JoWayne McFarlane slips a satiny black animator’s glove that covers palm, ring and baby fingers, presses a digital pen to a graphic pad and activates the character she developed and animated—a plump, strolling avocado.

George Hay displays the sauntering elephant he’s drawn, just three weeks into Capilano University’s Animation Fundamentals summer program.

“I had no way of knowing how to do this before I got here,” said Hay, a veteran graphic designer and illustrator from Jamaica, who’d previously drawn only on paper.

Both he and McFarlane are studying at Capilano U with tuition covered by the University and airfare and living expenses covered by the Jamaican government. Hay won the prize after he displayed a flair for character development at the KingstOOn animation festival, and McFarlane for her talent in developing a character concept.

JoWayne McFarlane

JoWayne McFarlane

Both relish the opportunity to further develop their animation skills at Capilano University.

Animating Jamaica

McFarlane dropped out of art school in Jamaica because the college lacked the animation courses she sought. She turned to YouTube videos to learn animation basics and Facebook to secure mentors in the field.

Hay has always loved cartoons. He’d designed characters for commercials in Jamaica when he came across the chance to learn more about animation and display his fledgling skills at the KingstOOn animation festival.

KingstOOn is an initiative of the Government of Jamaica in collaboration with the World Bank. The conference and festival is intended to establish Jamaica as an animation hub in the Caribbean. Animation instructors from Capilano University have contributed to KingstOOn since it began in 2013.

George Hay

George Hay

In 2013, the World Bank and the Canadian consulate invited Capilano University instructors Don Perro and Adam Sale to share their expertise there. Students they trained subsequently became instructors in the Caribbean country’s animation programs. In 2015, Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining brought the pair back to Kingston to teach the teachers from five post-secondary schools. Perro and Sale returned to Jamaica to teach this summer and are set to go back next year. As well, they spoke alongside Florian Wagner, an animation instructor in Capilano’s 2D diploma program and studio creative director at Vancouver’s Bardel Entertainment, at this year’s KingstOOn animation festival.

Concentrating at Cap U

McFarlane and Hay started at Cap U at the beginning of July and complete Animation Fundamentals at the end of August.

“It’s amazing to be taught by some of the people who worked on the shows I loved to watch when I was younger,” says McFarlane, who is preparing to apply for the 2D Animation and Visual Development diploma program at Capilano University, and elsewhere.

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been at Capilano University,” says Hay. “I’m curious to see what I’ll learn by week eight.”

His wife and 14-year-old daughter, who are in Kingston, call him every day.

“It’s a little bit of a sacrifice, but it’s worth every minute of it,” says Hay. “I’m in the right place.”