Six years ago, four Tar Heels banded together to create the first student animation group on campus to give the art form a home at Carolina.
Since then, the Carolina Animators Anonymous club, or Ani-Ano, has worked to create animated films and drawings and build an on-campus community centered around animation.
“Carolina Animators Anonymous is a great resource for artists on campus because it introduces animation to a large student body from different majors,” says Sabine Gruffat, a professor of digital art in the College of Arts and Sciences’ art and art history department.
Jeremiah Derby, a senior in studio art with 2D aspirations for an animation career, wanted to get involved with a group to continue to improve his drawing skills. While searching for a group, he came across Ani-Ano on Heel Life and submitted some of his work on a whim. He joined the group earlier this year and is the current president of the club.
“My hope for people joining the club is that they’ll see that everyone has a passion for animation because it’s a really beautiful art form,” he says.
Derby says he wants Ani-Ano to make an impact on Tar Heels who have a passion for the art by serving as a space for students to share and develop their artistic ideas.
Former Ani-Ano president Michaelanthony Gore ’22 recalls “the synergy you feel when brainstorming with others, with the idea going from person to person and evolving into something none of you could have envisioned alone.”
“Being shown perspectives you never would have thought of otherwise and seeing everyone’s excitement grow is thrilling,” he said.
The club fosters an environment centered around animation, learning and providing educational resources and connections within the industry.
As the only animation group on campus, Ani-Ano focuses on helping its members build careers in animation by supporting professional development, including creating portfolios. The club also works together on projects and encourages each other to submit their work to film festivals.
“Everyone here has a love for animation, but their reason for loving it is different,” says Johnathon Martinez, a junior studying neuroscience and a member of the club.
Every other club meeting is a team bonding event to build a community centered around animation. The group encourages anyone with an interest to join — character designers, riggers, 3D modelers and more.
“If people are interested, we hope that they join and enjoy what they do so that they can create and share art that is meaningful to them,” says Derby.