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Inspiring Conversations with Leonel Fowdar of BrickVillage Animation Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leonel Fowdar.

Hi Leonel, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I realized at an early age that I could draw, it came naturally, and I loved it. I drew my way through primary education.

Watching cartoons and the occasional video game got me intrigued, wondered how they did it, I got a spark of so many ideas, so eager to learn but, as I got older, the realities of the world I grew up in caught up with me.

The spark starts to fade when u realize that you’re barely just getting by, my mother was struggling to even put food on the table and, what made it more challenging or confusing for me was the fact that there weren’t any art classes in any of the schools I attended, so I did not have any guidance on how to approach art as a career.

I really wanted to pursue a career in art, and my mom could see it, so she sacrificed and paid for me to get art classes from the Legendary, Now Late Peter Birch, at his art school in Harare. I learned so much and did well, but my goal had changed at that moment, I just wanted a job, any job, so I could help out my mother.

But art was all I knew, so after school, I would hang out with a street portrait artist whom I admired very much, his work was amazing. I would pick his brain on how to make money as an artist. Then one day, he told me that the graphic design scene was booming and if I can do that, I would definitely get a job.

I could only afford an entry-level graphic design course and later got my first job as an intern, from there my world changed, easy access to the internet meant I could learn, and boy did I learn. I remember after-hours printing the Maya 8 manual on scrap paper, taking it home, and going through it religiously just so I could understand 3D animation. I continued learning and upgrading my skills and I started getting better jobs and went on to work for some of Zimbabwe’s Top Ad agencies.

With animation, I got confident enough to start taking on small projects on the side, the response I got from these initial projects got me fired up, and soon enough, I was struggling to balance the side jobs with my Agency job. That’s when I decided to take a leap of faith, in 2017, I started Brick Village Animation Studio.

To this day, I’m glad that our small team has done work for some of Africa’s biggest brands, from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique, all the way to Tanzania. It has been an amazing journey so far, and I keep on pushing myself and the Studio to higher heights.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest challenge was monetary, the only good design & animation school at the time was really expensive.

Currently, the ups and downs of the economy make it difficult for smaller businesses to expand.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about BrickVillage Animation Studio?
A design-based animation studio based in Harare, Zimbabwe, we build brands and tell amazing stories.

We do 3D animation, motion graphics & VFX. Since 2017, we have grown into one of the leading animation studios in Zimbabwe and have worked with some of Africa’s biggest brands.

Our greatest achievement so far is the Relaunching of British American Tobacco Brands in Zimbabwe, Zambia & Mozambique. British American Tobacco Worldwide brand and we were honored to be part of this massive project.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I was a bit talkative and was the youngest and smallest guy in classes I’ve ever attended. Loved cartoons, video games & football.

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