CSU Voices and Views

An Animated Learning Environment

By Andrew Gordon
Pixar Animation Studios

Andrew Gordon stands with characters James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and Mike Wazowski of "Monsters, Inc" © Disney 2001

Andrew Gordon stands with characters James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and Mike Wazowski of "Monsters, Inc" © Disney 2001

Creative energy was enough to draw me across the United States at the age of 18, much to my parents’ disbelief. 

My first solo trip away from home in New Jersey was to CSU Summer Arts, which was held at Humboldt State that year.  Artists that I had only read about were going to be teaching there.  It was truly a chance to learn from the best in the field.  And I learned a great deal.

At CSU Summer Arts, I made The Vaccine, my first completed animated film.  The instant feedback and support I received from instructors and guest artists combined with the intensity of putting a film together to produce one of the defining moments of my life.

I carry that experience with me, from my early days as an animator through joining Pixar Animation Studios.  I see my work come to life in the form of heroes, monsters, toys and the occasional fish.  Yet years later, it is fun to look back to my first film about a virus in a computer.

CSU Summer Arts still has a pull for me.  Year after year, I am able to return as a guest artist and share what I’ve learned with the next generation of students.  It is a chance to reinforce the essentials: staging, acting and composing.  It is also a chance to reinforce the drive that students bring with them to Fresno State, the current home of CSU Summer Arts.

In exploring their art, students intensify the creative environment of CSU Summer Arts.  The sharing of artistic inspiration between dancers, actors, painters, musicians and animators provides a richer collaborative environment for all.  For three months of the year, a CSU campus becomes a focal point for developing artists.

I personally know the power of CSU Summer Arts to shape talent, art and passion.  It is a privilege to watch that personal growth happen for other students.

Note: Andrew Gordon has been animating characters professionally for more than 15 years.  He joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1997 where he has been an animator on “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story 2″.  As a Lead Animator,  Gordon’s character work includes Mike Wazowski from “Monsters, Inc.”, Gill from “Finding Nemo”, Edna Mode, the costume designer in Academy Award®-winning “The Incredibles”, and Linguini from “Ratatouille”.  For his work on “Finding Nemo”, Gordon was awarded “Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture” by the Visual Effects Society.

Additionally, Gordon supervised animation on Pixar’s Academy Award®-nominated short film “Presto”, and recently finished production on the Academy Award®-winning “Toy Story 3″.

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  • Jackie Doumanian

    What a beautiful expression of what an educational program can mean to a young person and to their future career. Thank you for sharing your talents and your gift for teaching with CSU Summer Arts. You have a deep understanding of our program and how it can be a defining moment in a student’s life.

  • Larry johnson

    I agree with Andrew that Programs such as Summer Arts give those attending a rich and compressed exposure to the Arts. In reality it is a microcosm of the animation program at Cal State Fullerton where students are thoroughly trained in all aspects of hand drawn and digital character animation. Coupled with our illustration program the two BFA degree Programs provide a broad story based learning experience that has launched many students onward into successful careers in the entertainment industry.

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