GZA Expo 2017

Created by Janet Rodriguez and Stephanie Garcia (@pueblodejanet & @steph_oble)


Professional Artists
Featured Up-and-Coming Artists




Chris Ayers

Chris Ayers has been working in the entertainment field as a character designer and concept artist for the past sixteen years. In addition to his freelance work, he is also the author and illustrator of The Daily Zoo, a series of books containing his animal-of-the-day sketches that were done in response to his battle with cancer.


Peter Paul

I’ve worked primarily in animation for 20 years at Walt Disney, DreamWorks, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. I’ve worked in many feature films and television series. I am also teaching Storyboarding at the Society of Illustrators L.A.

Interview with Peter Paul on the fan*alley Podcast: Listen Now


Kris Wimberly

Industry professional, Kris Wimberly, reaches out to his animation network to discuss the ins and outs, tips and tricks, broad strokes and nuances of network (TV) animation. For anyone feeling there is a missing ingredient to their art education, The Animation Network is where they come to find it. By obtaining real-world, industry experience, subscribers to The Animation Network get a sense of working knowledge of a multitude of careers in animation simply by listening to the free podcast and signing up for the free newsletter.



Sean Gantka

Sean Gantka has worked at Nickelodeon for the past 7 years. He began as an intern in Development and has since worked on “The Legend of Korra” as a Production Assistant, Production Coordinator, Script Coordinator, and finally as the Production Manager. Sean currently works as the Production Manager on “The Loud House.”

He’s also passionate about creating and having co-created a series with Kris Wimberly that they are currently developing at Nickelodeon. Sean is a nerd for medieval literature and all things King Arthur.


Lauren Patterson

Lauren Patterson is currently a background painter at Nickelodeon Animation Studio on the show “The Loud House.” She also freelances as an illustrator for children’s books, and likes tabling at various animation and comic conventions with merchandise she designs such as pins, stickers, and cards. In her free time she likes to scroll through cute dog accounts on instagram for hours on end.


Jordan Koch

Jordan Koch is a storyboard artist on “The Loud House” at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. He has also worked extensively as a freelance artist for clients in and around the Los Angeles area, including Animation Magazine.



Morghan Gill

Character designer working in the Animation and video game industry.


Stephanie Garcia & Janet Rodriguez

2017 GZA Expo Brochure Cover Artists and Featured ZAIDA Gallery

Our 2017 brochure artists, and creators of “Zaida”. See their gallery at the Ground Zero Animation Expo. The artists will be speaking about their project Saturday evening, Feb. 18th, after 6pm, before the drawing sessions begin. Stay for an evening of networking and art.

ZAIDA and The Lost Stones is a story of a young ambitious girl from Mexico named Zaida, who embarks on an exciting quest to find the magical stones stolen from her pueblo. With the help of Wizards, Witches and a hungry armadillo, she might have a chance to find out who took those precious stones.

ZAIDA and the lost stones is a story project created by Janet Rodriguez and Stephanie Rizo. Wanting to incorporate their Hispanic culture and their love of magic, they joined forces to take on the visual development and character design of the project. Both Stephanie and Janet reside in Southern California.


Megan Phonesavanh

Megan Phonesavanh is a Character Designer at OddBot Inc. where she’s worked on a wide range of projects, including Disney’s Star Darlings and upcoming content for Disney Jr and Nick Jr. In addition to characters, she has designed props and fx, color scripted, and developed an animated series pitch. Prior to working at OddBot, Megan worked in mobile gaming, and got her first break in animation drawing bizarre special poses for FoxADHD shows Stone Quakers and Lucas Bros. Moving Co.
In her own time, Megan loves nothing more than to sketch and paint, take classes to improve her work, and dedicate time to crafting personal projects. She is developing an adventure webcomic called Isara, and advocates for more female voices in the animation industry.


Chuck Grieb

Chuck Grieb is a highly experienced, award winning animation artist and filmmaker having worked for Disney TV Animation, Nickelodeon, and various others and drawn noted characters such as Disney’s Genie, Timon and Pumbaa, Buzz Lightyear, Hercules, Winnie the Pooh, Stitch, Big Idea’s LarryBoy, Nickelodeon’s XJ9, and many more. Chuck has worked professionally as a storyboard artist and animator and is experienced working with traditional media, 2D Digital media, and 3D Digital media; he has also worked as a development artist, director, character designer, and has partnered in running a small studio. Chuck’s animated short films have screened in over 90 film festivals all around the world, including the Columbus Intern. Film + Video Festival, The Newport Intern. Film Festival, The San Diego Comi-Con Intern. Independent Film Festival, The Filmstock Intern. Film Festival, Temecula Valley Intern. Film Festival, Chicago Intern. Children’s Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Rhode Island Intern. Film Festival, and many others. Illustrations Chuck created have been featured in international publications such as, Spectrum, Infected by Art, Exposé and The Painter Book. Chuck’s ongoing projects continue his exploration of various digital and traditional toolsets in the creation of animated and illustrated art. Chuck is currently the Coordinator of the Animation Concentration and professor of Entertainment Art/Animation at Cal State Fullerton.


Mike Dietz

Born in Brooklyn NY, Mike spent his first couple decades eating Quisp, watching cartoons and reading Mad magazine. After four freezing years of art school in upstate New York, Mike came to his senses and moved to southern California. Amazingly, he found all sorts of people willing to pay him to draw and animate. Mike couldn’t believe his good fortune. Now that he’s all grown up, Mike spend time eating Pop-Tarts, watching animated films and reading books about Jack Davis and Mort Drucker.


Marie Lum

Hi! I’m Marie Lum and I’m a Los Angeles based traditional and digital animator. Basically, I make pictures move for a living! I’m a freelance animator for Studio Yotta, Dreamworks TV, and various game companies. I also work as a freelance toy designer for Mattel. I am passionate about characters and their stories, and hope to one day be able to work in animation so I can share those stories with other people. In my free time, I like to roll around on the ground and eat corn chips. That’s the good life.


Jenny Hogan

Stop motion character designer, and fabricator. Jenny is a seasoned character fabricator, and has worked on shows such as Robot Chicken and Supermansion. Jenny also designed all of the animatable hair for MGA’s relaunch of their Bratz dolls in the Bratz webisodes.


Wendy Grieb

Wendy Grieb is an Annie Award winning storyboard artist with nearly 20 years’ experience working for Walt Disney TV Animation. A highly accomplished and versatile visual storyteller and animation artist; she has been cast as a storyboard artist and development artist on many diverse productions, ranging from comedies including Phineas and Ferb, Pepper Ann, Lloyd in Space, and Dave the Barbarian, to action adventure shows like Tarzan and Jake Long: American Dragon. One of the first artists at Disney TV to embrace digital drawing tools, Wendy has storyboarded for traditionally animated productions as well as 2D digitally animated shows such as The Buzz on Maggie and 3D digitally animated productions such as My Friends Tigger and Pooh. She has also worked as a Storyboard Artist specializing in songs and musical preformances on Phineas and Ferb, Elena of Avalor, Lion Guard, and Descendents: Wicked World. Wendy’s accomplishments and esteemed reputation in the animation industry have resulted in her talents being sought out by various other studios and she has also worked as an animation development artist, storyboard artist, and character designer for the Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Adelaide Productions, Film Roman, Klasky-Csupo, Flashbang Studios, Sunbow, etc. In addition to her professional work as an animation artist, Wendy is illustrating children’s books for Mighty Media. Wendy is currently an assistant professor of Entertainment Art/Animation.

Cassie Soliday

Cassie Soliday is a cartoonist, writer, and producer.  She is the host and creator of the Ink and Paint Girls podcast, produces the Jammiest Bits of Jam storytelling podcast- both which advocate for women in the arts and shares her passion for positive female role models behind the scenes and on the screen.  She’s also part of The Animation Network as editor of their bi-weekly newsletter providing real honest direction for animation hopefuls.  Cassie has worked in artistic and production capacities with companies such as Disney TV Animation, Nickelodeon, Wild Canary, Disneyland, ABC Kid TV and more.  She hopes one day to run away with the cat circus and then make a travelogue comic about the experience.

Ink and Paint Girls is a podcast where we celebrate women in animation, discuss the ups and downs of working in the industry, and explore female representation behind the scenes and on the screen.  I&PG was created by host Cassie Soliday and is produced by Val Petrone- two animation professionals who have a passion for animation, storytelling, and female representation.

Listen to the Podcast interview with Ink & Paint Girls with guest Eva Sowinski of GZAExpo.


Ricardo De Los Angeles

Character artist for Disney Consumer Products, digital 2D animator and character designer.


Edwin Gomez

Edwin has worked as a pilot show layout artist, animator, and animatic artist. He has also been an animation and media arts professor for the last 15 years. He now runs his own grassroots art studio, Drop Cloth Art Studio, and teaches traditional art aimed at the pre production field in animation.


Joanne Garcia

Hello, My name is Joanne Garcia and I am a games designer. I have several years of experience designing web and mobile games, animating, designing social media art content and I am currently creating my own products. I also have experience reviewing portfolios and would be more than happy to help anyone with questions they might have.



“The Jayme Twins”

We’re twin sisters who are passionate storytellers and freelance artists. We do everything together. Think Fred and George Weasley. We own Dead Wringer Productions, an independent company specializing in visual storytelling under which we premiered our first film, Imagination Thief on July 2013.
We want to be part of the animation and live-action industry, but we love animation because of its collaborative environment. We want to be in the story department; writer/producer/director. After completing our live-action film, one of our goals is to change live-action productions to be more like the collaborative animation process.


Katya Bowser

Katya Bowser is a Storyboard Artist in Burbank, CA. She has worked for Nickelodeon, DisneyToons Studios, Epipheo Studios, and for many independent filmmakers. She illustrates for children’s books, creates character designs and illustrations for various projects. In July of 2014, Katya’s children’s book “Dex T-Rex” was published through Stan Lee’s Kids Universe. In her free time, she makes comics such as her webcomic series “Jubee Sweetz”, journal comics documenting motherhood and various short stories. Storytelling is her passion and in everything she does she strives to tell stories that will have a lasting impact on others!


Mary Alice White

Hi, I’m Mary Alice! I’m an illustrator and painter living near San Francisco, CA. Since moving from North Carolina I’ve been striving to work in visual development and story for film and animation. Moving to California has brought lots of new experiences, including classes at The Animation Collaborative, publications of my work in books and zines, and the discovery of Boba Tea! I’m motivated by those who create stories and art with passion and courage!


Leslie Strock

I’m an illustrator/vis dev artist who loves bringing art to life. And I feel like animation is the absolute best form of that. I love being a part of something that’s such a big deal and enjoyed by so many people. A better question would be who don’t I look up to in animation because I look up to everyone. We all have so much to offer and learn from each other and there are so many talented people in the industry.


Emily Oetzell

I’m a corgi loving, blue haired board artist that is absolutely in love with the animation field! This is my passion and I’m constantly inspired by the work of those around me.


Whitney Weber

I am an illustrator and visual development artist located in San Francisco. I am drawn to the fae, the hidden creatures, and beasties and my work consists of made up worlds and their inhabitants. I draw inspiration from the works of Hanz Zatzka, Brian Froud, and Eyvind Earle and I hope to take my audience to somewhere far away and familiar.

Dela Longfish & Nikki Longfish

We met at SJSU taking classes in Illustration/Animation. Nikki worked at 2k Sports as a 3D environment artist, EA, Bigpoint, Spark Unlimited and Glu Mobile as a ux/ui artist. Dela has worked at two Sony PlayStation studios, LucasArts and ILM as a concept artist. He is currently a Lead Character Concept Artist at Sony Santa Monica working on God of War. We’ve both have worked as artists for video game studios since 2005/2006. We like doing what we can to meet new artist currently in the industry and those wanting to get in. We look up to Stephen silver, Britney Lee, Tim Heitz, raf grassetti, glen Keane, brian kesinger, Chris sanders, Christian Alzmann, so many more.


Stephanie Garcia

I’m Steph and I am a Freelance Character Designer & Illustrator based in Southern California. I studied Narrative Illustration at Orange Coast College. I have always been inspired by all kinds of art but animation is what grabbed my heart the most, seeing those moving drawings on screen and the way it made me feel inside was absolutely amazing. I realized that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up, to be able to create animation and characters that had story and emotions that you could relate to.


Kaitlin Callahan

Kaitlin Callahan is a Visual Story Teller of the Comic and Storyboarding variety. She has a fondness for chickens and birds which often appear in her artwork. She wants to be in the industry so she can share her stories and characters with the world. She looks up to fellow story artists and animators, such as Jane Wu and Glen Keane.


Kirsten Kneeland

Currently a designer in the Toy Industry, working with some of my favorite artists who have been in and out of the animation industry on developing new IPs and content for our own eventual animated shows. I just look forward most to being a part of the progression of the industries standards and content, and pushing forward new and exciting ideas.


Samantha Hawkins

I’ve always marveled at animation as a kid and growing up I was determined to create something amazing. I’m a recent graduate from the Academy of Art University and am currently an intern at Disney in their Mastering department. I’m curious and self motivated and I’m always striving to tell the best story possible with my characters and worlds.


Paola Olivares

I am a freelance story artist and illustrator who loves to create story driven content that brings joy to everyone. Being able to experience working at an animation studio as a story artist would be a dream come true. Walt Disney will always be an inspiration for me because he inspired me to be not afraid of failure. We have to experience it, so we can strive to succeed and go beyond our goals.


Halie Kneeland

While I am still learning myself, I focus mostly on visual development and solid composition that helps to steer narrative understanding and coherent design. Currently a freelancer, I always look for ways to elaborate on the art of visual storytelling, and I’m aiming for any position in the industry that looks for cohesive design from it’s occupants. I tend to look up to people in and out of the industry who have unique styles and designs and who also tend to show diverse skill or content. Between schooling and freelancing, I am also currently writing a spooky comedy webcomic called Remanes.


Charlene Soto

I am a San Diego native who has always had a special love for animation. The way that creators have used the medium to create stories that stick with us and mold who we are has always inspired me to do the same with my own art.


Megan Maher

The short answer for why I want to be in the industry is because it’s in my blood. I grew up in it and have been telling stories ever since I could even comprehend what a story was. I studied it independently throughout my childhood and even made it into my college degree. I find myself most often drawn to the storyboarding part of the industry. I tell stories through any means necessary, from the single image collectible pins I design at my day job to the webcomic I work on in my spare time. Storytelling is a switch I can’t exactly turn off and at the end of the day, I don’t really want to. I’ve looked up to countless artists in the animation industry. Since being exposed to animation at a young age, I learned a lot of names. Just a very small handful are Natasha Allegri, Lauren Faust, Rob Renzetti, Andreas Deja, Retta Scott, and Fred Moore.


Art of Dave

The Animation Network Podcast/Kris Wimberly


 Drop Cloth Art Studios

Chelsea Kenna Art

Ink & Paint Girls Podcast

Chuck Grieb and Wendy Grieb