There’s no shortage of animation degree programs in southern California, with more than a half-dozens schools offering them including USC, Woodbury, UCLA, CSUN, Otis, Chapman, and, of course, Calarts. One of the last holdouts, the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, joined the pack last fall when it launched a four-year character animation program.

Art Center’s animation track falls under their entertainment design program, which also offers a separate track for concept design. The two tracks are explained in this video:

The school, which was founded in 1930, appears to be making a serious push into building its animation program, and last week appointed veteran Dreamworks Animation production designer Guillaume Aretos as chair of its entertainment design department, which includes both character animation and concept design.

Guillaume Aretos.
Guillaume Aretos.

Aretos has enjoyed a long history working at Dreamworks Animation, where he was a concept artist on the studio’s first feature, Antz, before winning an Annie Award for his art direction of Shrek. Since then, he’s been the production designer of Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, as well as Puss in Boots and its upcoming sequel. He has also contributed visual development to other DreamWorks projects including The Croods, Megamind, and Truckers.

A graduate of Paris’ L’ Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts, Aretos worked as a book illustrator in his native France before entering the animation industry. Prior to becoming an artist, he had worked as an actor in France, and voiced the character of Jack Tripper in the French version of Three’s Company.

“His humor and thoughtfulness impressed us, especially the care with which he described how he works with his artists as a production designer and art director,” said Art Center provost Fred Fehlau.

Aretos’ responsibilities will include all aspects of the direction and management of the 40-faculty member entertainment design department. He is also charged with outreach tasks, with “a view to developing strong bonds with academic, art and cultural organizations, and, especially, entertainment industry companies.”

“Throughout my filmmaking career, I have constantly been surrounded by ArtCenter alumni,” Aretos said in a statement. “I’m always impressed by their passion, intellect and dedication to the craft. We share the same passion, regardless of generation, and I look forward to harnessing that spark to expand the opportunities available to Art Center’s entertainment design students.”

Aretos will take over a department that includes many well established professionals, including animator Marlon Nowe (Zootopia, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph) who is the director of the character animation track, as well as instructors such as Michael Scheffe (visual effects art director, Spider-Man, Starship Troopers, Back to the Future, Knight Rider, FernGully: The Last Rainforest), Richard Keyes (designer, commercials for Warner Bros., Guess Jeans and the Dalai Lama), and Sean Hargreaves (concept designer, Seven, Heat, The Lost World, The Fountain, Batman Forever).

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