THEY'VE MADE A BUSINESS OUT OF FUN...AND CLAY

Emily Collins (L) and Jess Peterson (R).

Emily Collins (L) and Jess Peterson (R).

One look at Jess Peterson and Emily Collins and you know these ladies are in the business of fun. Don't be fooled, business does not take priority over fun and vice versa. As the founders of animation studio, Mighty Oak, they focus on content creation using a variety of mediums including paintings and puppet to bring brand stories to life. With high profile clients such as Lego, Samsung and The New York Times, these Brooklyn based bosses are on a mission to create magic one animated video at a time.

Read on to learn why Jess and Emily of Mighty Oak are Daring Creatives.

In a few sentences, please tell us about yourself:

Emily: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved animals, creating art, and good stories. Those three passions have helped define much of what I do.

Jess: I’m a lover of music, stories, and finding ways to connect creative people. Just like Emily, I started writing stories, plays, and music at a very early age. I spent my early 20’s in the music industry, touring with bands, creating press kits, and DJ-ing old records. I went back to school to learn more about the visual art world, and found myself managing communications at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, where I met Emily. Last year, I started Mighty Oak, HATCH - a monthly meet up for creative female founders, and That Perfect Pair, a wedding DJ duo with my husband.

 

When did you decide to pursue your current career path?

 

Emily: When I was at RISD, I took an Introduction to Animation course. I watched animated films that I’d never seen before, ones that were unique and beautiful and fused all of my creative interests. I knew then that I wanted to work in this field.

Jess: Funny enough, while I’ve spent my working years communicating messages and missions, I re-discovered my love for storytelling last Thanksgiving while going through my childhood closet. I found a garbage bag full of poems, short stories, plays, and raps (yup) that I had written from first grade through middle school. I found awards, pictures, and teacher’s notes of encouragement as well as mixed tapes and books that I used to make and sell to the kids on the playground. It sounds silly, but looking through that bag reminded me about my passion for storytelling,… and apparently, hustling.

 

How does the city you live in influence your creativity?

Emily: Having lived here for most of my life, I feel a responsibility to represent and share the stories of NYC and the people that live here. I am constantly blown away by New York’s diversity and energy. There are so many great people and experiences in action at any given moment. The city is saturated with opportunity for sharing and telling stories.

 

Jess: Em is totally right about the city’s energy & diversity., There’s a creative fire to this city that can’t be ignored.  If it’s not an actual art piece, it’s a new pop up shop, museum, strange dance party, underground concert, or amazing secret food truck opening down the block.

And while this city may be pretty competitive, it’s also wonderfully collaborative. Never have I ever said “I have a dream to do _____” and not found someone who could say “I know a guy/girl who can hook you up!” To live in New York means to be creatively connected.

What does it mean to be a “creative”?

Jess: In my mind, being creative means being visionary. Anyone can use the tools, but those with a creative spirit are constantly in a state of dreaming. They aren’t just out to make money, they’re out to solve problems. And the minute they’re done, they’re on to the next big idea.

 

Has rejection ever affected your creative process? If so, please describe.

Emily: Definitely. Rejection has caused me to re-route an idea, project, or undertaking. It’s something that you have to get used to when doing creative work. It happens all the time! I’ve learned to look at it as a healthy stepping stone. It always leads to a more fitting situation or product.

 

In thinking about the things that you have created, is there something that you hated but the public may have loved - and perhaps purchased?

Emily: Yes. When you work on something as slow and intricate as animation, there are always flaws that the maker will notice. I don’t usually hate something in its totality, just certain moments of something. For instance, if an animated puppet blinks for too long or a character moves in a bizarre way. Most of the time no one else notices... or maybe they’re just not telling me!

What has been the pit and peak of your week so far? (a low and a high moment)

Jess:

peak: moving into a new big studio

pit: having to renovate said new big studio

 

Who is someone famous that you think is killing it at the moment? In other words,

is there someone whose career you admire.

Emily: Debra Granik. She directed Winter’s Bone in 2010, and recently finished the documentary Stray Dog. She is an incredible storyteller and so passionate about the process of making films.

         Jess: I sound like every other Brooklynite right now, but Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson from Broad City are absolutely killing the game and redefining funny in every way imaginable.  

Finish this sentence:

I want people to remember me as:

Jess: someone who was active, ambitious, generous, and could hold a conversation until her last (long-winded) breath.

 

If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would do:

Emily: I would get all of my friends and family in one room and have a giant party with dancing and chocolate cake. I would also love to have a variety of cats and dogs at the party. Ones that get along, of course.


If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be:

Emily: The Space Lady’s cover of Born to Be Wild (just the right mix of mellow and wild)

Jess: She’s Strange, by Cameo

To learn more about Mighty Oak or to work with them, visit their website.

Photos courtesy of Jess Peterson and Emily Collins.

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