Artist Profile: Kirsten Lepore

Kirsten Lepore is an American animator and director who is best known for her stop-motion short films and advertisements. Lepore is currently based in Los Angeles and is a graduate of the California Institute of Arts. Lepore has a breakthrough animation titled “Hey Stranger” which garnered over 200 million views online.1 She has also worked for Cartoon Network on a 2016 episode of Adventure Time that won a Emmy & Annie Award.2 More recently she has served as the animation director for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which is set to be released theatrically in June 2022.3 Lepore’s work has also been taken top prizes at several international festivals, including SXSW and Slamdance. She has worked alongside clients Google, MTV, Mini Cooper, Silk, Skippy, and Nestle. Currently she is also writing and directing the “I am Groot” series for Marvel Studios.4

Adventure Time: “Bad Jubies” (2016)

“I was invited by Cartoon Network to write and direct their first ever stop-motion episode of their hit show, Adventure Time. With production by Bix Pix studios, this episode took over a year to create. Premiered January 14th, 2016 at 7:30/6:30c on Cartoon Network.”5

Kirsten Lepore, Bad Jubies // Adventure Time episode
Bad Jubies_AT episode by Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.6

I’m always amazed when I come across something I’m familiar with, even when its a subject or artform I normally don’t show much interest in. When I started looking into Lepore, I had no idea she did stop-motion for Cartoon Network. In 2016 she not only worked on the Adventure Time episode “Bad Jubies,” but also won a Emmy & Annie Award for it! Now, I don’t remember much about Adventure Time. It was one of those shows I more so watched with friends and not so much by myself, but I do remember when this particular episode premiered on CN. I knew about stop-motion as a form of animation, because I had friends to did it for fun, so we all knew this episode much have taken a while to make. Even though I don’t really care for the show too much, I remember being blown away by the sheer amount of effort that must have gone into a ten minute episode. I still am, knowing I’d been exposed to Lepore way before taking this class without even realizing it! The colors, lighting, and effects are all amazing, and knowing this is stop-motion makes me really appreciate the effort she put into it. I’m happy she won awards for it, because she definitely deserved it!

100 Years of Planned Parenthood (2017)

“This film details the 100 year history of Planned Parenthood. Directed by Lena Dunham and myself. Animation by Zack Zezima, Kyle Strope, Olivia Blanc, Rasmus Bak, and me. Featuring voices by Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mindy Kaling, Tessa Thompson, Amy Schumer, Constance Wu, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, and others.”(())

Kirsten Lepore, 100 Years // Planned Parenthood film
100 Years by Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.7

I wanted to provide this example of Lepore’s work because I deeply respect her for working on a short informational film like this. As a woman, I believe it is important to educate people on this matter, especially now that the United States is threatening to take away our rights on this matter. I don’t wish to talk about such a controversial matter here, but I thought it pertinent to bring up so I could explain why I picked this as one of the pieces I will be talking about by Lepore. I am aware she did not work on this short film by herself, but the animation is stunning. It’s cartoonish, but not so much that it takes away from the message. I would actually argue that it helps keep your attention and further educates people by keeping them engaged. The overall product is stunning, and I’m not afraid to admit I got a bit emotional watching it after everything that has been going on in 2022.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022)

“Was an absolute honor to animation direct the feature debut of the beloved Marcel the Shell, directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp and voiced by Jenny Slate.
In theaters June 24, 2022!”8

Kirsten Lepore, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Movie
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On trailer on YouTube.9

The final piece I wanted to include that Lepore has worked on is the movie that will be released in a few weeks! Lepore served as the animation director for Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, which is set to release on June 24, 2022! This movie is based on the stop-animation shorts that were originally released on YouTube in 2010, and from what you can see from the trailer it is looking good! Normally I dislike movies that are a combination of live action and animation, simply because the obvious offset of what it real versus fake does not appeal to me in a visual sense. I have the same problem with CGI these days, because they make things that “too real” which obviously comes across as fake. Despite my usual dislike, I watched the trailers for this project when investigating Lepore’s work and was pleasantly surprised as how good the animation looks and how uplifting the movie sounds. And since the movie is based on spot-motion shorts about an anthropomorphized seashell wearing miniature shoes, I’m sure Lepore’s background in stop motion really added to it! It what the trailer is showing is but a taste of what this movie will be like, I’ll definitely go see it! I’m just so impressed by how a little shell can make me to emotional, especially since the story seems like it’s so heartwarming and pure!

Overall, Lepore seems to have made a great career for which she has been recognized! She’s doing some amazing themes and really contributing to stop motion animation! Not only is she about see the release of a major motion picture, but she’s also working for Disney and Marvel on many more projects. I really like how her work it not solely about one thing or another. She has done many different and creative things, and her work just appears to be getting better and better. I had never heard of Lepore before doing this profile, so I hope to keep up with her work since I’ve discovered so many things she’s done that I like!

  1. Kirsten Lepore, “Info // Contact,” Kirsten Lepore, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Info-Contact.[]
  2. Kirsten Lepore, “Info // Contact,” Kirsten Lepore, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Info-Contact.[]
  3. Kirsten Lepore, “Info // Contact,” Kirsten Lepore, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Info-Contact.[]
  4. Kirsten Lepore, “Info // Contact,” Kirsten Lepore, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Info-Contact.[]
  5. Kirsten Lepore, “Bad Jubies // Adventure Time Episode,” Kirsten Lepore, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Bad-Jubies-Adventure-Time-episode.[]
  6. Kirsten Lepore, “Bad Jubies_AT Episode,” Vimeo, January 14, 2016, https://vimeo.com/703036158.[]
  7. Kirsten Lepore, “100 Years,” Vimeo, January 23, 2017, https://vimeo.com/200707740.[]
  8. Kirsten Lepore, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on Movie,” Kirsten Lepore, 2022, http://www.kirstenlepore.com/Marcel-the-Shell-with-Shoes-On-Movie.[]
  9. A24, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on | Official Trailer HD | A24,” YouTube, April 5, 2022, https://youtu.be/k98Afd7Nf3Y.[]
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