For the 25th anniversary of Nickelodeon Animation Studios (NAS), a longstanding client of ours, we thought it was time to celebrate what made them so special. When they were formed in the 90's, they gave voice to individual creators allowing them to tell their stories in their own voices. Animation at the time was driven by selling toys and house (mouse) styles, machismo, and beauty. Now, there was a place for weirdos, oddballs, and actual emotional stories to have a home—and that resonated with their fans who have grown with them.
As part of their ongoing efforts to attract the next generation of talent and given Nickelodeon's ties with CalState Fullerton, it was the perfect place to host the exhibition. Working with the archives division, we sorted through 25 years of animation, pulling and curating over 200 pieces of content that could tell the story of Nickelodeon. Given the setting, we focused on the behind-the-scenes stories of what took place, focusing on process work, internal documentation, and early sketches—pieces that showed the creativity and chances that the studio took.
We designed the space to be a step inside of the world, and designed it in a way that would be energetic and amazing for the fans (we didn't want an elbow-patches-required look), and set about to set the tone with an over-sized living room replica to make visitors feel like kids again. A custom, far too comfortable, couch set the proportions for the space, which included a TV, custom art, an oversized coffee table with cereal, and a ton of easter eggs, as clips from Nickelodeon shows played on the TV.
We comissioned custom Monte Blunk to design wire sculptures that look like sketches come to life, as well as an 8' tall mechanical head made from reclaimed parts that shows where ideas come from. A SpongeBob SquarePants sculpture made from over 7,200 pencils represented the effort and number of hours that goes into each episode of animation.
The opening reception had appearances by original and current creators, as well as over 2,000 people, poster signings and an outpouring of social love through the #NickAnimation25 hashtag.