Amabelle M. Johnson

Amabelle Johnson is a current Junior at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design studying 2D Animation and minoring as a Teaching Artist.

Originally from Lafayette, Indiana, her love for art started when she was four years old as she drew at any chance she got on napkins, receipts, sticky notes, etc. She took four years of art classes in high school creating detailed watercolor/marker illustrations. However, as much as she loved illustration, she didn’t want to do that for a career - she wanted her drawings to come to life. Then, her passion for learning animation began.

Now, she’s participated in 48 Hour Film Festivals and various showcases, as well as being Submission Critic for the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival. She’s had opportunities to teach animation at Whittier International, Kenwood Elementary School, the Children’s Residential Treatment Center, and El Colegio Charter High School. Her greatest achievement to date was being chosen for a Hot Topic/Disney design, which has been sold in over 800 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

She is the leader of two MCAD clubs on campus: the Art ‘N Action group and the Students Against Bullying club. She is an active member in the Latinex Unides, SWELL (Student Wellness), and Animation Study Group run by her peers. Also, she is a Peer Mentor for incoming new students to get them acquainted with the campus and city of Minneapolis.

Her goals for the future is to move to California to work with animation/gaming studios as a Visual Development/Storyboard Artist and Character Animator. She would love to expand her work into product design and branding illustration, if given the chance. Her ultimate goal is to be an Animation Director and having the opportunity to pitch and develop her own movies, short films, and tv shows.

Artist Statement:

As a child, I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, almost religiously. Going through the motions of life, cartoons were the main solace I had to lean back on. Animated characters became my teachers and Disney’s lessons became my life mottos. Growing up and learning life through animation, I want to return that pleasure as the next generation of animators.

Seeing what cartoons are being showcased today, I think some makers underestimate youth and what they can learn and grow from. I believe some modern cartoons are too safe, censored, and mind-numbing. I want to create animations that tackle difficult topics such as bullying, mental health/disorders, untraditional love, gender, religion, etc. Also being a teaching artist, I have gone out into the youth community and seen the crave for inspiring stories that youth can hold onto.

By doing that, I insert thoughtful meanings/messages in my animations that are easy to understand; a visual that someone can learn from or relate to. It’s a fast-paced changing world, and there’s a lot of unexpectedness that comes with it. If I’m able to connect through the way youth perceive things, I think they’ll be able to understand the world in a better light. I want to have viewers feel represented, taken seriously, and secure within themselves.

I take the visual development process very seriously and research as much as I can, so the story can be the best it can be. When it comes to animation, the naturalistic, but exaggerated animation style is what I aim for. I love to work with expression and exaggerated movements to make the characters look lively and bouncy.

My continuing educational goals are to keep expanding my animation techniques and keep adding to my demo reel. I strive to create longer and more elaborate animations; ones with complex backgrounds and color.