Welcome to #SeasonsOfKidLit, readers! We've talked a lot this season about traditionally published books. Today, however, I wanted to present something completely artistic and unique! Disney Animation Artist, Annie Hobbs, is here today to share a little about what she does at Disney as well as a look at an adorable book she created titled: Little Witch: An October Story. When a little witch wants a friend, she sets out on a journey to brew up just that. Will the witch find everything she needs? Want to know more about Annie, her career at Disney, and this adorable creation of hers? Read on...
Q: Hi, Annie. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I'm excited you could join and talk about your illustrations and process with me! First, you are a Disney Illustrator who works with ink and paint, but also works with animation at the studios. Wow! Can you tell us a little about how you started illustrating for Disney and what your journey with them has been like?
A: Hi Heather, Thanks so much for having me!
My path towards Disney is very much like a family circus comic... a winding line that leads every which way to the "playground" and takes 5x as long to get there! I've been drawing Disney characters for as long as I can remember. One of my first "How-to-draw" books was of The Little Mermaid and I drew Scuttle and Flounder on EVERYTHING. The desire to be part of Disney started really early in my artistic endeavors. I took a million art classes in school, got a degree in Illustration, .... and then took a bunch of fun jobs that had absolutely nothing to do with art! I did Musical Theater, was a substitute teacher, worked retail, took an admin job, got licensed to sell health insurance, and was even an elementary school music and art teacher for a few years! However, all these different jobs gave me specific qualifications (plus a continued love of drawing characters) that landed me a Sketch Artist role at the Disneyland Resort in 2015! There, I worked "on stage" creating animation style sketches for guests and was able to share a little bit about the classic animation film process along the way. In 2017, I was promoted to the Ink & Paint department and for the next few years, I inked and painted traditional animation cels in that same arena. It was a literal DREAM!
We all know what happened in 2020, and I found myself really unsure what the next chapter of my career was going to look like. I had a very specific skill set and no idea where I would find work. Then a miracle happened!
An opening for an Ink & Paint artist at the Walt Disney Animation Studios.
I POURED my heart and soul into creating samples for that interview! I brought in cels I had done at Disneyland as well as 2 brand new ones I had hand inked and painted on my tiny kitchen table. I was so nervous! Spoiler... I got the job! I pinch myself every day walking through these historical buildings and think "How in the world did I end up here??" Well.... that's the question, right? As you can see, it's a winding path through life experiences and chances taken! This fall season marks my 1-year anniversary as an Ink & Paint artist, and I have loved every step of the journey!
Q: That is truly fascinating, Annie! So, I recently saw some news you posted and have to ask, how did it feel seeing your name on Disney's Baymax! credits?
A: "What even is my life right now??" That's pretty much what has been in my head for the last year. LOL To know I'm part of the Disney creative legacy is pretty stinkin' cool!
Q: Can you tell us about how working at Disney and in animation has helped with becoming an illustrator for children’s books?
A: Working at Disney has been an absolute dream come true! When I was first hired into the Sketch Artist team at Disneyland, I was immediately surrounded by other seasoned artists. Nothing is more motivating than working alongside brilliantly talented creatives every day. You want to match them. You're inspired by them. You strive to make your work worthy of being hung alongside them. I think we all suffer from "imposter syndrome" here and there... let me tell you... it can hit hard in an environment like that! But the good thing is you can use that feeling to fuel your own work! Looking back at the art I was doing in 2015 ... *cringe* I worked really hard to up my game and I had a sort of artistic breakthrough in 2016/2017. If I hadn't had that desire to improve and be the best "Annie" I could be, I would not have had the skill set to approach the Children's Illustration market. I'm SO proud of how far I've come and makes me excited for what future breakthroughs bring!
Q: Your book Little Witch: an October Story, has such a cool story to it! Last year, I tuned in as you shared an illustration a day, showing an audience a little bit about your illustration process. How did it feel getting to share such a close look at your process with viewers?
A: Little Witch was SUCH a fun project! I actually wrote the story in October 2020 but didn't feel I could do it justice by producing illustrations the same year. I sat on it for about 10 months and then in August 2021, I started prepping my ideas. It was interesting because everyone got to see it in real time! Usually, the story or illustration process is hidden and in secret, so it was cool to get immediate reactions as each piece was posted. At the same time, it also added a lot of pressure to make sure everything stayed on schedule! I don't know if I would do it the same way again LOL The experience was worth it though, and I'm really glad I pushed myself to create something so unique.
Q: This is all so very cool! What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A: Oh gosh! I hope a lot!
I have some manuscript ideas sitting on back burners right now that I'd love to develop in 2023. The last few years have been a huge push for me to get as much work as possible out there and available, so I think next year will be a time of specific dedicated projects that I can focus on. It's important to make sure you're always improving, and I want to just keep getting better and better!
Thanks so much for the fun interview, Annie! It was a pleasure having you!
Q: Would you like to leave a Trick or a Treat for the readers?
A: A Trick! Just remember that everyone has their own "Origin Story"! You're still writing yours!!
What an awesome Trick, thanks for sharing!
And now a surprise treat! These awesomely spooky and custom stickers of Annie's are up for grabs to one winner because...we all need a grumpy cat and a spooky ghost bride in our life!
Contest Details: To enter to these awesome stickers, comment below to let Annie know what you love most about her Little Witch book and her art! The winner will be announced on or about November 4th.
California raised, Annie lives submerged in a world of adventure, a splash of ocean, and a sprinkle of pixie dust.
Starting with extensive doodle studies in the margin spaces of math assignments, Annie holds a BFA in Illustration and a Certification in Bio-Medical Illustration. For the last few years, she has been pursuing a freelance career alongside the dream of being published in the Children's Illustration market.
In 2015, Annie was brought in by the Disney Parks & Resorts to work in the prestigious Disneyana Gallery where she worked as a Character Sketch artist before transferring to Disneyland's Ink & Paint Department. Honing her skills within the park landed her a role of a lifetime with the Walt Disney Animation Studios, where she now spends her days in Walt's original Ink & Paint Department in Burbank.
Annie has produced character & licensed artwork for The Walt Disney Company, Disney Parks & Resorts, Walt Disney Imagineering, Pixar, Tim Burton, and Lucasfilm.
When not doodling in her home studio, Annie is most likely to be squishing the face of her adorable King Charles Cavalier, Lotus, eating vegan snacks, and binge-watching other artists on YouTube.
For more about Annie, check out the below links:
Annie's website: https://www.anniemcbethillustration.com/
To purchase Annie's book, or to shop her Etsy store, click here.