Katie Maren Nelson
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BFA in Animation
2006
Freelance Animator; Adjunct Faculty at MCAD

In a couple sentences, describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I am passionate about all things animation so when I’m not on a job site animating, I’m teaching it, watching it, or creating it for fun! I feel lucky to be able to do what I love.

How did you get your job? 

Many of the jobs I receive come from people I have networked with over the years. They’ve seen my work, know my passion, and if they have a job I might be interested in they refer me or hire me.

What was your major and how did you choose it? Was it the right choice?

I knew when I toured MCAD that I wanted to be an animation major. Animation was absolutely the right choice for me. It’s hard to explain, I just love it.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Schell Hickel was my mentor in all things stop-motion animation and always had a fun story to tell. Dave Novak really kicked my butt when it came to learning 3D animation in Maya and always pushed me to get my work done. My senior year I completed a four-minute 3D short without a render farm and I owe a lot of my motivation to finishing that project to Dave because I didn’t want to let him down. What I realized after finishing that project was my heart was in stop motion animation. 

Any notable achievements while at MCAD that made you realize you picked the right major?

Although I loved animation I didn’t really find my favorite medium until my junior year at MCAD: stop-motion animation. The piece I created that year, Baby Layne, was selected to be in a New York-based film festival called Childish Films. I was invited to attend, the festival paid for my hotel, MCAD partially paid for my plane ticket, and my piece won the audience choice award that year! It was a huge confidence boost and a turning point for me.

Tell us about your internship.

My internship was built within a class where we worked with Nickelodeon to concept and create an idea. It was an eye-opening experience, as it forced us all to work together in small groups and get feedback from a creative executive in the business.

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

Most of my college apartment was outfitted with goodies from the free shelf, some of which I still have in my animation studio to this day! The best piece though was size ten Crocs for my dad. 

What inspires you/your work?

I am often inspired by music to tell a story or experiment with a style or textured medium. Music is a gateway into my artistic experience.

How do you network yourself and your art?

I keep in touch with friends from MCAD, reach out to studios who are making work I am interested in and I take on unpaid projects for experience and networking opportunities. Often the people I meet on these projects end up referring me for paid work.

Current obsession?

Working out and a healthy lifestyle. 

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Back up your work, and hit “command” “s” often. Keep doing what you love, no matter what because a little at a time can add up big! Create community with other MCAD students who share similar interests even if it’s not within your major. Encourage each other and try not to isolate yourself. As long as you keep creating and putting yourself out there, work will come. It’s only a matter of time!

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Self-discipline, solid work ethic, and life-long friendships.