Self-taught cartoonist wants help to further studies

March 20, 2019
JoWayne McFarlane
JoWayne McFarlane

The animation industry in Jamaica is growing, and 26-year-old self-taught cartoonist and animator JoWayne 'JoWhimsy' McFarlane wants to propel it even further. But although her skills are unquestionable, she lacks funds needed to make the kind of mark she desires.

"I have plans to develop animation-related products designed to help children, such as myself, that didn't have any guidance as to what this career was. For a developing country, it's hard for us to see the value of this industry. But, for me, it means I'll be able to make my contribution through edutainment [creating educational cartoons]," she said.

McFarlane recently got accepted in the Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada, to study for a diploma in 2D Animation and Visual Development - a programme, she said, not offered in Jamaica.

She got the coveted offer after she participated in a two-month summer programme at the university in 2016, after getting a scholarship offered by the Kingston Animation Festival. She graduated from the short course with a 3.9 GPA.

But to secure her spot at the Capilano University, McFarlane said that she needs to pay CAD$5,000 (J$461,620) by April 15. She started a GoFundMe account to cover the cost, but has only accumulated CAD$30 (J$2,769) of the CAD$8,000 (J$738,592) goal.

However, that is only a fraction of the money she needs, as her tuition for the two-year programme is CAD$62,146 (approximately J$5.8 million), which, she said, she has been trying to accumulate through scholarships and sponsors.

And although her family is supportive, McFarlane said that they are not able to support her financially.

"My family is not really responding to it, more than to offer prayers," she said.

Despite this, McFarlane is not letting go of this opportunity, as she is determined to see the industry grow.

"I only got where I am because I never stopped pushing. So, for me to be able to study there and get that diploma, it means I can help the Jamaican industry develop a lot quicker," she said.

"Jamaica just needs to understand that animation is just an umbrella term for something that's much larger than just cartoons for kids. Look around you. Every book, every music video, every medical institution, every restaurant and store, down to the clothes you wear and car or bus you travel in has these kinds of things right there in front of you. The problem is that we are constantly undervaluing the skills and contributions offered by those existing multi-talented individuals within our relatively small creative industry," she added.

Persons wishing to assist McFarlane to pursue her dream can donate to her GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/jamaican-accepted-to-capilano-university) or contact her at 876-897-3520 or via email at jowhimsytoons@gmail.com.

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