The Animation major in KCAI’s Department of Converging Media provides students with the quality education, technical expertise and career skills necessary to realize their artistic visions and to succeed upon graduation. Animation students receive intensive instruction in classical, experimental and computer animation, but one solution is never emphasized over another. Instead, our approach is based on creative exploration and self-direction supported by faculty advisors, mentorships and guided research.

The Animation major features technologically integrated classrooms and studios. The Department of Converging Media also houses Filmmaking, Interactive Arts and Photography, Animation students work in environments and curriculum designed to facilitate creativity and cross disciplinary approaches to image-making. Students are encouraged to take electives in the other three majors to develop their understanding of how Animation relates to each.

The sequential classes emphasize the creative process by combining aspects of animation principles, concept modeling, production methods, history, theory and technique into each project.

Courses within the major have planned synergies that will develop over three years the essential skills necessary for students to identify and solve problems in physical, virtual, cognitive and cultural contexts.


One of the biggest bonuses to our animation department is the wide range of projects that are possible and encouraged...

Elizabeth Davis
Animation, 2016

Full-time Faculty

Tom Lewis

Associate Professor & Chair

Tom Lewis is Chair of the Department of Converging Media including Photography, Filmmaking, Animation and Interactive Arts. He taught photography and new media at KCAI in 2001 through 2003 and joined the Foundation faculty in 2005, becoming Director of the School of the Foundation Year in 2012-2013 before moving to the Chairs position in the Department of Converging Media in 2013. He joined the KCAI faculty after having taught at the University of Washington School of Art, Seattle. While there, he also served as an assistant to Rod Slemmons at Crux Photographic Restoration and he assisted Michael Van Horn, curator for “After Art – Rethinking 150 Years of Photography,” at the Joseph and Elaine Monson Collection. He was co-founder and manager of CORE 317, an alternative space in Denver, and completed an internship at the International Center of Photography in New York. Lewis studied at KCAI on a Presidential Merit Scholarship and went on to earn a B.F.A. degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A. degree from the University of Washington, where he held the Jane and David Davis Fellowship and Parnasuss Endowment. Tom is interested in the intersection of early lens based drawing and the materiality of photography. He works in both photography and large-scale graphite drawings. His work has been exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others and is represented in a number of private collections.


John Baker

Program Head and Assistant Professor

John Baker joined KCAI in 2010 and teaches interactive arts and animation. Previously, he was an animator with MK12, a Kansas City-based motion graphics firm, where he was responsible for generating concepts for clients from storyboards to final animation. He also worked as editor and data manager on national and international film and video productions. Baker was responsible for shooting footage, including short films, and he handled filming and processing green-screen footage, rotoscope work and various visual effects. Before that he was an animator with Video Post Productions in Kansas City, where he worked in 2-D and 3-D animation for national and international clients. He has worked on numerous production projects for many well-known national brands.


Christiane Cegavske

Assistant Professor

Christiane Cegavske is best known for her feature-length animated film, “Blood Tea and Red String,” completed in 2005. She is currently working on her second animated feature film, “Seed in the Sand.” In addition to being an independent filmmaker, painter, poet and doll maker, she has been a lead animator and sculptor working on projects for The Oxygen Network, VH1, and the Disney Channel, among others. She also created animated dream sequences for Asia Argento’s “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things” and a music video for Mark Growden’s song “Coyote.”


Doug Hudson

Associate Professor

Doug Hudson is an animation director, historian and dedicated educator. 


Ismael Sanz-Pena

Assistant Professor

A passion for classical music and painting led Ismael to a career in animation where he could combine both crafts. After an international career in animation in Norway, Thailand and the UK, he joins KCAI as Assistant Professor of Animation.   He most recently was an animator and software designer in Norway. His teaching experience includes Adjunct Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore; Animation Instructor at CalArts Partnership, Los Angeles; Assistant Teacher at Lister Community School, London; and Animation Instructor at Chiang Mai University, Thailand.  He has a BA in digital animation from Thames Valley University, London, a postgraduate diploma in character animation from Central Saint Martins School of Arts and Design, London and a MFA in Experimental Animation from California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles.


Adjunct Faculty

Eva Louise Hall


Eva Louise Hall has been teaching with the Kansas City Art Institute since 2014. She is an animator and performance artist, producing multi-media animation installation, puppetry and projection work both locally and internationally for theater and film.


Kenneth Long



Once you declare your major, animation students take the following core courses as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses, download the complete Course Catalog

Animation Major Requirements Worksheet

Double Major Art History and Animation Requirements Worksheet

Double Major Creative Writing and Animation Requirements Worksheet

Like What You See?

For additional examples of student-produced work that displays a wider range of styles, technique and subject matter, browse our expanded photo gallery.


Professional Practice

Professional practice is a compulsory component of the KCAI program in which students benefit enormously from insights provided by world-renowned visiting artists, scholars and professionals.

Technical Requirements

Current software applications being used include Adobe Creative Suite, Cinema 4D and Dragonframe.

Recommended systems/tools:  15” MacBook Pro with retina display (minimum) or PC w/Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor with Windows 8 or 8.1 and 64-bit support. Recommended add-ons: carrying case, min. 1TB external hard drive, mini display to VGA adapter and damage/theft insurance.


Jobs + Internships

KCAI animation majors have worked or interned for the following studios and institutions: Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Shadow Machine Films, Bill Plympton Studio, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MK12, Intake Studios, Encyclopedia Pictura, Dream Studio, Fuzzy Duck Design, Titmouse Inc., Panda Panther, Grasshorse and Threehouse Studio.


Visiting Artists

Many artists visit the animation studios each year to share their knowledge and inspiration with KCAI students. Here are a few that have recently stopped by:

Martin Marquet, Joshua Mosley, Matthias Lechner, Environmental Art Dir./Disney, and Alexis Gordon (in partnership with the Spencer Art Musuem).