CCAD Stories: Josie Bowlin gets animated

Influencers | What She's Listening To | Five Things Josie Bowlin Loves about CCAD | How to get Involved in the CCAD Queer Alliance

When Josie Bowlin (Animation, 2018) feels discouraged or overwhelmed at school, she watches Ratatouille. Sure, the Pixar masterpiece is a diversion, but it’s also a way for Bowlin to find center again.

“Pixar is where I have always said I was going to work. I will apply everywhere, but I have prepared myself for that studio,” she said. “Not that many people who come from animation want to be in production, because they want to do creative work.”

That’s right: Bowlin, who grew up in Greenville, Ohio, two hours west of Columbus, is an Animation major, but she doesn’t dream of drawing the characters that light up animated feature films. Production work stokes both her creative side and her leadership skills.

josie bowlin


Bowlin is the president of CCAD Queer Alliance, Communications Director of the Animation Student Collective, works as an assistant on campus, and invites responsibility. She is not shy around a spreadsheet. She dreams of working with creative people — and all the other elements that go into the making of a feature film.

After trying illustration, 2D animation and fine arts, Bowlin found her creative sweet spot in experimental animation. “I do a lot of work on paper with charcoal and ink, and I also do some stop-motion animation,” she said. “I was really struggling in my [2D] animation classes. I could not break through this wall of not being comfortable making that kind of art.

“With the experimental program, we’re encouraged to do stuff that’s very personal and self-influenced. That can be hard, because you have to be really introspective. But it’s freeing, too. You’re not going to be told that’s the wrong way to do it.” Bowlin would love to keep making experimental animation on her own after graduation, even if it’s not part of her day-to-day work.

Just as important as discovering her strengths was having the faculty support to get her there. “The animation department is a very, very special place,” she said. “We are very close-knit because we’re always in the lab together in the same space. I knew that was the community I would probably end up following through studio life. Working in that industry, it would feel very similar.”

josie bowlin

Though Bowlin enjoys her studies and has a supportive group of friends, like many people, she isn’t immune to anxiety and stress. When this semester’s workload became overwhelming and she fell a bit behind, she turned to CCAD’s Counseling & Wellness Center.

“A lot of people don’t realize it’s such a good resource we have. If you’re feeling at all anxious or depressed, you shouldn’t avoid going and finding help, because everyone deserves support,” she said. 

josie black and white

Josie Bowlin (Animation, 2018) is a third-year student who has found a welcoming home at CCAD. Below, she discusses why she chose the college, and what she's experienced since starting here. 

1. I knew people already. Staying in Ohio was good for me. I had other schools I was thinking about, but being able to go home was good. I ended up choosing to come here because the Animation and the Illustration programs were stronger and more of what I was looking for. I had friends here I was missing, and I knew I would have a comfortable space.

josie working
josie working

2. The fact that it was so small really appealed to me. Even touring Cincinnati was overwhelming to me. I know most of the faculty here and most of the people here. It is weird meeting a junior I’m not familiar with. I really like that.

3. There’s just a vibe the school has. It’s very welcoming and loving, and everyone, in my experience, wants to help you. Knowing the people who make decisions on a personal level really reinforces that. They are receptive in a way no other school could be. They know when something happens. They care about us.

josie working
josie in class

4. Tom Richner was my core Animation instructor. The way he taught was a way that I learned best. I could easily talk to him one on one. If I was struggling with a project, I could tell him that and not feel like I was going to fail. A team of instructors had multiple conversations about my career and path. They are so valuable to me. There was no way I could have figured out what to do without my instructors.

josie working
josie working

5. The Animation program. We’re in contact with alumni who are in the industry, and our department heads base curriculum on the industry. They started focusing more on story when actual 2D animation became less marketable. I don’t feel like there’s been a ton of fluff. I didn’t feel like I was learning skills I didn’t need.

Josie Bowlin's Top 5 Creative Influencers*:

Brad Bird, director, screenwriter, animator, producer, and voice actor | Twitter

John Lasseter, animator, director, and creative head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios | Facebook

Ed Catmull, computer animation pioneer and president, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios | Twitter

Frank Thomas, animator (one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men")

William Kentridge, artist known for his drawings and animations | Twitter

* I am deeply saddened that there are no women on this list — Josie Bowlin.

Current Jamz: A Spotify Playlist from Josie Bowlin

josie in queer alliance meeting


Josie Bowlin (Animation, 2018) is one of the Columbus College of Art & Design students leading Queer Alliance, which sums up its mission this way: “Helping make the CCAD campus a welcoming environment for the MOGAI (marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex) community.” The group is social, activist, and advocating.

Queer Alliance meetings are held at 10 p.m. Thursdays in the Crane Center Multipurpose Room. Once a month, that meeting is devoted to decompression — watching a movie or playing games. Because, let’s face it, school can be stressful.

“Sometimes we’ll talk about the campus climate or what we can do to help certain students if anyone’s having trouble,” Bowlin said.

A few things the group has participated in this year: taking part in a trans pool party at Ohio State University, prepping for its annual Queer Education Week in April, and hosting a bake sale. Day to day, Alliance members are listening to students and advocating for them to CCAD administrators, who Bowlin says are open-minded and eager to make everyone feel welcome and included. “We very easily have access to the executives we need to be in contact with,” Bowlin said. “It’s gonna get better, and it is getting better. Our school is fantastic and is working with us relentlessly.”

Pique your interest? The best way to stay in touch and get involved is by joining the Queer Alliance Facebook group.


josie in queer alliance meeting

Read more in our series CCAD Stories. Discover more about the CCAD Student Agency. Learn more about CCAD's Animation program or apply here.