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Meet Trailblazer Sara Westover

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Westover.

Sara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was always an artistic child. Any chance I got, I would turn to art for school projects, reports, homework, and free time. One of my first memories of creating art was painting the cover of a book I had read for a book report in 2nd grade. Through the years, my love for art only grew through cartoons, movies, and illustrations in books. But I remember never seriously wanting to become an artist.

In high school, I never thought it was a real option for me. I had never known an artist, painter, or animator. I had only known businessmen, teachers, preachers, and paramedics. I assumed that’s where I would end up as well. My Junior year of high school, I took an art class for fun. Through the semester, I think my parents saw how much I enjoyed that class and knew how much I disliked English, Math, Science, and most of all, tests. Of course, those are important, and the school system makes that known to us, but they never made it known to me that there was more. My parents did some research and discovered one of the only art schools in Georgia, SCAD. They encouraged me to think about it and apply.

So I did. 

And the rest is history.

I currently sit, typing this as I head into my final quarter of my senior year as an Animation Major. There have been plenty of challenges, learning curves, hopeless projects, and sleepless nights with my classmates. But, I can’t image doing anything else with my life. I’m thankful to have supportive parents who saw me better than I saw me. Who could detect what truly made me happy when I couldn’t. I wouldn’t be here, an animator, motion graphics artist, and video editor, without them.

Thank you Mom and Dad.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For all the young women out there, no matter what you’re headed into, don’t compare yourself to others as much as you do, because I know you do. In school, we’re required to present our many projects to our peers and receive criticism. At first, this was horrifying. I was pretty quiet, not so confident, and not that good at drawing. When I was constantly compared to my classmates who are pointing out the flaws in my work, it didn’t help. But pretty soon, I discovered that these people didn’t want to tear me down, but only push me to work harder, I was in a really supportive environment that allowed me to assess my mistakes and grow from them.

My wise older brother once told me, “surround yourself with people who you want to be like,” and that always stuck with me. I have 2-3 friends that I look up to, constantly keep me accountable and push me to be better everyday. Those are the people I go to for advice, who I take my deepest insecurities to, and whose opinions I value most.

Ladies, even when YOU don’t think you can do it, those people DO. Do it for them, do it for you.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
I am in 2D animation specializing in motion graphics and compositing. All those big words to say, I work in animation (movies, TV shows, commercials, etc.) “putting stuff together”. Compositing means “to put together”. It’s sort of the very last thing you do in production before your show hits the air. Storyboarders draw, background artists create the scenes, animators create the movement, and compositing take all of it and put it together! I like to compare animation to cake. There are a lot of different components that can be eaten separately, but when you put it all together, it makes something even better. Compositing is like the icing or sprinkles, it just adds a “Lil sumn sumn”.

I’ve also taken a lot of motion media classes, focusing on commercials and branding. Those have been fun, and I like have two feet in two different doors. But animation is where my heart will always be. In my class, I’m kind of known as the “After Effects Queen” (not to brag or anything). After Effects in the main program I use, while almost everyone else uses one called “ToonBoom”. I’m the “go-to” in my class for when anyone has questions about their films in post-production. I feel like I’ve been able to help them create a lot of opportunities for their films, pointing them in the right direction when I can. The collaborative experience is one of the things I enjoy the most.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
“Bend your knees”. I played sports growing up, and my coach was almost always my dad. Through many years of softball, he would always say the same thing to me when I stepped up to the plate, “Bend your knees”.

He meant “relax, get ready, get prepared, be aware” because the pitch is about to come. You can’t swing properly, or play any sport properly, with stiff legs. “Bend your knees” always reminded me to be ready for anything, stay calm, relax, and it’ll be okay.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sara Westover

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