Award-winning animation producer joins Moraine Park staff

by speitz15. April 2011 06:40

From pioneering the sports animation business, to opening the first feature animation studio in Toronto, Canada, Karen Johnson is a widely recognized animation veteran. Beginning this fall, Moraine Park Technical College will welcome Johnson as the new Interactive Media Design program instructor.

With animation experience in big names such as Disney, Fisher Price, Hasbro and Mattel, Johnson brings with her a wealth of knowledge to share with Moraine Park students in the Interactive Media Design program.

Karen Johnson, Moraine Park's Interactive Media Design instructor, demonstrates the new Cintiq drawing tablet students will be using to create animation and design projects to Moraine Park Graphic Design Instructor Rainer Fleschner. The new Interactive Media Design program will begin this fall on Moraine Park's West Bend campus.

“Karen brings a level of expertise to the Interactive Media Design program that is unheard of in the Midwest,” said Matt Hurtienne, dean of information technology at Moraine Park. “With over 20 years of experience in the industry and involvement with key companies and industries, she can offer real-world experience to the Interactive Media Design students.

Johnson started her own animation studio at age 19. She pioneered the scoreboard animation businesses and produced over 1,000 animations for professional baseball, football, basketball and hockey teams throughout the U.S. Johnson worked on the feature film, Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest; several animated TV shows; and CD-ROM games for Disney, Mattel and Hasbro. Over the past few years, Johnson has produced numerous interactive toys, games and online virtual worlds for the entertainment industry.

“Although I have had a wonderful and exciting career in animation, I have always wanted to become a teacher,” said Johnson. She added that with her passion for animation and technology, she can make a positive impact on the students in this program.

As for the Interactive Media Design program, which debuts this fall, “I would like to see our program become a leader in the field of emerging technologies for the Web and entertainment industries,” Johnson said.

Hurtienne is looking forward to working with Karen on the new program. “Karen’s energetic personality will allow both recent high school graduates and returning students to connect with her instructional style. We are very excited to have Karen on our team and have the chance to offer her expertise to our students,” he said.

Partial funding for the program will come from a $192,830 National Science Foundation grant. The three-year grant will help cover the cost of staff, materials and supplies, allowing the Interactive Media Design program to stay on the leading edge of technology. Students enrolling in the Interactive Media Design program will learn to create digital media content used in websites, advertising, CDs, DVDs, animations and presentations.

Career opportunities for graduates include: animator, digital artist, digital and interactive media designer, motion graphic artist and more. For more information on the Interactive Media Design program, contact Johnson at or visit To enroll for fall, contact an Admissions Specialist at 1-800-472-4554.