We can’t create the most awesome kid’s content in the world without the most awesome artists in the world.
After the success of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, John, Keith and Steve teamed up to create a spinoff. The trio found inspiration from various oddball sources including Michael Nesmith of The Monkees. In Planet Sheen, the chimp, Mr. Nesmith, wears a wool hat with a ball on top, just like the real Nesmith in his old TV series.
In 1984, while teaching marine biology at the Orange County Ocean Institute, Stephen created “Bob the Sponge,” an early incarnation of the square-pants’d fellow who came along years later. Stephen claims his love for the undersea world can be traced to his childhood, and the films of the oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
Gabor and Peter were inspired to create Aaahh!!! Real Monsters after watching The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. The first incarnation of their monster characters appeared in a Rugrats episode before becoming stars of their own series.
The show was the third of six original series to be produced by Klasky Csupo, and like their others series, Klasky Csupo partnered with others to bring a whole new cartoon world to kids. The Wild Thornberries was created by Steve Pepoon, David Silverman and Stephen Sustarsic, a trio responsible for bringing to life Eliza and her adventurous family for five incredible seasons.
Joe wanted to be an artist since he was three years old. His first “recognition” as an artist came when his kindergarten teacher said that he was the only student who drew zippers on pants. Years later, Joe’s love of oddball things inspired Rocko. When on a trip to a zoo, he saw an Australian wallaby oblivious to the chaos around him.
The Mighty B! was created by a triple threat: Amy Poehler, Erik Wiese and Cynthia True. Amy is an actor and comedian, turning in iconic performances on Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation and Inside Out, just to name a few. Erik is a talented and prolific storyboard director, with everything from SpongeBob to Star Wars.
As a child, Josh appeared in the first two seasons of Sesame Street. He returned to Sesame Street as a writer in 1988 and stayed until 2002. Both experiences were influential in the development of The Wonder Pets, the first preschool show to use photo-puppetry animation.
Janice’s inspiration for The Backyardigans was her own backyard in Pittsburgh. As a kid, she and her friends would play hide and seek and imagine they were sailing ships and fending off lions.
Why is Backyardigans a musical? Why not?
Mitch started drawing when he was only 18 months old. When he turned eight, his Uncle Steve taught him how to make a flip book and it got Mitch hooked on animation.
As kids, Jennifer, Soo and Michael each loved The Borrowers, Thumbelina and The Littles, stories about tiny characters who live in a human-sized world. Years later, their “mini” obsession became the inspiration for Team Umizoomi, a series about tiny superheroes in a colorful urban world who solve big math problems.
Arlene and Gabor created Rocket Power after watching their own kids get involved with extreme sports. And, Arlene was already very familiar with the most popular extreme sport, surfing, having grown up in the beach towns of Orange County, CA.
Karen based the series on her experiences growing up in a Chinese-American household. The first character of the series that she drew was Kai-Lan at age 5. It was a persona that Karen knew quite well – Kai-Lan is the Chinese name that Karen was given at birth. And “Ni Hao” means “Hello” in Mandarin. See, you’re learning already!
Growing up, Eric always got into trouble at school for drawing. The same thing happened in college, but with a lucky twist. A teacher who saw his doodles brought them to someone who helped Eric get a job in animation.
It may come as no surprise that a man who created a series about a dog and cat who share the same body has a fondness for oddball pets. Peter had his own strange pet as a kid: a three-legged dog named Tipper, who once got his front paw caught in his collar and ran home using two legs on the same side of this body.
Before Blue was a dog, she was a cat, and the show was going to be called “Blue’s Prints.” Once Angela and Traci decided to make Blue a dog, Traci put her own personal “paw prints” on the series: she became the voice of Blue.
Back at the Barnyard is a spin-off from the 2006 feature film Barnyard, which Steve wrote, produced, and directed. Steve says the story of a father who challenges his son to choose between being responsible or a goof-off is based on his own life.
The idea for Bubble Guppies was inspired by the Backyardigans episode called “Viking Voyage,” in which Tasha is a mermaid. When Jonny and Robert set out to make Bubble Guppies, they liked to compare it to a children’s vitamin—good for kids, but also yummy and fun.
After college, Adam taught English and improv comedy at a middle school summer program in California. It stoked his interest in finding a way to educate young kids and make them laugh too. Adam did just that as the head writer of Blue’s Clues, The Backyardigans and Bubble Guppies before creating Wallykazam!
The mega-franchise has been kicking radical butt for 30 years, and it all started in 1984, when Kevin made a goofy sketch of the first Ninja Turtle. Inspired, the guys used the money from a tax refund and a loan from Kevin’s uncle to self-publish the first comic book. And the rest is Turtle history. Cowabunga, dudes!
The best bud dudes who invented the best bud dude-snake duo credit two unlikely sources for their show’s giddy use of gross-out humor; their mothers. Growing up, both of their mothers were nurses, and they loved to regale the future punks with stories that made them cringe and crack up.
The inspiration for Rugrats came when Arlene was working from home and taking care of her infant children. One day while working on concepts, she wondered, if babies could talk, what would they say? She shared the notion with Gabor and soon the visual world came to life. Gabor’s original drawing of Tommy was based on his own son; pigeon-toed, skinny legs, big head and no hair.
Like many animators, John was hugely influenced by Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett. Unlike many animators, John was also inspired by Hollywood movie icons. For his groundbreaking series, John used movie tough-guy Peter Lorre as the inspiration for Ren’s voice, and the absurdly chiseled, super macho Kirk Douglas inspired the design of Powdered Toast Man and other characters.
Michael and Bryan met while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. Fans of epic properties like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, the duo wanted to put a new spin on the genre. Their mutual love of epic fantasy, Japanese Anime, Kung Fu cinema and Eastern philosophy serve as inspiration for two of the most thrilling, emotionally complex and beautifully-animated adventures ever: Avatar: The Last Airbender and its successor series, The Legend of Korra.
What’s in a name? A lot, according to Chris, Valerie and Eric. The inspiration for Dora Marquez’s first name was exploradora, the Spanish feminine word for explorer. The trio took her last name from Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez.
Steve and Gary created a short cartoon about two feisty, accident-prone ducks to show fellow animators at a New York City bar. After posting the film on YouTube, Gary received an email from a Nickelodeon executive who saw it and loved it. Gary thought it was spam. Nope. And the rest is duck history.
John started animated as a kid using his parents’ 8 mm camera to film action figures in stop motion. Years later, he found a script he had abandoned called “Runaway Rocketboy”, featuring a character named Johnny Quasar. How could he have known that years later, that character would form the basis of not one, but two shows: Jimmy Neutron and its spin-off, Planet Sheen? Maybe it’s time to take another look at stuff you abandoned years ago!
Carl’s first animation job was as a storyboard artist for SpongeBob SquarePants. He went on to work on The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy before creating his first series, Chowder. Carl appeared several times in Chowder, often as a puppet.
Before becoming the creators behind Pig Goat Banana Cricket, Johnny and Dave used to create stories for Nickelodeon Magazine. Starting off in the world of comics, they were a perfect fit for each other because of their fondness for weird things and all the interesting characters they could create together.
Characteristic of their unique art style, the show features the lush charm of retro kids’ books and the cutting edge illustration fused with sparkling characters matched with a surprising industrial design.
Farnaz is living proof that wishes can come true at the Nick Animation. While working as a Post-Production Supervisor on Dora The Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!, Farnaz dreamed of making her own preschool series. Inspired by her Iranian-American upbringing, she wanted the series to have strong female heroes set against a vibrant multicultural fantasy world.
In each episode, the twin genie sisters are faced with obstacles that they have to work together to overcome. As a mother of two young kids, Farnaz sees the importance of empowering children with an understanding of resilience. Through the series, kids see that even though the outcome may not be exactly what they wished for, there is always a way to figure things out!
Butch is an incredibly prolific creator, animator, actor and producer with four Nick shows to his name: Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, T.U.F.F. Puppy and Bunsen is a Beast. When he’s not busy making cartoon magic, Butch takes time to give something back: with his wife Julieann, he founded Hartman House, a non-profit organization that helps poverty-stricken people obtain food and housing.
When Dora the Explorer was originally conceived she wasn’t even a “she”…the original lead was a male rabbit. Hard to imagine now that Dora is perhaps the best-known fictional Latina in the world.
The creators could never have guessed that Dora and the spin-off series Go Diego Go! and Dora and Friends would become global phenomena, but maybe the reason why is actually quite simple: “Dora doesn’t just talk to kids,” Valerie explains. “She engages them. She makes them part of her adventure. She’s their friend.”
Why create a new show for Dora? It’s time for a new adventure.
Ellen Martin and Jeff Borkin both have a great track record with Nickelodeon: Jeff was a writer on Blue’s Clues, The Backyardigans and Team Umizoomi, while Ellen was a producer on The Backyardigans and Bubble Guppies. This team makes a habit of beating the competition to the finish line!
For Jeff to test-drive a gag, he doesn’t have to go far: he’s got his own ‘focus group’ right at home, three brutally honest kids.
First, Scott and Nadine got married. Then things got really interesting! The couple went on to produce several kids’ shows, including Rolie Polie Ollie, Little Miss Spider and Gerald McBoingBoing before creating their own shows, The Fresh Beat Band and its successor, The Fresh Beat Band of Spies. Part of their inspiration in making the series was to give kids great, catchy pop songs that are also age-appropriate.
Before working behind the scenes, Nadine & Scott were working actors, they know what great acting looks like.
Rob Renzetti is a Swiss army knife of animation. He’s been a writer, story editor, storyboard artist, director, producer and best of all, creator. From Dexter’s Laboratory to Gravity Falls to Teenage Robot, Renzetti always infuses his work with his love of animation and knack for great storytelling.
Larry Huber was already an animation veteran when he met Bill Burnett, a talented writer and musician. While working with animation impresario Fred Seibert, the pair combined Larry’s idea, about a boy with magic chalk, and Bill’s idea about an entire other world hiding behind chalkboards.
Amy Winfrey got her start while still in school at UCLA, animating on the first two seasons of South Park and the South Park feature film. Winfrey has produced three web series on her own: Muffin Films, Big Bunny, and Squid and Frog.
Emily Kapnek has created several shows, including Suburgatory, Emily’s Reasons Why Not and Selfie. But As Told By Ginger still holds a special place in Emily’s heart — it’s more than a little autobiographical.
Meet the hair and the beard behind Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ant Ward & Andy Suriano! For this duo’s reimagining of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ward and Suriano wanted to take the show beyond where it’s been before in its design and its reflected in each member.
Early in his career, Jim made a series of doodles in his sketchbook and decided to name the character Doug Funnie. Little did he realize those doodles would lead to a long-running series, a movie and even his own production company. The moral of this story: keep doodling!
When Billy was ten years old, his family moved into a huge apartment building that he found “ominous and spooky.” Could it be mere coincidence that his show’s ten-year-old heroes are exploring an ominous, spooky apartment building? We think not!
Jhonen came up with the entire premise for Invader Zim in about an hour, while sitting in bed when he couldn’t sleep.
The series came to life after Craig created various versions of the football-headed hero. First came an Arnold comic strip for Simpsons Illustrated, then a claymation version for Pee-wee’s Playhouse. As the character and world emerged in a whole new way, Craig animated the first episode of Hey Arnold! in his living room, and then pitched it to Nickelodeon.
Founded in the year 2000, the Nickelodeon Writing Program is a full-time, paid, yearlong development Program for television comedy writers with unique voices and from underrepresented communities. Join us at the studio in Burbank for classes and workshops to sharpen your skills, executive mentorship and networking to build your professional relationships, and the opportunity to work in the iconic live-action and animation writers’ rooms at Nick. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dedicate yourself to the craft of writing and build your career from the ground up.
The Nick Writing Program is not a writing contest – It’s a launching pad for diverse and emerging creatives. If you bring the unique voice and innovative ideas for kids’ and family content, we’ll help you launch a career with all the tools you’ll need to succeed in the industry for years to come.
We need your talent and perspective, so come tell us your story!
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We can’t create the most awesome kids’ content in the world without the most awesome artists in the world.
The Nickelodeon Artist Program is a 6-month, paid talent development program for aspiring animation artists. We seek out talented designers, painters, story artists, and CG artists with diverse voices from underrepresented communities, with the goal of mentoring, developing, and staffing the next generation of inclusive storytellers and content creators.
The Artist Program features three training paths: General Design, Storyboard, and CG Generalist. Each path offers professional development in addition to an apprenticeship on an animated show with exclusive access to directors, supervisors, and lead artists on our productions.
Please note: notification dates are subject to change.
We’re always on the lookout for fresh new perspectives and voices who are also curious to learn…and be a SPONGE! Come join us and make an impact!
There’s oodles of ways to get in the door at Nickelodeon!
Our Talent Pipeline Programs are mentorship-based incubators designed to bring emerging creators from all walks of life into the studio.