The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Art and controversy

Despite being one of animation’s rising stars, CSUN graduate Tyree Dillihay returns to campus frequently to help students work on projects and give them advice about the industry.

CSUN junior art major Taylor West first saw Dillihay’s animation on rapper Bomani Armah’s controversial ‘Read a Book’ music clip.

‘I remember seeing that and thinking it was just the greatest thing I had ever seen. A great way to deal with different issues in the black community, stereotypes and those kind of things. I thought it was brilliant and hilarious,’ said West.

‘His art style definitely appeals to me. I’d like to meet him at some point. Apparently he comes through here very often,’ said West.

Dillahay took animation classes for his elective units to see if he would like it.

‘He came in with a very creative and unique approach and was not afraid to try new things and challenge himself,’ said CSUN’s head animation program Professor Mary Trujillo.

‘He was highly motivated and had exceptional drawing skills. He really blossomed with everything he did with animation,’ she said.

For a class project, Dillihay created and produced a four-minute animation film ‘Hiphopolis.’

‘It was a wonderful production that he was able to do very well. He showed right off the bat that he could direct as well as be an artist,’ said Trujillo.

‘Hiphopolis,’ a film about a music mogul who attempts to take over the world, became a fan favorite on Atom.com, which collects original comedic videos.

Disney Television took note of the film and offered Dillihay a job.

‘I had a style they wanted at the time. It was just the right timing and chance,’ said Dillihay.

After graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English, Dillihay took supplemental classes at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.

‘You have to train your eye,’ said Dillihay, who credits practicing drawing as part of his success.

In 2007 Dillihay produced the ‘Read a Book’ music video for Armah.

There was no collaboration between the two artists on the video. Dillihay received the song a few months after it was released and was given free reign.

Dillihay and Armah became the focus of intense media scrutiny when the video hit the Internet.

When they appeared live on ‘CNN Newsroom’ with anchor Tony Harris and media critic Paul Porter the debate got heated.

As they defended their work, Harris slammed the duo for negatively depicting vices of the black community and calling it satire.

Porter was not concerned with the content of the video. His main concern was it was being shown at times when children were watching Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the content was not suitable for children.

Before going live Harris said to Dillihay, ‘We are going to make this fun.’

‘That’s sensationalism and that’s what makes good television,’ said Dillihay.

In the midst of the media firestorm, Armah called Dillihay and said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for making me notoriously famous.’

Dillihay said ‘Read a Book’ also helped his career as the industry began to take even more notice of his work.

‘I don’t like ass-pats. People telling you everything you do is great. It was not something that everybody was supposed to love,’ he said.

In spite of the controversy ‘Read a Book’ created, Trujillo was extremely proud of her former student.

‘In animation people do all kinds of projects and that one was a little bit on the edge. But, it had a lot of hits online and people really liked it,’ she said.

Trujillo said Dillihay has broad skills which he employs on a wide range of projects.
‘He did the short animation film ‘Differences’ which is very much geared towards children,’ she said.

Dillihay recently completed four episodes of ‘Pink Panther and Pals’ for Cartoon Network and is working on a 13-episode 3-D animated children’s television show ‘daJammies,’ which will be released later this year.

‘ ‘DaJammies’ executive producer Ralph Farquhar said Dillihay has a unique urban style that suited the project.

‘He is not only a great animator, he is also an excellent storyteller. Tyree is going to be a superstar,’ said Farquhar.’

Last fall Dillihay chose CSUN junior arts major Jeremy Quant as an intern for ‘daJammies.’

The two met when Dillihay attended Quant’s class to help students with storyboarding.

Two days a week Quant, who is in the animation program, assists Dillihay on a variety of tasks including script editing.

Quant said he is learning to be a better visual storyteller and animator by observing Dillihay in action.

‘To see him work is just amazing, he is incredibly creative,’ said Quant.

Trujillo said Dillihay has helped CSUN animation students get hired in the industry by showing people their work.

‘In this industry it is all about knowing people,’ said Trujillo.

Dillihay also helps students with projects on his frequent visits to Trujillo’s class.

‘He really knows how to assist students with the projects they are doing, he really is a wonderful teacher,’ she said.

Dillihay once taught an animation production course at CSUN.

Senior arts major Jocelyn Cervenka met Dillihay when he visited her animation class.

‘I love his work, it is so dynamic and has so much personality. I try to be dynamic too and he is someone I look up to,’ she said.

Cervenka said he gave her friends some good ideas and advice for the projects they were working on.

‘ ‘He is very inspirational and such a nice guy. Even though he has accomplished a lot of things he is still really down to earth and a genuine guy,’ she said.

For Dillihay it is important for him to come back to CSUN to share his knowledge with students.

‘To see a person who went to their school become a professional in the industry, I hope, gives kids some hope and inspiration,’ said Dillihay.

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