Madison Shafer
Character Designer

Cultural Artists Spotlight: June 12 – June 25, 2019

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I am a character designer, which is Hollywood talk for “drawing cartoons.” I get handed a description of a character and make them come alive through my pen and paper. I LOVE telling stories and I get to do that on a daily basis through my characters. I have always been into fashion design, too, so designing characters is like candy to me. My favorite part is all of the small details that make a character unique. That could be a couple loose strands of hair or a small little freckle on a face. I do a lot of freelance work, which is really fun because I get to work on a wide variety of different projects. My daily schedules are never the same, which keeps things fresh. One day I’m designing a logo for a cafe, the next day I’m animating for a music video, and the next day I’m illustrating a children’s book. Freelancing is a win-win for me; the clients get what they want and I end up with quite a diverse portfolio!

How did you first become interested in art?
I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I would draw on EVERYTHING; sticky notes, napkins, fruit, tables, my little sister’s dolls, and pretty much anything that was in reach. I have always loved drawing, but I will never forget the day I got interested in animation. I was 12 years old, laying on the floor in my fuzzy pink slippers, watching a movie titled The Aristocats. I had watched it many times before, but this time was different. I noticed all of the sketchy pencil lines in the film and it was the first moment I realized that someone actually drew every single one of those frames! The next day I came across a book titled The Illusion of Life at the library. It caught my eye because it had Disney pictures on it. I didn’t even know that it was a book about animation. Once I got home, I opened it up. I started reading it and I could not set it down! The book was written by a couple of Disney animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. It described the entire process of how to make an animated film from start to finish. I could not believe that so much work went into the cartoons and movies I watched everyday! That was the moment I knew I had to pursue animation.

How can art enrich a community, and what are some ways people can become engaged with art in Burbank?
My favorite thing about art is how you can tell a story and have an audience connect with it. It’s the best feeling to create something and knowing that this artwork never would have been made if you hadn’t just created it yourself. Every artist has their own voice, and every artist is unique. For me, I love using color to tell my stories. I create a lot of bright, colorful, and happy characters to spread positivity in the world. How does art enrich the community? Art brings the community together, promotes diversity, brings joy and entertainment, tells stories of the artist and the people of the city, and it inspires others to create! There are many ways to get involved; donating artwork to community centers and businesses, sharing artwork with friends and neighbors, submitting pieces to art galleries, or the easiest – posting your artwork online! I love how Burbank is completely filled with art. I walk the streets and am dazzled with beautiful murals on the buildings, welcomed into cafes with paintings framed on the walls, and I am in awe of the 3D sculptures around the parks. Burbank is such a beautiful city filled with artistic people, which is why it is the hub for the entertainment industry!

If you could share with our community one thing about art, what would it be?
What I think is the most important thing about art is that the artists are creating from the heart. They need to tell THEIR story and share their personal experiences. Create something that has a piece of them and their history in it. They may just be surprised at how many other people connect with their story!


To find out more about Madison’s work, visit @MadisonShaferArt
Madison Shafer Art (@madisonshaferart) • Instagram photos and videos