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Rising Stars: Meet Felicia Jade Rein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Felicia Jade Rein.

Felicia Jade, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Where I am *now* all started with a Pretzel Soap Opera; but I’ve always been a maker, there are photos of me as early as three, I think, making towels and scrunchies into dresses. So before I knew what miniatures and stop motion animation were, that’s where I thought I wanted to be, fashion design. I ended up going to the Art Institute of Vancouver in British Columbia on a whim.

After graduating top of my class with a major in Fashion Design (and a minor in graphic design) I moved back to NYC. Curveball, I got a job at vitaminwater / Smartwater as the finance person for the creative team and eventually convinced them to give me a shot as a junior graphic designer. While there, I applied for an elite program at Wieden+Kennedy (WK12) with something I’d never tried before, a stop motion animation application video (to a classical rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” haha). I didn’t know or understand what agencies were at the time, so in hindsight, being waitlisted from the program seems totally legit. (Still felt pretty cool, there were thousands of applicants) That video being in my portfolio ended up landing me a position at a different creative agency. There, I was also a designer, but this time, for a full content studio. My boss put me on a project for Rold Gold Pretzels; making the miniature sets and props for the before mentioned pretzel soap opera.

That’s where I realized; this was the simply the best. Couldn’t believe I was being paid to make a tiny crossbow for a pretzel or dress a chunk of cheese with a necktie. What brought me the most joy was the physical act of bringing something to life using my hands and random materials. But I started climbing the corporate ladder, I was in meetings all day and never actually making anything; hating my job; just handing off my concepts for others to execute – Fed up and burnt out, I dropped everything and moved to Los Angeles. Started right from the bottom again. Interning at stop motion studios, gaining more and more experience fabricating and doing stop motion animation. And four years later, this is what I’m doing full time, fabrication of miniatures and stop motion animation for reputable brands from my home studio.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I completely pivoted my career. Going back to school wasn’t really an option; so I’m almost completely self-taught. I’d say 98% of what I currently do is nothing I learned in school. It can be pretty flustering to be on set and have someone say “Can you grab the blahblahblah” and I have no idea what the blahblahblah is…The program I use for stop motion; I’ve definitely spent long amounts of time trying to figure out a question I don’t even know how to ask. Or to just have no idea how to get a certain glue to work; because unless you went to school for prop or industrial design, it’s not likely that you realize plastic solvent isn’t glue at all, it actually melts and fuses plastic to plastic but not other material. Also like… being an intern at 32 years old is a struggle in it of itself, I went from managing a team of 20 to getting my daily assignments from someone who just graduated college… but! knows what plastic solvent does. It’s a constant flurry of ‘I’m in way over my head’ and ‘how do the hell I do this?!?’ but then I ask questions or watch the videos and see that I *did* do it correctly after all. Imposter syndrome is something I feel on a day to day basis, despite having done work successfully for heavy hitters like Nickelodeon, Vogue, NASA, Disney and many many more, all on my own.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
If I had a business card, the words would fall off of it. I’ve ended up doing so many things, and many of my projects require me to do all of them at once. I’m an art director, production designer, set dresser, food stylist, photographer, video editor, photo retoucher, seamstress, graphic designer, sometimes hand model.

I specialize, however, in miniature prop/set fabrication and stop motion animation.

What I’m most proud of is that I set out on this path to get away from meetings and presentation decks and client emails to get back to making, and that’s what I’ve done. I’m at a point where jobs are coming to me rather than me clawing my way into inboxes. And most importantly, I’m at a point where I can turn down projects that don’t align with my process / vision / scheduled cat snuggling.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
I’m an over-preparer; I write endless lists to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything for a project, I always pack way more in my kit than I know I’ll need for a shoot, I ask myself all questions a client might have, I think of all the logistical problems that could occur and research, research, research. My brain is in constant fear that I will embarrass myself because I’m not formally trained. If I’m shockingly over-prepared, when things go wrong, I can easily fix them and no one realizes there was even a problem.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Jacob Boll, Meiko Arquillos, Aramis Kornilov

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