Artist brings animated characters to life

In Artist Profile, Arts & Entertainment, Multimedia, Slideshows, Student Art, Video

With her hair tied back to a braid, Jessica Perri captured a free-spirited energy as her eyes and creativity focused in on a pen and a blank 9-by-12 spiraled sketchpad page.

Perri, a Cal State Fullerton art education major, is not only learning how to master visual art techniques, but also how to teach them. Her specialty is animation art, where much of her portfolio is digital or web-based. Perri hopes to apply these skills and share them with others in her future career as a high school art teacher.

The 22-year-old animator brings characters to life in a way that allows audiences to visually grasp the stories she creates. Her characters leap off the pages with impressively detailed life-like faces.

Growing up, Perri immersed herself in movies and soon developed a love for the art of storytelling. In her preteen years, Perri was introduced to anime, which influenced her to learn how to apply art and storytelling into one flowing medium.

Her future in art was not always certain though. Through most of high school, Perri considered majoring in history to pursue a career as a museum curator.

Perri reminisced back to her junior year in high school when she realized she couldn’t deny herself the opportunity to fulfill her life’s passion.

“I (needed) to make this my life career because I love doing it and I want to do it for the rest of my life,” Perri said.

Her parents were both supportive of her decision to formally pursue art; they made it clear they would support her through any path she chose.

Although most would assume Perri’s creativity is handed down from her mother, a loud and vivacious school teacher, it is her father, the quiet environmental engineer with a mild mannered personality, who incited her artistic path.

“Teach? Why do you want to teach? You gotta go all the way!” Perri said, mimicking her father’s voice.

Although most of her time is spent practicing her technique, Perri is also involved in several extracurricular activities as she nears graduation in May.

Perri is a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and dedicates two days a week to attending study groups to further her walk in faith.

She is also a dedicated violinist and takes weekly lessons to nurture her musical education.

Perri said that her family makes an effort to spend time together, despite their busy schedules.

Her challenges as an artist are not just restricted to time though.

She said the biggest challenge for her is cleaning her work and presenting them in cohesive, aesthetic ways that are easy for viewers to digest.

Her favorite stage of the creative process is sketching.

She said that it can be challenging to take a sketch and continue to mold and perfect it into a final colored presentation.

Her body of work though, proves she can overcome those struggles. Professor Chuck Grieb, one of her art instructors, praised her efforts.

“She demonstrates very strong craftsmanship as well as a unique understanding of character as expressed in the stories she tells and the animation she creates,” Grieb said.

Perri’s observation of people helps her unique understanding of character.

She said she observes people’s quirks and behaviors to capture true human character in her art, weirdness and all.

In her latest piece, a comic set in the future, Perri explores another aspect of the human psyche. This futuristic series will explore different mental disorders and other “twists of the mind,” Perri said.

It’s a brand new piece, and is still in the early stages of development, but it is described as a psychological drama. Perri said it’s not all dark.

“Throughout everything I do, there’s always comedy,” Perri said. “I think that’s probably what makes a story most entertaining.”

Perri is not the kind of artist who can work alone, and she credits a close friend who she has collaborated with on many projects.

They are able to bounce ideas off each other and she said that that openness is what often fuels Perri’s creativity.

Fellow animation student Justin Alexander described Perri as “ambitious” and “hard-working.”

From storytelling, sketching and playing the violin, Perri has proved her unique and talented versatility as a young student artist.

You can visit to see all her latest works.

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