Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Petoskey, Michigan Grad Jeff Sornig Brings Nickelodeon Know-How To Harbor Springs Classroom

Petoskey grad brings Nickelodeon know-how to Blackbird classroom

HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. — Jennifer Wixson’s first-grade class had some unusual guests on Monday, June 4.

Animated television characters SpongeBob SquarePants, Lincoln Loud and Timmy Turner all stopped by Blackbird Elementary School in the form of cartoonist Jeff Sornig.

First grade student Ben Ness shows off his drawing of a “Rock Star” cartoon character. Credit: Jillian Fellows/News-Review.

Sornig, uncle to Blackbird students Turner and Boden Schultz, demonstrated how to draw popular cartoon characters and talked to the students about his experiences as an artist.

“I always wanted to draw,” Sornig said. “I was always the artsy kid in school.”

First grade student Philly Forster follows along as artist Jeff Sornig draws cartoon characters on Monday during a presentation at Blackbird Elementary School. Credit: Jillian Fellows/News-Review.

Despite a lifelong love of drawing, Sornig has only recently begun pursuing an art career.

After graduating from Petoskey High School in 1988, Sornig joined the Marine Corps. It wasn’t until after his retirement from the Marines in 2012 that Sornig said he “rediscovered the old passion for drawing.”

“I started going to college for illustration and then I got into the Nickelodeon Animation intern program in 2015,” Sornig told the Petoskey News-Review. “I worked at Nick Animation in Burbank for two years.”

During his time as an intern, Sornig worked on the shows Pig Goat Banana Cricket, Pinky Malinky and a new special for Rocko’s Modern Life, "Static Cling".

Artist Jeff Sornig draws characters from the Nickelodeon cartoon “The Loud House” on Monday during a presentation at Blackbird Elementary School in Harbor Springs. Credit: Jillian Fellows/News-Review.

“It was amazing,” Sornig said. “It’s such a fun, creative environment. Being in California was great.”

Another part of Sornig’s work in Burbank was the “Let’s Draw” community outreach program. Through the pro-social program, Nickelodeon employees visited local schools and talked to kids about animation and drawing.

“We would just go out with the kids to their schools and just encourage them to draw and be creative,” Sornig said. “What we’ll do today is just bring a little bit of Nickelodeon up here to Northern Michigan.”

First-grade student Addi Glentz shows off her drawing of SpongeBob Squarepants on Monday during a presentation by artist Jeff Sornig at Blackbird Elementary School. Photo credit: Jillian Fellows/News-Review.

On Monday, the students excitedly called out the names of their favorite cartoon characters and Sornig quickly sketched them out on the classroom’s whiteboard, with the students trying to follow along with their own drawings.

While sketching, Sornig answered questions from the students, including many slime-related queries.

Student: Have you seen people get slimed?

Sornig: Yes, and actually next weekend I’m taking Turner and Boden and we’re going to the Nickelodeon SlimeFest in Chicago.

Student: Have you ever gotten slimed?

Sornig: I did get to get slimed. It tastes like pudding.

Sornig also offered students an inside look at how their favorite cartoons get made, including the months of hard work that go into creating each episode.

“For the cartoons that you see on TV, there’s a crew of about 100 people that work on that show,” Sornig said. “It takes about six months or longer to make a single episode that you see come on TV.”

Sornig now lives in the Detroit area and is a freelance artist. He said that every child loves to draw and by sharing his own experience with students, “it keeps the creativity going.”

“It inspires the imagination, gets them thinking about options,” Sornig said. “Growing up, you never knew cartoons were an actual job you could do. It kind of gives the kid an idea that ‘Hey, you could actually work in art someday if you wanted to.’”

Nickelodeon SlimeFest is the first multi-day music festival for kids and families in the U.S. Featuring performances by Grammy-winning artist, DJ and producer Zedd, chart-topper Liam Payne, multi-platinum artist Flo Rida, and Lip Sync Battle Shorties and social media star JoJo Siwa, the two-day event will be held at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, June 9, and Sunday, June 10. General admission and VIP tickets will be available beginning Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. (CT) via

Nickelodeon SlimeFest will also feature: appearances by Nickelodeon stars Kel Mitchell and Benjamin Flores Jr. (Game Shakers), Riele Downs and Ella Anderson (Henry Danger), Breanna Yde (School of Rock), and Daniella Perkins and Owen Joyner (Knight Squad); immersive one-of-a-kind experiences; and plenty of the network’s signature green slime.

Pinky Malinky and Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling are set to debut later this year on Nickelodeon.

Additional source: Wikipedia.
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