From Studying to Teaching Animation: Eleonora's Story

New Adelphi Building - Peel Park Campus

Eleonora joined Salford as a BA Animation student in 2009. After falling in love with the subject and our university, she returned to complete her master’s in Animation in 2013. Since then, she has decided to follow her passion for teaching into higher education and has taught at some of the UK’s leading institutions in the field, as well as working on many freelance projects. Take a read of her story below.

Before Salford

At the time of applying for my bachelor’s in 2008, the University of Salford was 11th in the league table for ‘Art, Design and Media’. All of the other universities did not have a specialist animation course. Along with this, the educational agency I applied with in Sofia had just taken Salford on as their newest partner, so the two elements together made me feel like it was fate.

I was attracted to the UK more generally because of the rich culture and diversity of the country, plus many of the leading studios in the animation industry are based here.

A New Chapter

I arrived in Salford as a very shy student, especially as this was my first experience going abroad and being away from my family, so it did take me a while to get settled into university life. However, the staff at my university accommodation were so supportive and helped me to settle in. I also found that attending events by the Students’ Union was a great way to make friends and feel more at home.

What I loved about both my undergraduate and postgraduate courses was the flexibility to discover my own style and visual language as an animator. I really bonded with my lecturers, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without their encouragement, support and belief in my skills and talent.

During my master’s I was given two opportunities which helped me to find my passion for teaching and altered my career path. The first one was the opportunity to support a week-long training session run by Cloth Cat Animation Studio on Toon Boom Harmony (a leading 2D animation software). This was made possible due to a partnership the course had at the time with Animated Women UK. It was the most incredible week meeting professionals who I still work with today.

My MA Animation Programme Leader allowed me to run a 2D animation workshop for students wanting to enhance their skills in this area. I loved the feeling of helping people discover a new skill and passion. This was truly a turning point in my career and after this, I knew that teaching was the direction I wanted to take my career in.

Both of my programmes gave me so many skills but the number one thing I developed during my time at Salford was confidence. I arrived a really shy student who was terrified of showing anyone my work and I left a completely different person. I improved my drawing, reflective skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In terms of technical skills, I learned hand-drawn animation, stop motion, 3D and post-production.

My journey after Salford

I have worked in higher education as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer for the last seven years at leading institutions including the University of Salford, De Montfort University, LMA Liverpool and Manchester Metropolitan University. I cover 2D digital animation, visual language for animation and illustration, digital illustration, pre-production and planning for animation.

Alongside my full-time job as a Senior Lecturer, I get involved in a variety of freelance projects. I work on 2D and illustration projects for international clients, take part in exhibitions and direct my own films which have been screened at global animation festivals.

In my free time, I deliver masterclasses in animation and visual language for colleges and universities and at animation festivals. I would like to do more than of this in the future to reach new and emerging talent in the sector who may not yet have the confidence in their skills, just like I didn’t when I came to the UK.

Words of wisdom

Grab any opportunity that comes your way. Go with a ‘can-do’ attitude to your lectures. Don’t be afraid to experiment and go outside of your comfort zone. Communicate and be proactive especially when networking because you never know what opportunity might come your way. Student life is mainly about what you learn, how much you improve and the people you meet along the way (who will definitely change your life forever!).