Artist Profile: Jovanna Tosello, TV Graphics Producer + Animator - New York
Hi Jovanna! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I work as an art director and broadcast graphics producer in New York. My background is in character animation and broadcast design.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I lack a prestigious resume of early childhood accomplishments that would have pointed to a future career in the creative arts. Instead, I was a remarkably dull and unartistic child. I had a slew of dead-beat dreams: a monster truck driver, motorcycle stunt double, or to grow up to be then-wrestle mania star Hulk Hogan.
There was a turning point when I turned sixteen. I began living a double life as a part-time college student. Minors in California, where I grew up, were eligible to attend city college at a discount at the age of sixteen. If a class was 3 units, the rate in 2002 was $7 a unit, the total would be $21 per class.
As soon as my sixth-period class ended, I was in the car driving to the nearest city college. Night classes exposed me to subjects that were not offered by my public high school: graphic design, music theory, and art criticism and history. Weekends, summers, all my free time was spent pushing myself into new areas of interest. I was making up for the lack of creative enjoyment of my early childhood in my mid to late teens.
My extra-curricular studies pushed me to build a portfolio worthy of the most prestigious art school I could find, the Character Animation program at the California Institute of the Arts. It was a bit of random luck that led me to discover that I enjoyed applying my new-found creative skills into animation production.
You mention getting your start on Community. How was your experience starting your career on a network television show?
Dan Harmon had teamed up with Starburns Industries in Burbank to produce an animated episode for Season 5. The show was going to be in the style of early GI JOE cartoons: buff men, guns, and exploding aircraft. This was my first time working at this scale for television. It was a 27 minute fully animated episode. We had five weeks until air.
There are points in everyone’s career where someone steps in to have a positive influence on one’s growth. In my case, it was my animation director at the time, Rob Schwab. While I was the only female member of the animation team, he pulled me aside to acknowledge that dynamic. There is subtle and non-so-subtle discourse that affect the work environment for women in the animation world. He promised he back me up 100%, and he did. Anytime I was interrupted in group meetings, as an example, he would divert the conversation back to me. He used his authority as animation director to change the culture of the team.
From there you went to the Daily Show and now the Today Show. What does a week of work look like for you?
The Daily Show has a four day work week. We produce an episode for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The studio goes dark Friday, which acts as a catch-up day for the production staff. As a member of the graphics team, we would use this time to prepare for the following week and longer projects.
On a typical day, there are four categories of work: day-of show, field pieces, studio pieces, and extra projects. The most common projects are the day-of show assignments that come in the form of scripts throughout the day. We produce several rounds of graphics for rehearsal, taping, and for the edit/post-production.
Field pieces are the second most common graphics assignments. Each field project requires a title open, explainer graphics, and special effects. We work directly with a field producer to collaborate on design, style, and tone of the animated elements.
Studio pieces are similar to field projects except they are shot in studio rather than out in the field. The footage is from a fixed camera and will most likely involve more green screen compositing, than their field counterparts.
The last type of assignment that comes through the graphics department is anything beyond the confines of the show. For example, we worked on creating exhibits for the Donald Trump Twitter Library, social campaigns for various platforms, and various large scale murals for the audience.
What has your experience been working in a very male-dominated industry?
My graduating class at Calarts was an even split of men to women, yet those numbers are not reflected in my industry. I am often the only female animator hired among a team of men. Hiring managers have lamented the struggle to find female animators, but that belief exposes the layer of bias and red tape women have to cut through to even get in for an interview. A simple google search or an Instagram scroll will reveal very talented and very female animators.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other and what has this looked like in your life?
Women, female-identifying, genderqueer, and non-binary folks have an overlap of shared experience. Finding support in each other makes us stronger as a community. I found this on a professional level is due to the support of talented and smart women who took a chance on me.
We have a series called Purchase from Women - what women-owned businesses are you encouraging with your dollars?
I love this idea of supporting women-owned businesses. Some of the business I support are Sun's Organic Garden Teas, Selma Rondon, Dusen Dusen, and Helen Levi.
What are some of your favorite places in New York?
Teardrop Park, The Manitoga House, Storm King Park, Noguchi Museum, The Tenement Museum, Natural History Museum, La Newyorkina, Oliver Coffee, Sun's Organic Garden Teas