You may not know her by name, but chances are you’ve seen her work.
Facebook stickers and frames, anyone?
Abigail Muñoz, a 2015 Visual Development BFA grad from Academy of Art University, was an independent contractor on Facebook’s Art & Animation team, and helped bring some of those images from idea stage to your phone.
Now, she’s taking a break from designing for tech to design for TV, potentially living every kid’s dream as a General Artist in Nickelodeon’s Artist Program.
“In the midst of my success since graduation, I never lost sight of my goal, which was to always work at an animation studio,” Muñoz said.
She decided to apply for this prestigious program in July 2017. She knew full-well that it wouldn’t be easy, and that she would be going up against hundreds, if not thousands of other people vying for one of only two open spots in the general category.
Becoming the Best of the Best
So how does someone get to work at one of the biggest animation companies in the world?
“Coming out of school, I had a good portfolio, and I continued to develop it over the past two years,” she said. “I spent a lot of my spare time creating characters with good shape design, strong silhouettes, etc.”
Those characters were put into her portfolio under a project concept idea called “Monster Camp.”
“I had a wide range of everything, including characters and props,” she noted.
That’s what caught the attention of a panel of interviewers at Nickelodeon.
But Can You Explain It?
After multiple rounds of interviews in Burbank, Muñoz got the phone call she had been dreaming of her entire life.
She was officially chosen as the General Artist in the Nickelodeon Artist Program.
What was it that helped her land this opportunity? She might never know the exact reasons.
However, she feels as though being able to speak about her concepts made her confident throughout the interview process. This includes being able to describe her thought process and how she visualizes a story.
“The Academy taught me how to explain my art. Of course, there was a lot of pressure, but I felt like it was easy to talk about my portfolio because that’s what we had to do in class,” she stated.
The Power of Passion
When you see character work, it’s clear that being able to explain her art wasn’t the only skill that helped launch her into this new phase of her career.
Her passion did a lot of the work.
“I used to be embarrassed about how excited I would get about art. I’m so passionate about it. I can talk about it for hours and hours about animation and how to design characters. I’ve learned that my passion is a really strong asset. I made sure to show that passion in my interview and how much animation means to me and how much it has meant to me my whole life,” Muñoz said.
Advice for Future Visual Artists
Muñoz admits it took a while for her to get used to the demands of pursuing a degree in visual development.
“I felt very overwhelmed in my first and second year,” she said. “Here I was, from a small town where there were virtually no artists. I had a lot of confidence coming in and it evaporated once I got here.”
She quickly adapted the attitude of “study hard, have fun later.”
“That’s when I really grew the most,” Muñoz explained.
As far as pro tips are concerned, she strongly advises anyone who wants to succeed in the arts to apply to the Academy’s Spring Shows, go to workshops, and most of all, “Let the world know how passionate you are about what you love.”