Winning Essay by Margaret Barnett, Kennesaw State University
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At the start of my middle school years, I began to develop a fascination with animation. Like most young children, once I fell in love with something I became absolutely obsessed and enamoured. Although unlike most young obsessions, I found that this hobby would soon turn into a life goal. A major factor in my middle school life was Cartoon Network’s ‘Steven Universe’. Upon watching this, I followed each animator who worked on the show. This led to my eventual discovery of Ian Jones-Quartey, a storyboard artist for an influential part of my childhood. As Quartey expanded his career, I followed, which eventually presented me with ‘O.K K.O!’, a show created and produced by Quartey himself. As I progressed in knowledge and passion for animation, Quartey became a prominent role model for me. Leading into my next step towards acquiring animation education, I continue to look to Quartey as a light of inspiration.

Reflecting on the impact Quartey has had on me, I find an abundance of influence found in his original show. As artists, we look past the front of a work and move towards it’s message and meaning. I gained the same approach when watching Quartey’s ‘O.K K.O’ whose brightly colored, flashy diorama of cast and characters would fool anyone into passing it off as just another children’s show. This, however, could not be further from the truth as Quartey uses his show to project issues of childhood expression and inner conflict. In an interview Quartey states “I think T.K.O. connects to a lot of things. When I was a kid, I threw a lot of tantrums, and I feel like that’s something that you don’t see in a lot of kids’ shows. And there’s no way to talk about when you feel bad or hurt and upset, especially shows with young boys. Let’s talk about those emotions.” As I progress into the animation industry, I find Quartey’s impact on his audience an important aspect of why artists create.

One of the more eccentric influences Quartey has had on me is his eye catching art and animation style. Of course when creating a film targeted towards children, bright colors and funny designs are to be expected, but Quartey breathes a sigh of creativity into all of his pieces. So often in art there is a pressure to create within the guidelines of what is correct or accepted, this is starkly contrasted by Quartey’s use of clashing color combinations and off model characters. Without the limitations of style, Quartey presents a unique and bold face in the animation industry. Entering into my first year of animation courses, I look to Quartey for guidance as I develop my own art personality.

Quartey’s impact on me goes beyond what words can express, but he has undoubtedly influenced my outlook and goals in the animation industry. With the beginning of my furthered education, I continue to look towards and admire Quartey and his work.

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