Janelle is animated about art
Janelle Cummins eats, sleeps and breathes art. But that wasn’t always the case. As with many young people, the natural course was for her to do well academically and possibly become an accountant or lawyer. She was transported to the world of art in high school.
“I would say that my art teacher at Queens College, Mrs Spink, played a pivotal role in opening my eyes to a possible future in the art and design industry. Then at a college fair, I met a representative for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and I was completely sold by that point.”
Janelle, 26, grew up in Lion Castle, St Thomas. Her dad, Courtney Rouse is a building contractor and her mother, Jacqueline Cummins, is a cook. She migrated to the United Sates in 2010 to further her education. For the first four years she lived in Savannah, Georgia, pursuing and attaining her bachelor of fine arts in motion media design.
After graduating, she moved to Los Angeles, California where she is now cementing her feet in her specialised field.
“As a young child in primary school, I was a bit quiet and introverted. So I would always just sit in my own little bubble and draw when I got the free time. It wasn’t until secondary school where I was exposed to a variety of techniques and began to see art as more than just a hobby,” Janelle said.
“During my time at QC I realised that I really enjoyed making art. It was the one class I looked forward to and any free periods or spare time I had would be spent in the art room and so I decided to take art at the CAPE (advanced) level.”
Janelle worked hard on her projects, even entering the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts, winning awards and creating a portfolio which got her partial academic and artistic scholarships. Janelle was by then accepted into SACD; one hurdle accomplished. Now it was to the task of choosing her major.
“Once I got into SCAD, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I initially wanted to major in illustration but then wanted to animate so I switched to animation. Then I found out about motion graphics and was blown away by the fact that it gave me the opportunity to both illustrate and animate,” she said gleefully.”
Janelle has used lemons to make lemonade in many instance, as art, to her, is fluid.
“I believe that my work is by extension, a representation of myself. The nature of my work means that the finished product will be seen and scrutinised by many. There is no worse feeling than seeing a finished product and knowing there was something you could have done differently to make it better. The only way to avoid this is to push for the highest quality of work possible.”
For her final project, she did just that – make her work a representation of herself.
“In her senior year so I was worried about the uncertainty of life after college. So I thought, why not use this anxiety therapeutically, by exploring the larger theme of “Fear of the Unknown.” This resulted in me designing and animating a short piece which I very much enjoyed conceptualizing as my final project.”
After many all-nighters, Janelle graduated from SCAD and quickly got her feet wet with commercial work as an intern. She ended up in Los Angeles working with some of the most talented designers and studios on music videos, commercials, documentaries and title sequences.
“A definite highlight of my career was the opportunity to work on the 2015 MTV movie awards package as a designer, animator and compositor, under the direction of the Emmy award winning studio, Imaginary Forces. There, I also got to animate on a full length documentary for NRDC, entitled Sonic Sea,” which advocates on the dangers of man-made noise pollution.”
Janelle’s tools includes Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for design and After Effects for animation.
“I am heavily inspired by textures, especially those found in nature. I like the fact that no two are the same. It could be the pattern on a snail shell, veins on a leaf or the lines on a tree bark.
“When I am creating, I try to find inspiration from sources external to the motion graphics industry, as it’s very easy to see something you love and end up unconsciously trying to mimic it. I’ll get inspiration from graphic design, illustrations, fashion, photography, even architecture.”
Janelle’s face lit up when she spoke of her favourite piece of work done so far.
It was a personal, non-commissioned project, a logo treatment for SYFY, inspired by how light interacts with the translucency of the jellyfish, producing something that looks almost alien. She gathered a bunch of jellyfish references on Pinterest and worked on forming the letters of the logo with the unique, organic forms of the jellyfish. “It was the perfect opportunity for me to create a branding piece where I could digitally paint from scratch.”
Janelle looks back on how far she has come. From doing acrylic painting, batik dyeing, stencil-painting on cloth, and sculpting of plaster of paris and clay, being supported by parents who pushed her to develop her skills.
“They both have all my paintings and sculptures displayed around their homes. During my latter years of QC, my parents surprised me with my own little mini studio at home, where I could do all my work.”
Janelle currently works at ATTN: as a motion designer, where she illustrates and animates videos that cover topics such as economic mobility, civil rights, education, criminal justice and the environment.
“I love that it’s such a collaborative atmosphere. A typical project would begin with us, going over the script and then brainstorming on a possible storyboard. Then we move on to styleframes, then asset production and finally to animating and compositing.
”Last year, Janelle featured in the Advanced Photoshop Magazine.
“That was such an honour. Right now I’m still in awe at how far I’ve come and look forward to what more I can accomplish. The animation sky is the limit.”