teaching studios of art

You know how the The Disney Elite recently launched our series of ORIGINAL INTERVIEWS with past and present Disney animators? Well, we’re pleased to announce a SPIN-OFF SERIES of interviews – with FUTURE Disney animators!

First up is the incredibly inspirational Tracey LaGuerre. I first saw Tracey’s work when I happened upon her rough animation short, The Root of All Trust Issues on tumblr. That led me to LaGuerre’s YouTube channel and all of her student films, goofy shorts and various animation tutorials. It was all awesome. How had I never heard of her before?

A quick Google search revealed that LaGuerre was a second year student at CalArts’ Character Animation Program. This is pretty big achievement in itself, but then I read that LaGuerre had ZERO ACCESS to art education in her public school. She was entirely self-taught!

On top of that, I learned that LaGuerre had received the 2016 Women in Animation Student Award, the 2015 AIGA World Studio Student Award, AND was currently teaching Art Education programs in low income communities though the CalArts Community Outreach Program.

Reading all that, I thought – Who IS this wonderful wunderkind?! I’ve got to hear more of her story! That brings us to today, to this interview, and to what I have no doubt will be the first of many, MANY Tracey LaGuerre interviews animation fans will read over the next few decades.

Remember, you heard it here first…

The Early Years

The Disney Elite: Hey, Tracey. If you don’t mind, I’d like to start by getting a little of your backstory. Would you please tell us a bit about your background? Where did you grow up? Was your family full of artists, or were you the lone wolf in the pack?

Tracey LaGuerre: I’m from upstate New York. There aren’t really any other artists in my family. My mom plays the guitar and she used to do theater in Haiti, but just for fun.

Growing up, I was really the odd one out. There wasn’t a lot of diversity. I got bullied a lot and I was far away from my family’s culture, so going between home and school felt like two different worlds. Art really felt like the only language that bridged the two experiences. I’d make comics and keep sketchbooks, just trying to find a way to say what I was feeling without having to deal with being misunderstood. My mom has always been really supportive of my work. She still has all my embarrassing old sketchbooks from, like, the 4th grade.

The Disney Elite: Growing up, who were some of your artistic inspirations?

Tracey LaGuerre: Growing up I was a DeviantArt kid. I love anime. I’m a huge fan of Chris Sanders. I was really into Loish. I think when I first started out I was really worried about technique, but if I had some direction I would have just recorded things around me and spent time drawing what I see. I would have gotten better a lot faster.

Things like that are the reason I make my YouTube videos. There is so much I wish I could tell my 14-year-old high school self, and I know other kids are going through that, so I try to share those things.

The Disney Elite: You didn’t have access to art education in your high school, yet somehow managed to get accepted into one of the most – if not THE MOST – exclusive animation programs EVER. What sorts of tasks/projects did you give yourself to hone your skills?

Tracey LaGuerre: I took some summer portfolio classes, reached out to artists who were better than me – as well as artists who had the career I wanted – and asked for advice. I drew a lot, too. So much drawing, so much doodling, so much sketching, so much art supplies.

I decided I wanted to be an animator when I was 8. We had to do this school project about what we want to be when we grew up, and I took it way too seriously. I was really good at tech and math and science, but I didn’t know any careers for that. I watched the DVD extras for Monster Inc. where they talked about working at Pixar and decided I wanna work there.

Tracey LaGuerre (cont.): I didn’t know how to get to my goal, really. My guidance counselor had no idea what I was talking about. She kept trying to convince me to be a nurse. After some digging I learned that an art degree is a step in the right direction. Then, in middle school, the art program began to be phased out. By high school, I was stumbling in the dark on my own, trying to make a portfolio and pick an art school.

I didn’t go to CalArts straight out of high school. I took the long road. I didn’t even know CalArts existed ‘til after my freshman year of college. I picked my college at 16, and it wasn’t the best choice. I wasn’t happy there. I visited some friends out in California for spring break, and they took my on a tour of CalArts and it was love at first sight. After that, I started applying.

The Disney Elite: Your video, ‘How to Get Rejected’, is a super-cute bit of autobiography – and inspiration! – detailing your repeated attempts to get into CalArts. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna embed it right here.

TOMORROW: In Part 2 of our interview, Tracey tells us about her life thus far at CalArts – the classes, the workload and the unexpected surprises. She’ll also offer some GREAT advice for folks thinking about going to art school. If this sounds like YOU, make sure to come back + check it out! I hope you’ll join us! 

"There's paint on your cheek"

(Modern feysand AU)


Rhysand was only mildly angry. Waiting for his cousin in the car outside “Prythian art studio”, it was raining and he honestly had better things to do. Like get drunk with Cassian and Azriel.

Grunting, he turned off the car and walked in the doors. The art studio was an old warehouse turned into a place for all kinds of art. His cousin, Morrigan or Mor by friends, was a dancer. She and some other friends were the ones that had gotten the idea to start a studio, their goal was to teach younger generation about the beauty of art.

Rhys walked up to the empty front desk and looked at the small map placed flat on the surface. It didn’t surprise him that the desk was empty, who would want to sit in a chair looking at nothing all day? Tracing the path to the dancing studio, Rhys grunted again.

He walked down the beautifully painted walls. The details in each flower, each building, each image painted on the wall was beyond his imagination.

Taking a turn to the right, Rhys noticed two doors, and of course he just forgot which door went where.

Taking his chances, he chose left.

Rhysand stepped into a giant hall, covered with different sized canvas, painted, unfinished, and blank ones. However it was the one that filled an entire wall that drew his attention, from the ceiling; hung a girl. A girl painting tiny details on the huge painting. She hadn’t noticed him before the door closed behind him with a soft ‘click’

The girl turned to him, she was a few meter higher than him, so she yelled: “Can I help you?” The bright blue eyes of the girl shone as her face and entire being was covered in paint.

Rhysand stood dumbly and started until she unhooked a hook from the wire she was hanging from. Rhys was prepared to catch her as it looked like she was about to fall, but gracefully she landed on her feet.

“Hallo? Can I help you?” She asked again.

Rhysand snapped out of her trance and said, “I’m looking for my cousin, Morrigan.”

Just as he said it, the door opened. “Hey, Feyre! Have you seen my-” she stopped when she noticed Rhys. “Hey, Rhys.” Then she ignored him, “my bag, have you seen it?”

Feyre, as the painter girl was named, pointed to the red bag by the chairs.

Rhysand stared at Feyre for a minute before chocking out, “you got paint on your cheek.”

Feyre used a green hand to wipe it away, but the action caused it to spread. “Dang it, Nesta and Elain isn’t going to be happy about this.” She said.

“Feyre, Nesta isn’t going to kill you for having a job.” Mor said as she picked up the bag and looked at Rhys, “anyway, I’m done for the day, Nesta picking you up?”

“Yeah,” there was a hint of sadness in her voice as she turned back to her gorgeous painting, “I’ll close up. I might be here awhile.”

Mor’s eyes narrowed at Feyre, “If I come back here tomorrow to find you either sleeping on the chairs or by those wires, I will force you home for an entire weekend.”

“Fine, just an hour.” Feyre laughed.

Mor took the bait and turned to Rhys, “let’s go.”

Rhys and Mor walked out to the car in silence. They were halfway home when Mor asked,

“What is it, Rhys?”

Rhys bit his lip and stared at the road ahead of them. “Who was that?”

“Feyre, she’s the painting teacher. She’s very nice and cool. Despite having a few difficult months behind her.” Mor said, happy with that her cousin was speaking.

“She seemed a little sad,” he muttered.

“Feyre just came out of abusive relationship, she’s trying to cope.” Mor said, a sad look in her eyes that stated at Rhys. “Feyre is brave and escaped, that’s why she lives with her sisters. Nesta and Elain, I’ve meet them, Nesta is difficult and Elain is just an angel.” Mor laughed.

“She’s a good painter.” Rhys said softly.

A second ticked by before Mor suddenly jolted and screamed with joy, “I see what happened! You just got a crush!”


“I have never heard you complement someone who you haven’t had a crush on, except Cassian and Azriel, but they don’t count.” Mor crossed her arms and smirked, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll be your wingman… Woman… And you give me free rides wherever I want in two months.”

Mor didn’t own a car yet, so she used the gang to drive her places, except Amren. Amren was a dangerous driver apparently.

“Can I say no?” He knew his cousin.



The next day Feyre was back painting. Mor was standing under her floating body as she painted the top of her painting.

“You want me to what?” Feyre asked loudly, there was only twenty minutes until their students arrived so she had started a little earlier.

“I asked if you wanted to go out with Rhys.”

“You’re very forward, Mor, you know that?”

Mor laughed and leaned against on of the walls, “I know, it’s better to be straight forward than start small talk. So, what about it?”

“Mor, I don’t even know him.” True, and her life wasn’t as good after what Tamlin had done to her.

“That’s what a date is for, get to know each other. Also, if Rhys even tried to hurt you, I’ll break his legs.” Reassuring, Mor was protective for her best friend, and Mor would break the legs of someone who hurt her friends. She broke Tamlin’s hand.

She had wanted to “sterilize” him, but that was a little too much, even for Feyre.

“I’ll give it a shot.”

Mor’s cry of joy echoed in the room as she left, Feyre didn’t even hear as the girl whispered “This ship will sail whenever it’s the last thing I do…”

okay but imagine Lucas and Maya being all successful and they buy their first apartment and it has two bedrooms and Lucas turns the second bedroom into an art studio for Maya as a surprise and she loves it but then a few years later she gets pregnant with their first baby and she’s willing to give up her art studio to make a nursery but Lucas won’t let her give up her space so instead he buys a bigger apartment and makes her a new art studio AND a baby nursery and then as the years go by more babies are born and Maya teaches them all to paint and stuff in the art studio and wow oh wow I just can’t with the cuteness

Work in progress in response to @theartassignment #measuringhistories #sonyaclark assignment. 

I teach high school art, and gave all my 2D studio students this assignment as their final studio project. My example is a timeline of all the days that I have been in school. From kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school, through highschool, college, grad school, and 9 years of teaching. School has been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and I feel like it is a privilege- as a student and as a teacher. My dad’s mother never went to school. My mother’s mother never graduated high school. My great-grandmother only finished the third grade. 

I am up to the beginning of sophomore year of college. One crocheted stitch for each day. 

ok, I don’t do much digital art but what the hell.

Thanks to everyone in the Jacksepticeye community and the Markiplier community, tonight I signed a contract with a local art studio to teach (no not digital art, eek) You all have given this Mom the courage and support to start an entire new field of work, one I’ve longed for.  I also have a new commission with our local news paper for photography.  I still have a long way to go to make it in these fields but right now, this moment is freaking awesome.

Join us for an intense two-day portrait painting class at our Brooklyn school with Camie Salaz (formerly Camie Davis). On day one, Camie will explain how to block in the portrait directly on the canvas with paint, focusing on accurate drawing and value construction. On day two, students will apply value and color. 

This workshop is unique in the way that both technical and thematic questions will be addressed. Discussions on character development and capturing/creating emotion will be woven throughout both sessions. We’re limiting the workshop to 12 students to maximize everyone’s experience.