Four MCA animation students – Sahina Irwin, Kristen Kaluba, Troy Koler, and Emily Martinez – hit the road to attend the CTN animation eXpo (CTNX) in Burbank, California this month. Hosted by The Creative Talent Network and in its eighth year, CTNX is the only event of its kind that brings together the top professionals from both the traditional and digital worlds of animation. The conference is known as a resource for education, employment, inspiration, business opportunities and, of course, fun.
Having attended the conference in 2016, Kristen Kaluba remembers her first conference as the “wild west” where she felt small in such a big ocean of artists and professionals. But it was clear in the months after the conference that the trip influenced her work in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. This impact inspired three of her fellow animation students to join her at CTNX 2017.
This time around, Kristen was no rookie. As she says, “I was on the attack! I made the changes, I grew as an artist, and now it was time to get job interviews and as many critiques as I could.” One of those interviews was with Hasbro for a Visual Development internship, where Kristen felt prepared both with her portfolio and her interview skills.
The students agreed that every artist there was not only friendly, but also willing to share advice. Attendees can sign up for professional critiques, but they can also simply walk up to an artist and ask for feedback. The students met artists in their fields of interest, such as illustrated novels or movie animation. The lectures and panels inspired the students, and helped them grow in their own endeavors.
First-time attendee Emily Martinez raves about her experience, “From start to finish, CTNX was an awesome experience. I got to meet illustrators, animators, comic artists, creators, directors, and producers all well established in their fields. That’s the amazing thing–these were just people walking around. Paul Briggs (Disney Animator) just sat down right next to me at a panel! Like it was no big deal!”
Emily gained more great experience during her visit: “At CTNX you are in direct contact with these people and their companies. They have panels, screenings, live demonstrations, and booths for individual artists. I had my portfolio reviewed by three big companies (Powerhouse Animation, Dreamworks, and Blizzard) in the span of a day, and was given solid feedback and encouragement to return next year with progress.”