Meet Megan Leonard, one of our talented character designers here at Brown Bag Films, Toronto. Megan shared with us her journey to becoming a designer in animation, and revealed what some of the biggest challenges and rewards are in her chosen career.
1. Motto: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
2. Your current role at Brown Bag Films?
I am a Character Designer, currently working on the new series Luna Around The World.
3. What do you love most about your job?
Simply put, I really enjoy drawing more than anything else, and am grateful that I get to do so much of it in my role as a designer. I also enjoy and thrive through the collaboration with other artists. It’s a joy for me that I get to work with so many talented, generous and hard-working people at this studio! The learning and sharing is what makes the experience truly worthwhile and hopefully, the end result is an interesting and successful show.
4. What is your origin story?
Basically, I graduated from university with Bachelor of Fine Arts from York and struggled hard for a year after, trying to find meaningful and engaging work (something I was passionate about). I always had a deep fascination with animation as a child so I turned back to that as a sort of lifeline, and began researching colleges. I ended up studying at Max the Mutt for three challenging yet fulfilling years, and was lucky enough to get hired the weekend after I graduated. Fast forward over 7 years and I’m very happy to stay I’m still working here :)
5. Who influences you?
The brilliant and comedic minds of my friends, co-workers and family are constant reminders that inspiration and great stories exist all around, every day. I’m also inspired by the creative/comedic genius of artists like Stephen Silver, Chris Sanders, Kate Beaton, Loish van Baarle and Nico Marlet (just to name a few off the top of my head!)
6. What is one of the biggest challenges of your job?
The biggest challenge for me is trying to marry appealing design with an animated puppet, without too much compromise on either side. Add the pressure of tight TV deadlines, and it can be very challenging at times! Lots of creative problem solving.
7. Advice for designers who are just starting out in the industry?
For someone starting out, practice often and try to create a strong online presence of your work - this is key to helping you get a foot in the door at a studio. If you don’t know how to get started, consider researching schools where you can learn about many aspects of the animation industry (layout, storyboarding, animating, design, script writing, etc) to find what you’re most passionate about and how to direct your energy to create a strong portfolio. It will take some digging and research to find what means of learning will work best for you, but the effort will be worth it in the end. If you decide to go to college, it can be overwhelming at times, so I recommend creating small goals for yourself as you go along and celebrate each one as you achieve it. Let that be your motivation to keep moving ahead! Also, I recommend limited access to social media to be more efficient and less stressed about deadlines. A sense of humour, a support system (even just one person to help encourage you), and consistent exercise makes a great ally throughout school and when you are out there working in your field!
8. If you were an animated character, who would you be?
If I were an animated character, I suppose it would be Peppermint Patty (Peanuts). Aside from my nostalgic reasons for this choice, she was cool and tomboyish, and just wanted to get out there to participate in the big game. Despite her sometimes-awkward streak, she tried to do her best to be affable and a good pal and I always dug that about her.
9. What is your story outside of work?
I teach fitness classes twice a week with Fit Chicks (Canada’s largest Bootcamp for women!) We are always happy to welcome new gals wanting to try a class out (hint hint) - it’s good for the body and soul, especially after sitting at a desk all day! I also enjoy personal drawing projects, researching tattoo artists, biking and living in a city with some of the best restaurants!
Follow more of Megan’s work here: