Draw for Life – Seeking NGO partners in Johannesburg!

At the beginning of the school term, Sparks Flew launched Draw for Life,  a foundational course in the principles of drawing for animation offered to at-risk teens in the Cape.

Draw for Life was founded in partnership with Animation SA, PASCAP Trust, and The Animation School. This month Triggerfish Foundation have come on board with funding too. (Thanks Stuart Forrest and Carina Lucke at TFF!)

The 10-week programme covers the basics of gesture drawing, anatomy, and visual communication, taught by seasoned industry professionals on Saturday mornings (namely Sparks Flew co-owner Daniel Snaddon, along with Kay Carmichael, Jac Hamman and Philipe Rios). The aim is to discover talent and raise awareness of animation as a career choice among secondary school learners, with the end goal of encouraging transformation in our industry.

We are currently in our first iteration, and have nine students from two schools in the Mitchells Plain area.

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ABOVE: At Animation School  RIGHT: Ballerina Elizabeth Nienaber models.

I founded Draw for Life in my capacity as Head of Marketing for Animation SA, to help address the need for  transformation in the industry. While we don’t have the means to create change from the top down, our hope is to address the growing need for new animators – and especially, animators from previously disadvantaged groups – by creating awareness of the industry at a secondary school level, when kids are starting to make career choices. Many South African kids do not know that animation is a viable career in this country. For many, sadly, drawing talents (the basis of entry to most good animation courses) are not even encouraged at home and are seen as a waste of time. Saddest of all, a lot of the kids don’t think of tertiary education of any kind as an option for them.

Draw for Life seeks to address these problems in a small way. Life drawing is the foundation of an animation career, and it requires very little in terms of resources: a teacher, a willing model, pencils and paper, and a stopwatch. After that, all it takes is practice.

Video: Nicola Spurdens of SOMA Belly-Dancing models for us

The great boon of a Life Drawing course, then, is that we can run very light. Nevertheless, we are seeking funding for a second edition, and we are also planning to found a Joburg chapter of this initiative soon. Animation School will once again provide a venue in JHB, and thanks to the good will and spirit of collaboration the animation industry is famous for, we foresee no problem finding teachers. What we really need is to find is a Johannesburg-based NGO that will be able to provide the same partnership that PASCAP does in the Cape, namely identifying talented teens and making sure they get to class each week and get back home again safely.

Please get in touch should you know of an appropriate NGO – or a corporate or private sponsor!

Although we are starting very small, the response and support so far makes it clear that the need is well served this way, and the potential of the course is huge.



– Julia Smuts Louw




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