Student’s artistic pursuits draw on love of animation


Kathryn Perez, a sophomore at the Indian River Charter High School Schumann School for Visual and Performing Arts, has her eyes firmly on the prize: working in the entertainment industry, creating characters for video games and animations for cartoons.

“The game industry is one of the fastest growing industries right now and it’s very high revenue in terms of people spending money on them. Some games will make more money than feature films, so it’s quite interesting. People will spend money to buy games or, if it’s a mobile game, they’ll buy things in the game,” says Perez.

“I’m actually working on a video game right now with a friend who knows how to code. We’re working on it a bit here and there and we’re going to work on it a lot over the summer,” says Perez.

As it’s just the two of them, she expects it will take them a couple of years to complete. When asked what the game is about, she replies with a grin, “That’s a secret.”

She also has an interest in animation, such as Pixar, but working in hand-drawn 2-D characters rather than 3-D, which she says is like sculpting on a computer.

“That’s its own art form, but it’s not for me personally. I’m hoping that it’s animation or making video games. I’d love it if that’s where my life goes,” says Perez.

Although she is leaving her options open to other colleges, she hopes to attend Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.

“I’ve had my eyes set on Ringling because it is the top animation school in the country, and it’s in Florida. So, I’m really hoping for that.”

She was encouraged at a portfolio day event at her school, where college representatives reviewed her work.

“I showed my art to the Ringling School, and they were quite impressed, so I am hoping that will keep up,” says Perez.

Her portfolio currently includes drawings and animation, but she does not yet have a digital portfolio.

“I’m still kind of honing the craft. I’m still learning a lot, so I didn’t really want to jump the gun and show while I’m still learning,” says Perez.

“You hand draw all frames. There are some programs that can help you out a bit like rigging, but that’s a whole other thing. Digital art is very dominant right now in the art field.”

In the meantime, she intends to continue adding to her portfolio so that she has a variety of works to show, adding, “I’m very excited for the day that I am applying for colleges and waiting for those letters.”

Perez recalls being fascinated by cartoons as a child, seeing them in her mind’s eye as “moving drawings.”

“So, I started by drawing those characters and then it kind of just went from there,” she explains, remarking that she had also been encouraged by the positive reactions of her parents to her drawings.

Perez initially began drawing what is known as fan art, recreating fan-favorite characters from books, movies, science fiction and the like, before broadening her horizons.

While in elementary school, she began taking classes with Hedy Diossy, who runs an afterschool children’s art program at Diossy Art Studio.

“She runs a wonderful art studio for kids. Most of them are younger than me, but I’ve been there since sixth grade. It’s always fun going there,” says Perez, adding that the studio enables her to work quietly, without distractions.

At Charter, which she says has an exceptional art program, she is taking painting and drawing classes, and has worked in a variety of mediums, including graphite, charcoal, watercolors and colored markers.

However, colored pencils are undeniably her medium of choice. They were readily available as a child, and she likes their consistency.

“The only thing that’s been kind of hard for me is painting. I don’t really feel like I have control over the brush all the time,” she says.

“With a pencil, it’s going to be one thickness and that’s it. With brushes, I feel like you have to kind of stroke it a certain way to make it have the shape you want, or for it to be a smooth stroke. It just didn’t really click with me.”

When Perez entered Charter as a freshman, COVID had reared its ugly head, so her classes were all virtual.

“It was definitely a bit awkward. You don’t really get that in-person instruction that I feel many artists need,” she says.

Although back in the classroom now, she says they primarily work from high-resolution photographs obtained online rather than set-ups or models.

“And sometimes we’re given freedom to sort of do what we want. Like, we have to follow a guideline, but then you just get to be creative, which I always like the best.”

Perez is displaying three of her artworks at the Vero Beach Art Club Annex and Gallery’s May Art Show, which opened May 6 and runs through May 30.

She had also submitted several pieces to a show at the Annex this past winter, including three of various birds and one of a crab, all of which were sold very quickly.

“The crab sold right when it was put up. It sold for $200,” says Perez, giggling happily, adding that a collector purchased the three birds.

“It was quite an honor. It was a very nice moment for me. I’m hoping the same thing will happen this time, although I don’t really expect it. I think that was quite the lucky experience,” Perez recalls. Maybe not just luck. The two pieces she submitted to a show at the Raw Space Gallery also sold.

At this current show, her three artworks were drawn using colored pencils.

“This is the one I’m most proud of,” says Perez, referencing a strikingly beautiful Macaw titled “Posed Parrot,” with feathers so realistic the bird appears poised to fly off the drawing. At the May 6 opening night reception, the drawing was awarded First Place in the Junior Art Club show.

“This was done with colored pencil; the parrot is posed quite elegantly,” says Perez.

She explains that there are highly pigmented oil-based pencils, which have a similar composition to oil pastels, and wax-based pencils, which are more prevalent. She used wax-based pencils for the smooth background and oil-based for the bird, “because wax-based pencils blend quite nicely, and oil-based are good for tiny details.”

Another drawing is of five koi fish surfacing for food, one with realistic little bubbles emanating from its mouth.

“I don’t usually do multiple subjects very often,” says Perez. “It was quite fun to draw.”

The third, a hairless cat with huge round eyes, is what she calls a “self-indulgence piece,” commenting that while she thought it was cute, she realized that it might not sell.

Perez joined the Junior Art Club, a membership subset of the Vero Beach Art Club, last year and soon became its president.

“The way I see it, the Art Club is a place for you to share your talents with others and get that encouragement from peers, in order to grow your skills and even learn from other people. And I think that it’s really special to have a place where artists can just be an artist,” says Perez.

She and fellow students helped raise money at the Vero Beach Art Club’s Under the Oaks Fine Arts and Craft Show. The show was one of the most successful to date, raising more than $13,000 to support VBAC scholarships and school programs.

The Vero Beach Art Club offers Junior Memberships to budding artists ages 12 to 17 ($5 per year) and Youth Memberships for ages 11 and under (free). For more information, visit

Photos by Kaila Jones

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