Posted by: Michele Cohen
Renee Reeser Zelnick ’89 considers herself to be a “modern Renaissance woman.”
On any given week as a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist in Southern California, she works on a variety of projects, from concept art to storyboarding, as well as creative consulting and finished illustrations in the worlds of entertainment, fashion, television, film, publishing – even the video game industry.
Most recently, Zelnick, who graduated from Moore in 1989 with a fashion illustration degree, did all the promotional art for the cast of NBC’s new series “Dracula”, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the legendary vampire.
“This was an unusual project for NBC in that they had a larger than normal art budget and wanted to create imagery that didn’t look like the usual promo for a TV show,” she said. “That brought us a challenging problem to solve. We thought wouldn’t it be great to make something that felt like a steam punk Dracula and something that felt a bit like tarot cards and fashion editorial? We combined those three aspects into a holy trinity of fashion, tarot and Victorian style.”
Some of Zelnick’s other client projects include Mattel, Proctor and Gamble, Grande Marnier liqueur and Ghirardelli chocolate. She also specializes in Key Art, the art of movie marketing campaigns, including movie posters, one-sheets, trailers, teasers, television spots and outdoor and internet advertising.
Zelnick attributes her career success to name recognition and having a good professional agent. “It becomes a full time job to promote yourself,” she said. “Being in connection with somebody that can help you do that is a smart thing.”
She is represented by the woman-owned and operated agency Famous Frames, which specializes in storyboards, shooting boards, concept and comp art, illustration and full-service cinematic, animatic and board-o-matic production.
“I love the variety my career brings and the fact that on Monday I could be working on a car commercial, Tuesday might be a film or a TV project and by Wednesday I might be doing in-store designs for a fashion company,” she said. “Each day is something different and I enjoy being my own boss as opposed to clocking in under someone else every day.”
Zelnick, who addressed Moore students at Convocation 2011, recently published a book titled, “The Art School Grad’s Guide to the Real World,” available through Amazon.com.
“It’s essentially a small volume of tricks to the trade,” she said. “Key things I have realized like having a strong handshake, making eye contact, you don’t really learn in life drawing class. While I found that you come out of art school with a great education, it’s the people skills and job hunting skills that sometimes need to be further developed. So I put together a little book that would emphasize those skills.”
As a student, Zelnick said she was attracted to Moore because of the history of the school and its prime location in the city. “I thought it sounded like a cool place, I took a tour and fell in love with the neighborhood, people and work I saw in the studio rooms and on the walls,” she said. “It emotionally felt right. It was comfortable, like home. Moore was a wonderful experience.”
Check out Renee’s website