"I Started With Just a Little Notepad and a Big Dream": Getting to Know Mighty Oak, Our Newest Animation Studio

It is with great excitement that we announce the latest addition to ATRBUTE Studios: Mighty Oak! With a mission of bringing the human touch back into the picture, Mighty Oak is an innovative studio who are experts in a variety of animation styles. Their diverse portfolio showcases delightful content that is constantly growing in different directions.  

Below, CEO and Executive Producer Jess Peterson pulls back the curtain on Mighty Oak's name inspiration, brainstorm processes, and working past creative blocks. Read through, check out their portfolio, and join us in welcoming them to ATRBUTE Studios! We are so excited to see how they continue to grow.  

How did you get started in this industry?
Most of our talented team went to school for animation and followed that artistic path. I actually started in the music industry, but after grad school, pivoted into museum work. I started managing communications at a children’s art museum and it was there that I was first exposed to the magical world of stop motion. Emily Collins was teaching stop motion to children there and introduced me to the medium, which I quickly fell in love with and used for several promotional museum spots.

 I decided to start my own business in 2014, offering branding and communication services, but quickly realized that in order to stand out in a huge talent pool, I needed to offer something special that would really energize me and my clients. Once I decided to niche into stop motion, I partnered with Emily who tapped her former classmate and talented animator Michaela Olsen, and the rest is history. By the way, this version cuts out all of the hard work and harder lessons we had along the way. Happy to share those stories with anyone over a drink!

How did you land on Mighty Oak as a name?

I watched a Seth Godin Skillshare class where he talked about selecting a name that is broad enough for your services to evolve without having to rename it. Like Amazon for example — why did a website selling books get named after a major river instead of something like Bezos Books? So that it could eventually sell everything under the sun. So I started looking online for inspiration. I’m not much of a “quotes” person, but I found one that read “a mighty oak from little acorns does grow” which deeply resonated with me. It meant big things come from small beginnings, and as someone who started with just a little notepad and a big dream, the name Mighty Oak became a mantra.

If you could describe your studio in 3 words, what would those be?

Versatile. Character-driven. Handmade.

What's the first thing you do when you get a new client brief?
The first thing we do is spend some time learning about the client: reviewing their website, social platforms, brand guidelines, and anything else that our client can share. We talk about the audience, and the video’s goal. This helps us begin our brainstorm process, pulling mood boards together full of materials, shapes, colors, and other ideas that will inspire our creative brief. We know that the work we do can be a different undertaking for many new clients, so our intention is to make the process as clear, approachable, and fun as possible.

How do you work past a creative block?

I posed this question to the team. There were a variety of responses, but the overlapping answer was to take a pause, do something you enjoy, and come back to the work with fresh eyes. We actually learned about the process of “un-frying your brain” in this webby-nominated video we made for Thrive Global and Bose. Part of what I love about our work is that we often get to learn on the job!

If you could give a piece of advice to yourself at the beginning of your career in animation, what would that be?

My advice would be to understand what makes your approach to animation special, and where it would best fit in the industry. Whether you’d prefer to work at a traditionally large animation company or a boutique studio like ours, being able to share your USP (unique selling point) with others can help set your path for networking, interning, freelancing, or landing a job that makes you happy.