Kirsten Lepore
Kirsten Lepore Experimental Animation MFA 12

Before coming in to CalArts, I’d been freelancing for clients such as Google, Whole Foods, Facebook, Toyota and Nestlé, but I wanted to get more serious about directing—about becoming the one in charge. I looked at the CalArts website and found the student work incredibly inspiring. I thought, "I want to be there. There must be some magic in this place."

My stop-motion work has a handmade, rough-around-the-edges feel, but also a clean sense of design. It became a marketable niche. Bottle was made at CalArts with the support of my mentor and faculty—as well as student-to-student collaboration—that, at times, was just as helpful. I like to play with different materials, and for Bottle, I animated, with sand and snow. I’d never seen that done before and the film got a lot of attention.

Just after I released my thesis film online, the showrunner from Adventure Time called and said they’d seen it and that they’d love for me to create a stop-motion episode for them. It was the first time that I had a whole team of professionals working with me, which was amazing. I’m also happy to be teaching at CalArts. It’s nice to come back and say, "Hey, I graduated recently and I’m able to make my living doing these things. Let me help you so that you can also be successful, too." I can’t imagine doing it at any other school.