artist) conducted portfolio reviews and interviews, informed students of internships, and gave a storyboarding lecture. 

Hosting recruiters is a key part of the A/I program at SJSU, providing students an opportunity to learn about different companies and the job/internships they offer.


aiJanuary 31, 2014

How Illustrators Invented America: A special presentation by Alice Carter

Photo by Grace Chen

In January, A/I professor and co-founder Alice “Bunny” Carter presented a special talk on the history of American illustration to the Animation/Illustration program. Generously sharing her insight and knowledge, Carter discussed how illustrators have shaped perceptions of America, both at home and abroad, throughout the nation’s history. From the myth of the noble savage to the myth of the common man, from Uncle Sam to the Arrow Collar man and the Gibson Girl, illustrators created stories and images in their artwork that captured people’s imaginations and influenced their beliefs—ideas and images which still persist today.

Students and alums alike attended the event, filling Morris Dailey Auditorium on a Friday night. "It's the 4th time I have attended this lecture and I always learn something new,” A/I student Samia Khalaf said. “I think it's priceless information that needs to be turned into a book for future generations.”

January 2014

Pew pew!  Shrunkenheads Game It Up

Photo courtesy of Tamara Chang

Who says you have to graduate before pursuing your interests? Sharing a passion for game development, Animation/Illustration students Tamara Chang, Pauline Pham, and Matthew White, along with other SJSU students, formed their own game development group and started making video games.

Calling themselves Pew Pew Studios (after their first game), the students are part of the GameDev Club and have already completed several games, including Pew Pew, Vivera, Murphy's Diamond, and Immunity. Many of their games feature innovative concepts and approaches to gaming.  In the game Immunity, the player is the immune system of a sickly body and controls white blood cells with his or her own brainwaves, via a NeuroSky headset.

Last semester Pew Pew Studios won $2500 at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge for their work and was offered a 4-month long mentorship with SpartUps , an accelerator program for early stage startups.

 "I have learned so much through helping to develop and being an artist for Pew Pew Studios. Working in a team with so many people with different types of skills and majors to create video games is exciting and inspiring. It motivates me to work harder in my animation classes because I want to use new skills I learn in class to improve Pew Pew Studios," group member Tamara Chang said.

Pew Pew Studios is currently working on a game called The Other Branch. Check out their Facebook page at

The GameDev Club meets Thursdays at 7:15pm, room 241 in the Art Building. 


ma festivalNovember 2013

SJSUAI students win at CSU Media Arts Festival

Photo courtesy of Hillary Bradfield

Animation/Illustration students took top honors at this year’s CSU Media Arts Festival. Hillary Bradfield’s animated short “Edith and the Bear” placed first in Animation and took Best in Show, while Christy Becker’s screenplay, Coyote Children, placed second in the Feature Screenplay category.  

Bradfield expressed thanks to her crew: “I'd really like to say a thank you to our film crew. It was an incredible honor to win Best in Show and Best in Animation at CSU Media Arts. There were so many inspiring projects shown in the festival. Big thanks to the Edith and the Bear crew. They were the best crew to work with. I have so many people to thank for this film--my professors at SJSU, and the mentors that helped me outside of school from Nickelodeon and Dreamworks. It took an army to make this film.”

The RTVF department also did well at the festival, garnering wins in the Feature Screenplay, Short Screenplay and Music Video categories.

According to the CSU Summer Arts website, the Media Arts Festival was established “in 1991 to give talented students studying film, video, and interactive media within the 23-campus California State University system an opportunity to present their work for critical review. Distinguished CSU professors and industry leaders choose the student finalists and winners in the film, video, and interactive media competition, and all finalist works are screened during the Festival. Cash prizes and the prestigious Rosebud Award are awarded to the winning student entries.” 

For a complete list of winners, click here.


studentsNovember 15, 2013


Photo by Ting Yu Chen

In November, industry artists Amy Beth Christenson, Chris Voy, John-Paul Balmet, Sean Pando and Will Nichols presented their book Punch Drunk Moustache. The book, which also includes work from three other industry artists, showcases their off-the-clock visual development, concepts and art. All eight artists involved with the book have collectively worked for companies such as Lucasfilm Animation, LucasArts, Pixar, Capcom, Squaresoftand Electronic Arts; two are SJSU alums - J.P.Balmet and Jeff Sangalli.  

The artists at the event gave insightful stories on their transition from students to professionals.

"Our guest speakers really encouraged me to pour my heart into my personal projects. If I do that, then others can see that this is what I am passionate about, and it is something I am willing to invest my time into," said A/I student Jessica Tong.  

Phillip Yoon echoed the sentiment. “I learned that personal work was a far more compelling component to one’s portfolio. From the speakers' testimonies, their personal work was the big draw for recruiters looking for employees. And you just have to be the best in the world,” he said.

The artists who came stayed long after the presentation, signing books for long lines of appreciative A/I students.

The book is available here.



November 8, 2013


Photos by Shih-Hao Tseng

November has been a busy month for hosting industry guests. Recruiters from Nickelodeon returned to SJSUAI on November 6, while SonyPlaystation visited the program for the first time on November 8. They informed students of internship and full-time employment opportunities and described what life was like at the studios. Such visits give students a valuable glimpse into each company and industry expectations.

Pixar is scheduled for November 22.

free birdsNovember 3, 2013

AI Alumni Host Special Screening of Free Birds

Photo courtesy of David Chai

Returning SJSUAI alumni treated a packed theater of SHMers to a special opening weekend screening of their new film release, Free Birds. Reel FX Creative Studios Head of Story, Jeff Biancalana, along with story artists Josh Zinman, Marty Cooper and Taylor Hsieh, hosted a behind-the-scenes look on the making of the film and stayed late into the evening answering questions after the showing.

“The presentation was amazing. It was so inspiring to see how the storyboards translated to the film,” said Animation/Illustration student Da-Hee Im.

Big thanks to other SHM alumni, Renee Carty, Brandon W. Moore, Claire Marshall, and Leila Beverleigh for joining the festivities!


steve hicknerNovember 1, 2013


Photo by Shih-Hao Tseng

SJSUAI welcomed entertainment industry veteran Steve Hickner to SJSU this November. Hickner, who has worked as director, producer, and story artist for films such as Bee Movie, Prince of Egypt and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, gave an all-day talk to Animation/Illustration students. Hickner’s all-day lecture was divided into two parts. The first half focused on the use of cuts and close-ups in films and the second half discussed his book, Animating Your Career, a guide to navigating the journey of a career in the creative fields—from getting a foot in the door to directing a project involving hundreds of artistic professionals. The book is filled with practical advice from Hickner and many of the top creatives he has worked with over the years.

Hickner has spoken at SJSU several times before, generously sharing his invaluable insight and advice on film-making and storytelling.


ottawaOctober 2013

SJSU Animation/Illustration Invades Canada

Trekking all the way to the Great White North, Animation/Illustration (A/I) instructors David Chai and David Yee led a group of 16 students and 2 alumni to the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), from 9/19 – 9/23. Funded in part by donations raised at monthly student-run film screenings, the group managed to watch 75 short and 3 feature-length animated films, and attend numerous artist presentations over the short three day visit. The group also had the opportunity to meet with students, industry professionals, and film makers from around the world at the daily social events. Professor Chai points out “The OIAF is the oldest and best attended animation festival in North America, and is a highlight of the year for many of our students.” Kayla Rymes confirms this notion, “Man, this was one of the best times of my life. Couldn't have asked for a better group of friends to spend this weekend with. To Ottawa!”

24 hours

October 2013

SJSU Animation/Illustration students take on the 24 Hours Animation Challenge

SJSU Animation/Illustration (A/I) students fired it up all night long for the 24 Hours Animation Contest, a nationwide competition to create 30-second animated films about a specified theme in 24 hours.  More than 70 students from A/I program competed against ten other schools, with two teams from San Jose winning second and fourth place in the competition.

The theme, “What would you do if you only had 24 hours left to live?” was given to the competitors on Friday, September 27 at 5:30pm. The teams of five had until Saturday, September 28 at 5:30pm to conceptualize and complete a 30-second film. Submissions were judged by a panel of industry professionals from studios such as Laika, Pixar, and Yellowshed.

The SJSU AI film, “The Caveman Capsule”, won second place.  Team members were Nicki Yee, Grace Lacuesta, Youri Dekker, Ryan Eways, and Ryan Ramirez. They were awarded 1-year licenses for DIGICEL Flipbook Pro, TOONBOOM Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro. The film can be viewed here.

Another SJSUAI film, “The Cookie of Doom”, won fourth place. Team members were Alvin Concepcion, Clayton Chan, Oscar Guevara, Amanda Sharpe, and Hunter Welker. They received Stuart Ng gift certificates and TOONBOOM Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro (1 year license). The film can be viewed here.

In all 47 films were completed. The schools which participated in the challenge were CSUN, MTSU, Kendall, Westwood, Mt San Antonio Community College, Academy of Art San Francisco, Woodbury University, South Dakota State University, Ringling College of Art and Design, and Jarupa Valley High School. Sponsors for the event were Creative Talent Network (CTN), Toon Boom, Digicel, ASIFA-Hollywood, DreamWorks and Stuart Ng Books.


October 2013

Dreamworks partners one more time with the Animation/Illustration program

DreamWorks Animation has partnered with the Animation/Illustration program for one more year of the very successful DreamCrits program. 

Organized by DreamWorks’ amazing outreach department and hosted by the company in its studio headquarters, DreamCrits is a bi-monthly event in which SJSU Animation/Illustration (A/I) students have an extended critique session with Dreamworks artists. Through this unique exchange A/I students have the benefits of receiving very detailed feedback on their art pieces, and they get to spend time discussing their art work with some of the most sought-after professionals in the field.

Over the years, the relationship of the studio with the Animation/Illustration program has expanded to include dedicated internship opportunities, student gallery shows at the DW studio, and DreamWorks artists teaching at the CSU Summer Arts program. Since the inception of the DreamCrit program in 2010, over 500 CSU students have participated, and Animation/Illustration students have been a constant presence. The A/I program is thrilled to start one more round of the Dreamcrits program, and can't wait for the amazing sessions with DreamWorks artists.


goalSeptember 2013

SJSU Animators Help Promote Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This summer, five SJSU Animation/Illustration (A/I) students worked overtime preparing a 30-second commercial to bring awareness to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month; observed in September. Professor David Chai was approached by a fellow SJSU alum about producing animation for ‘Brandon’s Goal Foundation’, a charitable organization that raises money and awareness to help end childhood cancer.  The commercial would tell the story of Brandon Brauns, a brave young boy, after whom the foundation is named.

Chai was excited about the prospect, “Our students have been heavily involved with charitable fundraising for years, but this was the first opportunity we’ve had to use animation in this way.”

The student animation team was excited as well. “There was so much we wanted to tell about this important story, but the challenge was fitting it all into 30 seconds” says graduating senior, Wendell Dalit. Along with his team mates Youri Dekker, Aldo Kcomt, Kevin Lam, Catharina Sukiman and Music student Josh Zamora, the group worked feverishly through August to meet the September deadline.

Although the team had to endure many sleepless nights to produce the spot, Dalit found the whole experience to be very rewarding. “The hard work was not an issue at all. The idea of using my art in a way that can make some sort of difference in peoples’ lives, kept us going all the way through to the end.”

For more information about ‘Brandon’s Goal Foundation’, please click here.

To see the finished commercial, please click here.

show of shows

September 2013

Animation Show of Shows Comes to SJSU

The SJSU Animation/Illustration program hosted a special screening of the Animation Show of Shows at San Jose State University this September.  On Wednesday the 25th, Acme Filmworks founder Ron Diamond presented his traveling selection of the year’s best animated shorts to San Jose State students and their guests.  The Show of Shows featured animation from all over the world, impressing the audience with the great variety in style and story.

Accompanying Mr. Diamond were several directors of this year’s films, including Edmunds Jansons of “International Father’s Day”, Yula Aranova of “My Mom is an Airplane!”,  and Jonathan Ng of “Requiem for Romance”.  The directors answered questions from the students after the show.

tom peak

September 27, 2013  

The Art of Bob Peak

SJSU A/I was proud to host Tom Peak for a presentation/lecture about his late father’s work. Bob Peak was one of a handful of illustrators who defined the visuals of the late 20th century. His work spanned several fields, including advertising, magazine covers, and movie posters. He did cover illustrations for Time magazine, TV Guide, and Sports Illustrated, and his innovative design helped develop the look of the modern movie poster The Art of Bob Peak (a beautiful coffee-table book showcasing Bob Peak’s work) is available at:

 August 20th, 2013
Dick Blick Donates to SJSU A/I!

Dick Blick Art Materials generously donated forty (40!) new drawing horses to SJSU A/I for use in the 3rd floor figure drawing room.  Thank you Dick Blick!  And thank you to the 32(!) students who showed up on their last day of summer vacation to help assemble them before the start of classes!


sum artsJuly 31, 2013

Animators Fire it Up at CSU Summer Arts

From July 1 to July 14, San Jose State Animation/Illustration Professor David Chai took up residence in student housing at CSU Monterey Bay to coordinate an intensive CSU Summer Arts course; “DreamWorks Animation: Acting and Emotional Expression.” Together with Rex Grignon, Head of DreamWorks Character Animation and Los Angeles-based actor Todd Waring, Professor Chai provided a venue for sixteen fortunate students to improve their understanding of a demanding discipline. The course marked the first Summer Arts class sponsored by DreamWorks Animation and was an extension of the collaboration between the CSU and DreamWorks. This valuable partnership is supported by DreamWorks Outreach as well as the Chancellor’s Entertainment Industry Initiative.

Eight students from San Jose State, three from Chico State, two from CSU Northridge, one from CSU Fullertonand two more from private institutions persevered through two weeks of challenging work. Although the course was difficult, the results were significant. Rex Grignon was impressed. “It’s incredible watching the students plow through these projects. It doesn’t seem like much doing six seconds of animation, but even at the professional level, an animator does about three seconds of animation per week. So they really worked at a professional pace.” San Jose State student, Justin Vu agreed. “Rex’s approach really accelerated my animation process,” he wrote. “What would normally take me weeks to get done, I can now finish in days. I’m pretty sure I’ll be using these techniques for the rest of my life.”

Professor Chai, who was coordinating a Summer Arts course for the first time, was enthusiastic about both the class and the value of the CSU Summer Arts experience. “This program not only allowed the students to learn about animation, but also immersed them into a two-week artistic colony; surrounding them with actors, musicians, stage combatants, painters, and writers. I’m sure that most of the students have also made some friends for life. I’d recommend the CSU Summer Arts program to anyone.”


Couch Potato GalleryMay 20–June 8, 2013

SJSU Animation/Illustration Students are National Finalists for the 40th Annual Student Academy Awards

Couch and Potatoes, a stop-motion, animated short film directed by SJSU Animation/Illustration students Eunsoo Jeong and Christopher Lam, has been selected to be a National Finalists for the 40th Annual Student Academy Awards.

The Student Academy Awards is a national student film competition conducted by the Academy and the Academy Foundation. Each year over 500 college and university film students from all over the United States compete for awards and cash grants, with films being judged in four categories: Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Alternative. Film students from outside the U.S. are honored each year as well. The presentation ceremony is a popular event that is annually attended by a capacity audience in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

To reach this stage, U.S. students competed in one of three regional competitions. Each region is permitted to send to the Academy up to three finalists in each of the four categories.

Through the Student Academy Awards, the Academy recognizes and encourages this country’s most promising new filmmakers. Past winners include Spike Lee, Trey Parker, Bob Saget and Oscar winners John Lasseter and Robert Zemeckis.

Final judging by the Academy will be completed by May 20, 2013, and announcement of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal Award winners in each category will be made at the Student Academy Awards Presentations on June 8, 2013, in Beverly Hills, California.

SJSU Animation/Illustration Program Coordinator, Alice Carter, is ecstatic. “We are so proud of Eunsoo and Chris and all of the success they have earned from their film. We are especially gratified to honor a goal we set with DreamWorks Animation in 2008, when they made a significant donation to our program. At that time, DreamWorks told us that they would like to have an SJSU Student Academy Award nominee within five years. Thanks to our dedicated faculty and motivated students, we made it. Sharing this news with Dreamworks was the icing on the cake.”

Cory Fuller and Lauren Brown Cartoon Network

May 2013
Animation/Illustration Students Hired at Cartoon Network

Animation/Illustration (A/I) graduating seniors Cory Fuller and Lauren Brown have been hired at Cartoon Network. Fuller will be working as a background designer on the show Uncle Grandpa and Brown will be a Production Assistant on Ben 10: Omniverse. Both attribute their studies with SJSU’s A/I program to their successes.

Lauren Brown writes, “The Animation/Illustration program at SJSU prepared me for a job in the Animation industry. The faculty and the A/I program taught me to work hard and challenged me to go beyond what I thought was possible in terms of my own personal goals. Without the A/I Faculty's support, I would never be where I am today.”

Cory Fuller adds “The thing about the program that prepared me most for this job was working on numerous animated short film projects. The majority of my graduation portfolio consisted of background layouts and designs from summer and student short films. These projects were perfect training for working on the show. They gave me not only insight into how to apply my work to the production pipeline, but more importantly they gave me the opportunity to learn about and get better at something that I love to do.  Everyone at Cartoon Network is just as silly too!”

Fuller stresses most importantly however, “My contract will extend through August, which is when the show airs. At which point the studio will see if gets picked up for more seasons. So tell everybody to watch it so I can keep working! ;)”

Congratulations to another two of our great A/I students!


Lauren Zurcher

May 2013

Animation/Illustration Student Making Legends

SJSU Animation/Illustration senior, Lauren Zurcher, is helping to make animation legends! Lauren spent the summer of 2012 interning at Nickelodeon animation in Burbank, CA, working on The Legend of Korra, and has just accepted a full time offer to work on the show after graduation! Lauren says, "My education at SJSU prepared me for a dream job where I continue to learn and grow as an artist." Lauren will be the eleventh SJSU A/I alumni to be currently working at the studio.

Couch and PotatoesFebruary 15-17, 2013

SJSU Animation Takes Top Awards in Festival

Two films produced in the Animation/Illustration program at San Jose State have won awards at the AsiansOnFilm Festival.  "Couch & Potatoes" a stop-motion film produced and directed by May 2012 Graduate Chris Lam & current senior Eunsoo Jeong, was the winner in the Short Animation category. "A Knock On My Door," Directed by Associate Professor David Chai and produced by his 2012 Advanced Animation class took Honorable Mention in the same category.

The Festival, which is sponsored by Asians on Film. com, will run from February 15-17, 2013 at J.E.T. Studios in North Hollywood.


Tule Lake


January 5, 2013

Tule Lake – 2 Wins at the Creative Awards

2012 Animation/Illustration graduate Michelle Ikemoto and a production team composed of her classmates in the 2012 Advanced Animation class won awards for Best Film Under 30 Minutes and Best Student Film for their animated short film, Tule Lake. Tule Lake is a tribute to the Director’s late grandmother and the risks she took to preserve normalcy for her family during their exile in the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II. The awards were sponsored by CreaTV San Jose, a non-profit, public benefit corporation serving the City of San Jose whose mission is to inspire, educate and connect San Jose communities, using media to foster civic engagement. The ceremony was held on January 5, 2013 at San Jose’s historic California Theater.

Previous wins for Tule Lake include 1st Place in the Animation category and a tie for Best In Show in the CSU Media Arts festival in November 2012.  To learn more about the film, please visit

A Knock on my Door

January 4, 2013

New York Society of Illustrators Gold Medal

Associate Professor David Chai and his production team consisting of current SJSU A/I students and alumni won the Gold Medal in the Moving Image Category at the New York Society of Illustrators 55th Annual Exhibition for their animated short film "A Knock on My Door.” The film has a two-fold San Jose State connection as it documents the life of David Chai’s father, Hi Dong Chai, Professor Emeritus, SJSU Electrical Engineering. 

The awards ceremony was held on January 4th in New York City. The Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition is open to artists worldwide, and each year a jury of top professionals considers thousands of entries before selecting the best for inclusion in their exhibition at the Society’s gallery in New York. Professor Chai’s accomplishment marks the first time that SJSU has received a Gold Medal at this prestigious venue. 


Eve Redeemed

January 2013

Society of Illustrators Los Angeles Gold Medal

Five illustrations by SJSU A/I Lecturer, Inga Poslitur were accepted into the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles Illustration West 51 Competition. Her illustration "Eve Redeemed" received the Gold medal. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles (SILA) was founded in 1953 to promote the professional status of illustration art as well as to foster both philanthropic and educational projects. From this small beginning, SILA has grown into a productive membership whose work is seen locally and nationally by millions in printed media, television, films, the Internet and gallery exhibitions. Today SILA is firmly established as a major professional art entity on the West Coast.


Short Film Art by Ishmael HooverOctober 18–21, 2012

Animation/Illustration Student Film Selected for the 2012 San Jose International Short Film Festival

"Tule Lake," A short film produced in ANI 118 (Advanced Animation) was just accepted into the 2012 San Jose International Short Film Festival. May 2012 graduate Michelle Ikemoto wrote and directed the film, which is based on her grandmother’s experience in the Tule Lake Relocation Center during World War II.  "Tule Lake" tells a story of perseverance and the strength of family bonds during the Japanese-American internment," Ikemoto writes. Other Animation/Illustration students who contributed to Ikemoto's  film include Erin Schleupner, Cody Gramstad, Timothy Tang, Joanna Johnen, Christopher Lam, Jong Kim, Alan Pasman, Salvatore Criscione, and Ishmael Hoover. The San José International Short Film Festival runs from October 18 through October 21 at the Cinearts Theater on Santana Row. 

Art by Ishmael Hoover


Winners of Honorable Mention at the Ottawa Animation FestivalSeptember 19-23, 2012

Animation/Illustration Film wins Honorable Mention at the Ottawa Animation Festival

Why Do We Put Up With Them, a film directed by Animation/Illustration (A/I) Associate Professor David Chai, won an Honorable Mention award in the “Short Animation for Children” category at the Ottawa 2012 International Animation Festival, North America’s longest running and most prestigious venue for animation art. The film was one of only 97 selected from the 2376 entries submitted worldwide. In such a competitive venue, it is remarkable that Professor Chai produced his film on campus during the summer of 2011 with the help of a team of twenty-two A/I student volunteers.
“The Ottawa Animation Festival is known for being highly selective. This is the first SJSU film to be accepted since we first began submitting in 1999. So this is a real honor for us, and another great reflection of the success of our program,” Professor Chai writes.

Fundraising efforts by the Shrunkenheadman Club made it possible for sixteen A/I students to accompany Professor David Chai and lecturer David Yee to the festival, which ran from September 19 through September 23. Because the majority of the films are unavailable elsewhere, this venue presented a unique opportunity for the students who attended. In addition to the film screenings, the A/I students met with internationally known animators and directors, as well as other students from around the world.


Graduate Joins Pixar StudiosAugust 2012

Animation/Illustration Graduate Joins Pixar Studios

When Yung-han Chang was offered an internship in the story department at Pixar Studios, he was not sure if he could accept. As an International student, he needed authorization from the International Program Services office as well as official paperwork for Curricular Practical Training—a process that usually requires more time than Pixar was prepared to give him. Fortunately, A/I Internship coordinator Professor Courtney Granner and Assistant Director of International Students, Louis Gecenok understood the importance of this opportunity. Yung-han got his paperwork, and with it a chance to work at the world’s most prestigious animation studio. He made the most of this chance, and at the end of August when he completed his internship he was offered a position as a Pixar story artist. “Most top studios demand that their student hires are receiving faculty-supervised internship credit,” says Professor Granner. “That’s why we are so happy to offer this opportunity to students like Yung-han whose scholarship and talent put him among the best in the world.”


Animation Students for a Short Film Release

August 20, 2012

Animation/Illustration Students Earn Accolades for Short Film

“The Pod” a nine-minute film produced by Animation/Illustration seniors Jaydeep Hasrajani, Alvyn Villanueva, Carlos Nunez, Michael Harding, Nick Carpenter and Leonard Hung has recently been accepted into the Burbank International Film Festival. This latest honor comes following seven previous screenings in festivals nationally and internationally as well as a third place award in the ASIFA San Francisco Animation Showcase and semi-finalist status in the upcoming Adobe Design Achievement Awards. “The Pod” took five months to complete. “We work in a collaborative, no-ego environment,” Jaydeep Hasrajani writes. “There is no director because we all contribute to every step of the production.”

Dropped Image


Winner Technicolor/Palo Alto International Film festival Grand PrizeMay 2012

“Couch and Potatoes,” a stop-motion animated film

Animation/Illustration graduate Chris Lam and Senior A/I major Eunsoo Jeong just won the Technicolor/Palo Alto International Film festival Grand Prize. The festival runs for four days from September 27 through September 30 and features 50 films from the United States, Europe and Asia. “Couch and Potatoes” was completed in Spring 2012 and shown in the Animation/Illustration program’s annual Senior Exhibition on campus. Chris Lam has put his SJSU education to good use and is now working as an animator at Camouflaj, a game studio in Bellevue, Washington. Eunsoo Jeong, who will graduate in 2013, is currently in Los Angeles completing her internship at Nickelodeon Studios.