Variety, in partnership with Nickelodeon, presented a one-hour special on the 10 animators to watch as they discussed the passion behind their respective crafts and how they seek to connect with global audiences.
The animators, featured in this year’s 10 Animators to Watch, recalled how they gravitated toward the art form and the impact they hope to make with their work. Aminder Dhaliwal, the mind behind the graphic novel and Instagram series “Woman World,” which aptly imagines a society without men, said she was inspired by the Women’s March in 2017 and began creating the series based off of a few comments. Similarly, her book “Cyclopedia Exotica” is a commentary about microaggressions and based on the experiences Dhaliwal has had. While she initially thought the book would no longer be relevant, she said the year turned out to be all about microaggressions and “full-on aggressions.”
“We end up experiencing many of the same things in our lifetime, maybe a different circumstance, maybe a different person, and they’re kind of timeless,” Dhaliwal said. “The best projects and art comes from being uncomfortable, exploring those sensitive topics. When you can tell stories about those things they really resonate with people.”
For Genevieve Tsai, working as the design supervisor for the Hulu reboot of “Animaniacs” is surreal, as she grew up watching the original animated show daily after school. Tsai said it is a welcome challenge to not only reimagine a beloved series, but also adapt its content and animation style to the present day. “[Steven] Spielberg really liked the designs that I came up with [for “Animaniacs” and I think he liked it because it felt the most true to the original legacy characters.”
Variety also presented the Creative Impact in Animation award to “The Book of Life” animator to Jorge Gutiérrez, who received words of congratulations from actors Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Danny Trejo, all of whom appeared in the animated action-adventure film.
“My whole career, my dream has been to make an impact in cultural representation,” Gutiérrez said. “My work is about celebrating my heritage and using animation to introduce audiences across the globe to the art and cultural traditions of my beloved Mexico. It’s also an opportunity to make work that offers viewers all ages, who might not usually see themselves in film and television, that it’s possible to occupy these spaces. Like everyone else, we belong in front and behind the camera.”
Watch the full event here.