Successful animator returns to campus as part of CLAS Alumni-in-Residence program

October 31, 2023 (Volume 47, Number 5)
Article by Samantha Drougel

Jesse Gregg, '01, visited campus last week to give advice to Visual and Media Arts students as part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni-in-Residence program. 

Gregg has spent the last 30 years in animation and has developed his experience through education and life choices. He said he has a passion for sharing his story with students to help them in their future career.

Gregg's visit was part of the Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence program through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A dozen distinguished alumni returned to GVSU during Homecoming weekend to spend time with CLAS students and faculty.

“I really enjoy talking about animation and helping people find out where it is they want to go,” said Gregg. 

Gregg started his interest in animation when he was 13 years old. Gregg said he was influenced by movies like the “Labyrinth” and perplexed by their creation. When he was 14, he attended an animation workshop in Detroit and got his first taste of creating animation.

“They just kind of gave a lot of exposure to different types of animation,” said Gregg. “As you are being exposed to this, my visions kind of aligned with a curtain type of visual.”

Gregg graduated from GVSU in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in art and iIllustration. After working as a graphic designer, he was inspired by a colleague who went back to school. Gregg enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts and earned a master's degree in experimental animation. During graduate school, Gregg had an internship working on “Robot Chicken” as a puppet designer. He recommends that students look for internships to make connections with people.

“You really want to look at places that have done stuff that you are interested in,” said Gregg.

After graduating in 2008, Gregg moved into post-production work. One of his more well-known projects is the end credit scene in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” He took another chance by moving out to Portland, Oregon, to work for Laika Studios. While at Laika, Gregg has worked on “BoxTrolls,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” and “ParaNorman.” His most recent project has been a part of “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” which was released in 2022.

Gregg has attributed his success to taking risks and luck. He said he has overcome barriers in his work and life by standing by this philosophy: “Just try stuff. If you don’t, you will have regrets.” 

Learn more about Gregg's work on his personal website.

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This article was last edited on October 31, 2023 at 11:54 a.m.

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