Art director

Into the Spider-Verse Artistic Director Creates Scholarship with Toronto Animation Workshop


Patrick O’Keefe remembers saving money as a kid wherever he could to pay for classes at the Animation Portfolio Workshop in Toronto.

“A little bit of money seemed like the most important thing in the world,” he told CBC Toronto.

He doesn’t need to worry about money anymore. And now he wants to give back by offering a scholarship so that an aspiring artist can attend the same animation workshop that gave him his debut.

“It’s for someone who was in my position and who just needs to hear an art teacher tell him that he has a lot of promises and that he just needs to keep working”, a- he declared.

O’Keefe is one of the artistic directors of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, an animated film released last Christmas and which has won numerous awards, including an Oscar and several Annies, awarded each year by the International Animated Film Association.

Told from the perspective of Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales, the film explores a world where several Spider-Men of parallel universes exist.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse helped “reshape the landscape of the animation industry,” O’Keefe said.

It was a critical and financial success, grossing over US $ 375 million worldwide.

The artist, now based in Los Angeles, grew up with his single mother, who raised four children. It was watching her take on two jobs to make ends meet that O’Keefe says he developed his work ethic, but there were plenty of mentors who guided him to where he is today.

“Fortunately, we lived in a community where a village is there to help raise the child,” he said.

Now he wants to give back to this community.

The scholarship

O’Keefe has partnered with the Animation Portfolio Workshop, located on St. Clair West near Christie Street, to create a scholarship and mentorship opportunity for an aspiring animator.

He took the program when he was in high school and says workshop directors Gerard Sternik and Vince Peets were among his first mentors.

The student who receives the scholarship will receive tuition for the spring course, which costs over $ 5,000, and will receive materials from Gwartzman’s Art Supplies – a store on Spadina Avenue near College Street.

The stock market goes beyond money. O’Keefe’s goal is also to develop a relationship with the student by organizing monthly videoconference meetings to discuss their work and aspirations.

As a young child, your control is limited, he said.

“You can control your work ethic and your passion, but things like your financial situation and the ability to meet industry people are often beyond your reach. “

The Animation Portfolio Workshop is where O’Keefe made his first introduction to the industry and where he laid the foundation for his skills, Sternik said.

Vince Peets, left, and Gerard Sternik are the directors of the Animation Portfolio Workshop on St. Clair West. (Samantha Moya / CBC News)

The workshop is for students trying to register for facilitation programs at post-secondary institutions.

“It’s hard to get into animation school; some people apply three or four times before entering,” Sternik said.

During the workshop, classes last six hours and students spend their time drawing, including live models and animated drawings, which involves the creation of geometric shapes, storyboard panels and layouts. , said Peets.

Once they have selected the candidates for the O’Keefe scholarship, O’Keefe will choose the winning student, with the help of his mother.

“It’s never a bad thing to lend a helping hand,” O’Keefe said.


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