CalArts: The same face every have ahour

By Alejandro García

If you are a novice animator or a person interested in the topic area, then you should know this topic, in any other case: thank you for choosing this article about CalArts. The term really is the abbreviation used for the California Institute of the Arts. In this institute some of the most popular animators came to be the creators of iconic characters and animated series, and of course they have been an influence for many who aspire to achieve the same as them.

This is when we start talk about the “CalArts style”. At January 18th, CartoonNetwork announced that they will do a reboot of the animated series Thundercats, calling it now Thundercats Roar, coming out in 2019. A video was posted presenting the design of the characters, the behind the scenes and an opening song. Many animators and designers (including me) realized the enormous resemblance that the characters had with other animated series, such as: The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, among others. Because many of the creators and animators of the series now studied at CalArts, they began to be called CalArts style.

It turns out that in January 2007 the creator of Ren and Stimpy, John K. Stuff, wrote an entire article on his personal blog about the “CalArts style”. He states that in every era or decade animators and designers are influenced by animation designs with greater power or prestige. What Stuff referred to most with the CalArts style is the fact that many animation resources are used directly, cloning the same effect that others have already done for a long time.

You can easily notice how this type of character design has had a powerful influence of today’s animated series on different television and streaming channels (ex. Netflix). Of course each series has its own way to present its characters to highlight the quality of the series and its versatility when telling stories. The problem that occurred with Thundercats Roar when it made us ask ourselves: Animators and illustrators should continue using the CalArts style for new animations? A valid question, but the question that really should be asked is: Who are you angry with?


Of course, any fan of the original series would bother to see a treasure of the animation turned into a minimalist and round version of it, but that does not mean that it will automatically be bad. It is not the first time in the history of animation in which an animator uses the influence of others for their work. The CalArts style can be recognized as a very useful resource for animators, since this type of design tends to facilitate the production of animations and even experiment with new animation techniques due to how easy it is to draw each character.

Each world of characters has its own way of showing the diversity that a creator must present new projects. So … people, animators and designers, the CalArts is a phenomenon that will continue to happen whether we want it or not, there will always be a series that will change our way of imagining a new world of unique characters.


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