Why CCAD grad Sarah Schmidt founded the indie animation series Malt Adult

sarah schmidt portrait

In addition to founding and curating the indie animation series Malt Adult, Columbus College of Art & Design Sarah Schmidt (Animation, 2014) is a motion graphics, illustration, and animation artist who also works as a resident animator at CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center

As Malt Adult prepares to celebrate its third anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, with Malt Adult Animation Night #16, we caught up with her to chat Malt Adult’s mission, its effect on her own personal practice, and her most memorable Malt Adult moments from the past three years.

(You can read more about why Schmidt chose a CCAD student as the event’s featured artist here.)

Why did you decide to found Malt Adult?

As a student at CCAD, a lot of my peers (myself included) were primarily focused on animation-as-career—not animation-as-an-art-form. I struggled to get any animation friends to join me for Fine Art Critique night. Once I got into the industry, I quickly found out that there was an immense community around independent animation—not much different than that of indie comics. And a lot of those artists were happy/getting paid! My biggest goal with Malt Adult is to show students it isn’t all about Disney or Cartoon Network jobs. There is a rewarding artist community beyond/alongside that.

Why did you select CCAD student Victoria Douglas (Illustration, 2020) to be the featured artist for Malt Adult’s Third Anniversary?                

Every Malt, I pick at least one local artist to be in the lineup. I love doing a small interview with them for the zine, and I love being able to give them the platform to be shown beside international artists.

Victoria is an incredible student pushing the limits of the classic 2D Fundamentals final. That push alone makes their work feel like a given. I can’t wait to blow everybody out of the water with it Dec. 7. And I can’t wait to see what they make in the future.

Can you tell us about the very first Malt Adult?

The very first Malt Adult was Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, at Skylab Gallery. It felt exciting to have an event on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it was so fun to catch a lot of friends who were back in town visiting family.

The event was a blast. We gathered a handful of party favors, and I set everything up as best as I could. It was really cool to see how the room could fill up for it. I was very excited to share some of the new films I was catching at out-of-state animation festivals, like GLAS [Animation Festival in Berkeley], along with work from CCAD alum/friend Pat Kain (Cinematic Arts, 2013) and my new freelance/industry friend at the time Sean Solomon. 

It felt closer to the appropriate balance of independent art practice and fun that I had always wanted to see. I knew I wanted to keep it going for as long as possible.

happy birthday malt adult cake

How has Malt Adult, as an event, transformed over the past three years?

The event itself has turned into what I had hoped it would feel like: a watering-hole/catch up for animators/animation fans in town to see work, catch up, and have a conversation. We’ve screened at both Skylab and CCAD. I have been less uptight about the process and details and shifted a lot of my focus to doing my best to curate a strong playlist of films. This past year, fellow CCAD alum Ian Ballantyne (Fine Arts, 2014) started helping out, and I have had an incredibly helpful support system of Malt friends online.

How have you transformed in the past three years?

My hair IS LONG AGAIN! And I like to think I have grown up a lot. When I started Malt Adult, I was working full time at a motion graphics studio. I had been discovering independent animation rapidly after graduating and wanted to bring attention to it as an artform locally. Seeing how other artists were thriving with animation as their medium led me to freelance in 2017 and eventually starting/co-owning an LLC, Sunshine Mall, just this past year.

Uplifting other people’s work with Malt gave me a much clearer head about the type of work I wanted to make. My creative practice finally feels like it is constantly evolving, especially as Animation Artist in Residency at the Cloyd Family Animation Center. I am trying to focus on paper and cut-out animation and stay away from the computer for a while, at least outside of working hours. I am working on low-pressure two shorts right now and planning to start on a larger project in 2020.

What’s the most incredible moment you’ve experienced because of Malt Adult?

My favorite moments have been bringing visiting artists to CCAD. 

When Jeron Braxton came, he had meditatively transported everyone back to the early 2000s. I loved seeing him chat with my favorite CCAD Film & Video alum, Cameron Granger. It has been amazing to see him grow as an artist and make absolutely bonkers stuff. 

Having Jonni Phillips on campus a few months ago—fans had driven for hours to join us in that room. One even brought her a Furby. I have never felt such a wholesome amount of love for an artist in a space—that whole set of days were so great—and I was just so thankful Malt Adult could help bring that feeling to Columbus.


 

Learn more about Malt Adult Animation Night #16 Third Anniversary Party, CCAD’s Animation program, and the Cloyd Family Animation Center.