GV students form new club: The Animation Guild

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Animation is the process of bringing something man-made to life, giving it action.   A new club called The Animation Guild is being brought to life at Grand Valley State University to give students interested in animation a common space and to help students gain more experience in the technique.

“By forming a club and building a community, we can start to create this collaborative energy where we can work together,” said the club’s adviser, Assistant Professor Julie Goldstein. “And a lot of the times, the jobs that you get when you graduate is from your classmates. So building those relationships outside of the classroom is really important and so is the opportunity to get involved in the community.”

Goldstein encouraged several students at the beginning of the Winter 2017 semester to start the club and has helped them keep it running.  The club has grown to include about 17 members.  Goldstein said in addition to providing students opportunities to get to know each other, the club provides the opportunity to gain real-world experience.

“I would always tell students ‘create the reality you want when you graduate while you’re here.’ Get some practical experience, get hands-on,” Goldstein said. “This is hard to do in the classroom because you’re kind of doing assignments to form more technical skills.”

The group has already begun to engage the community and practice in some hands-on work.  On March 17 the group visited North Park Montessori Academy in Grand Rapids to run an animation workshop with sixth grade students.  Ten students from The Animation Guild went to the school and helped the sixth graders design their own flip books.

“We think it’s a great way to reach out to kids and say ‘hey the film community and the animation community exist and this is totally something you can do with it in the future,’” said the club’s president, Alex Faber.  “It was cool to see the kids basically take paper cutouts and create animations. Some of them get very complex with it and get that same kind of sparkle in their eye that you had when you were a kid seeing that kind of thing.  It’s really cool. You see yourself in it.”

In addition to community outreach, Faber said he is excited to be able to start collaborative animation projects with the club.  He explained that animation is an arduous process that involves a lot of work, and wants to see what sort of products the group will be able to create as a collective.

Faber said one of his goals for the future of the club is to see them take on clients and be commissioned to do animation work.

“We’ve been approached by a couple of clients already,” said the club’s event coordinator Ty Hendry. “One animation student would not be approached by a client, but a collective might be.  And has been.

“I’ve spent my two years shoehorning animation into every class because I wanted an excuse to do it for credit.  But having a club and having clients, that’s a really natural way to build a resume and build experience.”

Members of the new Animation Guild pose for a photo in Lake Superior Hall.

Kayla Hardy, The Animation Guild secretary, said she hopes that getting clients and real-world experience through this club will help her gain professional experience to show potential employers.

“I really want to get clients.  It’s so hard to get your foot in the door in this world,” Hardy said. “I’m applying every day to places, trying to get an internship, trying to get a job.  So having clients, that would really help.”

Working as a collective, The Animation Guild hopes to expand to include members from outside of the film & video productions program.  Hendry explained that animating is now applicable to a variety of disciplines.  From phone applications, to commercials, and billboards, Hendry said animation shows up in our everyday lives more than people realize.

“I think the best part about this club is that it doesn’t matter how much about animation you know,” said the club’s treasurer Justin Jarvis.  “We are accepting all skill levels because sixth graders can do animation. So literally anyone can do animation.  We just want everyone to come.”

One of the group’s goals for the future was to help make animation more known at GVSU and to help grow the program.  Animation Guild treasurer Christian Johnson said making animation more known will help students in other major programs understand how learning animation could be beneficial to them.

“It’s kind of crazy how overlooked animation is here at GVSU,” Johnson said. “We only have like three classes, but animation incorporates so many different aspects of the medium in general.  You have art, drawing, fine arts, you have the aspects of film, cinematography, and editing.  And it really gets into sciences because you have to get into physics, math and anatomy.”

In the future, the club plans to get more involved and already has plans to participate in Laker Experience Day. Goldstein said the reason she loves animation so much is because it combines so many different disciplines. She believes animation and media are applicable to all majors now because they are part of the way we communicate.

“I would love to see the club really expand,” Goldstein said.  “I would really like to see The Animation Guild be a club where students from all majors who are interested in animation can come to sort of see their ideas, collaborate, do workshops.

“We’re thinking about holding animation screenings, potentially our own little animation festival.  I really think it could be a great hub for a sense of community around the technique.”

The group currently meets at 8 p.m. every Thursday in LSH 112.