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Mentor of the Day: Kathy Altieri

Kathy Altieri is probably one of the most humble, kindest, and talented people you’ll ever find in the animation industry.  She has also been a long time supporter and personal mentor to both Laura and I, so we’re more than pleased she’s joining our mentorship program!

Kathy began her career in television cartoons back in the 1980s.  Then she joined Disney Feature Animation during their string of hits runs ranging from The Little Mermaid to Hunchback of Notre Dame. In 1996, Jeffery Katzenberg left Disney to form his own company, DreamWorks Animation.  Kathy was the very first artist to be hired there and today she works as a production designer on their feature films.

Most recently, Kathy was the production designer for How to Train Your Dragon.  She gave a really great interview about what it was like to work on the film here.   And if you’d like to find out more about what a production designer does, check out her short video at

In addition to working full time at DreamWorks, Kathy strives to find time to always give back to aspiring artists.  She has taught or been a guest lecturer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, USC, Art Center College of Design, the School of Visual Arts (NY), Ringling College of Art and Design, Sheridan College, Rhode Island School of Design, San Jose State, De Anza College, AGIDEAS conference in Australia, Creative Talent Network Expo, and ICON (Illustration Conference). She also is part of various studio initiatives (internal Artistic Enrichment programs and external Outreach Programs) that draw on her solid instruction, teaching and presentation abilities.

Kathy once gave a talk at Picture This (Motivarti while it was still a student club at Art Center) and gave us some great advice: Do the best job you can on whatever is in front of you.  Be humble.  And keep growing your skills and your loves outside your job – the more you learn, the better you’ll get.  And the better you are, the more you’re needed.

And now Kathy is hoping to help make someone else out there get better!  Next spring, Kathy is willing to take one mentee from anywhere in the world and share her advice.  She’s one of our mentors that’s looking for someone just out of high school or early college so she can discuss the kind of education you’d need and where you should go based off your interests and skills.  Kathy is amazing at picking out your strengths and weakness while being your biggest champion.  She’s always honest yet encouraging.  So if you’re struggling to figure out where you might best fit into the animation pipeline, apply to be Kathy’s mentee!

Kathy’s credits include:

  • 2010 LEGEND OF THE BONEKNAPPER DRAGON (TV short) (Production Designer)
  • 2010 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (Production Designer)
  • 2006 OVER THE HEDGE (Production Designer)
  • 2002 SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON  (Production Designer)
  • 1998 THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (art director)
  • 1994 THE LION KING (background artist)
  • 1992 ALADDIN (background supervisor)
  • 1990 THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (short) (background supervisor)
  • 1990 ROLLER COASTER RABBIT (short) (background artist)
  • 1989 NICK’S THANKSGIVING FEAST (TV movie) (background color)
  • 1989 THE LITTLE MERMAID (background artist)
  • 1989 TUMMY TROUBLE (short) (background artist)
  • 1988-1989 THE CHIPMUNKS (TV series) (color backgrounds)
  • 1987-1988 ALF: THE ANIMATED SERIES (TV series) (background color stylist)
  • 1987 STARCOM: THE U.S. SPACE FORCE (TV series) (background color stylist)
  • 1986 LAZER TAG ACADEMY (TV series) (background designer)
  • 1986 RAMBO (TV series) (background designer)
  • 1986 THE CENTURIONS (TV series) (background designer)
  • 1986 THE KINGDOM CHUMS: LITTLE DAVID’S ADVENTURES (TV movie) (background designer)
  • 1986 ABC WEEKEND SPECIALS (TV series) (color stylist)
  • 1985 THE LITTLES (TV series) (key background designer)
  • 1985 RAINBOW BRITE (TV series) (color stylist)
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kathy Altieri #

    Thanks Jackie! I’d like to mentor myself, you make me sound so good!

    November 21, 2011
  2. Really good post, I seriously wait for fresh news by you.

    November 23, 2011
  3. Great article. All true, Kathy you are the best!

    December 8, 2011

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