Renee Bates joked with her father that she would simply drive to Shreveport, Louisiana, walk into Moonbot Studios with her portfolio in hand and see what would come of it. Bates wanted to work for the Emmy and Oscar Award winning animation studio, but only dreamed of approaching them. After a former professor, Jake Parker, encouraged her to do so, she landed a Skype interview with the directors. At the end of the interview, she was told she had one day to complete an art test—creating a polished painting concept out of a thumbnail and existing character design.

Naturally, an all-nighter was in order to complete what could be her ticket into her first animation studio. Bates received a positive response from her painting and was flown out to the studio to present her portfolio in-person. Along with her current portfolio, she brought several sketches from her original BFA project, a children’s interactive e-book.

Renee Bate

“In one of the most nerve racking moments of my life, I sat in a room full of the top five creative artists and directors of the studio for a review,” Bates said. “By the end of the interview, William Joyce told me that the loose leaf sketches are truly what set me apart form all the other applicants. I was offered an artist position the following day.”


Bates came to BYU after being disappointed with the artwork at other schools. Even though she is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, she was drawn to BYU because of the illustration program’s reputation.

“Renee was truly a unique student in the Illustration Program at BYU,” said Bob Barrett, one of her professors.

See what Bates has been working on at Moonbot Studios here.

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