Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Monique Ligons | Freelance Animator

Interview :: Monique Ligons
by Juanita Berge, 1 Feb 2009

Philadelphia native, animator Monique Ligons attended the Creative and Performing Arts High School or CAPA for short. She also attended The University of the Arts where she received a BFA in animation. She currently works as a freelancer, mostly in animation production. She frequently produces work for out of town clients.

Monique can be reached online at or by emailing [email protected]

PCG: Describe what it is that you do.

ML: I often wear many hats as a freelance animator. From time to time I am sought after to create animations from the ground up. Meaning I am responsible for the full visual development of a piece. This entails doing the storyboarding, character and background design, as well as the animation itself. There are also occasions when I am hired to fill only one of those positions.

PCG: How long have you worked in the animation field?

ML: For 12 years now. For a few years after college I worked as an animation teacher at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a small private animation school called Animation Arts in South Jersey.

"There is always room for experimentation and new discoveries in this art form."

PCG: What brought you to the field?

ML: When I enrolled in college I originally planned on majoring in illustration. I attended the University of the Arts with my best friend and now long time colleague Rob Shaw. It was my friendship with Rob that drew me to the animation field. He was quite absorbed by the art and I decided to enroll in an animation course with him my freshman year. Once I had started producing work in this class I was immediately hooked. The idea of being able to work in any medium of my choice with the added ingredient of motion was very appealing to me. There is always room for experimentation and new discoveries in this art form.

PCG: What sort of training is involved?

ML: In animation one usually studies form, motion and storytelling.

PCG: Why freelance?

ML: Working out of my home studio and working as a freelancer is great for me since I like to have multiple projects going on at once. I will sometimes have an animation job going and a painting and/or a sculptural project all set up. And I will hop from one to the other. It's very important in maintaining a sort of balance for me. Sometimes the animation jobs can be quite stressful. I often work with very tight deadlines so the other projects serve, in some ways, as a stress reliever. It's a bit Zen.

Freelance also enables me the freedom to dedicate time to my own personal work. I tend to work extremely hard for a number of months on commercial projects and then take off some time to pour that energy into my personal endeavors.

The other plus to working freelance is that the projects are always changing. Therefore I am always challenged. There is always the opportunity to try something new.

PCG: Have there been any major changes in the field during your time?

ML: During my career I've seen computers become a more important tool in animation and in the film industry in general. When I was in college there was a computer course that we were required to take. But I don't think it compares in any way to what students are learning now on computers. It has become such a vital part of production.

With the use of computers one animator can be their own small production team now. You have a lot more independents out there working and making a living. Computers expedited the animation process immensely. This in no way means that animation isn't still a great deal of work. People sometimes get the impression that animators just push a button and the magic happens. But that is far from the truth. Computers just allow us to achieve even greater feats.

PCG: What's been your most difficult job, and why?

ML: My most difficult job... that's hard to say. Every job is different. Sometimes the difficulty comes from maintaining a good balance between what the client wants and what is possible within the parameters of a project. The difficulty usually comes from time constraints. You want to be able to preserve a certain level of quality but you're hit with the most impossible deadlines. Those are the times that I live, sleep, eat, and breath animation.

I had a project along those lines last year. It was for the development of two product promotion videos for a trade show. M.E.I. Easitrax system. I believe I had about 6 weeks to work and the total combined running time of the videos was 11 minutes. There were some duplicate shots used in both videos but not much. I hired a friend of mine who is also an animator and we camped out in my home studio for weeks.

"I really enjoy the jobs that allow me the freedom to release some undiluted creative vigor."

PCG: What's been your most exciting job, and why?

ML: The most exciting job that I've worked on was a piece that was produced for Astra Zeneca, "The Selling Model". It received the Pegasus Best of Show award in 2008.

It's one of those projects that's a dream to work on. I was able to try an approach that's not the standard. The overall look was based on detective films. I wanted to really capture the atmosphere that is indicative of noir films. So I had miniature sets built, lit, and shot. And I produced all the character animation in 2D. Then composited that into this seemingly dimensional world. With a few other added effects we ended up with this great little noir short.

I really enjoy the jobs that allow me the freedom to release some undiluted creative vigor.

David and Goliath showing at the New Orleans gallery, Barrister's.

PCG: Most artists are involved in more than one discipline. Do you have any additional interests?

ML: My interests are vast and I am always eager to try new things. I love working with my hands. I started off drawing, painting and sculpting as a child. Animation didn't come until later. I am still quite active in these other areas.

I have had work in numerous group shows and benefit's over the past few years. The most recent show was in New Orleans at a gallery called Barrister's.

I don't limit myself to one discipline. I believe this helps me to think outside of the box. It also keeps things interesting for me.

PCG: What's ahead for you?

ML: I would really like to become more visible in the gallery arena this year. So I will be diligently working on producing a body of work for a possible solo show. I'd also like to focus a bit more on my own personal work as an animator and directing. I've been working on a music video project that will be finished this spring. This will hopefully be a springboard for other fun video projects.

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