CSUF Art professor has had monstrous success

JESSICA PINEDA  / Daily Titan

JESSICA PINEDA / Daily Titan

Standing in front of her illustration class Professor Wendy Grieb teaches to her students how to make art fit for films and television. Many of Grieb’s own illustrations have been viewed by audiences all over the globe.

The Cal State Fullerton professor has worked on many film and television shows including Hercules, Tarzan, Lilo and Stitch, Pepper Ann, Dave the Barbarian, Phineas and Ferb and Emperor’s New School.

The Cal State Fullerton art professor’s most recent work involves the dance routines within Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb, though she says her dance skills are limited only to paper.

Grieb’s initial work with musical numbers was on the late 1990s Disney Channel show Pepper Ann for the episode, “You Oughta be in Musicals,” where she discovered the fun of animating choreography.

Grieb grew up on the East Coast and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.  She and her husband, Chuck, also an animation artist and art professor at CSUF, set out for California to pursue their dreams of being involved in the animation industry.

The couple has been successful in their careers by each earning their Master of Fine Arts. Chuck received his at University of Southern California, while Wendy got her degree at CSUF.

Another notable accomplishment for Grieb is her 2004 Annie Award for her work on Dave the Barbarian.

“It’s like winning an Academy Award or an Emmy,” she said. “It’s the highest animation award for storyboarding.”

In late 2010, she also received a People’s Choice Award at an illustration convention.

Grieb’s students look up to her achievements and 17 years of experience as a Disney Studios storyboard artist as inspiration.

Like many of Grieb’s students, Chelsea Jauregui, a junior, has aspirations of becoming an animation artist.

“I would love to get a job at an animation studio someday, Disney would be great,” Jauregui said. “Who doesn’t want to work there?”

Grieb said she encourages her students to take advantage of the opportunities they have just by living here in Southern California.

She pointed out the fact that she and Chuck moved across the country in order to launch their careers.

Grieb is currently working on a set of children’s books. The first of the series that was recently released is Monster Needs a Costume. The next book to be released will be called, Monster Needs His Sleep.

Her use of bold colors brings the pages to life and creates dynamic illustrations to match the narrative.

Grieb also designed and produced a line of plush toy monsters. She used to make her own stuffed animals growing up, and with encouragement from her husband, decided to bring some of her monsters to life.

So far, she has had two characters produced and has ideas for more.

Grieb conducts her animation pre-production class with warmth, passion and a critical eye, making it an ideal atmosphere for creative expression.

Another of Grieb’s students, Nicholas Grines, a senior, described the professor as “very approachable.” He also said that his favorite part of the pre-production animation class is the “creativity and openness” of the classroom.

Animation pre-production is a two-semester long course in which each of the students put together an animation story from start to finish.

The first semester is spent creating the characters, storyboarding and making a script. The second semester involves the actual animation of their characters complete with voices.

Grieb said that the benefit of this class is for students to gain experience in every aspect of the production process, so instead of only learning one specific position, Grieb’s students will go into the professional field with a deeper understanding and appreciation for every artist’s job.

The class also gives students a chance to explore and discover positions in animation they might not have studied before.

Grieb’s most important piece of advice for her students is simple.

“Draw,” she said. “Always, always draw … (it) will give you ideas for stories. Give your heart to it. If you really want to do this, you have to have your heart in it.”

About Erica Mahoney