Skip to content

Emmy-winning animator confirmed for Innisfil's first ComicFEST

Innisfil ideaLAB and Library's Lakeshore branch hosting inaugural event on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fans of comics, manga, video games, television and movies unite — the Lakeshore branch of the Innisfil ideaLAB and Library is hosting the inaugural ComicFEST on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are really excited to bring this event to Innisfil," library communications and event specialist Tania Grégoire said. “Free for all ages to explore their fandoms, we invite everyone to wear their favourite costumes and have fun.”

As announced earlier this month, representatives from Upchuckle Education, 501st Legion, Doctor Who Society of Canada, Qarradune Books and Pretty Heroes will be in attendance.

Brad Ferguson is an award-winning artist, animator, director and educator from Upchuckle. A recipient of many nominations and awards, he and his team won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Series for Almost Naked Animals, for which he was also nominated for Best Director. Ferguson and his team also won an Emmy for Best Animated Series for the first season of Peep and the Big Wide World.

With a career spanning more than two decades, Ferguson’s extensive body of work includes directing Rusty Rivets, and he was one of the directors of Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That; he also worked as director and showrunner of Numb Chucks, assistant director and storyboard artist of Welcome to the Wayne, one of the assistant directors and storyboard artists for My Magical Pet Morphle, and storyboard artist of Alien TV on Netflix. 

He was also storyboard revision supervisor on Bubble Guppies, and an animator on Jacob Two-Two.

Ferguson will be teaching a workshop at ComicFEST that is designed to inspire and kick-start imaginations.

“One aspect I really enjoy about conducting drop-in workshops like these is there's a completely organic flow to them,” he said. 

“It's an opportunity to meet the community, and rather than presenting a formally prepared curriculum, I instead chat with people and answer their questions directly — simply by exploring and drawing together — all while sharing tips of how the pros go about it. From learning how to draw specific things to answering questions about how animated television shows and films are made — whatever people would like to know, I'll be there to answer and help them along.”

Upchuckle will be providing the art supplies, so artists of all ages and levels of experience are invited to drop in and show their work.

Like many artists, Ferguson has enjoyed drawing since he was a young child. But he did not know he could parlay his love of art into a career, as he was interested in pursuing acting.

“It wasn't until I was 17 that I first heard about the animation program at Sheridan College and realized, ‘Wow. People actually do that for a living?’” 

“I decided on the more ‘realistic’ career of animation. It was the perfect compromise since animators are actors with pencils.”

As a self-taught artist until college, he explained that “My knowledge and drawing skills were nowhere near where they had to be in order to get into animation college — and I had no one to turn to for help. It was incredibly frustrating. This is one of the reasons I started Upchuckle Education — to help aspiring artists learn and grow, like I needed all those years ago.”

Though technology is often used in creative works, Ferguson usually sticks with "good ol' pencils and paper." When asked about the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in art he said, "AI should only ever be used as a tool or an assistant — (never) the creator. And writing prompts are not equal to creating."

"Art and storytelling is about the human experience and expression — we've got it covered. Let AI help solve the problems in the world that need solving — creativity isn't one of them." 

Originally from Barrie, Ferguson said, “I do come to Innisfil often and am amazed by how much it's grown and what a wonderful community it is.”

Ferguson said there is nothing better than working with incredibly talented people and entertaining audiences.

“There is no more rewarding feeling than having an audience respond the way you intended to a film or TV show, in all the right places," he said. "When they feel what you hoped they would and laugh in all the right places (it) is a pretty magical feeling to have come together at the end of so much hard work.”

He used to be affiliated with an animation program at a private college before the institution was sold. That experience may have influenced Ferguson’s career trajectory.

“Keep your eye on Upchuckle — the long-term plan is to eventually evolve into a high-quality and accredited private college specializing in art, animation and entertainment studies, here in Barrie," he said.

When asked what he would say to aspiring artists wanting to pursue a career in animation, Ferguson said, “If you're doing it right, being an artist is a life-long journey, so enjoy that ride and be hungry to always learn and push yourself.” 

“Know your worth and believe in yourself, but leave the ego at the door, be humble and always do what you can to help others. Be inspired by other artists, but don't compete with them. There will always be someone better than you, and that's perfectly fine, as we are all on our own path of growth and discovery.”

“Lastly, be ready to work long and hard. Growth takes time and you need to be patient with yourself and the process.”

He encouraged beginners, hobbyists and industry professionals to check out Upchuckle, as they have something to offer everyone.

“If you're passionate about learning to create, we're passionate about helping you achieve your goals," Ferguson said. "Our custom-tailored one-on-one lessons work much like a piano lesson and are designed to help you focus on individual growth, while our workshops, cartoon camps and upcoming courses are aimed at providing unique, quality creative learning experiences."

To learn more about Upchuckle, check out its website or Facebook and Instagram pages.

Reader Feedback

Amber Green

About the Author: Amber Green

Amber is a freelance journalist with InnisfilToday. Dedicated to the craft of writing, she is a storyteller at heart who writes novels, poetry, and short stories. She lives in Innisfil.
Read more