Josh Shaffner
Art principles and practices are at the heart of the undergraduate- and graduate-level tracks in Experimental Animation—courses of study designed for innovative artists wishing to develop personal visions within the ever-expanding parameters of animation.

The Experimental Animation Program offers a framework in which students explore, develop and refine intellectually demanding, aesthetically progressive concepts and professional practices in their personal cinematic art-making.

The Program enjoys a long-standing international reputation for excellence in innovative animation production. Its faculty, students and alumni have consistently won top awards at festivals worldwide and are widely credited with helping to define the art of animation as we know it today.

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Kirsten Lepore
Kirsten Lepore Experimental Animation MFA 12

Before coming in to CalArts, I’d been freelancing for clients such as Google, Whole Foods, Facebook, Toyota and Nestlé, but I wanted to get more serious about directing—about becoming the one in charge. I looked at the CalArts website and found the student work incredibly inspiring. I thought, "I want to be there. There must be some magic in this place."

My stop-motion work has a handmade, rough-around-the-edges feel, but also a clean sense of design. It became a marketable niche. Bottle was made at CalArts with the support of my mentor and faculty—as well as student-to-student collaboration—that, at times, was just as helpful. I like to play with different materials, and for Bottle, I animated, with sand and snow. I’d never seen that done before and the film got a lot of attention.

Just after I released my thesis film online, the showrunner from Adventure Time called and said they’d seen it and that they’d love for me to create a stop-motion episode for them. It was the first time that I had a whole team of professionals working with me, which was amazing. I’m also happy to be teaching at CalArts. It’s nice to come back and say, "Hey, I graduated recently and I’m able to make my living doing these things. Let me help you so that you can also be successful, too." I can’t imagine doing it at any other school.

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