Student Spotlight: Nick Atchison

Nick Atchison

Nick Atchison
Major: Motion Picture/TV

Nick Atchison’s mother is a talented artist, and as a boy she let him color in her drawings.

“I became determined to figure out how cartoons were made, and I’ve been on a mission to do that ever since,” he said. “With each production, I get a little closer to understanding how the pros do it.”

When he first moved to DuPage County, Atchison was willing to drive as far as possible to learn animation. Then he discovered that College of DuPage had an Animation program, which was exactly what he wanted.

“All of the instructors in the program were incredibly helpful and supportive,” he said. “Many of the students have experience in production, so the opportunity to network has created possibilities that otherwise would not have been available.” 

Atchison pursued both a certificate and an Associate in Applied Science degree. He also participated in the program’s annual Animation Portfolio Night, which presented student work in all formats and styles. His short, “Greg the Gray,” was a 60-second piece about an alien who must deal with an abductee onboard his ship. Atchison spent an entire semester on his frame-by-frame animation in Flash. 

“Each piece you see during Portfolio Night has been created solely by the student. This includes writing the story, character development, design, storyboarding, coloring, sound effects and voiceovers,” he said. “Normally, any one of these projects would be tackled by an entire class. So it was a lot of work but also exciting.” 

Atchison has now opened Bad Sheep Studios, LLC, which is currently transitioning to Bad Sheep Media as it has absorbed a photography company, ErikasPhotosandMore (both companies can be found on Facebook). He is currently working on a book about a turtle that travels the U.S., a movie storyboard, and an animated feature about the Mob.

“Clients come and go, some months are busy and some months I sit and twiddle my thumbs, but that’s how this business is,” he said. “I’m hoping to move into a studio soon which will allow me to create much bigger effects and other cool production stuff including professional photography. Students are always welcome to contact me to ask questions or get involved in the studio. Next year, I will be looking for interns.”

Becoming a professional animator is his ideal goal, and Atchison feels College of DuPage gave him the tools that he can use well into the future.

“Animation is something you have to put your heart into. If you really want to make a cartoon or do special effects for the movies, it’s a great place to start,” he said. “But you have to be patient. There is a lot to learn and it won’t happen overnight. Commitment and networking are your two best friends. Get that down and the sky’s the limit. It’s important to have a game plan. Make sure you understand what steps you need to take to reach your goals. And NEVER stop learning. 

“The staff at COD is amazing and always supportive. I say if you’re into animation, then look no further.”

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