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23 May 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E010: Amy Tang: People Whisperer

Growing up in the sprawling serenity of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Amy Tang’s childhood is brimming with rural charm and the purest of pleasures but Amy's dreams and aspirations for the performing arts were bigger than her small-town roots. Her story is one of transformation, from farm life to city dwelling, and how the stark contrast of Winnipeg's urban sprawl shaped her cultural identity and nurtured her dreams of one day gracing the stage as a Disney princess.

In our conversation, Amy shares the unpredictability of her career, from the world of voice acting and a career in the healthcare sector which started as a part-time job that evolved into a passion for supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities. The entirety of her experience has led her to her current position as a supervising producer, supporting and leading artists to do their best work.

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9 May 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E09: Rick Mischel: Empowering Creative Talent

Rick Mischel’s journey took him from the electric buzz of Broadway in New York to the sunny embrace of South Florida and now as Founder and CEO of Artists Animation Studio, to Kelowna, BC.

His early days as a Club Med kids' club counselor and a number of other unexpected roles laid the foundation for an extraordinary path through the entertainment realm, a journey that brought him to Vancouver for a tenure at Rainmaker Studios, where he faced the daunting challenge of steering the company away from the brink of disaster. He shares the bold decisions, the difficult layoffs, and the personal sacrifices made to keep the dream alive. It's a tale of resilience and leadership, where transparency and respect become the keystones of a remarkable recovery.

His career in the boardrooms of Technicolor and Sony Pictures ImageWorks, and his pivotal role in the animation renaissance at Bardell have all led to this latest challenge: the formation of Artists Animation Studio where Rick looks forward to continuing a legacy of fostering a culture of creativity and innovation.

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25 April 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E08: Dawn Fidrick: Taking Creative Leaps

Dawn Fidrick's journey from the vibrant stages in Drexel Hill to the dynamic film sets of New York City is one of taking chances and seizing opportunities. Raised on the East Coast, Dawn shares how early experiences sparked her love for performing. Following the tragic events of 9/11, she found herself in New York, embarking on a 12-year adventure in the city and transitioning from stage to screen.

Dawn reveals the serendipitous moments that shaped her career in New York's film and theater scene. From responding to an ad that led to a key indie film project to a chance encounter in a coffee shop that turned into a lifelong partnership and filmmaking journey. She shares her growth from assistant director to producer and delves into her experience with the project Signs of Life, highlighting the emotional journey and strategies for maintaining momentum post-completion.

Whether you're an artist or a fan of behind-the-scenes stories, this episode promises a rich blend of personal anecdotes and professional insights from Dawn's journey in the creative arts.

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11 April 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E07: Faruk Heplevent: No Happy Accidents

Portrait Photo of Faruk Heplevent

Faruk Heplevent's story begins with a passion for photography and a neighbour's friend who needed an apprentice. The mix of technical and creative appealed to the young enthusiast and the precision and technicality he learned in those early years paid off as his career developed. Faruk was one of the few individuals who could process film on the go - a skill that set him apart from other photographers.

Rather than being angry after losing a job to CG, he saw it as the future for the industry and started The Scope, a CG studio dedicated to automotive marketing. He didn't know how a CG studio works, what tools and equipment he would need or how he would find artists but he had an idea: bring the creative to CG-generated automotive marketing.

While The Scope didn't begin as a tech company, Faruk and his team have embraced new technology to help drive their core value of creativity. If a tool can be used to help artists be more creative and deliver better assets to clients, it's worth exploring. The result is not only an award-winning studio but one that consistently innovates. Their latest achievement is Scope City, a procedurally designed full CG city location.

In this conversation, Faruk shares insights into how technology changed and continues to change the marketing landscape, finding work-life balance and discusses other use-case scenarios and the future for Scope City.

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28 March 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E06: Georgina Hayns: Fostering Creative Passion

Georgina smiling into the camera

Growing up in the English Midlands, Georgina Hayns defied academic norms, discovering her passion for the arts in a technical college. Her journey reflects the transformative power of parental support and prioritizing passion over conformity.

From childhood struggles to professional success, Georgina's story is a testament to embracing individuality. Her career trajectory highlights the importance of internships, networking, and mentorship. Working with industry giants like McKinnon and Saunders and collaborating with Tim Burton shaped her career and honed her craft.

Delving into the intricacies of puppetry, we explore armature-making, resilience, leadership in creative teams and the culmination of all her training coming together in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. Georgina's experiences offer a rare glimpse into the elusive world of stop-motion animation.

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29 February 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E05: Zach Lipovsky: Ripple Effect Master

Zach smiling into the camera

Zach Lipovsky has early memories of a childhood spent on sets surrounded by the buzz of TVs and master controls, thanks to his mother's career in television. But it was a transformative experience at the tender age of nine when Jurassic Park left an indelible mark on him. The youthful actor-turned-filmmaker invested his early earnings into the digital revolution, teaching himself visual effects and collaborating with a community of budding filmmakers.

In this chat, Zach speaks candidly about the highs and lows of an artist's life, emphasizing the importance of finding joy in the journey and not just the destination. We touch on the delicate act of juggling personal creative projects with commissioned work, offering insight into how these endeavours can fuel each other. The power of collaboration comes to the forefront as well, with anecdotes about successful partnerships that illustrate the potential when combining forces in the film industry. Additionally, we discuss the crucial aspects of pitching and preparation for filmmakers, including a riveting account of how a dramatic pitch meeting landed Zach a job directing the upcoming Final Destination film.

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15 February 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E04: Ashley Christine: STEM is Life

Ashley smiling into the camera

Ashley Christine is used to battles, from growing up off the grid in the White Mountain National Forest and contending with the harsh elements of New Hampshire winters to navigating the social media landscape, she has dealt with both physical and mental battles. But how does a young woman go from studying mathematics at university to spending her days making TikTok videos about STEM?

In our conversation with Ashley, she shares her fascinating transition from small-town life to a career in mathematics, her unexpected path to becoming a STEM content creator, and the importance of personalized guidance in this field. She shares insights into her approach to dealing with online toxicity and negativity and the resilience it takes to promote STEM education effectively.

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1 February 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E03: Don Perro: Animation Mentor

Don wearing a ball cap and smiling into the camera

Growing up among the steel mills of Hamilton, Ontario, Don Perro knew he wanted something different for his life but when his first attempt at getting out failed, he knew he needed to cast his net wider and the result was acceptance at art school in Vancouver where he found his comrades among the misfits studying animation at Emily Carr College of Art and Design (now known as Emily Carr University of Art and Design).

It was here that Don fell in love with education and he set a goal for himself: work in the industry for a decade and then turn his life to teaching, a goal he achieved just shy of his 10-year plan.

In our lively discussion, Don recounts some of the experiences that shaped his career, from the string of rejection letters and bad interviews that nudged him in the direction of finding his true calling, to his experience setting up the world-renowned animation program at Capilano University and his 20+ year career as an educator.

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18 January 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E02: Lera Nyukalova: Driven to Create

There was little doubt that Lera Nyukalova would be an artist. Her first foray into art was sketching Sailor Moon but her passion and drive to learn and challenge herself led her first to university to study architecture and eventually to make the move from Kazakhstan to Vancouver to further her practice.

Lera found solace and inspiration in the dynamic urban landscape of the city, keeping a visual diary that would eventually become "Visual Diaries," a collection of paintings that span a decade of personal memories, emotions, and the ever-evolving beauty of Vancouver.

In our conversation with Lera, she shares her tale of growth, harnessing both familial encouragement and the sprawling resources of internet forums to refine her craft amidst the biting critiques that shaped her resilient spirit. She also shares insights into the blending of job-honed techniques with bold forays into 3D modelling, all while maintaining the integrity of her vision against the relentless tick of the clock.

Episode Links

4 January 2024 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S06E01: Sam Fell: From Junk to Clay

Sam Fell was always drawn to creation and in the 1980s, he found himself in London, studying fine art and making interdisciplinary works of art, junk sculptures with speakers and cassette tapes inside, and eventually adding mechanics to move his works. It was around this time that he rediscovered stop-motion animation and the works of The Quay Brothers and Jan Švankmajer.

Sam taught himself stop motion and eventually, found himself making the trek from London to Bristol, the home of Aardman Animations. He felt at home in the artist-driven studio where he continued to hone his craft and storytelling from Peter Lord, before embarking on his career as a director.

In our conversation, Sam shares his road to the director's chair, from his early days as a directionless teen in London to working with Peter Lord in the early years of Aardman to his move into CG and the blending of tech and tradition that has led to his latest feature film Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.

Episode Links


16 November 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E16: Brian Leif Hansen: Cooking Up Animation

Growing up on a dairy farm in Denmark, Brian Leif Hansen assumed he'd spend his life living near where he grew up, perhaps a farmer himself, but the universe had other ideas for him.

While a love for puppets and animation was always with him, that didn't seem like a viable option for a career so he did the next best thing and trained to be a chef. While he didn't realize it then, that early training prepared him for the life of an animator: building stamina, and cultivating an eye for precision and detail.

Leaving behind a successful career in the kitchen, at 24 Brian took a leap and enrolled in a program at the world-renowned Animation Workshop and the rest, as they say, is history.

In our conversation, Brian shares memories of growing up on a farm and takes us through his whirlwind, if short-lived, career in the culinary arts. He then shares his animation path and how he applied lessons learned throughout his career to tackle his biggest challenge: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio.

Episode Links

19 October 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E15: Audrea Topps Harjo: Master of Chaos

From the moment she learned to read, Audrea Topps Harjo has been a creator, first turning words into worlds in her mind, and then sharing those stories she loved so much with her family as a performer. Her passion led her to filmmaking in various forms, from telling her own stories in her own voice as a director, to helping other creators bring their visions to life.

A skilled problem solver with a knack for breaking down complicated problems and navigating complex work environments, Audrea has made a name for herself as someone you can turn to when you need help, be it setting up something new or stepping in to bring teams into alignment.

From Washington, DC, to LA, New Zealand and back, Audrea has not only worked everywhere but she's also worked with everyone and in our conversation, she shares insights into her career, from the early days of working at Sony Pictures Imageworks to adventures at Electronic Arts and Lightstorm Entertainment. Along the way, she discusses culture shock, "otherness," and how taking risks has been a cornerstone of her career.

Episode Links

5 October 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E14: Athomas Goldberg: Experience Maker

Starting as a lighter and later designer for concerts and plays in New York City, Athomas Goldberg never imagined he'd be at the forefront of a new form of entertainment but curiosity, necessity and a willingness to take chances have led him to exactly that: a new frontier where live entertainment and technology meet.

From the early days of experimenting with Ken Perlin at NYU's Media Research Lab, Athomas saw the possibility for technology and performance to converge. While not immediately apparent, each new career experience was another step in bringing the two disparate disciplines together.

Throughout our conversation, Athomas shares the excitement and challenges of his time at the Media Research Lab and how that led to him being an Artist in Residence to a researcher. We also explore how his work and career coincided with the rise of various technologies, from mocap to real-time rendering, that have shaped the work he does today and he shares some insight into the future of this new form of storytelling.

Episode Links

21 September 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E13: Athena Georgaklis - Taking Leaps

Growing up a child of the 80s, Athena Georgaklis loved cartoons and while she knew she wanted to work in film, her career in animation came almost by chance after taking a job as an assistant at the then-fledgling Teletoon. Once she realized that animation was what she wanted to do with her life, there was no turning back.

With a willingness to learn and take on new challenges, Athena rose to the role of Director of Programming at Teletoon before making another big leap and leaving behind the world of acquisitions for the world of creation, first as Head of Development at Nelvana Studios and most recently, as Vice President.

With a career that spans many aspects of project creation from, development to delivery, Athena has seen and experienced it all: from early morning pitch meetings gone wrong to delivering projects with lasting impact. In our conversation, Athena shares insights into the ups and downs of content creation, management in a post-pandemic world, the importance of believing in yourself and your work, and she provides invaluable tips and advice for content creators selling their work.

Episode Links

7 September 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E12: JM Blay - Art is a Lifestyle

Hailing from a family with a long history of artists, JM Blay seemed destined to enter the art world. As if predestined, once he started drawing, he never stopped.

His love of art developed into a fascination with photography and movement. Unbeknownst to him, JM had stumbled into the world of motion design and his "weird fascination" became the cornerstone of his career.

JM's versatile, unpretentious approach to creative collaboration has served him well, leading to a 20+ year career and collaborations on everything from film to music videos; working with major brands from around the globe including Netflix, Adidas, Doritos, Paul McCartney, and Lady Gaga among many others.

In this candid conversation, JM shares insights into the world and history of motion design and how AI is disrupting the status quo. Along the way, he also shares valuable tips on working with difficult clients, staying creative, and finding a work/life balance.

Episode Links

17 August 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E11: Debi Wong - Disruptive Tendencies

Technology. Innovation. Interactive. Disruptive. These are not terms generally associated with opera but for Debi Wong and her team at re:Naissance Opera, these words are at the core of what they do. But how does one go from studying classical music at Yale School of Music and Sibelius-Akatemia to creating operas in VR?

For Debi, it's simply in her nature. A disruptor at her core, she's always pushed the envelope of tradition, asking "why" at every opportunity but it was the discovery of early Baroque opera and the spirit of innovation present in the early days of the art form that inform her work.

In our conversation, Debi takes us on an insider's journey through her career, from the early days of discovering that music was something you could do for a living to how her love for video games informed her first VR project and she shares insights into how failing doesn't necessarily mean failure.

Episode Links

3 August 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E10: Henrique Reginato - Seize Opportunity

Henrique Reginato was always artistically inclined but he came to visual storytelling through, of all things, radio.

After years of working in studios, Henrique ventured out on his own in 2020 and launched NOX Visual Effects, a visual effects bureau with a focus on compositing but being "the boss" sometimes means making mistakes. In our candid conversation, Henrique shares valuable tips on surviving contract work,the importance of networking and mentorship, and insight into launching a business.

Episode Links

20 July 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E09: Brenda Chapman - Perpetual Storyteller

Growing up the youngest of five in rural Illinois, Brenda Chapman's passion for drawing was encouraged by her mother. Working her way through school, Brenda began her formal studies at Illinois College before applying and being rejected by CalArts.

Brenda did eventually make it to CalArts where she met Joe Ranft, an encounter that changed the trajectory of her career.

Over the course of this conversation, Brenda shares her experience in the industry, from her first animation job on Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling and early career at Disney, writing and directing the Oscar®-winning Brave, the importance of mentorship, and how she stays creative.

Episode Links

22 June 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E08: Alain Chesnais - Lifelong Innovator

Math always came easily to Alain Chesnais, something he partially attributes to genes. That ease has lent itself well to his career, helping him navigate studies in math, science, and eventually computing.

Working with groundbreaking computer scientist Henri Gouraud greatly impacted the trajectory of Alain's career, in part by introducing him to computer graphics.

Alain has devoted his career to innovation and research, and some of his achievements include the development of Maya, a tool that is now widely used in the CG industry, as well as TrendSpottr, a predictive analytics tool for social media.

In our conversation with Alain, he shares insights into his career including his work with SIGGRAPH and how he played an instrumental role in the launch of SIGGRAPH Asia. He also shares tips on being an effective leader, and provides insight into emerging trends he is most excited about.

Episode Links

8 June 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E07: Elizabeth Baron - Driving Change

Elizabeth Baron fell in love with computing at an early age, a passion that led her to study computer science at Eastern Michigan University. Hailing from a self-proclaimed "Ford Family," Elizabeth began her career at the car manufacturer shortly after graduation and over the years moved around various departments, eventually running Ford's Immersive Virtual Environment Lab, a lab she also helped to create.

In our conversation with Elizabeth, she recounts her early years at Ford and the challenges and achievements of her career at the company, being awarded the Dr. Haren Gandhi Research and Innovation Award, her passion for SIGGRAPH, the challenge of starting a new career after 30 years with the same company, and she shares some insights into what she believes to be the challenges of immersive technologies.

Episode Links

30 March 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E06: Ron Clements - Veteran Insight

Ron Clements's animation career began while he was still in high school and working part-time at the local television station in Sioux City, Iowa. An ill-fated trip to New York changed his career, leading a young Ron to Los Angeles and a job at Hanna-Barbera before landing his dream job: Disney.

In this conversation, Ron talks about his early passion for drawing and experimentation with film, the highs and lows of his career; from being at the forefront of the "Disney Renaissance" with the release of The Little Mermaid to the disappointment of Treasure Planet, and the shift to CG animation.

9 March 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E05: Karissa Valencia - Crafting Authenticity

Karissa Valencia spent her youth travelling between the bustling metropolis of San Diego and the peaceful Santa Ynez Chumash Reservation. Growing up with a foot in both of those worlds deeply affected both the stories Karissa tells and how she tells them.

In our conversation with Karissa, she shares insights into what it's like to craft stories for young children, the process of "indigenizing" her award-winning series Spirit Rangers, and how her native identity and being a woman have shaped her storytelling.

Episode Links

23 February 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E04: Kevin Lima - Obsessively Creating

Growing up with his grandmother in Rhode Island, Kevin Lima doesn't remember a time when he didn't draw. That passion for creativity led to puppetry and, eventually, CalArts.

A successful career at Disney followed, working on Disney Renaissance classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, later transitioning into directing a trio of cult favourites: A Goofy Movie, Tarzan and the live-action/animation hit Enchanted.

In our conversation, Kevin discusses his career trajectory, his sources of inspiration, his passion for storytelling, and the vital skill of knowing when a story isn't working.

Episode Links

9 February 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E03: Peggy Holmes - Choreographing Animation

Peggy Holmes is proof that a career in animation can start at any age. Before animation, she had an enormously successful career as a choreographer for film and stage, even going on the road with Michael Jackson on two tours.

So how did she get from choreography to directing? We spoke with Peggy about her first career, the transition into animation at Disney, her move to Skydance Animation, and the making of the studio's first animated feature film Luck.

Episode Links

26 January 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E02: Henry Selick - Scaring Not Scarring

Henry Selick's artistic talents were noted at an early age but he shied away from the attention, turning instead to another creative outlet: music. While in college studying math and science, he rediscovered his love for art and eventually found himself at CalArts.

Unable to keep up with the ferocious pace at Hanna-Barbera, Henry went knocking on Disney's door, a relationship that eventually led him to direct the ground-breaking The Nightmare Before Christmas.

We spoke with Henry about his inspiration and early passion for art, his penchant for the macabre, the evolution of stop-motion and his latest film Wendell & Wild.

Episode Links

12 January 2023 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S05E01: Nora Twomey - Magic Maker

Sometimes being a studio founder means doing the work no one else wants to do: from cleaning toilets to finding the work that keeps the studio lights on.

While it's been some time since Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey, had to clean a toilet, she's not below doing what needs to be done to stay creative and independent.

We had the opportunity to speak with Nora about her early love for drawing and animation, the ups and downs of running a studio, how she stays creative, as well as her latest feature film My Father's Dragon, a beautiful adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett's award-winning children's book.

Episode Links


13 July 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E12: Tracey Goessel - The Movie Doctor

Tracey Goessel's first passion was medicine. Inspired, in part, by Star Trek, and with a goal of financial independence, she attended medical school and had a successful career as a clinician and trauma doctor before becoming an entrepreneur.

Her success as an entrepreneur allowed Tracey to pursue her other passion: silent film. Her love for Douglas Fairbanks Sr. led her to write First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks, considered by many to be the key biography of the early Hollywood legend, and in 2014, Tracey founded the Film Preservation Society. The goal of the organization is to rescue all 460+ Biograph films directed by D.W. Griffith between 1908 and 1913.

We recently spoke with Tracey about her passion for silent film, how her career as a physician has informed her work as a film historian, how technology is aiding her preservation work, and why film preservation is important.

Episode Links

29 June 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E11: Leonard Maltin - The Serendipitous Critic

The movies have always been a part of Leonard Maltin's life and while a career as a critic and historian was never "the plan," he's been reporting on film for nearly 60 years.

From fan zines to television, Leonard has been a part of the cultural film conversation for decades and he continues to share his knowledge and passion for the medium on a weekly basis.

We recently spoke with Leonard about his career, legacy, and the power of curiosity.

Episode Links

16 June 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E10: Carla Patullo - Storytelling Through Music

Carla Patullo always knew she wanted to make music. Her parents insisted that if this was the path she wanted to pursue, she needed to go to school, which is how Carla found herself at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, one of two women in the music program.

Beyond earning a degree, Carla left Berklee with something else: a passion for new and unique music that she hadn't been exposed to growing up. But it was film scoring that called to her and after a few years of writing music and touring with her band White Widow, she began work in the film industry, scoring everything from documentaries to horror films.

We recently spoke with Carla about her creative process, the challenges of being an openly gay woman working in a largely male industry, and the balance of creating commercial work to fund the important work.

Episode Links

1 June 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E09: James Curtis - Accidental Biographer

James Curtis didn't set out to become a biographer but his interest in film and his passion for research led him to the job while still in university. What began with curiosity and a bit of luck, eventually resulted in his first book, a biography of director James Whale.

Though writing never came easily, James continued to pursue his love for research and truthtelling while also developing a career as an executive in the insurance and computer industries. Over the course of 25 years, James' passion for biographies has yielded eight books and along the way, his "side hustle" became his full-time job.

We recently spoke with James about his passion for research, overcoming subject block, and why biographies are important.

Episode Links

18 May 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E08: Maisha Moore - Open to Connections

Vancouver-native Maisha Moore has always been creative, dabbling in everything from sculpture to music. For a time, she was convinced that she'd be making music for Disney movies before finding that her passion lay elsewhere, notably in animation.

After graduating from Capilano University's 3D program, she spent a year working outside the industry before landing a job as a shader and eventually making the transition to her true calling, design.

We recently spoke with Maisha about learning on the job, how thinking about the big picture is essential for working in teams, and how important networking is to career advancement.

Episode Links

13 April, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E07: Matthew Celestial - Life is PR

If Matthew Celestial has a life mantra, it's likely "Focus on the wins."

A shy kid who came out of his shell in public, Matthew often found himself at the centre of the group, uniting friends under a common love for tv and film, but it was his passion for the stars that led him to attend university to pursue astronomy. The cosmos had other plans for him.

An encounter while on a practicum led him to make a connection that changed his life and opened the door to a career in public relations, first for Paramount Canada before eventually striking out on his own.

We recently spoke with Matthew about his journey into the world of PR, the challenges of keeping up with the ever-changing media landscape, dealing with difficult clients, and he shares some tips and tricks for individuals looking to start marketing their brand.

Episode Links

6 April, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E06: Nosipho Maketo-van den Bragt - Art, Change & Community

Growing up in Apartheid South Africa, Nosipho Maketo-van den Bragt recognized that there was something "off" about the world around her, but it wasn't until her family moved to Zimbabwe at the age of 10 that she saw what life could be like.

Becoming a lawyer was an act of rebellion, a way of fighting for herself and for her community, but it was the creation of Chocolate Tribe, the studio she founded with her husband, that has fully visualized Nosipho's vision of a better world, one that is equal, open, vibrant, and creative.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Nosipho about being a child in a household of active rebellion, the pressure of being a woman in a role of authority, and the importance of making time for yourself.

Episode Links

16 March, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E05: Mike Lasker - Visualizing Imagination

Mike Lasker always knew that he wanted to make things no one had ever seen before. Curious about early VFX and inspired by Jurassic Park, The Abyss and Terminator, Mike found himself at Syracuse University, studying computer graphics. He eventually landed in New York City, working on everything from medical animation and architectural previsualization to commercials before deciding that he wanted to make movies.

The need to expand his horizons eventually led him to LA and a job at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where Mike has spent 16 years honing his skills, and doing what he always wanted to do: make things no one has ever seen before.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike about how his early days in New York prepared him for his move to Sony, working his way up the studio ranks, and how his passion for wowing audiences keeps him motivated.

Episode Links

3 March, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E04: Nagin Cox - Exploring For The Next Generation

At 14, Nagin Cox knew that she wanted to be a space explorer but being an astronaut was not her main goal. Keenly aware that the true early explorers were robots, Nagin focused her energy on becoming an engineer with a dream of working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

How does an Indian girl from Kansas City find her way to being a systems engineer at NASA? With a lot of hard work, perseverance, and a can-do attitude.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Nagin about her road to JPL, working remotely on Mars, how technology is changing her work, and finding balance between her personal and professional life.

Episode Links

16 February, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E03: Isabel Bailin - Searching for the Next Big Thing

Isabel Bailin always knew she wanted to be a creator, but it wasn't until she arrived at Barnard College, and had the opportunity to intern at various networks and studios that she discovered her passion for finding independent voices.

Now the Director of Development for Frederator Studios, the company responsible for such hit shows as Adventure Time and Castlevania, Isabel finds herself in a position to discover, nurture, and champion creatives.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Isabel about the career advantage of internships, the changing landscape of adult animation, and how self-care is crucial to career development.

Episode Links

2 February, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E02: Ere Santos - Autodidactic Animation Savant

Like many animators, Ere Santos discovered his love for animation at a young age but rather than wait until he was "grown-up" to pursue his dream, he started on it immediately. With a copy of Blender, an animation school syllabus, and a dream to work at Pixar, eight-year-old Ere was on his way.

A decade later, Ere found himself standing at the gates of Pixar for his first day of work.

The journey to working in animation has been long and challenging but through it all, Ere has persevered, working through the challenges and rejection to make a career for himself and now he's looking ahead to the next stage of his creative life.

We recently had a chance to speak with Ere about his self-guided journey to working in animation, inspiration, and his self-dubbed lofty goals for the future.

Episode Links

19 January, 2022 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S04E01: David Burgess - Love What You Do

If you were to ask David Burgess about being involved in two of the three films that are considered "game changers" in modern animation history, he'll chalk it up to luck but in reality, it's a combination of hard work and a willingness to take chances: moving to Toronto after college without a job lined up, moving to LA without a job lined up, leaving Disney for the new world of CG.

David has always worked and been motivated by the concept of loving what you do and his career is a testament to his love of creativity, energy, and new challenges.

A veteran of the industry with 30+ years of experience, David has worked on some of the biggest movies of our generation including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Shrek 2, and Trolls. We recently had a chance to speak with him about his career, taking chances, and how technology has changed how he works.

Episode Links


27 October, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E10: Amir Nasrabadi - Drawn to Creative Fire

Amir Nasrabadi's love for animation grew out of watching cartoons as a child: Peanuts, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and pretty much anything else he could find on TV, but he never imagined that he'd one day find himself working in the industry that sparked his creative passion.

A career in finance seemed like a great idea; it was stable and as a career counselor told him, "there will always be a need for accountants," but after years of working as an auditor, he followed an inner instinct to search for something new, and that search lead him to his first position in the film industry.

Now with 20+ years of experience, Amir is a veteran and leader of the industry, having worked at some of the largest and most respected companies in animation, including Pixar, Paramount Pictures Animation, Illumination Entertainment, and Disney.

We recently had a chance to speak with Amir about his career, taking risks, and how his curiosity has shaped his work as a leader.

Episode Links

13 October, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E09: Munkhtsetseg Nandigjav - Educating for the Future

Growing up in Mongolia, Munkhtsetseg "Muunuu" Nandigjav, wanted to be a fashion designer or a lawyer. Though she didn't ultimately pursue either career, they both influenced her career choice as an educator: she works in a field that mixes the creative and technical and she commands audiences.

Muunuu's passion for learning and education led her to teach, preparing future creative professionals both as an educator but also as a leader with SIGGRAPH, an organization that she first discovered as a young student.

We recently had a chance to speak with Muunuu about growing up in Mongolia, how online learning is changing education, and her work as Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH 2022.

Episode Links

29 September, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E08: Donald Mowat - Making Up Make-Up

Donald Mowat's love for film started early, but it was seeing Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon at the age of 12 that sparked his love for make-up specifically.

Today, Donald is one of the industry's most sought-after makeup artists working with some of the world's most notable directors including John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Martin Scorsese, Sam Mendes, and David Mamet among many others.

Over the past decade, Donald has worked closely with Denis Villeneuve. Their latest partnership Dune, a project in which Donald is make-up and hair department head as well as prosthetic designer, is the culmination of Donald's vast experience and his working relationship with Villeneuve.

We recently had a chance to speak with Donald about his career, the challenges of making Dune, how technology is changing the industry, and he provides great insights for young people interested in starting their careers in film.

Episode Links

15 September, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E07: Prem Gill - Making Your Own Path

As a child growing up in Burnaby, British Columbia, Prem Gill knew she wanted to work in TV, but she never imagined she would be helping to shape the mass media industry in British Columbia and across the country.

As CEO of Creative BC, Prem leads the organization responsible for maintaining and growing BC's diverse creative sector - from films and TV, to magazine and book publishing. It's a huge mandate, but one that Prem and her team have successfully continued to grow and nurture; even through a worldwide health crisis.

We recently had a chance to speak with Prem about her career, navigating the constantly changing technology landscape, and how mentorship has been integral to her career.

Episode Links

1 September, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E06: Larry Bafia - Innovation, Education & the Future

Before stepping into the role of educator, Larry Bafia was an animator with a love for stop-motion. His passion for the form eventually landed him at Will Vinton Studios working on such iconic commercials as the California Raisins.

Larry eventually made the move to feature films and after his first project was cut short, he found himself at Pacific Data Images where he was at the forefront of a new era for animation: CG.

We recently spoke with Larry about his career in the animation industry, his second career in education, and his next film.

Episode Links

18 August, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E05: Sharon Taylor - An Animal from the Start

Sharon Taylor is proof that passion, determination, and curiosity can take you anywhere.

Sharon's career at Animal Logic started more than 15 years ago when she answered a newspaper ad for the position of assistant accountant. She eventually moved from accounting to production and today, she's the studio's Group Chief Operating Officer, a position that has included expanding the studio's operation and setting up Animal Logic Vancouver in 2015.

We recently had a chance to speak with Sharon about her career, clearing the runway for creatives, and what makes Animal Logic such a special place to work.

Episode Links

5 August, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E04: Michael Fukushima - Champion for the Under-represented

Michael Fukushima spent the majority of his career fighting for improved diversity and inclusion behind the scenes of the National Film Board of Canada. This wasn't an accidental role: Michael saw the advantage of working for change from inside an organization and dedicated much of his career to advancing minority voices within the NFB.

The road was not always easy but the fruits of his labour are evident in the legacy he left at the NFB after a 31 year career with the institution including new mandates for more inclusivity, as well as the ongoing Hothouse program.

We recently had a chance to speak with Michael about his career as a filmmaker, producer and champion for the under-represented.

Episode Links

21 July, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E03: Jinko Gotoh - Animation Problem Solver

Jinko Gotoh's love for animation began as a child in Japan. But as someone who didn't draw, she could never have guessed that she would go on to produce some of the largest animated blockbusters of all time, from Finding Nemo and Fantasia 2000 to Mortal Kombat and Space Jam, among many, many others.

The realization that animation could be a career path didn't come until she studied engineering at Columbia University, where she stumbled upon a programming course.

We recently spoke with Jinko about her career, straddling cultures, technology, and her advocacy work.

Episode Links

7 July, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E02: Marv Newland - Accidental Legend

Marv Newland didn't plan to be an animator but after a career that spans over half a century, more than twenty films, and some of the industry's most notable prizes, it's safe to say that he's done alright for himself. Especially when one considers that the film that launched his animation career almost didn't happen.

From his first project Bambi Meets Godzilla, to last year's Katalog of Flaws, Marv's films blend his style, sensibility, and sense of humour, in a unique and instantly recognizable package.

We recently spoke with Marv about creativity, developing your style, and what keeps him inspired to continue making films.

Episode Links

23 June, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S03E01: Michelle Grady - Determined Journey

Michelle Grady's career in the CG industry started small: an unpaid job working in the equipment room of a post-production facility. Determined and in need of a paying job, she soon found herself as the receptionist.

Michelle has come a long way since that first receptionist job, all the way to Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Sony Pictures Imageworks, and her career has grown alongside Vancouver's expanding production business.

We recently spoke with Michelle about her humble beginnings, the challenges of leadership, making mistakes, and how taking chances has shaped her career.

Episode Links


10 June, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E10: Tibo Charroppin - Spare-Time VFX Wiz

In his dayjob, Tibo Charroppin is a director and video editor for the ACLU, but in his spare time, he's a visual effects wiz who, with the help and support of his partner Olivia Boone, edits their beloved cat Lizzy into famous movie scenes.

With a passion for problem solving and learning, and maybe out of a little bit of boredom, Tibo posted the first video with Lizzy on Reddit. Eventually, that little video turned into OwlKitty, an Instagram and YouTube sensation that brings joy, laughter and technical marvel with each short clip.

We spoke with Tibo about how OwlKitty came to be, his process for creating movie magic, and his white whale.

Table of Content

00:00 - Welcome
00:41 - Introduction
01:37 - 1918
04:20 - Digital Artist
12:26 - ACLU
14:12 - OwlKitty is Born
22:24 - Monetization Considerations
24:52 - Planning a Video
29:08 - Filming Patience
33:12 - Post Production
37:20 - White Whale
39:46 - Hobby vs. Work
42:14 - Problem Solving Approaches
46:04 - Making People Smile

Episode Links

12 May, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E08: Ann Marie Fleming - Compelled to Share

Ann Marie Fleming is a prolific filmmaker, visual artist, and storyteller who has spent the bulk of her career exploring themes of history, family, and memory - both her own and others'.

Be it her powerful short film You Take Care Now, which explores the trauma she experienced as a young woman, or The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam which explores the life of her great grandfather, or the adventures of Stickgirl, Ann Marie has long shared personal stories with the world.

We recently spoke with the artist about inspiration, creativity and why she continues to tell and explore deeply personal stories in her art.

Table of Content

00:00 - Welcome
00:32 - Introduction
01:22 - Adjusting to a New Culture
07:08 - Entranced by Animation
11:26 - You Take Care Now
22:26 - New Shoes
28:07 - Sources of Inspiration
30:57 - Stickgirl
36:57 - Compulsion to Share
40:58 - Sources of Motivation
47:18 - Advice to my Younger Self

Episode Links

28 April, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E07: Denver Jackson - The One-Man Animation Studio

Denver Jackson has always wanted to be a storyteller. In 2012, he began his journey by creating a 9-minute short film titled Cloudrise. Nine years later, Cloudrise is an independent studio, and Denver has made three short films, a webseries, and now an upcoming feature film titled Esluna: The Crown of Babylon.

We recently spoke with Denver about his creative process, working as a solo animator, and how he overcame the challenges of making a feature film on his own.

Table of Content

00:00 - Welcome
00:30 - Introduction
01:12 - Learning by Doing
08:59 - Visual & Storytelling Style
20:53 - One-Person Ensemble
30:20 - Getting the Job Done
41:30 - Upcoming Projects

Episode Links

21 April, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E06: Tomm Moore - Authentic Storytelling Rooted in Folklore & Nature

One might assume that as a three-time Oscar nominee and one of the co-founders of the celebrated Cartoon Saloon, Tomm Moore might be an aloof figure. Instead, he's warm and fatherly with a rebel streak and a spirit that bucks popular trends.

It's this outsider spirit and willingness to follow their hearts that has put Cartoon Saloon on the map, and though it hasn't always been easy, the studio has flourished into a collaborative enterprise that feels more like a family than a studio.

We recently caught up with Tomm to talk about the early days of the studio, his passion for history, his compulsive need to draw and his next project.

Table of Content

00:00 - Welcome
00:26 - Introduction
01:10 - Compulsive Drawing
08:12 - Cartoon Saloon
13:19 - The Rich Folklore Well
16:32 - Cultivating Studio Culture
24:59 - Developing Concepts
32:31 - Connected to Nature
38:40 - Next Generation Animators

Episode Links

24 March, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E05: Mindy Johnson - Animation History Treasure Hunter

Mindy Johnson is an award-winning author, historian, educator, and filmmaker. She is a leading expert in women's roles in animation and film history. Her work in the field has garnered her a number of prestigious awards, including the 2020 ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Faculty Grant and the 2019 Academy Film Scholar Award. But, did you know that Mindy is also a Grammy-nominated musician?

We recently caught up with Mindy to discuss her varied interests, multiple careers, and how a passion for life-long learning has made her a leading and essential voice in the study of women's roles in Hollywood history.

Table of Content

00:00 - Welcome
00:28 - Introduction
01:11 - From Minnesota to Neverland
20:31 - Familiar Waters
27:50 - Teaching and Learning
37:46 - Tinker Bell
40:12 - Ink & Paint
47:38 - Pencils, Pens & Brushes
51:54 - Current Projects
54:26 - Getting Women's History Right

Episode Links

24 February, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E04: DaCosta Bayley - Taking a Chance on Yourself

If you attended a Spark festival in years past, chances are that you've seen DaCosta Bayley's work. A self-taught, award-winning illustrator, DaCosta has been creating professionally since 1995. Working under the studio name CHOCOLATE SOOP®, DaCosta has produced designs across various media, has launched the popular "MARCH of ROBOTS" drawing challenge on Instagram, collaborated with artists around the world, and has worked with major brands like Nintendo, Sony, Hasbro, Wacom, and Google.

We recently caught up with DaCosta to talk about how he broke into the industry, how his passion for robots developed, and what he's working on now.

Episode Links

10 February, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E03: Taylor Shaw - Shaping Narrative Through Animation

A number of years ago, Taylor K. Shaw was looking to staff her project with black animators, people who looked like the characters that she was creating, but the task proved to be more difficult than she anticipated. Eventually, she did find one black female animator, but the search led her to think that there had to be a better way to find these creative individuals, and to create a space for black women to collaborate, inspire each other, and raise each other up. What started as the Black Girl Animators Collective led to Black Women Animate, a mission-driven animation studio that is changing the landscape and pushing boundaries in the animation industry.

We recently caught up with Taylor to discuss the catalyst of how BWA came to be, the accomplishments and challenges of the studio's first four years, and what's next for both the studio and Taylor.

27 January, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E02: Joseph Hodges - Builder of Worlds

Joseph Hodges' first passion was flight, but after a failed attempt at the pilot's exam, he opted for his second passion: architecture. His designs were always seen as too big and ambitious for real buildings, but when Joseph found himself working on the set of Hook, his passion for design found an outlet, and over his career he has worked on everything from period dramas, and sci-fi, to contemporary dramas.

We recently caught up with Joseph to talk about his experiences working on Hook, his long run on 24, and how he's staying creative outside of the Hollywood system.

Episode Links

13 January, 2021 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S02E01: Timothy Ware-Hill & Arnon Manor - Broadway and VFX Come Together

How do a Broadway star and a VFX executive come together to create an animated short film? The story behind how Cops and Robbers, a new short film from Timothy Ware-Hill and Arnon Manor, came to be, is inspiring and speaks to the power of Ware-Hill's writing, performance and conviction.

We recently spoke with Ware-Hill and Manor about the inspiration for the film, the challenges of working with over 30 artists to create a six-minute project, and how answering an Instagram DM started the ball rolling on the project.

Episode Links


9 December, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E10: Conversation with Jennifer Twiner McCarron

Jennifer Twiner McCarron has always known that she wanted to create safe spaces for artists and creators to create, innovate and excel, and in her tenure at the helm of Thunderbird Entertainment, she has done just that, growing Atomic Cartoons from 25 to more than 450 artists, and leading the company into a new era of award-winning original works and content.

We spoke with Jennifer about discovering her passion at an early age, taking the big leap into the role of CEO, and her leadership during a pandemic.

25 November, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E09: Conversation with Snowden+Fine

Alison Snowden and David Fine have spent over 30 years together as both creative and life partners. The pair have numerous awards under their belts, including an Oscar and three other Oscar nominations. They have also created TV series, including Bob and Margaret and the kids series, Ricky Sprocket and worked on such iconic properties as Shaun the Sheep and Peppa Pig (their daughter was also the original voice of Peppa!)

We had a chance to speak to the creators about sharing work and home life, their creative process and who is better at staying on task.

6 November, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E08: Conversation with Cinzia Angelini

In 2010, Cinzia Angelini had an idea for a short film and Mila was born. For many years, the project was a volunteer-based passion project featuring 350 artists spread out over 35 countries. The journey has landed the film and Cinzia at Cinesite where work on the film is nearing completion. We had a chance to speak with Cinzia about her career, her passion project, and how she stayed motivated through the film's 10-year production schedule.

20 October, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E07: Conversation with Nilo Rodis - Part 2

In part two of our conversation, Nilo talks candidly about that time he quit the business. We take a deep-dive into Johnny Mnemonic, his career shift into video games, and how he stays creative, motivated, and inspired.

1 October, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E06: Conversation with Nilo Rodis - Part 1

Nilo Rodis' career spans such iconic franchises as Star Wars, Raiders and Star Trek. In fact, his career is so epic, we couldn't fit it all in onto one episode!

In part one of our exclusive conversation, Rodis discusses his early career working in Detroit's once-booming car industry, how he came to work with George Lucas, and his unlikely friendship and colaboration with John Hughes.

30 August, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E05: Conversation with Simon Barry

Simon Barry was a screenwriter working in LA, when he returned to Vancouver and made the switch to TV, helming the barrier-breaking series Continuum. Since then, he has been at the helm of a number of cult-favourite shows including Van Helsing, Ghost Wars and his latest, Warrior Nun which is now streaming on Netflix.

We spoke with Simon about the early days of his career, his passion for genre storytelling and how Warrior Nun came to be.

16 August, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E04: Conversation with Sean O'Reilly

In 2004, Sean O'Reilly achieved one of his life-long goals and self-published his first comic book under the banner of Arcana Comics. Kade didn't only do well, it made a profit and 16 years later Sean is still at it, leading Canada's largest comic book publisher with over 350 titles, as well as an animation studio which produces television series and films based on the studio's IP.

We spoke with Sean about his passion for comics, his creative process and how his love for technology has driven much of Arcana's growth over the years.

2 August, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E03: Conversation with Gordon Durity

Gordon Durity has been working in the music industry for decades, and though you may not recognize his name, if you've played a video game over the last 20 years, you have probably heard some of his work. As Executive Audio Director at Electronic Arts Canada, Gordon has led the audio production for hundreds of titles.

We spoke with Gordon about his career trajectory, the process of creating music and sound for a video game and the future of video game music.

19 July, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E02: Conversation with Brenda Gilbert

Brenda Gilbert is the Co-Founder and President of BRON Media Corporation. She's also a producer, a mother and a woman of colour. How did this small business, founded with her husband Aaron, grow into the multi-faceted company with 60+ productions, offices in 5 cities and numerous awards under their belt?

We speak with Brenda about the early days, navigating being an entrepreneur with young children, and finding the balance between busy work and home schedule.

5 July, 2020 · Podcast
by Marina Antunes, Spark CG Society

S01E01: Conversation with Takeshi Furukawa

From Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Wars: Clone Wars, to Cannes Lions-winning global campaigns for Mercedes-Benz, Apple, Canon, Honda, and Sony, BAFTA-nominated composer Takeshi Furukawa's music has accompanied some of the world's most recognized images on screen. His work on the highly acclaimed PlayStation title The Last Guardian has established him as one of the most exciting new voices in the video game industry garnering a Premio Drago d'Oro, an IGN Award, and a GANG Award, as well as nominations at the BAFTA Games Awards, D.I.C.E. Awards, SXSW Gaming Awards, and the International Film Music Critics Association Awards among others.

Takeshi recently scored the first season of the Ubisoft and Lionsgate series Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet now streaming on Apple TV+.

We had a chance to speak with Takeshi about his process, staying creative, and overcoming the challenges of working in a variety of different visual mediums.


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