What’s one thing – anything in the world – you want to learn more about? If you’re eight-year-old Zoe, the clear choice is animation. She's interested in being an animator when she grows up but she "may change [her] mind in the future."

"I did coding in school and when I did coding it really interested me," she explained. "I could do video games but I want to do movie animations." 

A few weeks ago, we received a letter from Zoe’s dad telling us about her desire to learn more about art and animation for a school research paper. She had one request: could she stop by our offices and speak to one of our animators to learn more about the life of a professional artist and animator? As an added bonus, Zoe would be visiting our offices on her birthday, arguably the best day of any kid’s year.

Her favorite part of visiting FableVision? "Meeting all the animators and seeing how animation was done," Zoe says. "I thought it was really cool to visit a real animation studio. I would really like to visit again one day. It was fun to be there."

Zoe sat down with Hannah O'Neal one of our artist/animators in residence, to talk about animation, inspiration, and advice for future animators. Here are just a few of Zoe’s questions, and Hannah’s answers, from their chat.  

Thanks for stopping by, Zoe! We’re cheering you on in your creative journey. And happy birthday!

Zoe (Z): What is the hardest part of being an animator?
Hannah (H): Making sure to constantly learn new things. That’s true of a lot of technology jobs. You need to make sure you know the right technology, and keeping up your skills as an artist is difficult at times. 

And, sometimes you don’t have a lot of time for your own characters. When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot of characters. Sometimes, when you’re a grown up, you don’t have time to work on your own stories and characters, but you have to learn to make the time. 

Z: What is the easiest part of being an animator?
Watching all my stuff come to life! It’s so much fun! I also love watching other people’s stuff come to life. I get to see how my co-workers Sonnye and Bob and Keith make characters, and that’s really cool. I also love working and hanging out with really talented people.

Z: How much school did you have to do?
H: I drew my whole life but and that felt easy because I liked doing it. As far as animation, I learned it in college, so, about four years. But I learn something new every year, so I keep learning, which is both hard and easy at the same time. When you do stuff, you learn stuff.

Z: Who is you favorite artist?
H: One of my favorite animators is Chuck Jones. He did the Looney Tunes animations. He’s a really, really funny guy. He was able to translate humor and talent into goofy animations. Another one is Milt Kahl, he was one of the nine men who were animators at Disney. He created Shere Kahn, the tiger in the movie The Jungle Book. Milt Kahl animated Shere Kahn in a way that was really scary. He made believable animation. Rebecca Sugar is another great artist and animator. She’s a modern animator who works on shows like Adventure Time. I met her when I was in college, she’s doing wonderful work.

Z: What are you working on now?
H: At the moment, I’m doing research for a project but I was working on something before that for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There’s a girl who’s a little older than you named Neshama. She had cancer but she’s okay now. She wanted to make an animated short for her wish, so her family and Make-A-Wish contacted our studio and now we’re making a movie with her!

Z: What advice would you give a young artist who wants to become an animator?
H: Draw and color all the time! That’s what’s going to help you become an animator. Keep loving life and showing life in your artwork. When you’re in the park and you see a bee, pull out your sketchbook and draw the bee. If you’re in bed and you wake up and you have this great idea for an animation, pull out your sketchbook and draw it out.