Spotlight: #VisibleWomen of Brown Bag Films

Today, August 20th, sees the return of the #VisibleWomen hashtag on Twitter! The hashtag event was launched by production company Milkfed, founded by comic book writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, with the intent of shining a spotlight on talented women and non-binary artists and illustrators.

/images/labs/Brown-Bag-Films-VisibleWomen-Larisa-Bumb.PNG Background Artist Larisa Bumb - @Larapic /images/labs/Brown-Bag-Films-VisibleWomen-Kasia-Brzezinska.PNG 2D Designer Kasia Brzezinska - @avatarkasia /images/labs/Brown-Bag-Films-VisibleWomen-Kirsten-Shiel.PNG Assistant Art Director Kirsten Shiel - @KirstenShielART /images/labs/Brown-Bag-Films-VisibleWomen-Emily-Harvey.PNG 2D Designer Emily Harvey - @eharveyART /images/labs/Brown-Bag-Films-VisibleWomen-Lisa-Whittick.PNG Storyboard Artist & Assistant Director Lisa Whittick - @LisaWhittick

We wanted to support the trend and turn the spotlight on a few of our very own #VisibleWomen!


Meet Sarah Miskoff - a Senior 2D Animator in our Toronto studio!

What do you love most about your job?

I really love the people I work with and the animation community, it's great to have a team you can relate to. I also enjoy the satisfaction of completing a great project that people can enjoy.

Any advice for women trying to make their mark in the animation industry?

If it's something you are passionate about go for it and be unapologetic when reaching for your goal. Even if you fail, that's not the end, it's a lesson learned.

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Meet Kirsten Shiel - an Assistant Art Director in our Manchester studio!

How did you get into animation?

It's a funny story, full of coincidence. I've always loved drawing, my whole life, it was an obsession. But I never even remotely considered it a career option. The only time I had seen professional artists were people selling their paintings on Merrion Square. So when I was in transition year, my dad's friend put me in touch with Brown Bag Films in Dublin for work experience. It was the very first time I'd seen art as a job like that.

I doubt many of the Dublin guys remember me scribbling away at a light box for two weeks, but I remember how lovely they all were, especially Nicky Phelan, who let me photocopy as many of his art books as I wanted. There was no going back after that, I couldn't stand the idea of doing anything else as a career. So I came to England to go to university, and in a funny, round-about way, ended up back in Brown Bag in Manchester.

What advice would you give someone considering getting into animation?

This career is not easy, be under no illusion that the hard work stops when you land your first job, it's only just beginning. But it is absolutely worth it, if it's something you really want to do.

Sometimes my job is stressful and I complain, but honestly, I'm the happiest I could be, I wouldn't trade my job for anything in the world. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a background I'm REALLY proud of up on Nickelodeon's website, because I know I worked hard to produce it.

My other piece of advice would be to always be nice when networking. This industry is a lot smaller worldwide than you think it is, and people remember first impressions. But it's not hard to be nice to other animation nerds, we're all like a rare breed!

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Meet Gloria Gambino - our Dublin based 2D Designer!

What is your role and what does it encompass?

I'm a 2D Designer, which means I take care of the artistic development part of the production. Based on scripts and client needs, I design characters, environments and props that are functional and animation/modeling ready! That means what I do has to look cool, but also, and more importantly, be practical for the story and the production!

My job also involves solving problems in a creative way, while making something unique.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that we bring ideas, stories, and characters to life. That what we do here, can reach people from all over the world and it can bring them happiness and enjoyment. Also, that maybe they will recognise a bit of themselves in what we create and that, for me, is amazing!

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Meet Wen Ling Lim - a Storyboard Revisionist in our Toronto studio!

What is your role and what does it encompass?

I'm a Storyboard Revisionist! Our role involves making adjustments to existing storyboards based on feedback given, as well as fixing any minor errors we may catch along the way. It's like helping to build the skeleton of an episode, but the skeleton's already been pieced together by someone else and you've been given a list of things to fix or change about it because they think it'd make the skeleton more functional or appealing.

What do you love most about your job?

It's very fun and challenging. On top of having all your drawing and cinematography basics down, it can also involve quite a bit of mental work like being aware of how changes in one scene may affect another later in the episode and keeping track of all these things.

Additionally, since we're working off existing boards done by different storyboard artists, you can learn a lot from their work as you go through and dissect it.

Also you're in a pretty good position to watch how a show evolves and that's always cool. In general, I think story work is really fun because you get to see how something like a script can be interpreted visually, in so many different ways, by different people.

What skills are required in your position on a daily basis?

Honestly, there's so many things haha! Besides having basic draftsmanship and cinematography knowledge, I think it really helps if you're organized and make an effort to communicate with others on your team.

When you do revisions, you're usually part of a team of revisionists in addition to being part of the bigger team working on a production. Sometimes you will catch things or make changes that affect others (not just other revs, but sometimes others such as the design team, etc.) and it's always good to let them know.

And if you're stuck on something, it always helps to ask for a second opinion or advice from others!

As for staying organized, besides there being a lot of things to keep track of, it also ties back to being part of a team - the work doesn't stop at you and things get passed down the line to others. So it's good to try and keep things organized to help them out as well.

Also, I don't know if they'd be classified as skills, but I think being humble and willing to learn from anyone and everyone goes a long way too.

Any advice for women trying to make their mark in the animation industry?

It takes a lot and it's easier said than done, but I think hard work and persistance are a good start. If you have a goal, keep moving towards it even if the road seems uncertain and tough.

I also believe in having a good support system too - I have so many amazing female friends working in the industry right now and it's always nice to know we have each others' backs!

If you're in a position to help other artists out (especially those from disadvantaged groups) and support them then definitely do so!

Finally, tell your story. It just might help someone out.


Check out more from Wen on her website:

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Meet Nonna Medvedyeva - our Toronto based Design Supervisor!

What is your role and what does it encompass?

I'm a Design Supervisor and I manage the design team and make sure that all assets for each episode are complete.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the team, the design style of Nature Cat is very appealing and there are many interesting challenges associated with the role.

What skills are required in your position on a daily basis?

Art skills are a must, there's also alot of organization and people skills that are involved too.

Any advice for women trying to make their mark in the animation industry?

I think if you're diligent with your work it will always show, but also take initative when you see an opportunity.

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Meet Alexis Patoine - our Toronto based 3D Modeller!

What do you love most about your job?

I'm very lucky to have a creatively fulfilling job. Every time I come into work I know that I'm going to be stretching my artistic muscles, which is exactly what I'm in the industry to do! I also love that I'm always learning new things, and I have a great team with a wide range of skills to learn from.

What skills are required in your position on a daily basis?

Probably the most important skill for this job is problem solving. It's important to have an artistic eye and to be at least somewhat tech savvy, but 90% of the job is being presented with a problem and coming up with a solution for it.

It's definitely not mindless work; it takes a lot of critical thinking, and you have to be ready to learn as you go!

Any advice for women trying to make their mark in the animation industry?

Stick to your guns! There's nothing preventing you from pursuing your passion, especially in the world of animation. It may have been predominantly male in the past, but we're very lucky nowadays to be in an industry made up of people of all genders and races.

Work hard, be persistent, and I'm certain anyone can make it far. I'm looking forward to seeing the names of great women alongside pioneers like Walt Disney and Harryhausen someday!

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Meet Kasia Brzezinska - a 2D Designer in our Dublin studio!

What do you love most about your job?

Teamwork and the challenges it brings every day. And the people I get to work with, it's hard to find someone who's not at least a little 'geeky' and 'nerdy', everyone is into animation, so we all get along pretty well!

Also, the fact that you get to work with people from so many different backgrounds, countries and cultures! 

What advice would you give someone considering getting into animation?

Work a lot, and then a bit more.

Talk to people, put your work out there even if you think it's not great. Don't give up, ask for feedback and listen to it!

Be kind to people in the industry, and respect their time.

Don't settle down with one thing that you like to draw - make yourself 'uncomfortable' by experimenting and pushing yourself to try something new.

The internet is overflowing with the amount of amazing tutorials, artist, tips and tricks, you could even try asking someone to mentor you! There are a few people who would do that for less than the cost of an academic course in the UK, and you'd learn just as much.

/images/labs/Brown-Bag-Dublin-Art-Jam-Animal-chef-Kasia-Brzezinska-005.jpg /images/labs/Spiderman-Kasia-Brzezinska-01.jpg /images/labs/Champion_Vikings-ArtJam_KasiaBrzezinska.jpg Artwork by 2D Designer Kasia Brzezinska

Meet Janny Jin - one of our Toronto based Animators!

What do you love most about your job?

The best thing is that animators are like actors and actresses, they are the ones bringing these characters to life and telling the story through the characters' performance.

And I always learn a lot from our director, lead and other animators.

What skills are required in your position on a daily basis?

Toon boom Harmony, animation skills, storytelling through acting, communication, being a team player.

Any advice for women trying to make their mark in the animation industry?

If you want to make your first step into the industry, having a good demo reel and networking is necessary. If you are not there yet, just practice, learn and draw a lot.

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Meet Samantha Braithwaite - our Toronto based Storyboard Revisionist!

What do you love most about your job?

Learning from everyone at the studio. I'll be in the kitchen getting something and strike up a conversation if someone else happens to be there and I usually learn something neat. It's not always animation related maybe just a neat fact.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career as a storyboard revisionist?

Let people know you want to change departments early if there's another role that you feel is a better fit or your true goal. I talked to our HR Team about changing it up at a TAAFI job fair while I was working as an animator on another series.

A few months later, Wild Kratts season 4 was over and a new show needed someone to do storyboard revisions in Flash. I told my supervisor at the time that I really wanted it and he said he put in a good word for me. Later I was told because I asked about changing departments earlier it helped me get chosen for the board revisionist position.

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Be sure to follow more incredible artists via #VisibleWomen on Twitter!

Stefanie Zaarur

We Love Animation™

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