Graduation Year: 2001
Born and raised in Montreal, Samantha Youssef thought she would follow in her parents’ footsteps. (They are both surgeons.) But instead of applying to medical school, she submitted a portfolio to Sheridan and landed a spot in the renowned animation program. “It was a shock to my family,” recalls Samantha. “I had always loved Disney but never thought of drawing as a career.”
Eight years later, with a rich and extensive background in the arts under her belt, she founded Studio Technique, Montreal’s first classical artistic training studio. The studio offers a strong foundation in drawing to strengthen the skills of artists working in the animation, illustration, graphics and comic book industries, says Samantha.
As 80% of her clients are professional artists, Samantha sees her training sessions as master class workshops. “They are part of the ongoing training that professionals and students need throughout their careers. The sessions are designed to reinforce the principles that are learned at college, with individual sessions adapted to artists’ needs,” says Samantha, whose studio was awarded $10,000 in funding from the Pepsi Refresh Project within a year of opening.
Samantha’s success in launching her own animation drawing school, combined with her petite good looks have attracted a fair bit of attention over the past couple of years. Featured in the October 2011 issue of Chatelaine, she was also voted one of Wired magazine’s Sexiest Geeks in 2009 and 2010.
Before branching out on her own, Samantha worked for several leading animation studios, including stints as a character animator for Walt Disney Animation in Paris and Australia. Gaming studios such as BioWare, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have been employing her to train their artists, and the top arts schools in North America (including Sheridan) have invited her to guest lecture.
In addition to her Sheridan training, Samantha holds a degree in Film Animation from Concordia University, and has studied at prestigious art academies around the world. But she knows that even with talent and training, burgeoning artists often struggle to gain career traction, particularly in today’s climate. “Sheridan offers an excellent start, but many studios now are looking mainly for artists with experience. Still, I advise recent grads to persevere. Most of all, believe in yourself and love what you do. Be grateful for opportunities but in the end, don’t settle for something that’s not right for you. If you can do that, you will get there.”