Experimental Animation

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Experimental Animation Program, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work.

In addition to the general application requirements (online application and application fees, artist statement, two letters recommendation and transcripts), Program in Experimental Animation applicants must also submit the following portfolio requirements. The faculty is interested in what motivates or inspires each individual applicant and looks for evidence of this in both the portfolio and the artist statement. 

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.

Portfolio Guidelines (BFA and MFA)

Experimental Animation promotes and supports animation as a fine art, and students in the program explore animation in varied contexts and forms, developing a personal aesthetic over a body of work. Experimental Animation is for artist-animators looking for an individualized curriculum that supports creative growth, enhancing technical skills, developing form and content, and collaborating with fellow students to create animated works.

In making admissions decisions, the program’s faculty looks for animation and other creative works that express a strong personal aesthetic in whatever media you choose. Applicants should submit portfolios that contain examples of unique, personal, expressive art that reflects their individual style, including samples of animation if at all possible. Group projects are discouraged because they are harder to assess. Class assignments such as technical exercises, CGI character rotations, or figure, landscape, still life, and perspective drawings are generally not acceptable. Please put time into your written statements, to reveal the breadth of your creative influences and your vision for what you would accomplish if you were enrolled in the program. It is important to explain why you are seeking experimentally oriented coursework.

MFA applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process will be notified in mid-February. At that time, candidates will be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview day to meet faculty, staff, students, and fellow shortlisted applicants. The interview is required of invited applicants and is an important component of the final selection process. Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases; however, attendance at the in-person interview day is preferred. In addition to giving the faculty a better sense of who you are, it gives you an opportunity to see the school, and meet and talk to many members of the CalArts community.

Artist Statement

An artist statement is very important in the admissions process and should answer the following three questions:

  • What issues and concerns inform your artmaking practice?
  • Why are you interested specifically in the program in Experimental
    Animation at CalArts?
  • What are your artistic goals?

Additional Written Materials

  • Synopsis: One- or two-sentence synopsis of each work submitted
  • A one-paragraph autobiography indicating significant artistic, professional, and academic achievements, or other life experiences that would help the committee evaluate your application.
  • Comments on films, books, art, etc., that you feel have influenced your thoughts and work as an artist. It is important to say why and how these works have influenced you. Avoid writing plot summaries.
  • Project plans. Keep in mind that such a plan is meant to give faculty an idea of the type of filmmaking that interests you, not an idea of a project you will necessarily produce at CalArts.

Video Introduction

Tell us about one person, place, thing, or event that has helped shape your personality and/or your art practice.

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 90 seconds.
  • Speak directly to the camera.
  • No edits.
  • No special effects or on-screen overlays.
  • File should be uploaded or linked directly to the portfolio section of the application.
  • Does not require professional-level equipment; cellphone camera or consumer cameras are okay.


Portfolio Submission Format

Portfolios must be submitted using our application's online portfolio submission.

  • The application accepts MP3's, documents, images and video. You may scan or photograph your drawings to submit them digitally.
  • Submit individual images of individual works. Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio. Do not submit composited images, PDF’s, and please make sure that the image fills the slide. Otherwise, we will not be able to view the work.
  • Enter any captions, descriptions, or titles of your work in the fields provided under "edit details" of the portfolio upload. Do not add captions, descriptions, titles or other extraneous text within the area where you upload your image.
  • Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission of your portfolio. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program.

If you experience technical difficulties while uploading your portfolio, you may send an email to the Review Coordinator, Ani Kazandjian, at akazandjian@calarts.edu.