01/02/22 • News & Happenings

How to be an Animator: Part Four

With Maja Menezio

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Maja Menezio, Animator

From the hairdresser who used to doodle on customer receipts to the qualified biologist who became a self-taught FX artist, our crew prove time and again that there is no one way to pursue a career as an animator.

When Maja Menezio decided to drop out of art school, their parents were not exactly thrilled. But Maja knew that sometimes your life must be deconstructed in order to be put back together in the right way.

Here is the story of how Maja became an animator.

Art by Maja Menezio

“I was always determined to work with art, even though my parents – the first people in both their families to have access to college – thought that was just a sure way for me to never make any real money. I always understood their apprehension but decided to invest in what I loved anyway. When I told them I was going to art school they were not thrilled about it to say the least. When I told them I was dropping out of art school, they liked it even less. But I had a really good reason – I found out that I simply loved cartoons too much to do anything else.

It took me a while to realize I was drawn to art because of animation – and when I got into art school, I was expecting an environment much less traditional. I still love painting with oils and engraving, but it didn’t really seem fulfilling when I thought about my future. I didn’t really want to be in the museum / gallery rotation.

I was about two years into the course when I went to a college party. Someone introduced me to this guy and we got into a conversation about animation. I told him that I loved The Fairly Odd Parents and Sponge Bob growing up, that my relationship with art was strengthened much more through character design than still-life realistic charcoal drawings, and that I was thinking of maybe trying to study animation and see if I found myself in that area. And after listening to my drunken, self-pitying rant he was like, “You know, the studio I’m working at is looking for junior animators…” Turns out he just so happened to be a supervisor at an animation studio in Curitiba. It was legitimately crazy; cliché comedy writers couldn’t have scripted that interaction.

He wound up helping me get the job, and I got into the studio not really knowing the first thing about animation, and even less about ToonBoom Harmony. Thankfully, the studio offered work experience and I had the opportunity to work with amazing people who were always really helpful. I think that’s a big thing in the animation world, we all want to see each other thrive. I was always asking my friends for help with my scenes and advice where I couldn’t find solutions. It helped me grow tremendously in a short amount of time, I think, because I could really depend on people who are passionate and more experienced.

It wasn’t long before I was entirely in love with animation, dropping out of art school to dedicate myself entirely to animation – working with and learning it.

Years later, having worked on a handful of big shows, I’m still working with a few of those friends – we actually bumped into each other on Lighthouse’s internal chat channels. It was amazing to see how much we’ve grown, and to see we can still rely on each other after all this time.”

Missed the first instalments in our How to be an Animator series? Find them here!

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

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