Arts Alliance of Stratford is creating an ongoing series of artist interviews, highlighting members and creatives in the greater Stratford area and others connected with the Alliance. We are offering high school student volunteers a real world opportunity to interview, write, and publish some of these articles, training with us and conducting interviews via Zoom. If you would like to participate by interviewing, writing, or by being a creative interviewee, please contact us.
by Danielle Haniph (grade 11)
Published on January 24, 2022
Alison Kellom, a classically trained artist, has a unique career in the visual arts. Alison received a degree in old master technique at the Atelier School of Classical Realism in Oakland, California. In addition to her classical education, she also taught herself how to apply her knowledge to the digital world. Through online video tutorials, she taught herself how to use platforms such as Maya and Photoshop.
In one of her early roles, Alison tested video games at 2K Games. The first video game she worked on was NHL 2K6, in which her job was to find and fix bugs within the game’s programming. Alison gradually moved on to sculpting faces and working in photogrammetry for the NBA 2K14-NBA 2K19 video games. Later, Alison worked for Warner Bros. and Disney, where she succeeded in areas such as motion capture, modeling, and 3D layout. Alison specifically used these skills when she worked on facial motion capture in Disney’s A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey. Warner Bros. even sent Alison to Australia to work on the layout design and character effects for Happy Feet 2.
When she is not working, Alison creates her own artwork, relying on her classical training. She pushes herself not to use photographs or cameras, but to create objects as she sees them in the world. Alison loves using her own eyes and abilities to perceive the volume, depth, and light of her surroundings. This preference, along with her vivid use of color, allows her to create gorgeous masterpieces. For example, in one of her acrylic paintings titled “Tomatoes,” Alison uses deep reds and a cyan blue to capture the light and shape of tomatoes.
Additionally, outside of work, Alison directs her own short films, one of which explores her grandmother’s life story as a Japanese-American who was confined to an internment camp during World War II. Another film she is working on is called Crickets Would Sing, a stop-motion film that also relates to the Holocaust. Alison hopes to use these films to teach middle school and high school students about horrible events of the past beyond the commentary of documentaries. Finally, when she’s not working on her own masterpieces, Alison makes crafts with her five-year-old son and spends time with her family.
Alison recently moved from California to Massachusetts. She had a four month contract as a senior cinematic artist for NetherRealms Studios, creating mortal combat and injustice-fighting video games. She is also an art teacher who instructs students in the basics of foundational art at her local library, online, and through other organizations such as the Arts Alliance of Stratford. Her experience as a teacher has led her to create, shoot and host her own cable access TV show in Foxboro called “Art with Alison”, which features her teaching foundational art concepts such as figure drawing and still life.
When asked to share a piece of advice, Alison encourages others to believe in themselves and to recognize that “you are more amazing than you realize.” Alison points out that, often, “we are our harshest critics,” and that it is important to be kind to ourselves. This is especially important for artists, as some tend to kick themselves when they cannot reach “perfection” in their work. Moreover, Alison pushes others to strive for progress rather than perfection, as a way of being kinder to ourselves and others.
Danielle Haniph is a junior at St. Joseph High School, where she is the President of the Visual Art and Design Club. Danielle is considering a career as a design architect, and is also the creator of AAS’ “Art Out Fridays” on Instagram.
Bob Bonneau, a retired high school English teacher, is volunteering with AAS as editor for this ongoing Spotlight on Creatives project.