World Campus student Adriana Cerrotti has always wanted to be an artist. Through hard work and determination, she’s accomplished that dream, having worked as an illustrator for major animated film companies such as Disney (she was responsible for bringing Ariel to life in The Little Mermaid 2) and Hanna-Barbera.
She recently published her first children’s book, Never Give Up, an accomplishment that let her tap into her passion for child psychology. The book was inspired by a developmental psychology class she took through Penn State World Campus. “That course gave me the confidence I needed to create this book,” she says.
Why A Dog Can Help Children Learn from Mistakes
Hic Up, the main character of Adriana’s book, is a dog who makes mistakes but perseveres toward doing the right thing.
Adriana picked a dog for a main character, she says, not only because she’s a dog lover (she has two dogs of her own and fosters dogs regularly), but because children love dogs and because “dogs make mistakes. We are more permissive with their mistakes,” she says. “Because children are more likely to let dogs make mistakes, it lets them learn how to learn from mistakes,” she adds.
Adriana’s creation, Hic Up, shows that persistence can lead to success, which is a tale she has lived nearly her entire life.
Growing up in an impoverished area of Argentina, Adriana taught herself to draw using herself—one hand served as model while the other hand drew. Her father owned a small shop of paintings, the back of which occasionally served as home to traveling Bohemian artists.
Every day, she asked her father to get her pictures that she could copy, but he was resistant due to the unseemly lifestyle that characterized many artists he knew.
Adriana was passionate about art though, and persisted. Eventually her father gave in to her requests and sent her to a local teacher.
She worked diligently to refine her techniques over the next few years. Then change happened quickly. One day she decided she wanted to be an animator, and the next, her father found her a connection—he knew a person who worked as an animator for the legendary studio Hanna-Barbera, which created The Smurfs, The Jetsons, and The Flinstones, among many other popular cartoons.
After a stint with Hanna-Barbera, Adriana was driven to continue her development as an artist. Her dream—to work for Disney—seemed achievable, and she pursued it vigorously.
She didn’t know English at the time, yet she sent out her portfolio—in English—to renowned animation companies. She used a cover letter her friend wrote in English, which she copied by hand every time she’d send out her materials.
“I copied those letters like I’d copied drawings,” she says.
Eventually, it worked, and she heard back from a company in New Zealand. She hesitated slightly, since she truly wanted to work for Disney. Still, she thought, it was worth a shot, and she left, with only $100 in her pocket, and began working as an illustrator in New Zealand.
She worked on animated films that were English, even though she didn’t know the language. She relied on her friends and co-workers to describe the events of each scene so she could paint the correct emotions on faces.
About ten months after she moved, Disney tracked her down and offered her a position in Australia. Without skipping a beat, she left and began working on a movie called Redux, and later on The Little Mermaid 2 (Adriana was in charge of King Triton and Ariel).
Later, she met a man from Hollywood—who later became her husband—and she moved to the United States to be with him. It was through her husband that she first found an interest in Penn State. She was looking for a psychology program, and her husband pointed out Penn State’s international acclaim and strong reputation. Today she is happy to be here, and she’s excelling in the program; she is a member of the 2011-12 Logue Family Trustee Scholarship and was asked to join the collegiate honors society Phi Kappa Phi.
If you have questions for Adriana, post them here and we’ll try to get them answered for you!