Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Classical Animation
Year of graduation: 2005
Vera Brosgol was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and moved to the United States when she was five. After graduating from Sheridan, she returned to the U.S. and currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon, drawing storyboards for feature animation. Vera has done illustration work for clients such as Nickelodeon, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster. Her first graphic novel was published in 2011 and has received wide acclaim both here and south of the border. Titled Anya’s Ghost, it was named one of the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2011 by the Toronto Star. http://verabee.com/books
What led you to study animation at Sheridan?
I always knew I wanted to go to art school but I also wanted to have a real job someday and animation seemed like a good compromise between drawing for a living and possibly having health insurance. I also really liked cartoons but really, who doesn’t. Sheridan had a good reputation and was far enough from home to be interesting. At college, I soon figured out that storyboarding was the part I liked best.
How did you develop your style?
My drawings have simplified over the years. Having to draw the same character a hundred times in sequence makes you really think about your work. In storyboarding and animation it’s important to work quickly and efficiently, and those practices carried over into my comic and illustration drawings too. I try to remember that the point of drawing is to communicate something with the most economy and clarity possible. I don’t spend very long on anything and try not to fuss. Oh, and I like drawing big cute eyes.
How did you land your job at Laika?
I had met someone who was storyboarding on Coraline at Laika and it seemed like a dream job. But I was doing background colors on a children’s dvd and figured I had no chance of going anywhere near a project like Coraline anytime soon so I put the idea out of my head. Then I got an email out of the blue from Laika saying that they’d seen my student film online, liked it, and wanted me to come to Portland for an interview. I’ve been there ever since.
How did you get your first book published?
After completing some stories for Kazu Kibuishi’s Flight Anthology, I decided I was ready to tackle a full-length graphic novel. I completed the novel outside of work time which meant it was very slow going, but it eventually got done and was a very satisfying experience.
What advice do you have for a new graduate?
Work to be good, work to be stand out, work to be a nice person that people will want to hire. I did get very lucky with my first job, but in order for that to have happened I needed to put the time into finishing my film at Sheridan (not without a lot of help) and getting as good at drawing as I could. Part of success is good timing but if you are talented and work hard, chances are you can make a living as an artist. This is especially true in the internet age where anything half-decent gets noticed and passed along to whoever needs to see it. Maybe you will not feel successful right away - hopefully you’re going into art with some realistic expectations of what your life might be like - but if drawing is your favorite thing in the world, you can’t help but try.